check ssh server status ubuntu

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Mastering SSH Server Status Checks on Ubuntu

check ssh server status ubuntu

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on how to check the status of an SSH server on Ubuntu. Secure Shell (SSH) is a protocol that provides a secure channel over an unsecured network, enabling users to connect to a remote machine securely. For system administrators and developers alike, ensuring that your SSH service is up and running is crucial for remote management and automation tasks. In this article, we will delve deep into various methods to monitor and troubleshoot the SSH service on Ubuntu systems.

Understanding SSH Service Management in Ubuntu

Before we dive into the specifics of checking the SSH server status, it’s important to understand the underlying service management framework used by Ubuntu. The modern versions of Ubuntu use systemd, an init system and system manager that has become the de facto standard for Linux distributions. It allows for fine-grained control of system services, including the SSH server, known as sshd.

Starting with Systemd

Systemd plays a pivotal role in managing services on Ubuntu. It provides commands such as systemctl to interact with the system daemon and control the state of services. We’ll be using systemctl extensively to check the status of the SSH server.

Checking SSH Server Status: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ensuring that your SSH server is active and listening for connections is essential. Let’s explore the different ways you can verify the SSH service status on your Ubuntu server.

Using Systemctl to Check Service Status

The most straightforward method to check if the SSH server is running on Ubuntu is by using the systemctl command:

sudo systemctl status ssh

This command provides detailed output, including whether the service is active, its main process ID, and recent log entries. Look for the “active (running)” line in the output to confirm that the SSH server is operational.

Verifying the SSH Port and Connectivity

Another way to ensure that the SSH server is functioning correctly is to check if it’s listening on the default port 22 (or a custom port if configured). Use the netstat or ss utility for this purpose:

sudo netstat -tulpn | grep ssh


sudo ss -tulpn | grep ssh

These commands will show you the ports on which the SSH server is listening. If you see an entry for port 22, it indicates that the SSH server is ready to accept connections.

Connecting to the SSH Server Locally

To test the SSH server’s responsiveness, try connecting to it locally:

ssh localhost

If you’re able to connect successfully, it means the SSH server is functioning properly. You may be prompted to accept the host key if it’s your first time connecting.

Troubleshooting Common SSH Server Issues

Occasionally, you might encounter issues when checking the SSH server status. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

SSH Service Not Starting

If the SSH service fails to start, inspect the logs for any error messages:

journalctl -u ssh.service

This command will display the systemd journal logs for the SSH service, which can provide clues about why the service isn’t starting.

Incorrect SSH Configuration

An improperly configured /etc/ssh/sshd_config file can prevent the SSH server from starting. Ensure that the configuration file syntax is correct and that there are no conflicting settings.

Firewall Blocking SSH Port

If the firewall is blocking incoming connections on port 22, the SSH server won’t be accessible. Check the firewall rules and make sure that port 22 is allowed:

sudo ufw status

If UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall) is being used and SSH is not allowed, enable it with:

sudo ufw allow ssh

Advanced Monitoring Techniques

Beyond basic status checks, there are advanced monitoring techniques that can help ensure the SSH server remains healthy and responsive.

Setting Up SSH Service Monitoring

Consider setting up a monitoring tool like Nagios, Zabbix, or Prometheus to keep tabs on the SSH service’s availability and performance. These tools can alert you to outages or other issues with the SSH server.

Automating SSH Status Checks

Create a cron job that regularly runs a script to check the SSH service status and reports any problems. This proactive approach can help catch issues before they escalate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I restart the SSH service on Ubuntu?

To restart the SSH service, use the following command:

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Can I change the default SSH port on Ubuntu?

Yes, you can change the default SSH port by editing the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and modifying the ‘Port’ directive. After making changes, restart the SSH service for them to take effect.

What should I do if I’m locked out of my server after changing the SSH port?

If you have physical access to the server or another way to access it (such as a console through a hosting provider), revert the changes to the SSH configuration file. If remote access is your only option, you may need to contact your hosting provider for assistance.

Is it possible to run multiple instances of the SSH server on different ports?

Yes, you can configure multiple instances of the SSH server to listen on different ports by creating separate configuration files for each instance and specifying the desired port in each one.

How can I improve the security of my SSH server?

To enhance SSH server security, consider implementing key-based authentication, disabling root login, changing the default port, and using fail2ban to protect against brute-force attacks.


Monitoring the status of your SSH server on Ubuntu is a critical task for maintaining a secure and reliable remote access environment. By utilizing the tools and techniques outlined in this article, you can ensure that your SSH service is always performing optimally. Remember to also implement best practices for security and set up automated monitoring to stay ahead of potential issues.


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