Free SCP servers for Windows Linux and Mac

What is an SCP server?

SCP, or secure copy protocol, is the means of securely transferring files between a local host and a remote host or between two remote hosts.

When we talk about an “SCP server,” we really mean “transferring data to an SSH server” which brings all the benefits of SSH’s security, strong encryption, and confidentiality along with it. As such, there’s no such thing as an SCP “server” per se. Rather, an SSH server is used to perform the file copy.

The best free SCP servers for Windows:

  1. SolarWinds Free SFTP and SCP Server EDITOR’S CHOICE A free SCP implementation for Windows from a leading network monitoring software producer. Get 100% free download.
  2. (FREE TRIAL) Implements SSH file transfers through SFTP and includes encrypted storage space as well.
  3. Bitvise An SFTP and SCP tool for Windows.
  4. freeSSHd A free bundle of network management utilities for Windows that includes SFTP.
  5. OpenSSH for Windows Text-based command-line tool for Windows that includes SCP.
  6. Cygwin for Windows Free SSH and SCP tool for Linux that has been adapted to run on windows.
  7. WinSCP Free file transfer client for Windows that implements SCP, SFTP, FTPS, FTP, WebDAV, and S3.

The best free SCP servers for Linux:

  1. OpenSSH SCP Server An SCP tool that is pre-installed on most Linux distros.
  2. Dropbear SCP Lightweight SCP server that is intended for use in embedded systems.

The best free SCP server for MacOS:

  1. MacOS native SCP Server An SCP server that is included in the Mac OS operating system.

If you are looking for an SFTP server instead, try this list of the 10 Best SFTP and FTPS Servers.


SSH is the “Secure Shell,” which incorporates encryption to secure transmissions over unsecured networks. When implementing SCP, you need to create an SSH server. That service takes care of the extra security to make a standard network copy action into a Secure Copy transaction.

How does SCP compare to other file transfer protocols

Many protocols facilitate file transfers over the entire network. Some of the earlier ones that are still in use today are the File Transfer Protocol and the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (FTP and TFTP). Another, more secure method, is Secure Copy (SCP). While FTP can be made more secure by using Transport Layer Security (TLS), SCP is inherently more secure because it’s really just an SSH session used solely for transferring files. FTP with TLS/SSL is denoted as “FTPS.”

SCP and SFTP: Secure Alternatives to FTP

Although FTP is still widely used on networks and the internet to this day, it is inherently insecure. Where login credentials are required for a session, the username and password are sent in plain text, meaning that any interceptor could read them.

SCP is one of the two secure alternatives for your FTP tasks. The other option is the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), also known as SSH FTP because, like SCP, it uses SSH for protection.

The Differences Between SCP and SFTP

The difference between SFTP and SCP is that the later is purely a file transfer system, whereas SFTP includes commands to query and change the remote computer’s directory structure.

FTP over SSH

To add to the confusion of secure FTP alternatives, you may also hear about “FTP over SSH.” This is more of a technique than a protocol. You open a standard FTP session within an SSH session, which is classified as “tunneling.” Once you understand that FTP requires two separate connections to form a session, you start to realize that FTP over SSH can soon get messy.


The FTPS methodology adds a procedure to include Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protection (replaced by Transport Layer Security) into an FTP session. This combination of protocols has data security weaknesses, however, because the commands to begin security measures are sent in plain text and can be intercepted.

Substitute TFTP with SCP for Encryption

TFTP has no security measures at all and should only be used on physically secure private networks. You could substitute SCP for TFTP to add encryption to the distribution of configuration files on your network because it is a more lightweight secure file transfer system than SFTP.

Implementing an SCP Server

SCP gets its name from the Unix command cp, which is commonly used to copy files. As Secure Copy was developed as “cp with encryption,” it is much easier to encounter it on Unix and Unix-like systems (Linux, Free BSD, and Linux variants). It is also usually implemented as a command. SCP servers, SCP utilities with graphical user interfaces, and SCP for Windows systems are very difficult to source. You can find it as a command in an SSH server package. So, to provide you with a list of SCP server options, we have also included SSH servers in this guide.

