Most people have two initial choices when it comes to web hosting control panels: cPanel and Plesk. Although there has been lots of controversy between the two web hosting control panels, after a clear run-through of this article, you should be able to make an easy decision.
Today, we’re going to go through all of the features of each control panel, the similarities, and differences, their support, and finally, their pricing.
Web Hosting Control Panel
First, let’s take a look at what is a web hosting control panel and why you might want one. A web hosting control panel is software that allows you to easily host a website without the need of the end-user setting up additional software like a Web Server, DNS server, databases, and much more. A web hosting control panel automatically sets up and configures most of the necessary components in hosting a website and makes each additional modules like databases, DNS zones, file editing, etc. more accessible and configurable at ease. With a web hosting control panel, you can easily do the following:
- Create and manage subdomains and regular domains
- Create and manage email accounts
- Create and manage databases
- Create and manage website files being hosted
- Create and manage DNS records and zones
- See and manage website statistics
- Easily install extra software
- Create and manage security
Now, why would you want to use a web hosting control panel? You may want to use a web hosting control panel if you do not want to or do not have the knowledge to manually set up server software like Nginx, SSL, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, Mail Servers, etc via command line or via UI. Or, if you just want to easily manage all the components of your website in one place and easily configure settings with a few clicks, a web hosting control panel would be the best for you! Even if you are a professional and know how to set up all of these things via command line, I still would recommend getting a web hosting control panel if you use many components like databases, email, DNS servers, FTP, etc. since it may be harder and a lot more time-consuming.
Now, let’s get back to the comparison. First off, we would like to go through all of the unique features that each of the web hosting control panel has and also all of the features that both of them have.
|OS compatibility||Both Linux and Windows operating systems are supported.Windows family: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012)Linux family: Debian, CentOS, Ubuntu, Cloudlinux 6-7, Virtuozzo, Red Hat Enterprise 6-7||cPanel is Linux control panel. Supported distributives: CentOS, Cloud Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.|
|Web servers||Apache, NGINX with caching||Apache with Nginx caching|
|Administration||Unified authorization procedure for users and administrators.||cPanel basically consists of cPanel and WHM – WHM is accessible only for server-related administrational tasks. cPanel access gives control only over the website.|
|Security||A lot of security features are provided from the box e.g. Plesk Firewall, Revisium Antivirus, Fail2ban||AutoSSL, cPHulk, built-in support of CSF/LFD and some other useful features|
|WordPress support||WordPress Toolkit provides full list of automation & management features vital for the scalable WordPress infrastructure support.||cPanel’s WordPress Manager is far away from perfection, but the feature is still there.|
|Extensions/Add-ons||Plesk comes with an ecosystem of various extensions, covering all possible needs of any server administrator. Among these extensions are Security Advisor, WordPress Toolkit, Joomla Toolkit, Let’s Encrypt SSL support, SEO Toolkit etc.||Extra apps are available via auto-installers like softaculous.|
|DBMS||MySQL / MariaDB / MSSQL Server databases can be managed via web browser.||MySQL/MariaDB databases management via web interface|
|SSL||Let’s Encrypt + Symantec||AutoSSL with Let’s Encrypt|
|Backups||Ready to use solutions based on Dropbox, Acronis, Google Drive||Compatibility issues can be spotted between various cPanel backup versions.|
|Technologies||Support of Docker, Git, Node.js, WordPress Toolkit||Docker, Node.Js & Git can be still supported by cPanel, however workaround here is sophisticated|
Now, as of features, we can see that Plesk is an obvious win here. Plesk offers everything that cPanel has and even adds more to each of the features. Although most of the extra features like Symantec, MSSQL, more OS support, SEO toolkit, etc are not as useful, Plesk do offer many useful features like Backups to External Services, Nginx Support, and extra security. These features are some key features to consider as they are very important and cPanel does not offer these.
Both cPanel and Plesk have very different User Interfaces and each has its own unique benefits.
cPanel and WHM
Above is cPanel’s End-User UI. This User-Interface is very clean with each module listed with an icon. This makes navigation extremely easy as all of the modules can be easily recognized from the icon. Not only are the modules listed with an icon, they are also sorted in their respective places, which also makes navigation even easier. Not only are modules easier to find, the statistics are also easy to navigate and analyze in the sidebar. All of cPanel’s modules and software are listed in one single main page which makes navigation a lot easier.
Above is cPanel’s WHM User-Interface. Similar to the cPanel End-User UI, it has icons for every single module which makes navigation super easy. It also has everything listed in this home page, which also makes navigation easy
Above is Plesks’ end user UI. As you can see, it is also similar to cPanel’s with colorful icons, but although the home page seems easy to navigate, Plesk’s UI is actually much more difficult. In cPanel, you can access and list all of the emails throughout of all of your domains in one page, but in Plesk, you have to select email, then choose the domain, then see the list. This also applies to other settings and modules. Plesk’s UI is overall more complicated to use with many extra buttons and not a direct view.
Overall, cPanel has a much more clean user interface with easier accessibility. If you are a new user to web hosting, I would personally recommend cPanel’s interface as it is much easier to navigate and much nicer and easier in general. If you want to check out and play around with each of the interfaces, you can do so with the following links.
cPanel Demo: https://demo.cpanel.net
WHM Demo: http://trycpanel.net/
Plesk Demo: https://docs.plesk.com/try-plesk-now
Of course, security is another important thing when it comes to webhosting. You obviously don’t want to get hacked and have your files leaked, nor do you want your website to be exploitable with popular exploits like the SQL injection exploit or the XSS exploit. We will review the security features that each control panel offers.
cPanel has the following features that come with the panel:
- AutoSSL – Automatically issue and renew SSL certificates for selected domains with Let’s Encrypt or cPanel SSL.
