Putty Network Error: Connection Refused

The telnet and secure shell, or SSH, terminal emulator application PuTTY offers users a simple interface into these relatively advanced Internet functions. Though the application makes great efforts to offer as seamless an experience as possible, occasional server-side errors like “Connection Refused” do appear from time to time. With a little information, PuTTY users can work with server administrators to resolve these connection issues.

Man using computer
PuTTY offers a graphical alternative to some command-line functions.
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A PuTTY user manual that appears on the Quest Software website offers a simple explanation for the “Network Error: Connection refused” issue that PuTTY users may encounter from time to time. According to the manual, this error message appears when the application attempts to connect to a server that does not offer the service PuTTY is trying to access. If a user attempts to connect to a telnet server using PuTTY, but that server does not support telnet connections, for example, PuTTY would return a “Network Error: Connection refused” message.

Other Instances

Though the Quest Software manual for PuTTY explains that servers not running the desired service most commonly cause the “Connection refused” message, users may encounter this error because of other conditions. Users who access the Internet through a router may receive a “Connection refused” error when the router blocks traffic on the port PuTTY tries to use to establish a connection. In some cases, server administrators run services like telnet and SSH on ports other than the default port, and these servers will reject incoming connections on the default service port.


In many cases, PuTTY users have little control over resolving the “Network Error: Connection refused” error. Users who administer their own servers may be able to resolve the error by restarting stopped telnet and SSH services, opening service ports or, in extreme cases, rebooting the unavailable server. Users who connect to the Internet through a router or firewall may be able to resolve this error by verifying that the router settings do not prohibit traffic on the port PuTTY uses to establish a connection. If the server administrator has changed the port for the desired service to something other than the default, users may need to contact the server administrator or review server documentation to obtain the correct port number.


Though PuTTY offers a relatively simple alternative to command line telnet and SSH environments, users who believe persistent errors are specific to the PuTTY software have a few alternatives. Microsoft Windows users can download alternative software like mRemoteNG or KiTTY. Apple Mac OS X and UNIX users can issue telnet and SSH commands directly from the computer’s terminal without any additional software.