What is Plesk? Should You Use Plesk Powered Web Hosting?
Plesk is one of the top web hosting control panels with 50% of the top 100 hosting service providers worldwide using it. Although you can purchase a Plesk license separately, this control panel is usually included for free in shared, VPS and dedicated hosting plans of several hosting providers. As a web-based control panel, Plesk facilitates the day-to-day operation of a website by providing a single platform for website owners to manage the hosting features included with their hosting plan such as setting up websites, email accounts, managing databases, backups, logs.
Related: Top Web Hosting Control Panels
For long, there weren’t any decent control panels for Windows servers, then Plesk came along and filled that void, an aspect which accounts for its popularity among those who rely on Windows-based hosting. Thus, unlike cPanel, which dominates the Linux scene, Plesk is the control panel of choice for Windows hosting.
Plesk is a constantly growing platform that includes powerful features and extensions ranging from design to security. At its very minimum, a control panel must deliver at least four services: Mail, Web, Database and DNS. However, leading control panels like Plesk deliver scores of hosting services since web hosting in real life is far more complex and doesn’t resume only to these four features.
Here is a rundown of Plesk’s most important features:
Security is without doubt one of Plesk’s main selling points. Plesk skillfully covers web server security and account level security.
Plesk supports both LDAP and Active Directory authentication, which enable managing accounts at a central location, and running audit logs much easier. On top of that, it has support for Two Factor Authentication (e.g. via Google Authenticator) out of the box. It has a built-in WAF (Web Application Firewall) based on mod_security, which you can customize and fine tune. You can subscribe to Atomicore Rules for a fee, if you don’t want to bother updating the rules yourself.
Another great feature which comes with Plesk out of the box is Fail2Ban that constantly monitors log files and can ban IPv4 addresses if it detects a lot of failed login attempts to a service. Note that it will only work properly with IPv4 addresses, so if you use IPv6 and want to use Fail2Ban you might disable IPv6 support.
Plesk supports multiple web servers like Apache, NGINX and Litespeed, but in terms of security they also provide Let’s Encrypt integration. You can have HTTPS enabled sites for free with just a couple of clicks in the control panel. There is no reason why anybody would want to run unsecured websites or why anybody wouldn’t want to at least make them accessible via https. The Let’s Encrypt certificates can be used to secure mail servers (IMAP, SMTP) as well.
If you are running PHP based websites, then you should know that there are some limitations due to security on PHP applications. Of course, you can disable them if you please, but by default Plesk comes with hardened PHP security settings. For example, OpenBaseDir restrictions, allow_url_include is set to false, etc.
Parallels, the company behind Plesk, partnered with CloudFlare to create ServerShield, which is an extension to Plesk, but it comes with Plesk 12. ServerShield protects your websites from DDoS attacks and other hacking incidents, and it even has a built-in CDN. This type of collaboration clearly indicates that Plesk is a security-oriented control panel.
The fact that Plesk takes security very seriously is also reflected by its responsiveness to vulnerabilities. Security issues are acknowledged within a day, and fixes are released on average within 9 days as opposed to cPanel, which takes 9 days only to acknowledge security issues and 28 days on average to release fixes.
Since their role is to help you manage complex server operations, control panels must rank high in usability so much so that even beginners should find it easy to become familiar with the functions of the panel.
Plesk’s interface has received a massive facelift throughout recent versions, thus, a new user interface theme, fully responsive design, high-resolution icons, retina-ready display, adaptable user interface, etc. were added. Plesk supports all major browsers, provides role based access and an adaptable UI to user roles via interface presets.
Operating System Compatibility
The Windows hosting market is not negligible, so if you plan on adventuring into that market, then you’ll definitely run into Plesk. While cPanel is Linux only, Plesk works with the same feature sets both on Windows and Linux.
Plesk allows customization and branding though their various skins available. They even make it possible for you to create your own skins, so you can re-brand the interface according to your needs. Plesk also offers native support for 32 languages.
Plesk makes it possible to use your mobile to carry out server management operations via their fully supported Android, Windows, and iOS apps. Any feature that comes out in Plesk will also be supported on mobile.
Plans & Pricing
While a Plesk license is included for free in the Windows-based hosting accounts and servers of many hosting providers (e.g. HostGator, GoDaddy), you also have the option to purchase a license separately for an unmanaged hosting plan that you may have.
There are three licensing plans – Web Admin, Web Pro and Web Host. You can choose to pay monthly for each plan or annually, in which case you get two months off.
The Web Admin plan costs $3.75/month (billed annually), and it’s a plan suitable for website and server administration, the Web Pro plan costs $7.50/month for VPS or $11.25/month for dedicated servers, and it’s aimed at developers and designers (it includes Developer Pack, WordPress Toolkit, Subscription Management and Account Management), while the Web Host plan costs $11.25/month for VPS or $26.25/month for dedicated servers.
Top Plesk Web Hosting Providers
Now, that you have a clear vision on what is Plesk and how it works, most likely you want to know which hosting provider you should choose, that offers Plesk control panel. Below are the top 3 Plesk hosting companies we recommend:
$4.76 / mo
$0.99 / mo
$50 / mo
It cannot be denied that cPanel is the industry-standard control panel for Linux servers, and while Plesk has a stronger presence on the Windows scene, it’s also worthy of being considered one of the top Linux control panels. Plesk was designed to help even newbie webmasters easily manage infrastructure and fully secure websites and applications automatically.