The two most important thing you need to get your website up and running is the domain and web hosting. There are many types of web hosting available such as Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated Hosting and Cloud Hosting. The web-interface that is used to manage and monitor the hosting package is referred to as the control panel. Although the features of every control panel may vary, they all able to perform a set of common tasks. These include:
- Domain management: The management of primary and add-on and subdomains are done through control panels.
- Email management: Create and manage email accounts attached to your website.
- File and database management: Managing simple as well CMS database file is accomplished through this interface.
- Security and monitoring: Many of the security features are installed and managed through control panels. Also, the server can easily be monitored, and various logs and metrics are created through the dashboard of the control panel.
Popular Control panels
There are many control panels available each having their own scope and utility. Lets us have a look at the top 5 most control panels.
- cPanel: First released in 1996, it has really come a long way since then. It is the most popular hosting panel based on Linux OS. The scope of cPanel has been enhanced by integrating it with Web Host Manager (WHM). With a very intuitive interface, it offers the ease of installation with a few single clicks. It is compatible with most of the browsers and can support add-ons from third parties as well. The ease with which you can migrate to another hosting provider through the use of cPanel is unmatched. Being Linux-based, it is updated regularly with the latest version having DNS Clustering System.
- Plesk: Plesk is second in the list when it comes to popularity. The Windows OS-based control panel. If you have been using Windows for your computer, then using the same for your server would provide familiarity. The Migration Manager feature allows easy migration to new Plesk server from any other panel. It is a suitable solution for resellers as it provides customisation option of the control for rebranding. The inbuilt Plesk Site Builder has some fascinating tools that can create web pages with simple drag and drop features. With added security features and optimum performance, it is one of the most stable control panels available in the market.
- Webmin: Being an open-source web hosting control panel, it is free to use. Although designed to run on Unix platforms, it can support Windows as well. It allows you to set up disk space quotas to various users. Modifying the DNS, IP and routing configuration has been made easily accessible. It can also create virtual servers on Apache. It can adapt well as per the underlying platform. This control panel is designed for people having a basic knowledge of networking and Linux commands.
- DirectAdmin: Considered among the fastest control panels available, it can support both Linux and BSD systems. The subscription fee for a lifetime is very nominal, making it a formidable option for hosting providers on a budget. Many providers offer DirectAdmin control panel for their Shared Hosting packages. This can give them a price-edge in the market. It can support applications like Apache and Nginx. However, new beginners may not find it attractive as it is not that user-friendly. The main heading is divided into three categories which may appear to be outdated to many.
- ISPmanager; The Linux-based control panel has made a mark, especially in Eastern Europe. It comes in two versions. The Lite version is usually integrated with VPS and Dedicated Hosting, while Business ISPmanager version is used by Resellers and Shared Hosting.
As pointed out earlier, each of the control panel mentioned above has its own scope and comes with their owns sets of pro and cons. The type of hosting panel you should choose would depend on three factors:
- Budget: Some being open source can be free to use, while for some, you may have to pay a hefty amount. You should keep in mind that many of the free panels need to be extended for additional features for which you may have to pay a good amount.
- Operating System: Choosing the OS for your server mainly comes down to your own preference. The familiarity with OS plays a major role in deciding the control panel you should use.
- Features: Some may require expertise in a certain field to be able to operate properly while others can be managed even without having any technical know-how.
Most web hosting providers offer a pre-integrated control panel with their hosting plans. However, it is always advisable to know about the options available to you so that you can make an informed decision.