- IP Blocker – Essentially blocks certain IPs from accessing your site.
- Hotlink Protection – Saves up bandwidth by preventing third parties from directly pulling assets from your site (ie. Images).
- Leech Protection – Detects unusual activities in restricted sections that require a password
- cPHulk – Detects and blocks brute force attacks against SSH and control panel logins.
- Additional Plugins like Imunify360, CSF Firewall, ModSecurity, etc. can be installed and added.
Plesk has the following features that come with the panel:
- SSL/TLS – Similar to AutoSSL, Automatically issue and renew SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt
- Fail2Ban – Automatically checks logs and bans IP addresses that appear to be suspicious or doing suspicious things
- Plesk Firewall – Plesk comes with a firewall that is already installed and highly configurable
- Check active FTP and Plesk Sessions and control them
- Change the session idle time allocation until automatic log off
- Additional Plugins like Imunify360, ImunifyAV, ModSecurity, etc. can be installed and added.
Customer support is by far the most crucial thing when it comes to running a web hosting company or a personal website. If you’re having trouble setting up the control panel or having trouble with any aspects of the hosting, customer support is who you would want to contact. If you run to any problems when you’re hosting your site, you would want to fix it immediately.
Obviously, not everyone knows everything, so in some cases, you would want to contact customer support. If anything catastrophic happens to your site, you would want immediate action done to fix your site as soon as possible to reduce downtime and complaints. This is where customer support comes in. Even if you think you will not encounter any catastrophic events, it is better safe than sorry.
Considering these events, good customer support is something everyone should have or want. Now, let’s take a look at the customer support for both control panels.
cPanel customer support has three different levels. Since cPanel has almost a million users at a time, their community forums and blogs have almost every issue and resolution to most problems in cPanel. If you run into any problems in cPanel, someone probably already did and posted a forum post about it and you can easily find it by searching up your problem on Google or any search engine.
The community forums is a great place for you to find answers to your problems and even discover some new issues on your panel and how to fix it. In my experience, I never had to contact cPanel customer support since all of my problems could be found on the community forums and all the resolutions work! On the off-chance that your issue is not on the community forums, you can contact cPanel ticket support and submit a ticket. I have done a test run with cPanel support, and they usually reply within 16-24 hours to your first message submission.
This is considered quite slow since if you have a catastrophic problem, you would want a resolution as soon as possible, not 16-24 hours later. On the bright side, cPanel does offer Priority Phone Support with instant help, but it costs $65/incident!
Overall, I would say the actual customer support of cPanel is not the best since it takes around a day to receive an answer at first, and if you want to get priority support, you would need to pay $65/incident. On the other hand, I’ve actually never had to contact cPanel support because all my issues could be easily found in the cPanel forums.
Plesk support is also very similar to cPanel customer support. It has both community forums and ticket support. Plesk’s community forums are not as saturated with information as cPanel since fewer users use Plesk, but I suspect that their forums will build up over the next few years, and finding answers will be a lot easier.
As of now, I have trouble finding my issues on Plesk forums since there isn’t as much content as cPanel. This is why I am forced to contact Plesk’s ticket support. On the other hand, Plesk’s ticket support is actually pretty fast. They have staff answering tickets 24/7/365. This led me to get a response within 30 minutes – 1 hour of ticket creation! Although Plesk does not have priority phone support, in my opinion, you do not really need it since they answer tickets in an instant!
Overall, I would say Plesk has better actual customer support, but it is easier to find answers on cPanel faster through the community forum. If you are a person who likes to have other people fix the problems, rather than research and fix them manually, I would recommend Plesk support since they are both fast and helpful. If you are a person who likes to fix the problems ASAP but don’t mind doing it yourself, I would recommend cPanel forums as it is both easy and fast to find a preexisting answer.
Now, pricing is by far one of the most important things when it comes to choosing web hosting control panels. You don’t want to choose a control panel that has a ton of features but extremely expensive, nor do you want to choose a control panel that is extremely cheap but lacks support and features. We are going to compare the pricing and the worth of each control panel below.
Lots of people debate over the pricing of cPanel, but overall it could be considered overpriced or expensive. Below is the pricing for cPanel
|Plan Name||Max # of Accounts||Server Type||Pricing|
|Premier Plus||100-1,780||Cloud/VPS OR|
|$45 + |
(# of licenses over 100)*0.20
Now obviously, the pricing for cPanel is pretty expensive when you are purchasing under 100 licenses, but as you purchase more and more and reach the partner price, it becomes pretty cheap. Now, a lot of people don’t get their licenses directly from cPanel, but rather from their hosting provider. Most major server hosting providers provide cPanel licenses at a cheaper price. You can check their pricing by contacting their support.
Plesk’s pricing is generally way cheaper than cPanel’s pricing. Below is Plesk’s pricing.
As you can see, Plesk’s pricing is a lot more reasonable and cheap if you get the unlimited plan. Since cPanel does not have an unlimited option, if you are planning to host thousands of domains, I would recommend using Plesk if you are worried about pricing since Plesk is generally cheaper.
In summary, cPanel and Plesk both have pros and cons and focus on different areas. Plesk is obviously cheaper and has much more features and better support. cPanel may be more expensive and does not have as many features but is more widely known and preferred.
If you are an independent developer or company and just want to host and control a website for as cheap as possible and with great support and features, I would recommend Plesk. If you want to start a hosting company or providing users hosting, I would recommend cPanel since it is more widely known and preferred and has better UI and UX, which is easier to use.
Regardless of which control panel you choose, you would need great hosting in order to have the best experience. Luckily, CynderHost provides both Plesk and cPanel hosting with blazing fast servers. Check out CynderHost web hosting pricing here.