Choosing A Hosting
Choosing A Control Panel
Gone are the days of using command lines to control
websites. As a host or even as a reseller it is
essential that you are able to offer a feature rich
control panel that is simple to grasp. Not only can a
good control panel ensure your customer’s happiness it
can also help to reduce the number of queries you
receive and, therefore, the amount of time spent dealing
with queries. There are a vast number of control panels
available ranging from the free, general user license
Linux only control panels to multi-functioning cross
platform commercial control panels.
Factors To Consider
Determining which of
these control panels is ideal for your needs will mean
consideration of several important factors. As well as
looking at cost, which is obviously an important
requirement, you will also need to consider the features
that each offers, how simple it is to master, and
obviously the compatibility it offers. One overlooked
factor that you should also take into account is your
typical customer base and their requirements. As a major
host supplier it can be difficult to know what all of
your customers require, but if you offer hosting to a
specific group of people then you should be able to
match your control panel to your customers.
6 Of The Best
Below we have put together a list of six of the more
popular and potentially beneficial control panels
available. This list shows some of the major differences
between the most popular of control panels, cPanel and
Plesk, as well as some of the less well known. There is
even a free open-source control panel. You need to be
extremely careful if choosing a non-commercial product
like this because if something does go wrong you may
struggle getting the support that you need.
CPanel is the most popular and most widely used of all
control panels. It is compatible with various different
Linux and Unix operating systems but not with Windows
servers. If you offer Windows plans then you will either
need to combine cPanel with another control panel of
The reason that cPanel has become
so widely used because of the number of features it
includes. The Graphical User Interface is also easy to
understand, if a little crowded on occasion. The
inclusion of Fantastic script installation makes it very
easy to get to grips with, which can also be said for
the administrator equivalent of WHM.
WHM, or WebHost Manager, enables resellers and host
companies alike the flexibility to offer different
features to different clients dependent on the hosting
package they purchase. CPanel isn’t cheap weighing
starting at $425 for one year. However, all licenses are
calculated per server and allow an unlimited number of
Support with cPanel and WHM is very good. When
purchasing annual packages, support extends throughout
the period of the license. However, one off licenses are
also available costing $1225. As standard these provide
12 months of support with further years available at
$200 per annum.
Upgrades are released
on a frequent basis with cPanel. When purchasing yearly
licenses all upgrades are also included in the price
enabling you to upgrade with the latest additions and
patches as well as any necessary upgrades to the latest
software. With one off purchases upgrades are included
for the first two years with additional years costing
Clearly cPanel is not for purchase by individual hosting
customers but its popularity means that many looking for
affordable hosting rich with powerful features look
specifically for cPanel hosting. If you are able to
offer this then you could gain valuable customers.
CPanel may be expensive but it is probably the most
beneficial of all the control panels, however, be
prepared to purchase a Windows specific control panel as
well if you offer Windows hosting.
Perhaps the only real contender to the control panel
popularity throne is Plesk. Plesk has one major
advantage over its Linux only competitor; it offers
versions for Linux and for Windows servers. Another
advantage is the quite sizable difference in price.
However, it is important when looking at a price
comparison to consider the extras that cPanel offers.
The Plesk interface was quite clearly designed with
Windows users in mind. This is true not only of the
Windows pack but also the Linux pack, both bearing some
striking resemblances to the operating system that many
of us are well accustomed to. This isn’t necessarily a
bad thing; it means that Plesk offers a friendly
interface and for Windows desktop users it will be very
easy to navigate.
There are a lot more options when it comes to Plesk
software. The standard purchase does not include many of
the features that your customers might demand but these
can be added on at a very reasonable price. The Plesk
Plus for Linux/Unix, in particular, looks to be a very
good bargain when compared to cPanel. Costing $1,199 it
is similar in price to the one-off cPanel single server
purchase. However, the Plesk offering provides a
lifetime license for unlimited domains on 10 servers.
This provides an impressive bundle of software and an
array of applications that can be managed according to
individual domains and users.
Prices for Windows
packs work out to be around the same price. Obviously,
the difference in price between Plesk and cPanel is a
big draw. Plesk does offer an interface that to many is
as useful if not more so than the cPanel one. By
purchasing bundled packs of licenses and applications it
is possible to make Plesk a very cost effective control
panel for your needs.
Support packages do need to be purchased either as part
of a bundled product or as an add-on to your license.
Separate packs are offered for email support and phone
support costing from $249 and $499 respectively, when
purchased with your license. The license you purchase,
however, does include upgrades and updates to you
While Plesk isn’t as well known or popular as cPanel yet
it does offer a lot in terms of customer usability,
reliability, and cost effectiveness. It also offers
products for both Windows and Linux based servers giving
an all round package. There are no single user licenses
available with Plesk; the software being designed for
commercial operations. By offering add-ons and bundle
packs Plesk control panels can be purchased cost
effectively and easily. Plesk also enables you to alter
the features available to each of your customer’s
domains according to the package they have purchased.
Helm is a Windows specific control panel designed to
manage multiple servers from a single point of entry.
With a graphical user interface that is highly
reminiscent of Windows XP it will be very easy for your
customers to get to grips with its navigation and use.
The interface offers you the capability to re-brand by
choosing from several different skins, although they are
essentially just different colours, and add your own
website or company logo to the header.
If your customer base requires functionality and is not
as interested in using cPanel or Plesk, the two most
popular control panels, then Helm is an excellent
alternative. It offers affordability being far less
expensive than the two major market leaders and combines
this with ease of use for your customers and just as
importantly, ease of use for you.
