When I first started working with Cisco products, my default terminal program was HyperTerm. Unfortunately with the recent versions of Windows, that ship has pretty much sailed of that being an option anymore. While I have seen various hacks and howto’s to get it to work on later versions of Windows, I need something that is stable and reliable. Here are several options that I use depending on the environment that I find myself in –
Putty is usually the one that I can use it almost any situation. When I need something quick and dirty, I can usually get Putty to answer the call. One thing that made me start using this several years ago when HyperTerm was still an option was Putty’s ability to use COM port numbers above 4 where I sometime ran into problems with HyperTerm working reliably above Com Port 4. If you haven’t given Putty a try, at least give it a look so that if you need to use it, you will have an idea of what to expect. Here is the URL to download it from – http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/
One of the things that had me start using a terminal program other than Putty was the ability to have multiple sessions open to different hosts. I recently came across something called Putty Connection Manager. This does a very good job at giving you the “tabbed” approach to having multiple sessions open. You get the multi tab interface for Putty like you would see in ZOG or SecureCRT. The main page where I first found this wasnt available anymore but I did find it here – http://www.mediafire.com/?c0lslcio9d548qn. If you cant find it, let me know and I will see about posting on this site. I have run into one issue with the Putty Connection Manager when I allow the program to go “idle” for several minutes. It will still appear to be running but you cant get into any of the sessions you have open. The only way I have been able to recover is to go into Task Manager on Windows and kill the processes for Connection Manager and the various Putty processes.
Another one I use especially when I need to xmodem a Cisco binary into a switch or router is TeraTerm. Where I have found the most recent copy is here – http://www.ayera.com/teraterm/. This is an update to the original project so that it will work on the newer flavors of windows like Windows 7. Havent been able to try it on Windows 8 yet.
We have covered the freebies up to now. If you have a little money to spend, You can use ZOC or SecureCRT on the Mac. When I got my macbook pro, Secure CRT wasnt available for the Mac (it is now), so I found ZOC. For Windows, SecureCRT is the one I have used the most. Between these two apps, you will see a bit of one upmanship between them. Once ZOC comes out with a particular feature, you can be reasonably assured that SecureCRT will probably have that in the next release. While writing this post, I also noticed that ZOC has a version available for Windows as well. One thing I like about using a terminal app that is on Windows and Mac is that you can use the same app on both platforms and should be able to expect nearly if not identical functionality and features.
One thing I have been able to do with SecureCRT (havent tried this with ZOC) is to be able to install a copy of SecureCRT on a Flash Drive so that all you have to do is plug in a flash drive and you should be up and running in SecureCRT in less than a minute. There is a specific directory structure that you will need to copy to/from the Flash Drive so that you can have the same lists of hosts/systems available in SecureCRT regardless of where you use it. Here is the link from VanDyke’s website on how to do just that – http://www.vandyke.com/support/tips/usbdrive.html.