Our methodology for selecting an SCP server

We reviewed the market for SCP servers and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • A tool that is easy to install and use
  • Activity logging for system auditing
  • Options for remote-to-remote file copying
  • Alternative file transfer protocol capabilities bundled in
  • Ability to run scripts linked to file transfer activities
  • The option to upgrade to a paid, more comprehensive system
  • A system that works effectively and doesn’t need much fine-tuning

The best free SCP servers for Windows

1. SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server (FREE TOOL)

SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server

SolarWinds maintains a comprehensive suite of IT tools which includes a combination SFTP/SCP Server. The application runs as a Windows service which means that its basic operation should be familiar to Windows systems administrators.

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Internal user accounts
  • Create directories on the remote device
  • Move, rename, and delete remote files
  • Allows activity quotas

Why do we recommend it?

SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server is the product of a very highly-respected brand and yet it is completely free to use. The opportunity to use SolarWinds tools for free is usually only limited to a trial period, so this is an offer that should be exploited.

Unlike Linux-based SCP, SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server supports the creation of virtual users. These are user accounts which can be used to authenticate into the Windows SCP server for the purpose of copying files. But, the accounts are not native Windows accounts and therefore don’t actually exist on the system. This provides a decent level of data security. In the event that an SCP account credential was compromised, it could not be used to log in to the system directly as a user.

Who is it recommended for?

Most organizations would benefit from this secure file transfer system for managing their network devices. In the past, network administrators used the lightweight TFTP or FTP systems to manage the storage or recovery of device configuration images. However, those systems are not secure and no one can rely on 100 percent tight security on their network anymore. So, this tool is an ideal secure preplacement for configuration management.


  • Free SFTP server tool
  • Offers in-depth user authentication options
  • Can set limits based on events such as deleting, uploading, and downloading – great for larger teams


  • Is designed more for a technical audience, with an abundance of features and customization options


SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server is our 1st Choice. It offers a graphical interface and is focused on SCP rather than being a general SSH server. The alternatives for Windows are either expensive or come from little-known suppliers, which introduces security risks.

100% FREE Tool:

OS: Windows


Files - Users view is a cloud-based file management system that includes storage space for backup and filesharing, plus a file transfer system that involves sending a link to an uploaded file rather than the file itself.

Key Features:

  • SSH used for SFTP
  • FTPS also available
  • Encrypted storage space

Why do we recommend it? provides a very efficient way to manage the bulk distribution of files and it is also useful for sharing confidential information. Users upload their files to the platform and mail out invitation links instead of the documents themselves. This means that control over access to those files is never lost and permissions can be revoked at any time.

File transfers between the on-premises desktops and the remote access server are protected with SSH as SFTP or with TLS, using the FTPS method. Although doesn’t precisely implement SCP, it’s SFTP implementation offers all the functionality of SCP with some command access extras. reduces much of the need to transfer files because it holds files, so a file that needs to be distributed to many destinations only needs to be uploaded once. Once the file is resident on the encryption-protected server, users can email or message a secure link to all of the intended recipients of the file instead of transferring it again and again.

File devices

File sharing support collaboration and it is even possible to use productivity software directly on the server. These measures remove the need to send copies of files around the business, reducing the need for file transfers even further. will interface with a long list of widely available SSH file transfer clients that run on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The service is free for a month thanks to the 7-day free trial.

Who is it recommended for?

Unfortunately, isn’t free, so network managers coming to this report and prioritizing free tools won’t be interested in this option. The system is designed for use by businesses that need to share secure documents or that need to distribute a large number of copies of the same document. It is particularly useful for businesses that include geographically dispersed people that need to work together.


