GitHub Clone Repository SSH – A Comprehensive Guide :


Hello readers, and welcome to this comprehensive guide on cloning a GitHub repository using SSH. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of cloning a repository on GitHub via SSH. We will learn about the benefits of using SSH, the necessary setup, and various troubleshooting tips. So, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

  1. Benefits of Using SSH
  2. Setting Up SSH
  3. Cloning a Repository
  4. Troubleshooting Tips
  5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Benefits of Using SSH

In this section, we will explore the advantages of using SSH for cloning GitHub repositories.

High Security

SSH (Secure Shell) provides a secure encrypted connection between your local machine and the remote GitHub repository. This ensures that the data transmitted during cloning remains confidential and cannot be intercepted by malicious actors.


SSH supports key-based authentication, making the cloning process seamless and convenient. Once the SSH key is set up and associated with your GitHub account, you can clone repositories without repeatedly entering credentials.


Using SSH significantly improves the cloning performance, especially for large repositories. The optimized data transfer and compression algorithms in SSH protocol make the process faster compared to HTTPS cloning.

Access Control

SSH allows you to control repository access to specific users by managing their SSH keys. This feature is particularly useful when working in team environments or when collaborating with external parties.

Setting Up SSH

To start using SSH for cloning repositories, you need to perform a one-time setup. Let’s walk through the process step-by-step:

Step 1: Check for Existing SSH Keys

Before generating a new SSH key, it is essential to check if you already have one. Open a terminal and run the following command:

$ ls -al ~/.ssh

If you see any existing key files (e.g., or, you can skip to Cloning a Repository. Otherwise, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Generate a New SSH Key

To generate a new SSH key, use the following command:

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C ""

This command generates a new RSA SSH key pair. You can replace “” with your GitHub-associated email address.

Step 3: Add Your SSH Key to the ssh-agent

The ssh-agent is a background process that manages your SSH keys. To add your newly generated SSH key to the ssh-agent, run the following command:

$ eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"

Step 4: Add the SSH Private Key to the ssh-agent

Run the following command to add your private key to the ssh-agent:

$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Make sure to replace id_rsa with the filename of your private key if it differs.

Step 5: Add the SSH Public Key to GitHub

Copy the public key to your clipboard using the following command:

$ cat ~/.ssh/

Visit your GitHub account’s settings, navigate to the “SSH and GPG keys” section, and click on “New SSH key.” Paste the copied SSH key into the designated field and save it.

Cloning a Repository

In this section, we will learn how to clone a GitHub repository using SSH.

Step 1: Obtain the SSH Clone URL

Visit the repository page on GitHub that you want to clone. Click on the “Code” button and ensure that “SSH” is selected. Copy the SSH clone URL.

Step 2: Open Terminal

Open a terminal or command prompt on your local machine.

Step 3: Change Directory

Using the cd command, navigate to the directory where you want to clone the repository. For example:

$ cd ~/Documents/Projects

Step 4: Clone the Repository

Run the following command to clone the repository:

$ git clone [SSH clone URL]

Replace [SSH clone URL] with the URL you copied in Step 1. Press Enter, and Git will clone the repository to your local machine.

Troubleshooting Tips

Encountering issues during the cloning process? Here are some common troubleshooting tips:

1. Invalid SSH Key Permissions

Ensure that the permissions for your SSH key files are set correctly. Run the following command to correct them:

$ chmod 400 ~/.ssh/id_rsa

2. Confirm SSH Agent is Running

Verify that the ssh-agent is running using the following command:

$ eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"

If not running, start it with the command ssh-agent bash.

3. Add SSH Key to ssh-agent

Re-add the SSH key to ssh-agent using the following command:

$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

4. Check SSH Key in GitHub

Ensure that you have added the correct SSH key to your GitHub account. Remove any duplicates if necessary and add the corresponding public key.

5. Verify Remote URL

Double-check the cloned repository’s remote URL using the following command:

$ git remote -v

If incorrect, update it using:

$ git remote set-url origin [SSH clone URL]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can I use SSH for repositories hosted on other platforms?

A1: Yes, SSH is a widely supported protocol for cloning repositories not only on GitHub but also on other version control platforms like GitLab and Bitbucket.

Q2: Can I switch between HTTPS and SSH cloning methods?

A2: Yes, you can switch between HTTPS and SSH cloning methods based on your requirements. Follow the appropriate setup steps for each method.

Q3: What should I do if I forget my SSH passphrase?

A3: If you forget your SSH passphrase, you can generate a new SSH key and update it in the relevant platforms where you have previously added your public key.

Q4: Is it necessary to add my SSH key to the ssh-agent every time I start a new terminal session?

A4: No, you don’t need to add your SSH key to the ssh-agent every time. Once added, the ssh-agent will keep your key loaded until you restart your machine or explicitly remove it.

Q5: Can I use SSH keys on multiple machines?

A5: Yes, you can use the same SSH key pair across multiple machines by copying the private key to each machine. Make sure to keep your private key secure and only accessible to authorized users.

Congratulations! You have successfully learned how to clone a GitHub repository using SSH. Feel free to explore more advanced features and workflows to enhance your development experience.

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