How to play Machines (for HTB Classic)

Check out more information about the different Active and Retired machines we have!

Last updated by 0ne-nine9 (admin)

Updated at June 29th, 2020

The Active machines are a rotating queue of 20 machines that offer you points for completing them. The difficulty of these machines can vary between Easy, Medium, Hard and Insane

These pre-set difficulties can be different from the way other users have rated those machines after completing them. Keep an eye out for both the rating and the pre-set difficulty when deciding whether to undertake the tasks required for a certain box. 

A piece of advice. Be prepared accordingly for each difficulty with time, patience and uninterrupted focus in order to ensure that you will crack the machine.

In the case of Retired machines, there are the same ratings and difficulties for the machines listed there. However, they do not offer you points upon completion. They do, however offer you multiple available write-ups for each of them. This is a great resource for learning how to attack different services and environments. 

It’s highly suggested that if you’re new to the game, you should invest in your skillset development by getting yourself a VIP subscription. It’s the price of two cups of coffee and you have 140+ machines to learn from.

Free VPN Servers for Active machines

For Free users, only the 20 current Active machines are available, together with the latest 2 newly Retired machines, which will still be up and running on the Free VPN servers and marked with a blue arrow for free users to tackle.

They will be marked as such:

In order to access the Active machines and these latest 2 Retired machines, you will need, as a free account, to switch to one of the provided Free VPN servers.

Free VPN packs (green)

  • EU Lab Free Access

  • US Lab Free Access

  • AU Lab Free Access

Click on the Switch button and it should turn to Switching. After you’re successfully assigned to EU/US Free, you will get a notification at the bottom right of the screen and your HTB Lab Access Details table should contain the new lab information.

Hit the Connection Pack download button or the Regenerate button and both should start the download for your new .ovpn pack.

Start up a single instance of openVPN using your newly downloaded .ovpn file. Please note that if you have an older .ovpn file you will need to delete it to prevent getting them mixed up.

For more information on how to manage your new VPN connection, please check out the article below:

Introduction to the VPN System

Active machines can be accessed by everyone. These are machines that, for all free accounts, are up and running constantly. You do not need to spawn an instance of any active machines as long as you’re on a free VPN server in order to reach it.

For any free VPN server, there is no way to reach Retired machines. In order to reach these, you will need to upgrade to a VIP account! It’s worth it if you want to learn in your own pace and using write-ups!

If you’re logged into a free account and would like to access the active machines, you will need to visit your Access page, swap to one of the green tickets as pictured in the image above, and download your new connection pack.

All of the Active machines and the last two retired machines are always online for the Free VPN servers. To find the latest retired machines that are still available to the free users, you can go to the Machines page, click on the Retired Machines tab and you should be able to spot this blue icon next to machines that have been recently retired but are still accessible to free accounts. They should always be found at the bottom of the Retired Machines list.

VIP VPN Servers for Active and Retired machines

Once you get a VIP account, you will be able to spawn both Active and Retired machines.

Note that you can only have 1 machine instance attached to your account at any given time. If you finished working on an instance of a Retired machine, you will need to terminate that instance, wait for the termination timer to count to 0, and start a new instance of the next machine you want to work on.

Note that as there is a plethora of VIP servers, both Active and Retired machines will need to be spawned most of the time, unlike the Free servers which always have the Active machines up and running for users to directly access.

Now that you have a VIP account, you also get access to the write-ups for each Retired machine. You can use these to learn all the different ways other users cracked different boxes.


Below are the status displays and controls for the machines in your list.

You will now see the play and stop buttons next to the others. Clicking on Click to Start or the Play button will spawn an instance of that machine on your account. This instance will be available to all users on the same VIP server as you, but only you can directly initiate a termination or extend its' lifetime if need be.

Note the small red circle next to the machine’s name. That is the status of the machine. This one is currently powered off on your VPN server.

  • Play Button: Will initialise a new instance of the box and attach it to your account as the owner of that instance.

  • Stop Button: Will initialise a shutdown timer of 2 minutes, which will terminate the machine when it reaches 0. Please note that other users can transfer ownership and cancel the machine termination within those two minutes, as everyone on your current server will be notified of the shutdown initialisation. If another user cancels your termination request, you can either hop to another VIP server to start a new instance of the machine in case the previous one was bugged, or you can attempt terminating at a later time, when the user has supposedly finished the task he was working on.

In the below case, this machine is up and running. It has been spawned by another user. If you look at the controls now, you can see the green status symbol next to the box’s name, the current lifetime of the machine (22 hours left, for example) and two control buttons: Transfer Machine Ownership and Stop Machine.

  • Transfer Ownership Button: You can transfer ownership from the current instance holder to yours in order to take control of the box lifetime. If the current owner is AFK or if you’d just like to make sure the instance stays alive for you to finish the box, you can transfer ownership and hit the extend time button which will be pictured in the next section.

In the case of Control, pictured below, you can see how the status of an instance assigned to you looks like. The Extend Machine Time button is present and you can use it to modify the current lifetime of the machine, extending it further, enough for you to finish the box if need be.

  • Extend Machine Time Button

As you can see from the below screenshot, despite the fact that OpenAdmin is a recently retired machine that is always online for Free VPN server users, it will be shutdown here, as this is a VIP VPN server. As stated before, VIP VPN servers, due to their high availability, will require VIP users to spawn instances where they are needed. This is the case for the recently retired boxes as well as the others.


In the case of Retired machines, the key feature is the write-ups. You can follow along with the official one, watch the embedded YouTube walkthrough of the box or submit your own walkthrough which will be posted under these previous ones!

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