  • Uses SFTP protocol, a more flexible option than SCP with additional functionality
  • Cloud storage provides scalable storage and features without needing an on-premise setup
  • Clients operate on Windows, macOS, and Linux, making this a good choice for a distributed team
  • Integrates well with other services like Dropbox or Google Drive, giving it more flexibility than similar products
  • Allows for two-factor authentication, keeping data safe from phishing scams and outside attacks.
  • Subscription-tiered pricing makes this an accessible solution for any size business


  • The platform offers many different features, which can require a time investment to learn them all Start 7-day FREE Trial

3. Bitvise

Bitvise SSH Server Control Panel

Since both SFTP and SCP run over SSH, the Bitvise SSH server supports both of these secure file transfer protocols.

Key Features:

  • Option for internal accounts
  • SFTP and SCP
  • Offers a client program as well

Why do we recommend it?

Bitvise offers a free SSH client that includes both a secure terminal emulator and a file transfer system that provides both SFTP and SCP implementations. The SSH Server that goes with that tool isn’t free. The system provides layers of security to limit the damage that any credentials disclosure could cause.

Bitvise allows the use of either Windows native user accounts or virtual users. This provides a great deal of flexibility because there’s no need to create full-blown Windows user accounts in order to provide ad-hoc access to secured file directories.

Bitvise also allows systems administrators to restrict connections to SCP only. In many SCP implementations, SCP access implies SSH (shell) access. This is not usually an issue with Unix-like operation systems because those systems have account-level security baked in. But, with Windows systems, this access can inadvertently lead to unintended access to things like PowerShell. With that in mind, Bitvise supports the ability to allow SCP access, but disallow basic shell access.

Who is it recommended for?

The Bitvise SSH Client is much more impressive than the SSH Server because it can be used to implement tasks automation through the use of scripts operating the remote execution and file transfer utilities in command line mode. The SSH Server works well in combination with the SSH Client.


  • Offers a GUI, a nice change from the CLI
  • Supports both virtual and native WIndows users, allowing better ad-hoc access
  • Supports disabling shell access for improved security in Windows environments


  • The GUI could be easier to use, some options are nested and difficult to find

4. freeSSHd

freesSSHd settings

freeSSHd is what it sounds like. It is a Free SSH daemon for Windows. In Unix parlance, a daemon is akin to a Windows service.

Key Features:

  • Part of a package of security tools
  • Easy to use
  • Free tool

Why do we recommend it?

The freeSSHd system is a very straightforward service that can be used as a server for SSH connections and is part of a package of utilities in a tabbed interface. The tool doesn’t have many remarkable features, which is something that recommends it because its lack of extras keeps it free to use. The stripped-down nature of the tool also makes it lightweight and no trouble to leave running all the time, which is exactly what you need from an SCP server.

freeSSHd can run on any Windows system newer than and including Windows NT 4 (which is pretty much all of them) and creates a very small memory and resource footprint. It supports virtual users and an easy-to-use interface to monitor, and start or stop the service.

Who is it recommended for?

The low overhead and the cost-free attributes of freeSSHd make it s good tool for anyone to use. The power of your file transfer system will lie with the SFTP client that you choose to use. The package doesn’t specifically offer SCP.


  • Completely free for both Windows and Unix
  • Extremely lightweight – uses very few resources
  • Allows simple ways to start and stop the service


  • Doesn’t support advanced link-sharing features or multiple protocol support

5. OpenSSH for Windows

OpenSSH Client for Windows

Open SSH is the granddaddy of all SSH servers. It has been around since 1999 when it was first released as part of the OpenBSD operating system. Technically, OpenSSH is a suite of tools, but most of the heavy lifting is done by the Open SSH program. It was designed to be ported to other operating systems and because of that, it is probably the most widely used SSH server on the planet. Bundled with SSH comes SCP, so Open SSH likely takes the lead in the SCP category as well.

Key Features:

  • Remote terminal
  • File transfer function
  • Command line tool

Why do we recommend it?

Just about everything written above about freeSSHd could just as easily be written about OpenSSH for Windows. These two systems are almost identical, so it would be unfair to list one without the other. One factor in OpenSSH’s favor is that it was last updated much more recently than freeSSHd.

The Microsoft Open SSH server is under development still, but there is a pre-release version available here (as of Oct 17, 2017). It will take some Windows administrator chops as it mainly requires PowerShell command-line skills to get it set up and working.

