cPanel vs Plesk – Which is The Best Web Hosting Control Panel?
Nowadays, managing servers is much easier for website owners with the abundance of helpful features available. Today’s standard is to provide control panels that are fast and easy to understand so that users can focus more on other tasks like generating content, implementing marketing plans and driving more traffic.
The fact that people don’t need to deal with all the technicalities also makes web hosting services accessible for a wider audience.
It is easy to find a reliable web hosting provider that includes a beginner-friendly control panel in its hosting plans. Even if you opt for a service that doesn’t provide you with a control panel, you can always buy one separately and install it on the server.
There are two widely used control panels right now in the market with tons of positive reviews: Plesk and cPanel. We are going to compare them in this article to show you the differences and help you find out which one suits your goals the best.
Obviously, either of them is a good choice, but there are always pros and cons that clarify which one suits you best. For example, if you go for a cheaper web hosting plan (like shared hosting), some of them offer cPanel, while other providers prefer Plesk as their control panel. Once you pick the plan, you don’t get to choose between the two. By reviewing them, we want to show you that control panels are another important thing to consider before you actually start to use a web hosting service.
In case you need a more powerful plan based on dedicated or VPS hosting, those will definitely let you pick a control panel. Now let’s see what the most important things you should know about Plesk and cPanel are!
The General Features of a Control Panel
The main idea of a control panel is to provide you with as many useful features as you need. These grant you full control over your web hosting plan and the server that stores your website. Here we are going to cover the most common features you can find in a control panel. Let’s line them up in a neat list:
- A control panel lets you manage everything related to your IP address and domain name
- You can transfer your files whenever needed via FTP
- Full control over your databases
- It is extensible, meaning that you can install useful add-ons
- You can access and manage your own file system online
- Manage your emails with a few clicks
- Enables you to create backups in case things go wrong
With this information in mind, we are going to proceed and show you what extras can Plesk and cPanel add to the system and their disadvantages as well.
cPanel in a Nutshell
Thanks to its popularity, lots of new users choose cPanel in a daily basis for creating domain names and starting web hosting plans. This is mainly because cPanel is designed with the inexperienced user in mind. Everyone can install and quickly understand how this control panel works. The abundance of positive reviews speak for themselves, praising its quality and reliability.
cPanel will never let you down. You can either make urgent changes at nighttime or take care of a longer task in the afternoon; the control panel will be always ready. cPanel is built on Linux, so if you prefer to use Windows or some other operating system, then this control panel is not recommended for you.
It can be used in three different ways, which depends on whether the user is an administrator, reseller or an end-user website owner. These three roles get to use different features. cPanel lets you do everything that can be done in a typical control panel. This includes resource, backup and file management. However, it also lets you install numerous add-ons out of the box which can help you a lot in tasks related to your website.
For example, you can use WHM with cPanel. WHM is an abbreviation for Web Hosting Manager. If you have more than one cPanel accounts, you can use this add-on to manage them more easily. People that have numerous websites are always better off using a separate cPanel for each of them. In these cases, using a WHM can help a lot.
Plesk in a Nutshell
We can say that Plesk is a multi-purpose control panel that makes life easier for those who want to build and maintain their websites and applications. Plesk came out back in 2001, which makes this control panel the younger one if you compare it to cPanel that has been around since 1996.
Plesk doesn’t differ that much from cPanel. If you add a WHM to your cPanel, you will pretty much end up with the same features that you can find in Plesk. There is no need for an add-on; this control panel is able to handle multiple websites in itself. In case you don’t want a Linux-based solution, then you should definitely pick Plesk instead of cPanel. This one runs on Windows, but you can also run it on some Linux versions if you are really a fan of this control panel.
Most of the big web hosting companies that prefer Windows as their operating system include Plesk as a control panel option. Plesk also has the core features that allow you to manage your server and web hosting plan accordingly. On top of that, you can line up all the tools in the control panel that are necessary for your website management tasks. These are third-party software that will be available in Plesk whenever you need them.
