SSH Permission Denied (publickey) Solved: Troubleshooting and Fixes

Encountering the “SSH Permission Denied (publickey)” error while trying to connect to a remote server can be frustrating. This error typically occurs when the SSH server doesn’t recognize your public key or when your local SSH client is unable to authenticate using the provided key. In this guide, we’ll walk you through troubleshooting steps and solutions to resolve the “SSH Permission Denied (publickey)” error.

Step 1: Verify Your Public Key

Ensure that you are using the correct public key for authentication. Your public key should be stored in the ~/.ssh/ file. You can verify its content using:

cat ~/.ssh/

Step 2: Copy Public Key to Remote Server

If your public key is not present on the remote server’s ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file, you won’t be able to authenticate. Use the ssh-copy-id command to copy your public key to the remote server:

ssh-copy-id username@server_ip

Replace username with your username and server_ip with the remote server’s IP address.

Step 3: Check Permissions

Incorrect permissions on your local ~/.ssh directory and the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file can lead to authentication failures. Make sure the permissions are set correctly:

chmod 700 ~/.ssh
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Step 4: Confirm Remote User

Ensure that you are connecting using the correct username on the remote server. If you are using a different username, specify it explicitly in your SSH command:

ssh username@server_ip

Step 5: Debugging with -v Option

When running the SSH command with the -v option, you’ll get verbose output that can help diagnose the issue. This output will provide insights into what’s happening during the authentication process.

ssh -v username@server_ip

Step 6: Password Authentication

If public key authentication is not working, you can temporarily enable password authentication to troubleshoot further. Open the SSH configuration file on the remote server:

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Change PasswordAuthentication from no to yes. Save the file and restart the SSH service:

sudo service ssh restart

Step 7: Check SSH Agent

Make sure your SSH agent is running and has your private key loaded:

eval $(ssh-agent -s)
ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Step 8: Key Format

If you manually copied your public key, ensure that it is in the correct format and doesn’t have any extra spaces or line breaks.

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Step 9: Check Server Logs

Inspect the server’s SSH logs for any clues. You can find the logs in /var/log/auth.log or /var/log/secure:

sudo cat /var/log/auth.log

Step 10: Disable Password Authentication (Optional)

For better security, consider disabling password authentication once your key-based authentication is working:

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Set PasswordAuthentication to no, then restart the SSH service.


The “SSH Permission Denied (publickey)” error can have various causes, from incorrect key setups to permissions issues. By following these troubleshooting steps, you can diagnose and resolve the issue, ensuring a secure and seamless SSH connection to your remote server. Remember to exercise caution when making changes to system files and configurations.

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