The Easiest Way To Enable Telnet In Vista & Windows 7

The other day I tried to use Telnet to get access to a Cisco switch at work but I completely forgot that Windows 7 no longer ships with Telnet installed by default and neither does Windows Vista for that matter. I wasted time trying to reinstall it and it was just a total inconvenience that I didn’t need. I am guessing it was an attempt by Microsoft to make both of these versions of Windows less cluttered for the average user and a little more secure as Telnet protocol by its self is not a very secure protocol for communicating with other devices across a network as any data sent via Telnet is not encrypted and can be read in plain text by anyone sneaky enough to intercept the data packets (This is a story for another time though).

Regardless of security there are definitely times in an IT Techs life when Telnet is going to come in handy and there is a very quick and easy way to re-enable it on Windows Vista and of course Windows 7. Both versions of Windows use the same method.

To re-enable Telnet:

  • Open the ‘Control Panel’.
  • Select ‘Programs and Features’.
  • In the left hand side column select ‘Turn Windows Features on or off’.
  • Scroll down and select ‘Telnet Client’.
  • Click ‘OK’

Windows will now install the Telnet client and you will be able to run it from the command prompt (cmd) using the ‘telnet’ command. To open the command prompt you can go to the Start menu and then click on ‘Run’, in the dialogue box type in the letters ‘cmd’ and press OK.

If you use the Telnet client regularly you may be interested in a free replacement which I came across in a Cisco course that I went through not long ago. It is called Tera Term and it supports multiple other protocols too, including SSH which is much more secure than Telnet as it is encrypted. Tera Term is completely ad and spyware free and costs absolutely nothing so what have you got to lose? Check it out, it’s free!

As an added bonus to this article check out this huge list of Windows Run commands. These commands will work in pretty much all versions of Microsoft Windows. They will definitely save you a lot of time and effort during your computing life, especially if your job involves trying to explain computer fixes to people over the telephone which from personal experience can be a real pain!