Plesk Control Panel

Along with cPanel, Plesk is one of the most popular control panels for managing domains, websites, and email online. The graphical interface makes it simple to use and because Plesk is available for use with both Windows and Unix hosting it also allows for a degree of uniformity for users. As well as a range of features for end users Plesk has an entire section for reseller accounts and for administration level accounts that make it a very useful tool for hosts as well as their customers.

A Windows User Friendly Interface
Possibly the most striking thing about Plesk is the design. It is clearly based around a Windows XP design, which makes it very easy and intuitive for anyone that has ever set foot on a Windows PC. The font page, called the Desktop in the latest release, has a distinct Explorer feel to it and gives you access to all the features you need. This page also shows you a number of useful statistics regarding your account. Disk space, traffic, mailboxes, and sub domains are listed and include your allowed limit as well as your current level.

Type Professional Content Management
The Typo content management system is an incredibly useful tool. Professional content management systems like this can carry a price tag that runs into the hundreds of dollars so receiving one for free with your Plesk control panel is a superb addition to any hosting plan.

Email Account Management
Plesk also gives full mail management facilities to the user. Webmasters can create new mail accounts, amend existing account details, create auto responders, and view all mail on the webmail interface. Web user accounts can also be set up with the appropriate permissions to use FTP, PHP, and other features. You can even specify the hard disk quote that user is allowed.

Database Creation Wizards
The create database wizard is certainly a welcome addition for any inexperienced Webmaster that has attempted to set up their own MySQL database. The wizard, like all the Plesk wizards, is incredibly simple to use because of the intuitive graphical interface. With the Unix version there is also a section to add various utilities. For cPanel users this section is very similar to the Fantastico suite of scripts and applications that are included in the cPanel interface. Support ticket systems, calendars, blogging software, and a whole lot more is included here.

The Customizable Plesk Control Panel
All email accounts include spam filters and a virus scanner, which can be managed through the control panel. The control panel is fully customizable to enable you to add your most used features to the desktop page and remove those that you rarely or barely use. Again, the customization feature smacks of Windows XP with a list of available features on the left and a list of currently included desktop features on the right. By simply highlighting and clicking the “add” or “remove” buttons these can be moved around at will.

Homepage View Shows You Everything
Alternatively you can switch to the homepage view, which lists every feature available to you. From here you can also access the web statistics page giving you a graphical and numerical representation of statistics for your website over the past twelve months. Other statistics include domain traffic stats that give a more detailed account and view of your recent visitors, FTP statistics that show how often FTP has been used as well as the files and file size that has been uploaded and downloaded. You can even arrange for detailed reports to be emailed to you on a regular basis.

Plesk Conclusion
Plesk might not be the most popular control panel but recent changes and additions have seen it become much more user friendly. For Windows users, the graphical interface it uses will be reminiscent of their desktop and the wizard-based features make life incredibly simple even for the most inexperienced user. Plesk offers a nice suite of features and for Unix users the addition of the application suite is an excellent add-on. CPanel should be warned that Plesk is out to take back some of that market share and intends to do so with style.