cPanel, as its name suggests, is a web based control panel used for managing Linux or Windows based web servers or hosts. It allows users to control email addresses, domain names, databases, different PHP versions and almost every aspect of a web server, thus making it possible to manage all hosted services in a single place. Developed by the cPanel company, cPanel is mostly written in Perl.
cPanel is a great, customizable control panel, which successfully withstood the test of time, and has an active community behind it, which can help you overcome any problems or difficulties that arise during its use. The popularity and widespread use of cPanel is also due to the fact that it has a straightforward interface that can be easily comprehended by first-time users as well. But its enterprise-level features (multi-server management, IPV6 support) make it suitable for more professional use as well.
Accessing the cPanel
You can access the cPanel installation by means of a web browser. The address of the panel will be given by your server or hosting provider. You should not be scared by the :2082 in the URL as that is the port number to which cPanel listens by default. However, you should only access cPanel via a secure HTTPS connection, otherwise you might risk a security breach.
The cPanel interface
The cPanel interface has been refined over the years, again and again, and the interface itself can be customized by the web hosting company offering the services, but in general they have the following main sections: Preferences, Mail, Files, Database, Domains, Security and Logs. The easy-to-use and polished interface is one of the many aspects that account for the popularity of this control panel.
cPanel is one of the most feature rich control panels out there.
In the Mail section you can set up new email accounts, forwarders, you can fine tune SpamAssasin settings, manage mail list, define catch all email addresses, etc. Most email settings can be done with just by a few clicks.
Under the Domain you can find the Simple Zone Editor through which the editing of Zones can be easily achieved. Here you can also define redirects and you can edit other domain and DNS related settings.
You can find the PHPMyAdmin usually under the use that too. Another nice feature Database section. The management of MySQL databases from a web interface is pretty convenient, but if you prefer MySQL Workbench you can of cPanel is the ability to “mount” or use remote databases. Besides MySQL, cPanel can manage PostgreSQL databases too.
cPanel comes with a very convenient backup system, which can be found usually under the File section. It can be used to create non-incremental, snapshot based backups from Databases, Files, Email settings, or you can back up the whole panel to a single archive. This feature is very useful when you want to move to another host, which also offers cPanel as a control panel. If you want to move from a hosting company to another one which uses a custom control panel, migrating can be quite a complex task, but not if it’s done from cPanel to cPanel. Here, under the Files section, you usually find the FTP settings page, which allows you to set up new FTP accounts, or edit old ones. You can specify the account’s home directory if you want, but it is usually pre-populated for you.
With cPanel, you can usually choose which version of a particular software you want to use, with just a few clicks you can select the PHP version for example. You still have the old PHP code which uses the mysq_connect and mysql_query functions? No problem, change the PHP version to 5.X and you are good to go. You want to squeeze some extra performance from your actual PHP web application? Just change the PHP version to 7.X and you can instantly benefit from the faster PHP interpreter in terms of page generation times.
Other features worth mentioning are raw and parsed access and error log access, so a developer can see the exact errors produced by the applications, while the site owner can see the access statistics and traffic fluctuations or trends. It has cron job support, you can define your custom apache handlers or even add custom mime-types, it has an easy to set up Basic Auth based folder password protection, easy to use SSL setup with self-signed certificates and/or CSR generation.
You can always see the current resource usage like bandwidth, storage, number of FTP or Email accounts, number of databases, number of sent emails, etc. Some hosting providers even set up email based alerts if you are close to the set limit, so you can take immediate action. This can help you have a clear overview of your hosting resources and control their allocation.
The features of cPanel can be extended using third party plugins. There are quite a few ready-made plugins in the cPanel App Catalog, but it can also be extended by custom-written plugins.
cPanel has a well-documented JSON API with ready-made clients in PHP and PERL and also supports a command line API client called cpapi2. If you have some tasks which you find yourself doing over and over again, you might consider implementing a client which does that for you, either as a Plugin or as a API client.
Conclusion – Why Should You Use cPanel Host?
As you can see, cPanel is a very mature product, which has been in the business quite a while now, with many high profile hosting companies using it. If you own a dedicated server or a VPS and you consider using cPanel either for yourself or for your clients you should know that for a VPS the cost is $20 per month or $200 per year, while for a dedicated server $45 per month and $425 per annum. Most trusted hosting companies will offer you a cPanel based hosting control panel for free, and some clients will only choose a given hosting provider if it comes with cPanel.
Top cPanel Hosting Providers
Now, that you know what is cPanel and how it works, probably you want to know which are the best hosting providers that offer cPanel. Bellow are our top 3 recommended cPanel hosting companies that include cPanel control panel for free with their shared hosting plans:
$3.95 / mo
$4.19 / mo
$3.95 / mo
If you would like to find out more about each hosting provider, I recommend checking out their official website, or read our reviews:
- BlueHost Review – best for business and WordPress hosting
- InMotion Review – best for small and medium business sites
- HostGator Review – best for growing business websites
If you still have any question regarding cPanel, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section bellow or check out further our cPanel tutorials.