Web hosting control panels are used by hosting companies to manage their clientele. They are necessary to manage websites, databases, email, FTP accounts, limiting bandwidth, and server resources. Lucky for webhosts, there are paid and free options available.

One of the most popular Unix web host control panels is cPanel. This control panel is a proprietary system- and licenses can run as much as $425 per year. Developers of cPanel have also created a mirror software platform that runs on Windows, so it can be used by virtually any server type. cPanel has a low learning curve, making it perfect for first-time web hosts.

Webmin is a free, open source, alternative for Unix-like systems. It has the ability to allow developers create plugins for the system, making custom installations entirely possible for specific needs. Webmin was created by a now-current employee at Google, so it has received much attention in the upstart web hosting world.

GNUPanel is another open source software package that is written mainly in PHP 5. It has several modern features, such as accepting payments via third parties such as PayPal. This panel in particular mimics similar auto-installation technologies present in cPanel; users are able to install popular applications such as WordPress at the click of a mouse. This makes GNUPanel a favorite among hosts that intend on having less technology-gifted clients who don’t necessarily know how to install and build their website.

Perhaps one of the few true competitors to cPanel in terms of licensed panels is Plesk. Plesk is said to be more user friendly because of its interface, but the true decision should be left up to the end user. Plesk is very comparable to cPanel otherwise: being able to do just about anything equally as well, with the same sense of security. The interface and licensing fees are the two main deciding factors for new web hosting managers.

A large website will quickly grow out of the shell that most web hosting panels create. A large website needs to be able to balance a load of traffic among many servers- perhaps hundreds or thousands in some rare cases. This is done through special web hosting panels such as that of InterWorx. This web hosting panel specializes in clustered servers and managing them to create a stable environment. InterWork and panels like it are only for the leaders in Internet industry, however, and common website owners don’t need it.

Closing Comments

A web hosting control panel is a long-term solution: so it’s important that you pick one that you feel comfortable with. If you have any doubts, try out other web host control panels. Try out a few licensed panels even if you haven’t thought of shelling out money for them- it might be worth it!

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