Accessing MySQL safely using port forwarding with PuTTY

During my days with dreamhost, in order to access MySQL from my local machine, I used to add my ip to the allowed host list. Even though security is compromised here, I really liked to use HeidiSQL for accessing MySQL database server instead of the built in MySQL console. But after my move to SliceHost, I found a little trick using which I can continue to use HeidiSQL from my local machine without adding my ip to the allowed host list.

This nice little trick is called port forwarding. Let me show you how I configured PuTTY so as to enable port forwarding.
First install MySQL and then configure SSH to use key based authentication and change the default port by following the articles at Slicehost. After installing MySQL and configuring SSH, download and install PuTTY from its download page. I recommend you to download the zip file containing all the files.

Then create a new session in PuTTY by entering the ip address and also the port. Then choose Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels. In the source port field enter a valid port number like 8600. In the destination field enter the value 3306 is the default port in which MySQL runs. The reason why I asked you to enter a different port in the source is that, in future if you run a MySQL server in your local machine for testing, it will clash with your port forwarding. Click the Add button and then start the session. Don’t forget to save the session.


Now open your favourite MySQL GUI client. Mine is HeidiSQL. In the connection settings, enter as the Hostname and enter the port which you specified in the source field in PuTTY (8600) as port. Also enter your username, password, default database name and the click connect.


Now the request which goes to port 8600 of your local machine is forwarded to port 3600 of your MySQL server by PuTTY and you can safely use a GUI client for MySQL without adding any ip to the allowed host list. Note that it will work only when PuTTY is having the session opened.

I hope this is of help to you and let me know how it is working for you. Happy PuTTYing 😉

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