Having a site up on the internet is not as simple of a task as it seems to be. Once you have the site built and have chosen a web hosting service provider, you still have some decisions to make. One such decision is the control panel you will be using for your site. Before explaining hosting control panels, however, it's better to get some background information on the concept of web hosting.
Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page onto the internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed on the internet. Websites are hosted or stored, on special powerful computers called servers. When internet users want to view a website, all they need to do is type that website address or domain name into the address bar of their browser. Their computer will then connect to the related server and the web pages will be delivered to them through the browser.
What is a Control Panel?
A web hosting control panel is a tool that allows you to control most of the web services like web pages, emails, FTP services, etc. For most system admins, a control panel with a GUI presents a much easier and faster way to manage and monitor all hosted services.
What does hosting control panel do?
There are many tasks to be done with control panels, some of these tasks are referenced here:
- Domain Management
- Sub-Domain creation and management
- Domain Registration
- Parked Domains
- Domain forwarding
- DNS editing
- MX records
- DNS Management
- Email Management
- Setup and manage mail accounts
- Setup email forwarders
- Setup email spam filters
- Database management
- FTP (i.e. File Transfer Protocol)
- File manager
- Backup and restore
- Logging and monitoring
- Security: TLS/SSL
- Installing apps to launch web pages
There are many different hosting control panels available on the market, all with their own advantages and detriments. The most popular ones are:
This Linux based control panel is placed in the first category of control panels due to its high popularity and professional features with easy operations. It has a simple and understandable GUI, awarding it our recommendation for Linux-based web hosting management. The cPanel control panel was originally developed for a web hosting company that offered Linux hosting. It allowed hosting customers to manage elementary parts of their hosting service, such as their FTP logins and email addresses. The software has evolved over 15 years and outlived a spinoff product, WebPanel, thanks to its friendly user interface and simple navigation
It is another control panel based on the Linux platform and is the easiest control panel to use for non-experienced users. DirectAdmin is an easy-to-use, performant, and highly stable control panel option for Linux users. In addition to backing its product with top-notch support, DirectAdmin offers a wide variety of licensing options to fit the needs of websites both small and large.
DirectAdmin was first released in 2003, and the product has been continuously updated since then. The company prides itself on keeping up with current technologies, and if you need a control panel with a multilingual interface, be sure to check out DirectAdmin.
InterWorx is dedicated to the Linux platform like CPanel and DirectAdmin, however, it is more aimed at experienced server admins and IT specialists and will require good background knowledge of web hosting. SiteWorx comes with all of the functionality you expect from a control panel, but its control panel does feature extra focusing on server cluster management and load balancing.
Plesk is available for both Linux and Windows platforms. Many web hosting providers who offer both Linux and Windows hosting for customers prefer the use of Plesk. It combines the icon-based display with more text-based windows, which resemble the Windows Control Panel.
Things like system and domain information, statistic resources, email management tools, and applications are presented in two columns, window-style on the main screen. This makes it easy to find anything you need without any scrolling. It is the go-to control panel when a Windows-based hosting solution is needed.
H-Sphere is a cross-platform control panel written in Java that works with any SQL-type server/database. It is considered a more advanced hosting option thanks to the extra features it provides over other control panels. With great power, however, comes a steep learning curve and a user interface that is not a candidate for best on the web. H-Sphere comes with solid documentation and has a robust community.