Using SSH/Shell access

SSH, or secure shell, is a secure network protocol that you can use to sign in to your Acquia Cloud environments and use command-line tools.

Available shell access tasks

After you enable SSH access in Acquia Cloud, you can use SSH/shell access in the Acquia Cloud environment to perform the following tasks:

Access your file storage directories from the command line

You have shell access to all of the web nodes running your website, using the same sitename username and SSH public key credentials that you use for rsync, scp, or SFTP on Acquia Cloud. To access your file storage directories, use the method based on your local operating system:

  • Mac/Linux/Unix

    ssh [site].[env]@[server]

    where [site] is your site name, [env] is the environment name, and [server] is the name of the server you're signing in to. To view the combined site and server name, see the User and keys page at Cloud > Users and keys. Be sure to specify an environment (usually one of dev, test, or prod). When you specify an environment, your PATH and other environment variables are set up in exactly the same way as they are for web processes, cron jobs, and Cloud hooks. In particular, whichever version of PHP you have configured on the Cloud > Workflow page will be the first in the PATH, and thus will be the default in your SSH session.

    For example, this command accesses the Staging environment of a website named example on the server named

  • Windows

    To open a window that allows command-line access to your files, use PuTTY, a free Telnet/SSH client for Windows.

    When you run PuTTY, load a session previously configured to connect to your web server, and then click Open.

Import and export databases

Acquia Cloud has unique database requirements that provide the best possible website performance. With SSH access enabled, you can use the Acquia Cloud database import script. For more information, see Importing your database.

Use the Drush command-line tool

Acquia Cloud websites with SSH/shell access have an installed and configured instance of Drush. It enables you to perform many administrative and website maintenance tasks from the command line instead of using the Drupal administrative interface. For more information, see About Drush on Acquia Cloud.

Limitations on shell access

Because of the technical requirements necessary for maintaining a highly available and redundant hosting platform, there are some limits on what you can access and do using shell access on Acquia Cloud:

  • Limited file access

    You should store files in the persistent network filesystem directory at /mnt/files/[site].[env].

  • No root access

    You do not have root access, even if your website is running on dedicated cloud instances.

  • Write access to your Drupal docroot

    Use Subversion (SVN) or Git to manage your code on Acquia Cloud. By default, you cannot use shell access to install or update modules or to make other changes to your Drupal docroot directory (/var/www/html). If you want to make changes to your Drupal docroot directory, enable Live Development. You can use Live Development to modify only your Dev and Stage environments, not your Prod environment. Read more about Editing code on your server.

  • A bug exists in PHP that prevents users from connecting to a remote server using SSH with a passphrase. You are able to connect using the command line, but may encounter problems with the same key pair when connecting using PHP. For more information, see Issue connecting with SSH in PHP using keys with passphrases.

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