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The Most Popular Control Panels for Web Hosting

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WRITTEN BY
Timothy Shim
UPDATED
February 05, 2023

There are easily dozens of web hosting control panels in the industry. Some, like cPanel and Plesk, dominate the market. However, for those seeking alternatives, many strong choices abound.

 

These platforms provide the ability to manage their clients’ sites through a backend interface. They’ve become increasingly popular due to their ease of use, but they aren’t all necessarily designed to fill the same needs.

 

Table Of Contents

 

7 popular web hosting control panels

  1. cPanel
  2. Plesk
  3. hPanel
  4. MyKinsta
  5. WHMCS
  6. RunCloud
  7. Control Web Panel

 

What is a Hosting Control Panel?

 

Web hosting control panels are applications designed to help website owners easily manage their hosting plans. They offer a user-friendly way to handle your website, including domain names, email accounts, security, and more.

 

A large part of the appeal of most web hosting control panels lies in the graphical interface. That makes it easy for newbies to access powerful website management tools quickly. With these applications, hosting management is mainly a matter of point, click, and fill-in-the-blanks.

 

The best web hosts often offer a choice of one or more control panels. Those on Virtual Private Server (VPS) or other advanced hosting plans generally have more options from which to choose.

 

7 Popular Web Hosting Control Panels

 

1. cPanel

https://cpanel.net/

 

cpanel

cPanel is the industry leader in web hosting control panels.

 

cPanel is hands-down the most popular web hosting control panel in the world. It holds a staggering 86% market share in its product segment. In addition, its market dominance isn’t without merit.

 

Since the early days of the cPanel journey, it has looked toward the needs of distinct user groups. That means notable features that cater to everyone from average website owners to web hosting companies and system administrators.

 

Most consumers are familiar with cPanels’ Graphical User Interface (GUI), which simplifies the management of their web hosting plan. However, cPanel brings much more to the table. Combined with WCM (also from cPanel), it allows users to administer entire servers.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Web-accessible GUI
  • Command Line Interface (CLI) interactions
  • Control panel migration tools
  • Server diagnosis tools
  • Multi-level security assets
  • Database management
  • Extensions

 

Yet this behemoth does have certain flaws, or should I say limitations. The application is only available for Linux and cannot run on Windows Servers (we’ve written about the differences here). Worse, its market dominance has led it on a spree of wild price hikes in licensing.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Straightforward to use
  • ✓ Widely available at most web hosting companies
  • ✓ Stable performance
  • ✓ Broad range of tools included

Cons

  • • Not available for Windows Server
  • • Frequent price increases

 

 

2. Plesk

https://www.plesk.com/

 

Plesk control panel

Plesk is for Windows Server what cPanel is for Linux.

 

Aside from cPanel, Plesk takes up a large part of the remaining web hosting control panel market share. The reason is pretty simple; it offers similar features but has the bonus of being compatible with Windows Server.

 

Plesk wasn’t that great in its early days, but the past few years have seen this platform grow by leaps and bounds. Today it competently addresses the needs of various user segments, including developers, content managers, web hosting companies, and more.

 

The core of Plesk is naturally its GUI-driven interface. That offers easy access to either web server or web hosting plan management. You also get many baked-in features like file and database management, self-healing tools, security enhancements, and mobile app support.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Web-accessible GUI
  • Powerful extension catalog
  • Website builder
  • Multi-language
  • eCommerce/Joomla/WordPress Toolkits
  • Server health monitoring
  • Developer dashboard

 

We can see the downside of Plesk in its Windows-supporting roots. Like the Microsoft Operating System (OS), things are unnecessarily complicated. While it’s not difficult to use, it isn’t as straightforward as cPanel.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Easy to use
  • ✓ Supports Linux and Windows servers
  • ✓ Strong virtualization tools
  • ✓ Inexpensive licensing
  • ✓ Good range of dev. tools
  • ✓ Modern interface design

Cons

  • • Various editions may confuse
  • • Less widely available

 

 

3. hPanel by Hostinger

https://www.hostinger.com/tutorials/hpanel-tutorial

 

hPanel by Hostinger

hPanel is exclusively for Hostinger customers.