Pricing is worked out
according to the number of control servers and remote
servers that you have. It also includes a number of free
additions to whichever bundle you pick giving it true
value to anyone that chooses it. A single server with 20
domains costs $99.50 and a single server hosting
unlimited domains costs an impressively low $449.50.
Prices do vary for multiple servers.
Whether you’re looking for a single server, affordable
Windows control panel or you have a large number of
servers and require complete control Helm is a very good
option. It is affordable, easy to use (for everyone),
and offers good features.
Hosting Accelerator is another Windows compatible
control panel. It offers massive support for numerous
different types of server including but not limited to 8
mail servers, 4 statistics servers, and 2 FTP servers.
This combined with the software (Instant messenger, mail
software, and free statistics) make it incredible value
The amount of server support that Hosting Accelerator
offers means that as a reseller or a hosting provider
you are able to offer a similar level of service to your
customers. The control panel and backend software also
enables you to effectively tailor customer features
according to the packages you offer.
The cost of the Helm control panel is very good,
especially considering the amount of support and bundled
features that you also receive. A single server, 5
domain license costs $99 and a ten server, unlimited
domain license just $3743. Minor upgrades, from one
control panel to an updated version of the same control
panel, are included in the cost but apart from the
included 60-day email package, support needs to be
Support packages are as varied as the main control panel
bundles. Support can either be purchased on a per
incident basis starting from $49 per incident for 24 web
and email support. Yearly plans are also available
ranging from $199 to $399 per year.
If you had to sum Hosting Accelerator up in one word, it
would be flexibility. Minor hosts can offer their
premium customers a powerful control panel using the
cheaper bundles whereas major hosting companies can
really take advantage of the cost benefits of purchasing
Cube Panel is a simple control panel that still offers a
rich set of features as well as an extremely affordable
price tag to boot. With Windows and various Linux
packages available, Cube Panel is also compatible with
the majority of server software making it an obvious
choice for many.
Cube Panel offers a very simplistic layout to its user
interface that is a breath of fresh air for those that
struggle with the sometimes over burdened interfaces of
other control panels. Its simplicity is part of its
appeal and while it may not offer some of the dynamic
features of cPanel or Plesk it does offer a very good
range of features and functionality.
As with any valuable control panel it enables hosts and
resellers to tailor the control panel they offer
according to each individual customer and the package
that they are currently paying for. The more they pay
the more features you can offer.
If cost is an issue,
you’ll be pleased to learn that Cube Panel is easily one
of the most affordable of commercial control panels
available. A 30 domain license is available for around
$100 while an unlimited domain plan can be bought for
around $400. What makes Cube Panel stand out from the
crowd in terms of price is the ability to add
multi-server management for just $125.
Unlimited email support costs $250 per annum or for
greater support requirements the unlimited email support
with 2 hours of remote access costs about $300. If you
want Cube Support installed for you then this service is
also available at a cost of $250.
Cube Panel is perfect for hosts working to a budget that
don’t want to sacrifice quality in order to save a few
VHCS is the only open source control panel we are
looking at because hosting suppliers generally require
the support and technical support that only commercial
packages can really offer. We’re including VHCS because
it is an extremely powerful and up to date control panel
that also offers professional support for those
requiring it. If you working to very little or even no
budget but still require a functional control panel then
VHCS, the open source control panel, is a very good
If you have good knowledge of control panel software and
source code then the open source license that VHCS
operates under enables you to download, edit, and even
redistribute your resulting platform. This is an
excellent way to offer a completely unique and branded
control panel for those with the technical knowledge.
as is, VHCS offers true multi-language support thanks to
the efforts of community volunteers that strive to
provide quality systems for no cost. It is also a
powerful and impressive looking control panel that
concentrates on server and site security as well as the
open nature of its license.
VHCS can be customized completely to your liking, and if
you don’t have the knowledge then you can pay the
developers to do this for you. This is calculated on a
per quote basis. VHCS installation can be purchased for
roughly $100 and support packages are available in
packages starting from less than $40. An annual
unlimited web support plan costs with 24-hour response
time costs equivalent to $125.
VHCS is ideal for the technically knowledgeable or those
that want a completely unique control panel designed for
them. It is also powerful to be offered to clients if
you are looking for a free way to offer a control panel
to hosting clients.
These six are only a small sample of the control panels
available around the world. They do include a good
sample of Linux/Unix compatible applications and Windows
applications although because of the open source nature
of Linux programs these are more readily found in free
and low cost versions.
CPanel and Plesk are the two most popular and widespread
of control panels. When many customers search the
Internet looking for a new host they will often look for
ones offering either cPanel or Plesk. However that
doesn’t mean that the others don’t offer value. CPanel
is certainly the most expensive and this is partly due
to the number of people that already use it or are
looking to do so. It is also due to the range of
features and the inclusion of numerous dynamic page
elements that can be quickly and easily installed
through the control panel.
Your requirements will be determined by a number of
factors including your client’s requirements, your level
of knowledge, your budget, and the features you wish to
offer. It is normal to offer varying degrees of a
control panel to customers depending on the hosting
package they subscribe to. All of the above control
panels offer you the ability to control these settings
as you see fit. While budget is obviously a very
important factor in any business decision it is also
important to weigh up the pros and cons. If you offer a
very limited number of domains then it is unlikely that
purchasing a cPanel plan will pay dividends but for
large hosting providers with thousands of domains over
numerous servers the costs are soaked up quickly and