While it may be in pre-release now, Open SSH has such a strong lineage that it will likely become the defacto SCP server in Windows just as it is in other operating systems now.

Who is it recommended for?

OpenSSH for Windows is a long-established, stable, and well-maintained free SSH server suite that includes SCP capabilities. This tool is free to use and reliable.


  • Very lightweight application – uses few system resources
  • Offers full SSH functionality alongside SCP
  • Good for those who prefer syntax to interfaces


  • Not as user-friendly as other options, requires PowerShell knowledge
  • Not fully developed, still in test release

6. Cygwin On Windows*

*Most Linux systems administrators are aware of an application project named Cygwin. It’s also fair to say that almost nobody else has heard of it, however, many Windows systems administrators can probably benefit from Cygwin.

Cygwin On Windows

Cygwin is an open-source project that provides a Windows DLL file that contains a really large amount of POSIX API functions. What does this mean? It means that many Linux applications can be recompiled to use Cygwin and therefore those applications can be run on Windows.

Key Features:

  • Enables Linux utilities to run on Windows
  • Free to use
  • Useful for many tasks

Why do we recommend it?

Cygwin isn’t an SCP service, instead, it enables you to run Unix and Linux programs on Windows. This quality gives you scope to consider Linux programs even if you on;y have Windows devices.

Cygwin is mentioned in this article because there are many Linux SSH and SCP servers that ostensibly are only available as Linux packages, but digging a little deeper often reveals that they also have Cygwin packages. Windows systems administrators that are comfortable with a Linux application of any sort should investigate if a Cygwin package is available.

Who is it recommended for?

Network administrators who have a lot of experience with Linux and have favorite utilities that they would like to use will welcome Cygwin if they are forced to use Windows. However, given that there are so many SCP servers available for Windows, it shouldn’t be necessary to look for Linux utilities to port over.


  • Open-source transparent project
  • Allows Linux applications to run inside Windows through recompiling
  • Is one of the only few backward-compatible options from Linux to Windows


  • Not as user-friendly as other options, has a steep learning curve
  • Recompiling some applications from Linux to Windows doesn’t always work on the first attempt

7. WinSCP

WinSCP folder screenshot

WinSCP is a free solution for file transfers that runs on Windows. As well as implementing SCP, the tool can also give you straight FTP. In addition, you can select to transfer your files with SFTP, FTPS, WebDAV, and S3.

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Offers FTP, SFTP, FTPS, WebDAV, and S3
  • Queues files for transfer

Why do we recommend it?

WinSCP is the most widely-used SCP utility for Windows in the world. Its extensive use means that all of the bugs have been spotted and ironed out of the system. This is a reliable free utility.

The interface gives you a choice of layout. One is the classic “system to system” layout, shown above. The second layout option emulates the Windows Explorer look and feel. You don’t have to use the GUI interface because the application also works at the command line. The command-line version can be run through batch files, which opens up the opportunity of scheduling file transfers to run periodically. Utilities within the GUI interface give the option of syncing directories between hosts.

The tool can be set to save login credentials and it can also work with strong authentication methods, such as Kerberos, to strengthen access security. The tool itself can be secured with a password to make it harder for malicious colleagues to break into remote sites by accessing your computer.

This is a nice piece of software that you will enjoy using. If you feel guilty about the developer toiling for nothing so that you can enjoy the utility, make a donation at the WinSCP site where you downloaded the program.

Who is it recommended for?

WinSCP is a useful free tool for anyone who has a Windows computer and needs to transfer files. It is suitable for personal use as well as for businesses. This tool offers SFTP, FTPS, and WebDAV methods for secure file transfer as well as SCP.


  • Free tool
  • Multiple protocol support, making it a flexible transfer option beyond just SCP
  • Robust CLI tool and scripting capabilities
  • Simple and efficient built-in text editor


  • Automation requires scripting, making it not as intuitive as other solutions
  • Automatic uploads are clunky and could be made easier to set up

The best free SCP servers for Linux

1. OpenSSH SCP server for Linux


Most Linux distributions come with Open SSH installed, although it usually is not running by default. You’ll likely have to start the Open SSH daemon to allow SSH connections which will, in turn, allow SCP file copies.