 

Unlike most other web hosting control panels, Hostinger’s hPanel is mainly for itself and its customers. That’s right; this web host got fed up with getting held hostage by the cPanel and Plesk duopoly and decided to offer a budget-friendly alternative.

 

hPanel is a custom design created by a team of developers, researchers, and engineers. Compared to the industry stalwarts, hPanel can look incredibly spartan. However, that’s by design. It aims to offer as many mainstream web hosting features as possible, as simply as possible.

 

You get a platform that covers the essentials like domain, email, and database management. Since it’s self-developed, Hostinger also makes occasional tweaks to cater to customer needs. That’s something not many other web hosting control panels can boast.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Easily navigable structure
  • Detailed information displays
  • Quick backup and restore
  • File and FTP manager
  • Hosting manager
  • Email manager

 

The downside of hPanel is that it’s only available to Hostinger customers. While we’ve crowned them #1 in our list of best web hosts, getting locked into one brand just for the web hosting control panel isn’t worth considering. Check out our Hostinger review to see if they’re right for you.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Extremely simplified design
  • ✓ Fills all essential needs
  • ✓ Good information screens
  • ✓ Low learning curve
  • ✓ You can submit requests for features

Cons

  • • Not available outside of Hostinger plans
  • • Few dev-specific tools

 

 

4. MyKinsta by Kinsta

https://kinsta.com/mykinsta/

 

myKinsta control panel

MyKinsta is highly customized to fill niche requirements.

 

MyKinsta is another web host-built control panel intended only for its customers. It’s also unique in a couple of ways. To understand this you need to know that Kinsta offers only high-end WordPress-specific web hosting.

 

To that end, the MyKinsta control panel looks highly professional and is not only Kinsta-only but also built for WordPress website management. Kinsta also uses Google Cloud infrastructure, and MyKinsta allows you to shift your sites among them quickly.

 

Interestingly, the focus of MyKinsta seems to lean more towards monitoring and information than an excessive number of features. Don’t worry, though. You get everything you’ll need to deploy and run a fast website. At least, that’s what we found in our Kinsta review.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Automatic SSL
  • Built-in CDN
  • WordPress site cloning
  • Visitor information logging
  • Comprehensive performance metrics
  • Multi-level security

 

Similar to hPanel – the downside is that it’s only available to Kinsta customers.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Good range of dev tools
  • ✓ Excellent support
  • ✓ Simple SSL management
  • ✓ Easy site migrations
  • ✓ Supports collaborative work

Cons

  • • Not available outside of Kinsta
  • • Expensive

 

 

5. WHMCS

https://www.whmcs.com/

 

WHMCS control panel

WHMCS leans heavily toward reseller hosting.

 

Web Hosting Manager Complete Solution is quite a mouthful and likely the reason this web hosting control panel is always just called WHMCS. Most alternatives in the market cater to individual users, but this one also targets web hosts.

 

Here you’ll find extensive host-related account management tools. Examples include billing automation, account management, and a solid add-on system. Another big plus is that the modern iteration of WHMCS boasts a great design that’s highly informational.

 

Gone is the old clunky interface that was so Windows Server-like. The replacement forms colorful graphs and charts accompanied by essential information packed onto a customizable screen.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Automated hosting account provisioning
  • Billing and account management tools
  • Built-in ticketing support system
  • Integrates with most other control panels
  • Modular and extendable via APIs
  • Multiple support tools

 

WHMCS isn’t your regular hosting control panel. It focuses more on the billing and invoicing side of things. That’s why they allow easy integration with other control panels. You can use it as a stand-alone, but it’s more for web hosts than anyone else.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Beautiful interface design
  • ✓ Dev-friendly
  • ✓ Highly scalable
  • ✓ Robust billing and invoicing features
  • ✓ Lots of automation to save time

Cons

  • • Less capable as a customer-facing web hosting control panel
  • • Mainly for reseller hosting

 

 

6. RunCloud

https://runcloud.io/

 

RunCloud control panel

RunCloud helps users manager Cloud servers cost-effectively.

