The name sounds like it might be the technical jargon that web hosting beginners fear, but cPanel can be the most valuable tool or feature to welcome a beginner — or even experienced developer — to a new web hosting plan.
The visual interface makes server management ridiculously easy, bridging the gap between a drag-and-drop website builder and root access coding.
As the gold standard of control panels, cPanel features an intuitive layout, numerous management features, and a free, seamless integration across hundreds of web’s best hosting providers. Let’s cover anything and everything you need to know before signing up with a cPanel host.
In short, cPanel is what’s known as a web panel or control panel — a hub for managing elements of your hosting plan. These days, when you sign up for hosting, it’s expected that you’ll be equipped with some sort of graphical user interface that serves as your main dashboard for managing your hosting services. Interfaces like cPanel, Plesk, WebPanel, and others, allow even non-tech savvy hosting customers to manage domains, email accounts, servers, and databases.
Why cPanel is #1 Among the Best Control Panels
Leading the market is one of the most well-known names in server management: cPanel. This intuitive interface is so sleek and accommodating that even those with a basic understanding of web hosting will seek it out as they’re shopping for hosting plans. While it’s technically not free, the point-and-click software is so popular and efficient that many of the web’s best hosting providers include a free cPanel license in their plans.
What a cPanel Login Gets You Access To
With cPanel, users can access and manage domain registrations and DNS records, email accounts, and database system files. You can edit and backup important files and store large amounts of pertinent data in multiple MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. With access to apps galore, cPanel offers easy installation of your favorite scripts, web applications, content management systems, and online stores.
Finally, the panel acts as your headquarters for keeping your server secure. Set up SSL certificates, password-protect certain files or directories, or block certain IP addresses from accessing your system.
In a nutshell, cPanel users can access:
- Domains, subdomains, and parked domains management services
- Email and webmail services
- FTP file management
- MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and file storage
- Easy installation of apps for blogging, ecommerce, marketing, and other functions
- SSH access
- Logfile access and reporting
- cPanel support team
- Site metrics and traffic information
Note that included features can vary based on the plan you sign up for with your host. For example, some hosts may prevent customers from using secure shell access, or others may limit the number of databases or domains you can have.
A cPanel host is just a web host that gives you cPanel to manage your servers. Rightfully so, we believe some of the best hosting providers include the popular web panel for free for their customers. However, there are other facets of a hosting package that are important to cPanel hosting shoppers — some more important to certain users than others. We’ll go through these below.
Using cPanel: VPS vs. Shared vs. Dedicated
The cPanel hosting audience is diverse. Members range from first-time users to experienced developers, so their needs and what appeals to them about this control panel varies — another toast to cPanel’s broad appeal!
Shared hosting users love the platform for the one-click installations, easy access to webmail, and all-around intuitive interface for adding functionality and security to their sites. Meanwhile, those using cPanel for VPS or dedicated hosting are typically drawn to the more technical perks like root access, log file reporting, and easy database management. Everyone should love and appreciate cPanel for site backups.
Features We Look For
Now that I’ve talked your ear off about all that cPanel can do, let’s look at what features we specifically search for as we evaluate the best cPanel hosts:
- Free cPanel license
- One-click app installs
- Free site builder tools
- Free advertising credits and SSL certificates
- Unlimited resources (domains, emails, site traffic, storage)
That’s not to say that a host that doesn’t throw $250-worth of search engine marketing credits at you for signing up isn’t a solid, reputable option for web hosting with cPanel. These are just the features that, based on our experience, the majority of cPanel hosting customers are looking for or will benefit from.
As you’re browsing our cPanel reviews, surely price is an influential factor on your mind. A cPanel license for a VPS will cost you about $20 per month, while a dedicated server cPanel account goes for about a $45 monthly rate. For shared hosting, the provider holds the cPanel account and will either charge cPanel customers a license fee at a reduced rate or, more commonly, include the cPanel license as a free perk.
Cheap cPanel Hosting
The easiest way to get cheap cPanel hosting is to opt for a host that includes a free license in their hosting plans. With some of the top-rated, most affordable hosts we’ve reviewed, you can get cPanel for free by simply paying the $2 to $5 per month for hosting. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!
Free cPanel Hosting
Here’s the deal: You can get cPanel for free with super cheap hosting, or you can get hosting that’s free (and pretty shoddy, honestly) and pay for a cPanel license. Getting free hosting and free cPanel is generally not on the table.
Dealer’s choice: $20 a month for a cPanel license and a poorly-performing-but-free server space, or $2 to $25 a month for exceptional hosting with a free cPanel account?
Not loving the idea of cPanel for whatever reason? There are other useful panels on the market. Some I’ve already mentioned, like Plesk and WebPanel, fall into the premium panel category. If you want an open-source and free cPanel alternative, WebMin, ISPmanager, and ISPConfig are some of our favorite options. You can check out our platform comparisons here.
All in all, you’ll find some fabulous hosting providers that each tout easy-to-use hosting management panels — like iPage, SiteGround, and Bluehost — leading the market with cPanel, free domains, one-click installations, and other sought-after features. It’s these hosts’ attention to the wants and needs of hosting shoppers that make them attractive — and it’s that same spot-on service offering that brings them to the top of our reviews