With all the tools and features, you get a highly efficient interface that grants you full control over everything. It is designed with the inexperienced user in mind, so it doesn’t require much time to get used to. To sum it up, Plesk is the ultimate control panel that has every tool and core functionality at arm’s length.
Switching Between Plesk and cPanel
Using Plesk or cPanel is simple, but only if you don’t already have a website that is powered by a web hosting plan and managed by a control panel to begin with. If you already use one of them on your server and want to migrate the data just to switch to the other control panel, it is a much more complicated case.
On the other hand, migrating your website from a cPanel to another cPanel or from a Plesk to another Plesk is much easier. We are not saying that the first case is impossible, but it certainly takes a lot of effort and you need to delve into the technicalities if you want to switch control panels. It is definitely not something you should do by yourself, unless you have lots of experience.
Notable Differences Between cPanel and Plesk
As we talked about the most important features of each option, you surely noticed that cPanel and Plesk have lots of similarities. Both of them seem like a great choice, right? So how can you decide which one to pick from the two highly popular control panels?
Next up, we are going to talk about the main differences between Plesk and cPanel. Each of the two has its own set of features that you can’t find in the other one. Obviously, the admin interface isn’t the same and you also don’t get the same amount of control in these two control panels. We are going to cover these differences as well. From the rest of this article, you can read about all the essential details that you need to take into account before making the final decision.
Supported Operating Systems
Since cPanel runs on Linux, there are four different Linux versions to choose from as a main requirement for the control panel. These are the following: Cloud, Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS and Amazon. There was another option in the past that allowed people to use cPanel on Windows.
It was called Enkompass and it was available for three years after its release in 2011. Unfortunately, this panel is not available anymore, unless you have created an account back then.
Now let’s see what Plesk can offer in terms of compatibility. This one is more versatile, supporting numerous operating systems. Plesk also supports three of the previously mentioned options, including CentOS, Cloud and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. On top of that, you can run it on Ubuntu and Virtuozzo Linux, Debian and Windows Server as well.
Although Plesk is a cross-platform control panel, it doesn’t mean that you can set it up on any computer that has one of the listed operating systems installed. There is a different version of Plesk available for each specific operating system. Once you buy the desired version, you won’t be able to use it on another operating system.
But this was still not the most important part. For most people, it doesn’t matter if a control panel can run on Windows because Linux is the top choice for web hosting anyway. When it comes to cPanel and Plesk, you will be able to use both of them successfully if you have one of the supported Linux versions.
What matters the most is the set of features that each of them provides. But still, you should make sure that the control panel you want to buy is compatible with the operating system that you have on your machine.
Features in cPanel and Plesk
Of course, the main purpose of every control panel is to enable you to easily manage your server and website. Therefore, the core functionalities are always very similar. You can find the differences by looking at the third-party tools offered by Plesk and cPanel. Both of them are extensible, but how powerful their add-ons actually are?
The point of adding third-party tools to your control panel is to increase the amount of control you have over tasks related to your server, website and hosting. Git is one of the popular extensions that you can add to Plesk. It is a widely used tool for source code management that many developer companies rely on. Git comes with powerful features and the tool even supports all the software engineering services.
Or there is another great extension for Plesk that is called Docker, a tool that lets you run applications in containers. These containers are marked as Docker Images and you can manage the complete list of images in the interface. You can assign these containers to local hosts and remote computers or servers as well.
There are some highly popular tools that work on Plesk and cPanel as well, such as Virtualmin and WordPress. These became so essential in any control panel that it would have been a poor choice if there was no support for this helpful software. WordPress is a CMS that powers millions of websites, while Virtualmin makes you able to control numerous hosting accounts through a single control panel.
Both Plesk and cPanel support the most common tools. As long as you don’t want a specific tool from a specific developer, you can simply add the desired feature to your website. For example, if you own an eCommerce website, then you might need a shopping cart for it. You can add that easily with both control panels.
Things start to get complicated when you need a specific tool like Docker for your cPanel. Since only Plesk supports it, adding it to a different control panel requires a lot more effort, especially as a beginner. Therefore, there are slight differences in cPanel and Plesk when it comes to the integrations you are allowed to install.