 

RunCloud is another control panel application that fills a niche market segment. It aims to address the needs of those running Virtual Servers. Unlike Cloudways, which only deploys on a handful of Cloud providers, you can install RunCloud anywhere.

 

The RunCloud app helps make server management a breeze. It does this by helping automate many tedious processes like server, PHP, and SSL configuration. A unified dashboard brings all the features together in a neat bundle.

 

Operational options are comprehensive, but it shows data in clean and highly readable graphs. Even logs get beautified for a better reading experience. RunCloud currently runs only on Ubuntu, but updates are coming for CentOS compatibility

 

Key features include;

 

  • Automated server configuration
  • 1-click SSL deployment
  • Web application manager
  • Database manager
  • Service manager
  • File and Cron job manager
  • Server health monitoring

 

By all accounts, RunCloud looks and sounds great. However, it hasn’t been in the market for long, and the developer doesn’t exactly have a track record. Only time will tell if this control panel is a genuine gem.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Very user-friendly
  • ✓ Highly secure
  • ✓ Inexpensive pricing
  • ✓ Fast and stable
  • ✓ Powerful tools for developers
  • ✓ Great balance of features vs simplicity

Cons

  • • Supports limited platforms (Ubuntu only)
  • • Some reports of poor customer support

 

 

7. Control Web Panel (aka CentOS Web Panel)

https://control-webpanel.com/

 

control web panel

CWP’s interface can look a little complex.

 

Control Web Panel, or CWP, is a development from the CentOS team. It supposedly offers a cost-effective solution for web hosting management. At least, that’s the logic behind the offering of the free and PRO versions.

 

Coming from a Linux dev, CWP is expectedly highly secure. At its heart is the CWP secure kernel that boasts of being one of the safest among web hosting servers. Yet the Linux-centric core also seems to hinder usability somewhat.

 

Still, you get a full feature set here, along with hard-to-beat pricing. The free version is much better than competing products in the same segment.

 

Key features include;

 

  • Advanced email handling
  • Domain management tools
  • Highly customizable
  • Simple file and upload management
  • Comprehensive resource viewer

 

Despite being touted as high performance, it’s notable that CWP comes with somewhat high requirements. You must run at least 1GB of memory on a 64-bit system. That puts it out of reach for users deploying ultra-light solutions.

 

Pros

  • ✓ Free version is quite good
  • ✓ Good “Jack-of-all-trades”
  • ✓ Excellent security
  • ✓ Good scalability
  • ✓ Sleek design (albeit slightly cluttered)

Cons

  • • Relatively high hardware requirements
  • • Some complaints of poor support

 

 

What Can I Do with a Hosting Control Panel?

 

Web hosting control panels allow you complete control over your web hosting environment. Most will include at least these basic features;

 

  • Domain name management
  • File management
  • Environment management
  • Database management
  • SSL management
  • Backup and restoration
  • Email management

 

 

How Your Control Panel Affects Your Web Hosting Experience

 

Web hosting control panels will keep improving over time. However, there are several things worth noting, most importantly rising costs. cPanel and Plesk are under the same ownership and hold the lion’s share of the market.

 

While they are excellent choices, we risk facing a market monopoly, leading to uncontrollable price hikes. While your choice should still be you-centric, this market cornering should concern us all.

 

 

 

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About The Author

Timothy Shim is a former tech journalist who has turned his experience towards his business as a writer, editor and content strategist. Today, he helps businesses craft compelling messages and advises on SEO, content marketing, and social media strategy.