Web hosting control panels are one of the most important tools for hosting service providers and web administrators. Until recently, cPanel is by far the most popular panel. However, recent price hikes forced especially hosting service providers to look for alternatives. cPanel competitors are also stepping up their games to potential customers who are looking for best cPanel alternative. So now, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular panels in the market.
Plesk is a commercial web control panel developed by Plesk International. It was originally developed in 2000 by Dimitri Simonenko. Plesk is one of the oldest and most popular web hosting control panels in the market, thus it is considered as the biggest rival of cPanel. However, Plesk was acquired by British Oakley Capital Limited and became a part of WebPros, which also comprises cPanel and WHMCS.
- Web Admin Edition (10 domains): $11 per month
- Web Pro Edition (30 domains): $16.50 per month
- Web Host Edition (Unlimited): $27.50 per month
- Web Admin Edition (10 domains): $10.08 per month (Billed annually)
- Web Pro Edition (30 domains): $15.13 per month (Billed annually)
- Web Host Edition (Unlimited): $13.75 per month for 3 months, then $27.50 per month (Billed annually)
Plesk vs cPanel
Both control panels offer command-line interfaces for their users and very similar graphical user interfaces. Both GUIs are very user-friendly and easy to use, but Plesk’s interface is slightly more intuitive and looks a little bit nicer. However, if you want to modify the interface, cPanel offers more options. Both panels are known to be good at security.
They can issue free SSL certificates with Let’s Encrypt automatically. While cPanel offers cPHulk for brute for protection and CSF support, Plesk comes with various security tools out of the box. Both panels offer ImunifyAV, one of the most popular antivirus and monitoring tools in the market which is capable of one-click malware cleanups, domain reputation monitoring, and blacklist status checking.
Plesk also includes Fail2ban for scanning log files and banning IP addresses related to malicious activities. Another important tool is the Plesk Firewall that allows users to configure their firewall. Both panels come with their own WordPress tools, however, it is easy to say that Plesk’s WordPress Toolkit is the better choice here. It provides various automation and management capabilities that are crucial for WordPress.
Plesk comes with a big portfolio of extensions to meet all the needs, including Security Advisor, Joomla! Toolkit, SEO Toolkit, etc. Plesk also offers solutions based on Dropbox, Acronis, and Google Drive for backups. On the other hand, users can install extra apps for cPanel too, via its auto-installers.
When it comes to compatibility, Plesk is the winner. While cPanel only supports CentOS, CloudLinux, and RHEL, Plesk supports much more Linux distributions, plus Windows Servers. While cPanel works with MySQL and MariaDB databases, Plesk supports MySQL, MariaDB, and MSSQL Server. Additionally, Plesk is one of the few panels that support Docker.
DirectAdmin is a standalone web hosting control panel developed by JBMC software. It is one of the most popular paid hosting panels in the market. Since its initial release in 2003, DirectAdmin managed to increase its popularity and it is mostly known for being a lightweight and simple-looking interface.
- Personal (10 domains): $2 per month (Billed annually)
- Lite (50 domains): $15 per month
- Standard (Unlimited domains): $29 per month
DirectAdmin vs cPanel
The first thing you’ll notice is the simple graphical user interface. Most of its pages are hidden under the drop-down menus which can make it complicated to navigate for new users. Users can choose one of the four styles of DirectAdmin themes they prefer. In general, cPanel’s GUI looks more modern but if you prefer simplicity, DirectAdmin may suit your needs.
DirectAdmin requires less resources than most other hosting panels. It offers cheaper options, however, its unlimited plan, named Standard, is as expensive as Plesk. Although it provides all the essential tools a web admin can need, it lacks some of the features cPanel has. These works can only be done in the root shell if you are using DirectAdmin. DirectAdmin offers three different licenses, Personal, Lite, and Standard, to suit the needs of various users. The company also offers special offers with CloudLinux and JetBackup.
Personal: It is the ideal plan for personal or small business usage. A single account can manage up to 10 domains. However, it lacks professional technical support and can only be billed annually.