All you need to do is to check out the App Store for cPanel or the Extensions section if you use Plesk. By checking these lists out before picking your control panel, you can decide which set of supported add-ons will suit your needs the best.
Differences in Interface and User-Experience
We can say that both cPanel and Plesk have completely beginner-friendly interfaces. Today’s standard is to apply a minimalistic, attractive design to the software and websites available on the Internet. Every page and interface needs to be clean and neatly arranged, using some visually appealing fonts and self-explanatory icons.
These control panels absolutely meet these standards, making it not only straightforward but also enjoyable to use them. But there are still slight differences that make Plesk the better choice for the less experienced users. Plesk somehow makes it easier to understand how to execute server management tasks and use the features properly. For more experienced website owners, cPanel is probably the better choice.
The key factor in Plesk that makes it easier to use is the way its features are arranged. They are divided into categories, so that you don’t need to waste as much time as a beginner to find a particular option. If you want the same user experience in cPanel, you can modify the interface in a similar way. cPanel has some customization options that allow you to put features into categories, so that next time you can find them more easily.
Since there is a mobile application available for almost all important online software, you can download the app for both of these control panels as well. This is one of the things that you will need to log in and check regularly, and the ability to check and control it on a mobile phone always gives users more freedom. You can install the online application on Android and iOS platforms for both Plesk and cPanel.
On top of that, no matter which control panel you choose, both of them are completely suitable for more experienced users who want to manage their server using the command line.
Plesk and cPanel Price Comparison
If you want to use cPanel, you can choose from three different packages. There is the Solo plan for $15 per month, the WHM VPS plan for $20 and the WHM Dedicated plan for $45 each month. As usual, buying one of the packages instantly for a longer time period ensures you discounts. However, you can also choose to pay month-to-month if you want to try it out or if you want to use it for a smaller project.
If you are sure that you need cPanel for a long time period, you can ensure the lowest possible average price by going for their three-year subscription. But there are other discounts available as well. If you own numerous websites that need to run on separate cPanel instances, you can get a discount for that as well. Their volume discounts greatly benefit web hosting resellers as well.
If you want to use Plesk, you can pick one of their three available editions. These include: Web Admin for $10 per month, Web Pro for $15 and Web Host for $25 a month. This is just a starter price for each of the options, because after choosing one, you need to decide between three dedicated or VPS plans for each edition.
There is an extensive list of features available for each edition that you can check out on their site. Once you go through the details, you will surely find the plan that suits your needs the best. Like cPanel, Plesk also offers discounts for those who subscribe for a longer time period. The benefits that resellers and multiple website owners get with Plesk are also pretty much the same, ensuring that you don’t need such a big budget to start.
These plans that we mentioned are only VPS and dedicated plans, but what if you want a shared plan instead? Finding a shared plan is actually really easy, but you will need to deal with the fact that you don’t get to choose the control panel. Instead, the provider will decide which option you will get, Plesk or cPanel.
We can say that control panels that allow you to deal with all your server and website administration tasks are based on the same core features. No matter if you server runs on Linux or Windows, a control panel should grant you full control over your server and website. As we reviewed cPanel and Plesk, what we learned is that the differences are rather in the smaller details.
In this article, we showed you the main differences between Plesk and cPanel. Now it is up to you to choose which one suits your goals the best. These are the things you should consider the most:
- Take a look at how each control panel handles data migration
- Which user interface would you rather use?
- Difference in features and package prices
- Which operating system is it compatible with?
In case you don’t have any specific needs and just want a reliable control panel, either of them will do a great job. If you are reading this article because you already use one of them, then we recommend you to continue using it. There is no need to switch to the other, similar option, unless you really need the small extra that you can get by choosing the other one.
For those who don’t have any experience in cPanel or Plesk and want a Linux-free solution that is completely beginner-friendly, choosing Plesk is always a great idea. However, if you want to get the most features, specs and extras for your money, you can maximize the value by choosing cPanel.