cPanel is Often the Best Choice
When researching to choose which web hosting control panel is right for you, it's hard not to come across cPanel. cPanel, when paired with its sister product WHM (Web Hosting Manager), gives you one of the most comprehensive web hosting management solutions on the market.
cPanel is the “client” side of the package giving users the ability to do tasks such as create email accounts and manage domains and Cron Jobs.
WHM is the “Admin” side of the package providing functionality such as creating web hosting packages and adding users. Unlike some control panel solutions such as Webmin or Froxlor there is a licensing fee but with that comes other advantages. Let's start by taking a look at cPanel’s feature set:
- Linux Only
- Application Management
- Backup Management
- FTP Management
- DNS Management
- Email Management
- Resource Reporting
- User Management
- Traffic Reporting and Analytics
Most of these features are common in web hosting control panels. There are reasons you might choose one web panel over another, and that is what we’re focusing on in this article.
Being an established player in the control panel space, cPanel has many advantages over its less known competition. Only one other control panel on the market, Plesk, has the reputation and features that cPanel has.
Core cPanel Advantages
When setting up your web hosting business the level of support, you receive for critical infrastructure is an important consideration. By choosing a control panel with paid licensing, you receive both customer and technical support to help resolve issues. In addition to the support from cPanel itself, cPanel and WHM are one of the most widely used control panels in use in the industry. You’ll find excellent resources online as well as be able to find able to find employees familiar with its use. This makes it an excellent choice for serious web hosts. There is a per-incident cost of $65 for cPanel’s phone support, but the quality of support is unmatched.
Third Party Applications
Another advantage cPanel has over other control panels is in 3rd party application support. Being the most widely used control panel in North America, it has built-in support for over 250 applications. You can see the full list at the cPanel website here. You’ll find support for many popular applications like the Auto-Installers Softaculous and Installatron, security solutions like Cloudflare, and CMS solutions such as Joomla! And Drupal.
Solid third-party application support is essential for a business like web hosting where you may need to be able to extend the functionality you have quickly. The larger your web hosting business, the more of a factor this is.
cPanel and its most significant competitor Plesk, are considered the gold standards of control panels currently in use. cPanel is a little faster and uses slightly fewer resources than Plesk but has a somewhat less modern UI. When viewed through the lens of the control panel being mission critical infrastructure for your business, stability and speed are crucial. cPanel and WHM can be considered to be one of the two reliable enterprise level solutions. Plesk is commonly used for Windows hosting.
You know when an issue is discovered in cPanel, it’ll be resolved and resolved quickly. This combined with the support makes it one of the only choices for larger hosting providers.
In a large hosting environment it can be a challenge to keep multiple identical servers updated to the same level. cPanel makes this easy. If each server has a cPanel license, same servers can be grouped into clusters, and all be updated from a single command. This is a huge advantage in large-scale environments for cPanel as its largest competitor Plesk does not have this functionality. The more servers you have, the more cost effective cPanel becomes.
When Not To Use cPanel
Now that we know what core advantages cPanel has let's look at some cases where cPanel would be a poor choice. There are some specific use cases where Plesk or another control panel may be a better choice. Even an industry-leading platform will have cases where it isn’t necessarily the best choice.
You Host Windows Servers
One case where you can eliminate using cPanel is when hosting Windows servers. cPanel only provides official support for CentOS, CloudLinux, Red Hat Enterprise, and Amazon Linux. When doing web hosting using Windows server Plesk is generally the better choice as it has more extensive OS support than cPanel. That being said some workarounds can make cPanel work in a windows environment, but it isn’t the best idea to use workarounds with a large scale hosting business.
You Are Running WordPress
The Plesk WordPress Toolkit makes it hard to recommend cPanel over Plesk if WordPress hosting is essential to you. Many of the tasks you would do to administer WordPress are reduced to one-click tasks in Plesk’s toolkit, and it allows for the mass management of WordPress instances.
Auto update functionality and a staging environment are also built in if you have the full version. There aren’t currently any applications in cPanel that offer anywhere near the level of functionality that you get from the Plesk WordPress Toolkit.
cPanel deserves its place as a leader in web hosting control panels. The licensing fees for cPanel are reasonable ranging from $15 monthly for a cPanel Solo license to $425 a year for dedicated server licenses. For the individual like an application developer or web designer you may be able to get a cheaper free control panel, but $15 a month isn’t a massive investment. The question here is if you need the full functionality of cPanel and WHM for yourself.
The market where cPanel really shines is in the large-scale Linux web hosting environment. If you run centOS you can scale quickly and quickly as day to day work such as server updates are made easy with cPanel’s server clustering functionality. That combined with technical support, a reputation for reliability, and significant 3rd party app support make it one of your best options. There aren’t any other control panels that will scale for a web host the way cPanel does.