Helm Web Hosting Software

Helm is not one of the more commonly offered control panels, but despite this it still offers a superb range of functions that make it a worthwhile addition to your hosting account. The reason that many of us do not see Helm when shopping around for hosting providers is probably largely due to the fact that Helm is one of very few control panels that only offers Windows compatibility.

In terms of user interface, it is intuitive and easy to read and understand thanks to the combination of a graphical interface and a folder explorer view, similar to that which many of us have on our own computers. At first glance the big icons and simple instructions may make Helm seem like a light version of the fully functioning control panels that many of us are used to. A little digging, however, shows that it isn’t just a pretender to the crown. For Windows servers it does have a lot to offer.

 

Ok, so the graphical interface is nothing particularly new but it does serve its functions, and its users well. There really is nothing worse than logging onto a control panel to be met by a seemingly endless list of text links and no real guidance to the tasks you can perform.

Wizards

Helm is quite unique in several respects. First off, it offers hosting wizards. Unfortunately, these are severely limited with currently only three options for customers and one more for resellers. However, the ones that are offered are simple to use and useful despite the obvious limitation. Perhaps the most beneficial of all is the Shop Setup Wizard. As the name suggests this provides a simple method and step-by-step instructions to establish your own shop. The two remaining wizards are more functional than frivolous but useful nevertheless.

 

Reports

There is an impressive array of reports to view that includes every potential statistic and figure you are likely to want to see. There are, in fact, a total of 30 pages with everything ranging from bandwidth and disk usage to statistics relating to paid invoices. If you are a numerical fanatic or a statistician at heart then this is the section you will likely spend the most of your time.

 

My Billing

A quite unusual and certainly welcome addition is the My Billing section, retrieved directly from the control panel itself. This gives details of plans and products you have purchased as well as payments made, payments due, statements, and credit card details. If you need or want to keep track of your regular payments or your one off payments then this will undoubtedly be a welcome addition in the Helm control panel.

 My Shop

Once you’ve set up a store in the wizards section you will undoubtedly need access to be able to change the most important features of your store. This includes tax settings, the actual configuration of your shop, vouchers, promotions and much more. For the first time e-commerce Webmaster this is a potentially useful area of the control panel although, again, options are slightly limited when compared to other e-commerce solutions.

 

Account Settings

Account settings enable you to view and alter details regarding you, your billing details, your website, and even any warnings you have received for over usage of disk space or bandwidth. You can also add other users that have access to your site and manage the particular priorities and capabilities each of those users has. If you intend to have several people helping with the setting up and maintenance of your site then this is perfect to help you manage everybody that has this access.

My Login

Similarly, the My Login page contains details of your login information. From this page you can change your login details including name, email address, password, and the visual aspects of Helm control panel. Visual aspects that can be changed include language (because Helm offers multi language support), the skin (six to choose from), list size, and a couple of other options.

Helm System Options

If you are a reseller or hosting provider with access to the Helm control panel then you also receive access to the Helm System options page. This includes several more links that enable you to control your account. You are able to manage the servers, IP addresses, and resources of your account. The diagnostics tool helps you identify any problems with the control panel itself as well as your servers while the security page lets you choose IP addresses to block, assign secure pages, and restrict password length.

The scheduled task manager is an exceptional way to automate a lot of the things that you need to do on a regular basis. Not only does this save time but also it helps to reduce human error and ensure as smooth a ride as possible for your hosting clients. Finally in the Helm System options are the control panel and geographical settings pages. These let you change what are essentially the default settings of the control panel.

Plan And Package Ordering

Through the Helm control panel it is also possible for you and your customers to order further plans using the My Plans and My Domains button. The My Domains button also provides access to important information pertaining to the domain itself. Name Server details can be quickly accessed and altered as required and all email settings are managed through this section of the control panel. MySQL, sub-domains, aliases, usage reports, and custom error pages among other important aspects of your hosting account can also be found here. In some respects it almost feels like these options are hidden out of the way but they do exist and are extremely useful.

Also available to the reseller and administrator is the My Customers page. This page contains details of all customers currently active under the account you are logged in to. The search box enables the easy locating of any existing customer or you can choose to filter according to various different options.

Other Options

Domain registrations are managed through the Domain Registrations page enabling the quick registration of a new domain. Another unusual aspect of the Helm control panel is the Notes function. This allows you to add a note to your account, which you can subsequently display on a single page or a group of pages all at once. Whether you choose to use these as a sort of to-do list reminder for yourself or for any other function is entirely up to you but all notes can be managed in the My Notes section at the foot of the list of functions.

Helm Conclusion

The Helm control panel is quite a surprising package that offers a reasonable set of functions to Windows server users. There is no Unix or Linux offering, perhaps the reason why we don’t see more of Helm offered with hosting plans. However, while the functions are comparatively limited, what is offered is clean, concise, and beneficial with a few surprises along the way. Direct access to your account and billing details through your control panel is not a common offering and one that definitely gives Helm an advantage. If they could expand on the number of wizards on offer then this too would be a huge benefit to users. Overall though, it is still a good quality control panel that shouldn’t be ignored if offered by your Windows host.

 

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