Glossary

What is cPanel? The Complete Guide to cPanel for Beginners

What is cPanel

cPanel is one of the most popular Linux-based control panels for web hosting accounts. It lets you conveniently manage all services in a single place. Currently, cPanel is the industry standard and most web developers are well acquainted with it.

Intuitive and easy to use, cPanel empowers you to manage a web hosting account with maximum efficiency. Whether that’s creating new FTP users and email addresses or monitoring resources, creating subdomains and installing software.

What is cPanel Hosting?

cPanel hosting is essentially Linux web hosting which includes the installation of cPanel. cPanel has its pros and cons, but it works pretty well in the majority of cases and makes for a sensible choice when you’re looking for a control panel solution. Here’s what to expect:

Pros:

  • Easy to learn
  • Easy to use
  • Saves time and money
  • Tried and tested
  • Includes software auto installers
  • Plenty of tutorials/support available online

Cons:

  • Number of features can be overwhelming
  • Relatively easy to accidentally change important settings
  • Some hosts run outdated software
  • Can cost more and is rarely offered with free hosting

Alternatives to cPanel

There are thousands of alternatives to cPanel out there, and because every hosting provider is different, you’ll need to check with each potential host to get an idea of what control panel solutions they’re using.

Here at Hostinger, we have developed our own custom control panel, which is available with all web hosting plans. It shares a few similarities with cPanel and allows us to be more flexible while adjusting to the needs of our users.

However, cPanel hosting is also something that you can find at our sister company Hosting24. Annual and longer plans include a free domain name, therefore you can get all the ingredients to publish a website on the Internet with a single purchase!

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether you use cPanel or an alternative, as long as you’re able to accomplish what you want. If you need your control panel to do something specific then double check with the provider.

cPanel Tutorial: How to Use cPanel

Different cPanel installations include different features, but the good news is that it’s pretty easy to browse around and to get to know each of the different sections. When you first log in, you’ll usually see some metrics that log your resource usage (such as your CPU usage, your available storage space, and your memory usage). These can provide you with a useful way of keeping an eye on your website’s overall performance.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with your website’s performance, it’s time to take a look at the different modules. We’ve provided an overview of the most typical cPanel modules below.

File Modules:

cPanel file management features

These modules allow you to directly upload and manage files from within cPanel without needing to use an FTP client. You can also specify privacy levels, make backups and more. Common modules include:

  • Backup
  • Backup Wizard
  • Directory Privacy
  • Disk Usage
  • File Manager
  • FTP Accounts
  • FTP Connections
  • Images
  • Web Disk

Preferences:

cPanel customization and preference features

This is where you customize the layout of your cPanel installation to make it better fit your needs. Common modules include:

  • Change Language
  • Change Main Domain
  • Getting Started Wizard
  • Manage Resources
  • Shortcuts
  • Update Contact Info
  • Video Tutorials

Databases:

cPanel database management features

If your website uses a content management system (CMS) then it will use a database to store posts, settings and other information. This section, then, is all about managing those databases. Common modules include:

  • MySQL Database Wizard
  • MySQL Databases
  • phpMyAdmin
  • Remote MySQL

Web Applications:

cPanel auto installer scripts

This is typically where your cPanel installation will allow you to install different types of software. It includes everything from blogs and portals to CMSs and forums. Common modules include:

Domains:

cPanel domain management features

It’s not uncommon for webmasters to use one hosting account for multiple sites or to set up subdomains and redirects. This is the section in which you can manage that. Common modules include:

  • Addon Domains
  • Aliases
  • DNS Manager
  • Preview Website
  • Redirects
  • Subdomains

Metrics:

cPanel metrics and statistics

If you’re running a website then you’re going to want to keep an eye on its performance. That’s where the metrics modules come in. They’re all about giving you access to powerful insights that can help you to better make decisions about the way your website works. Common modules include:

  • Awstats
  • Bandwidth
  • CPU and Concurrent Connection Usage
  • Errors
  • Raw Access
  • Visitors
  • Webalizer
  • Webalizer FTP

Security:

cPanel security features

Security is a big concern for most webmasters, especially if they’re storing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or financial information. This module will help you to keep an eye on key security settings for your hosting account. Common modules include:

  • Hotlink Protection
  • IP Blocker
  • Leech Protection
  • SSH Access
  • SSL/TLS

Software:

cPanel software section

These modules are largely about PHP and Perl and aren’t necessarily needed unless you’re a more advanced user. Common modules include:

  • Softaculpis Apps Installer
  • Optimize Website
  • Perl Modules
  • PHP PEAR Packages
  • CloudFlare
  • PHP Version Selector

Advanced:

cPanel advanced features

As the title suggests, these settings are also more useful for advanced users. Common modules include:

  • Apache Handlers
  • Cron Jobs
  • Error Pages
  • Indexes
  • MIME Types
  • Track DNS

Email:

cPanel email management features

Not all web hosting packages include email, but if your package includes both email and cPanel then this is where you’ll administer all of those email accounts. Common modules include:

  • Address Importer
  • Apache SpamAssassin
  • Autoresponders
  • Default Address
  • Email Wizard
  • Encryption
  • Forwarders
  • Global Filters
  • MX Entry
  • Track Delivery
  • User Filters

Further Reading

Want to learn more about the fundamentals of web hosting and website building? Here are a few goods reads that you can dig into right away:

So, What is cPanel?

cPanel is one of the most popular Linux-based web hosting control panels, displaying key metrics about your server’s performance and allowing you to access a range of modules including Files, Preferences, Databases, Web Applications, Domains, Metrics, Security, Software, Advanced and Email modules.

cPanel hosting is essentially Linux hosting which includes cPanel installation, making it a popular choice amongst webmasters. But there are plenty of alternatives out there, so if cPanel isn’t for you then you’ll be sure to find a control panel to suit you.

Now that you know what is cPanel, it’s time to share some experiences. Have you tried any other web hosting control panels? Which one was your favourite? Let us know in the comment below!

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