The Problem with Using Free Terminal Emulators

free terminal emulatorsFree Windows terminal emulator applications are numerous. Most of them are built around Putty, one of the most popular free terminal emulators available.

As this article will show, there are many downsides to using these applications. They might not end up being as free as you think. Developing what you need for internal company operations, or for dealing with your clients will require some serious features. Free applications make many claims, but they are also the cause of many problems.

Some things to consider:

* Security: Free applications often do not come with many (if any) of the security features you will require to do business with serious clients. In many cases, you can purchase these security add-ons and licenses, andwill cost a packet. By the time you have all the security required by your customers, you probably should have paid for a professionally built program. Your open source application may claim to have true SSH security, but how sure can you be you have full protection? Are there gaping backdoors for hackers?

* Support of systems: The Windows environment is changing fast. They have already been using the 64bit environment for some time. It is highly unlikely your free terminal emulator will be able to handle anything more than the 32bit environment.

* Paying for a developer: Your application was free. Unless you are highly skilled at developing these applications yourself with hand-written code, you will need to pay someone else to do it. These people do not come cheap. Network engineers get paid serious money for what they do. You will need to do some serious background checking on someone you hire. On the other hand, professional packages often come with the tools to develop and modify for your particular needs. Even if you have 2 clients both requiring IBM’s 3270 emulation, it is highly likely they will have very different needs indeed. Just because you can support a protocol, does not mean you can support the needs of your customers.

* Spyware, backdoors and other issues: Have you thought about potential hackers who are creating these programs for future use? You might have found an excellent application that looks like it is doing what you think, but how sure can you be about what is really going on? Imagine the case where you have developed your own application, and you have become the backdoor for penetration to your customer’s sensitive database. It is important to remember, our computer screen could be telling us one thing, and what is going on is very different.

* Device options and more: Have you stopped to think about how you are going to deal with your business on the move? Are you planning to develop mobile device applications, for example? Open source applications are for engineers to play around with in their spare time. We are talking simple network administration, and not much for anyone who has serious money to make.

Free and open source terminal emulators are of no real use for business. If you are reading this article, you are new to the world of terminal emulators, and you are looking for a solution to deal with your clients. There is only one solution. Deal with those who have been in the business for decades, and they will support you in the future as requirements change. Do yourself a favour, and save yourself the embarrassment of even mentioning this issue to your prospective customers.

Tom Mallet is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including business it support and outsourced IT.

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