Lite: Lite version is ideal for small companies. It allows users to create up to 10 accounts to manage 50 domains.
Standard: DirectAdmin’s Standard version is the only plan that includes unlimited accounts and unlimited domains. It is the only suitable option for shared hosting and reseller hosting companies.
When it comes to security, DirectAdmin also lacks some features. DirectAdmin doesn’t support IPTables, thus, it can’t block brute force attacks. During a brute force attack, DirectAdmin can only send a warning message to the admin. DirectAdmin also offers fewer addons than cPanel or Plesk and they can increase the total expenses.
There are no big differences between DirectAdmin and cPanel when it comes to compatibility. DirectAdmin supports CloudLinux, AlmaLinux, RHEL, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, and FreeBSD. However, it lacks Windows Server support.
ISPConfig is a popular open-source cpanel alternative. It is developed by ISPConfig UG and licensed under the BSD license. It was created by Till Brehm in 2005, while he was working for projektfarm GmbH. ISPConfig only supports Linux operating systems.
ISPConfig vs cPanel
ISPConfig comes with a very simple graphical user interface that looks a little bit outdated. It is easy to navigate between the menus and find the option you are looking for. However, it also lacks some advanced features cPanel offers, which makes the interface lighter.
ISPConfig is not as capable of cPanel or Plesk, but on the other hand, it is completely free. It is safe to say that ISPConfig is more suitable for website owners or small businesses. Although it lacks some advanced features, it covers all the basic needs a web admin can need. You can also install several add-ons that are available for ISPConfig with a one-time license fee. However, cPanel and Plesk offer much more add-ons. So if you need a specific add-on, make sure that it is available on ISPConfig before installing.
ISPConfig allows users to create accounts for four access levels: administrator, reseller, client, and email login. However, ISPConfig doesn’t come with a one-click installer, which makes it confusing and time-consuming to set up the panel and configure it. Since it is free software, it doesn’t include professional support, thus it can be frustrating for inexperienced users.
ISPConfig allows users to disable unnecessary services, making it one of the most lightweight hosting panels in the market. It can easily run on systems with very limited resources.
ISPConfig works with both physical and virtual machines. It also supports single servers, multi-servers, and mirrored clusters and allows users to manage multiple servers from one control panel. It supports Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, and OpenSUSE distributions and MySQL database.
ServerPilot, founded by Justin Samuel and Kevin Likens, is a hosting control panel that is optimized to run PHP websites on cloud infrastructure. In 2018, the company decided to remove the free plan, thus it is a paid service since then.
- Economy: $5 per server, monthly
- Business: $10 per server, monthly
- First Class: $20 per server, monthly
ServerPilot vs cPanel
ServerPilot comes with a simple and easy-to-use interface that allows users to navigate easily between menus. The panel comes with a software stack that makes it easy and fast to get a cloud server up and running. It includes PHP, databases, and the webserver. On the other hand, it can be considered to be a lightweight panel.
ServerPilot automatically protects the server with its firewall that uses IPtables. However, the firewall lacks an important feature; brute force detection. To protect your server against brute forces, you need to install another solution and disable ServerPilot’s firewall. Unfortunately, ServerPilot doesn’t include a backup tool either. Users should set up their own backup solution to save and recover their data against any unwanted situations.
Since its a paid service, it offers professional support for its customers. However, the lack of some features makes it questionable. ServerPilot allows web admins to quickly set up and manage a cloud server, instead of wasting time with the command line. On the other hand, it doesn’t offer any unique features and only supports MySQL and Ubuntu LTS.
Virtualmin Pro is a paid hosting and website control panel based on Webmin, which is a system configuration tool created for Unix-like systems. Virtualmin Pro was initially released in 2003 and it is written in Perl. There is also a Virtualmin GPL version which is licensed under GPL and totally free and open-source.
- $60 to $200 per server annually, based on the number of domains
Virtualmin Pro vs cPanel
Virtualmin Pro comes with a compact user interface. It offers many features, thus the user interface can be intimidating at first glance. All the settings and features included in the Virtualmin Pro are a big advantage, however, it can be really confusing for inexperienced users. It is mostly recommended for experienced users only.