Key Features:

  • Command line tool
  • Free to use
  • Grants users access to their accounts remotely

Why do we recommend it?

OpenSSH SCP server for Linux is the Linux version of the already-mentioned OpenSSH for Windows. This tool is a daemon that enables files to be received over secure connections but does little else.

The package name in most cases is openssh-server.

$ apt-cache search openssh-server
openssh-server - secure shell (SSH) server, for secure access from remote machines

Installing it should be as simple as running your package manager’s install command.

$apt-get install openssh-server

Once the server is installed and running, existing system users will be able to use an SCP client to connect, and copy files to and from directories on the server where they have read permissions.

Unlike FTP which is usually set up to allow multiple users access to the same set of upload and download directories, SSH drops users into their home file directory by default. You may have to tweak your file system permissions if you would like your users to be able to access other directories on the server.

Who is it recommended for?

Linux users who don’t need managed file transfer features or verification routines for file reception will find this free tool a useful service to have running.


  • Simple deployment through an install command
  • Automatically available for exiting Linux user accounts


  • Requires some customization to change default directories

2. Dropbear SCP server

There may be situations where a full-blown SCP server is not feasible or desirable. In that case, smaller-footprint SCP servers such as Dropbear can help. Dropbear is aimed at embedded systems such as routers that may need SSH or SCP functionality but it can be used as an SCP server on any POSIX compliant platform.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Fast
  • Will run in scripts

Why do we recommend it?

Dropbear SCP server, like OpenSSH, is a lightweight tool that is useful for running on network devices as well as on computers.

System administrators wishing to customize Dropbear will need to have some moderate skills. Tasks such as disabling basic SSH, but leaving SCP functioning, will require modifications to the Dropbear makefile, and a recompile of the executable.

Who is it recommended for?

The Dropbear system is low on features, which means it runs easily in the background, using few resources, and requiring no supervision.


  • Offers extremely lightweight deployment option that can run on embedded systems
  • Can operate on POSIX-based platforms
  • Open-source project


  • Customization is not easy and requires technical expertise
  • Modifications require the executable to be recompiled.

The best free SCP server for MacOS

1. macOS’s native SCP server

As a Unix-like operating system, macOS has native support for SSH and, therefore, SCP. To enable SSH on your macOS computer, navigate to System Preferences -> Sharing Applet and enable the Remote Login option. This will enable SSH for all the users on the machine.

Key Features:

  • Built into the operating system
  • No need to install
  • Attractive interface

Why do we recommend it?

The built-in macOS native SCP server has the advantage of being immediately available on any Mac. This is particularly important because there aren’t as many file transfer utilities available for Macs as there are for Windows.


Who is it recommended for?

Users of Macs will need to use the native SCP server at least while they look around for a decent alternative.


  • Very simple, find and enable
  • Can easily enable for all users, or only some
  • Built directly into macOS, completely free


  • Requires you to enable SSH as well
  • Lacks multiple protocol support found in more well-rounded file transfer tools

Final words

There are many reasons to choose SCP over FTP and FTPS, but fewer reasons to choose SCP over SFTP. Both SCP and SFTP are actually special types of SSH sessions so they provide the same pros and cons of a standard SSH shell session. In contrast FTP and FTPS are less secure, so if you’re running either of those types of servers, you should migrate to either SCP or SFTP.

Free SCP Server FAQs

Which port does SCP use?

The default port for SCP is TCP port 22.

How many SSH connections can a server handle?

The number of SSH connections that a server can handle is purely a CPU capacity issue. The SSH daemon (sshd) has a default setting of a maximum of 10 pending requests. This can be increased manually by altering the MaxStartups value.

Can I transfer files between two remote servers with SCP?

Yes, you can transfer files between two remote servers with SCP. However, this requires you to log in to the sending remote server and issue the SCP command from there through the remote terminal session. 

See also: