Intro to cPanel Hosts: Hear From the Experts Before Picking a Provider
The name sounds like it might be the technical jargon that web hosting beginners fear, but the best cPanel hosting can be the most valuable tool to welcome a beginner — or even experienced developer — to a new web hosting plan.
The visual interface makes server management ridiculously easy, bridging the gap between a drag-and-drop website builder and root access coding.
As the gold standard, the cPanel control panel features an intuitive layout, numerous management features, and a free, seamless integration across hundreds of the web’s best hosting providers.
Let’s cover anything and everything you need to know before signing up with a cPanel host.
What is cPanel, Anyway?
In short, cPanel is what’s known as a control panel — a hub for managing elements of your hosting plan. These days, when you sign up for hosting, it’s expected that you’ll be equipped with some sort of graphical user interface that serves as your main dashboard for managing your hosting service.
Interfaces like cPanel, Plesk, WebPanel, and others, allow even non-tech savvy hosting customers to manage domains, email accounts, servers, and databases.
The cPanel dashboard (or whatever alternative that your web host provides) is where you’ll go to configure your free SSL security, manage your MySQL database, email accounts, and even setting up your WordPress installation.
Although some hosts choose to avoid the cPanel license fees by building their own custom management portal, the hosting companies that offer cPanel will make the website migration process incredibly easier. Transferring a cPanel profile is remarkably seamless.
Why cPanel is #1 Among the Best Control Panels
Leading the market is one of the most well-known names in server management: cPanel. This intuitive interface is so sleek and accommodating that even those with a basic understanding of web hosting will seek it out as they’re shopping for hosting plans.
While it’s technically not free, the point-and-click software is so popular and efficient that seemingly each top web hosting provider includes a free cPanel license in its plan.
What a cPanel Login Gets You Access To
With cPanel, users can access and manage domain registrations and DNS records, email accounts, and database system files. You can edit and backup important files and store large amounts of pertinent data in multiple MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. You can even track your bandwidth consumption.
With access to apps galore, cPanel offers easy installation of your favorite scripts, web applications, content management systems, and online stores. Hear all about those one-click installations from WordPress hosting services? Guess where you can find it.
Finally, the panel acts as your headquarters for keeping your server secure. Set up SSL certificates, password-protect certain files or directories, or block certain IP addresses from accessing your system.
In a nutshell, cPanel users can access:
- Domains, subdomains, and parked domains management services
- Email and webmail services
- FTP file management
- MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and file storage
- Easy installation of apps for blogging, ecommerce, marketing, and other functions
- SSH access
- Logfile access and reporting
- cPanel support team
- Site metrics and traffic information
Note that included features can vary based on the plan you sign up for with your host. For example, some hosts may prevent customers from using secure shell access, or others may limit the number of databases or domains you can have.
Comparing the Best cPanel Hosts
A cPanel host is just a web host that gives you cPanel to manage your servers. Rightfully so, we believe the right cPanel hosting provider should include the popular web panel for free for customers.
However, there are other facets of a hosting package that are important to cPanel hosting shoppers — some more important to certain users than others. We’ll go through these below.
Using cPanel: VPS vs. Shared vs. Dedicated
The cPanel hosting audience is diverse. Members range from first-time users to experienced developers, so their needs and what appeals to them about this hosting control panel varies — another toast to cPanel’s broad appeal!
Shared web hosting users love the platform for the one-click installations, easy access to webmail, and an all-around intuitive interface for adding functionality and security to their sites.
Meanwhile, those using cPanel for VPS or dedicated hosting are typically drawn to the more technical perks like root access, log file reporting, and easy database management. Everyone should love and appreciate cPanel for site backups.
Features We Look For
Now that we’ve talked your ear off about all that cPanel can do, let’s look at what features we specifically search for as we evaluate the best cPanel hosts:
- Free cPanel license
- One-click app installs
- Free site builder tools
- Free advertising credits and SSL certificates
- Unlimited resources (domains, emails, site traffic, disk space)
That’s not to say that a host that doesn’t throw $250-worth of search engine marketing credits at you for signing up isn’t a solid, reputable option for web hosting with cPanel. We’re always suckers for unmetered bandwidth, for instance, but you’ll quickly find which features and perks most resonate with you.
Comparing cPanel Host Prices
As you’re browsing our cPanel reviews and looking for a hosting solution, surely price is an influential factor on your mind. A cPanel license for a VPS will cost you about $20 per month, while a dedicated server cPanel account goes for about a $45 monthly rate.
For a shared hosting plan, the provider holds the cPanel hosting account and will either charge cPanel customers a license fee at a reduced rate or, more commonly, include the cPanel license as a free perk.
Reseller hosting, in which you sign up for a larger portion of server resources you can then divvy up and sell to clients of your own, can vary wildly. Some hosts will give you unlimited cPanel licenses to distribute to your customers (usually via the complementary WHM platform), but confirm this before accidentally signing up with a hosting company that charges you a la carte.
Surprisingly, WordPress and managed WordPress services don’t dramatically impact what you can expect to pay for cPanel. Those providers, such as A2 Hosting and InMotion Hosting, concentrate more on the specific optimizations that make their managed WordPress hosting plans faster and more secure.
Cheap cPanel Hosting
The easiest way to get cheap cPanel hosting is to opt for a web hosting company that includes a free license in their hosting plans.
With some of the top-rated, most affordable hosts we’ve reviewed, you can get cPanel for free by simply paying the $2 to $5 per month for hosting. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!
Free cPanel Hosting
Here’s the deal: You can get cPanel for free with super cheap hosting, or you can get hosting that’s free (and pretty shoddy, honestly) and pay for a cPanel license. Getting free hosting and free cPanel is generally not on the table.
Dealer’s choice: $20 a month for a cPanel license and a poorly-performing-but-free server space, or $2 to $25 a month for exceptional hosting with a free cPanel account?
Looking for a cPanel Alternative?
Not loving the idea of cPanel for whatever reason? There are other useful panels on the market. Some I’ve already mentioned, like Plesk and WebPanel, fall into the premium panel category.
If you want an open-source and free cPanel alternative, WebMin, ISPmanager, and ISPConfig are some of our favorite hosting options. You can check out our platform comparisons here.
All in all, you’ll find some fabulous hosting providers that each tout easy-to-use hosting management panels — like SiteGround, Bluehost, and HostGator — leading the market with cPanel, free domains, one-click installations, and other sought-after features.
It’s these hosts’ attention to the wants and needs of hosting shoppers that make them attractive — and it’s that same spot-on web hosting service that brings them to the top of our reviews.