One of the most important advantages of Virtualmin Pro is its easy installation process. It is installed as a Webmin module and similar to cPanel it automatically configures itself. Since it offers almost all the features a web admin can need, you probably will not have to use the command line. It also allows users to install and manage Django web application development framework and Django applications. Its user interface grants complete control.
When it comes to security, Virtualmin Pro includes the most important tools that other panels lack. It includes brute force protection, two-factor authentication, Fail2Ban and firewall management, and many more.
One of the most unique features of Virtualmin Pro is its built-in WYSIWYG website editor and template-based page creator. It allows users to create websites easily and also includes an advanced file manager. Virtualmin Pro also comes with more than 100 free applications that can be installed easily.
The panel supports Webmin MySQL and PostgreSQL modules, and phpMyAdmin and phpPgAdmin. Virtualmin Pro works with CentOS, Debian, RHEL, and Ubuntu.
SPanel is an all-in-one web hosting platform for cloud VPS management developed by Scala Hosting, which is in the industry since 2007. It was initially released to the public in 2018, as a new edition to the Scala family.
- Free with Scala Hosting VPS plans
SPanel vs cPanel
SPanel’s user interface is very easy to navigate and use, even for a beginner. It allows users to easily monitor servers and it is also easy to find what you are looking for. Most of the sections and menus are self-explanatory and intuitive. SPanel aims to be one of the most secure panels in the market and it is a feature-rich panel when it comes to security.
SPanel comes with an all-in-one security solution, SShield Security. It is capable of detecting attacks and vulnerabilities and mitigates the risks. SShield Security is a fully automated solution and it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning for predictive analysis and cyber threat prevention. SPanel also protects your system with SpamAssassin and Brute Force Protection. cPanel doesn’t feature any fully automated technology against security threats.
If you are a web admin, you already know how important can backups be. SPanel comes with a free solution for backups, SBackups. It is also a beginner-friendly solution and doesn’t require any technical knowledge. With a few clicks, you can easily back up and download the files.
SPanel also comes with SWordPress Manager, which is capable of updating the popular CMS. SWordPress Manager also adds a few layers of protection. It locks the files and directories, which doesn’t prevent users to add new content. When the user needs to install a plugin, the lock can be removed easily and activated after the changes are made. These security features offered by SWordPress Manager make SPanel’s WordPress solution better than cPanel’s.
SPanel is included in Scala Hosting’s VPS plans, free of charge. Unfortunately, if want to switch to SPanel, you have to choose one of the few service providers. But SPanel is compatible with cPanel and Scala Hosting is offering free migrations. Scala Hosting is also known for its high customer satisfaction rate and it doesn’t charge for professional support, on the other hand, cPanel phone support costs $65 per incident.
InterWorx, developed by InterWorx LLC, was originally developed as a part of Nexcess in the early 2000s. The project was spun off as an independent company in 2004. InterWorx has two interfaces, NodeWorx for managing servers and SiteWorx for managing a particular website.
- Singer Server License: $20 per month
- Single VPS License: $7.5 per month
InterWorx vs cPanel
InterWorx comes with a nicely laid out user interface. Although it provides all the essential information about the server, it looks a little bit outdated. The user can easily spot if there is a problem with the server and the menu on the left side is pretty basic and easy to use.
InterWorx allows users to create multiple server administration, reseller, and control panel access accounts with all or limited features. Users can also add domains with different PHP versions and manage all system services, including MySQL and SSH.
Although InterWorx offers all the basic features and settings, it still lacks some of the advanced features that other panels offer. Especially if you need third-party applications, InterWorx doesn’t support as many as its major competitors.
InterWorx’s error log and service status reporting capabilities help web administrators to pinpoint the issues easily. Also, its backup tool allows getting full, partial, and structured backup easily. It also offers scheduled backups.
InterWorx provides full clustering support while cPanel offers limited clustering support. On the other hand, InterWorx doesn’t support Windows Server and some of the most popular Linux distributions, including CloudLinux, Ubuntu, and Debian.
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