Top cPanel AlternativesLast Updated:
Most web hosting plans come bundled with all the basic tools and services you’ll need to get your site off the ground. Typically that includes a web control panel. These control panels let you configure and customize various aspects of your website, all through an easy-to-parse graphical user interface (GUI) that you can access through your browser.
cPanel is one of the most popular control panels out there, and most web hosting providers like Bluehost and HostGator include it with their shared hosting packages. However, cPanel isn’t as much of a given for VPS or dedicated hosting plans, where you’ll often have to buy a cPanel license separately. While this seems like a simple ploy to increase your monthly charges, it also gives you the flexibility to spring for a different control panel, and maybe save yourself a few bucks along the way.
Why Bother Looking?
If cPanel’s so popular, should you even consider alternatives?
Short answer: Yes. As good as cPanel is, there are still some cases where you’d be better served by a different control panel. For example, cPanel is Linux-based, and even then, it doesn’t work with all Linux versions. If you’re working with ASP.NET/Windows for your website, you’re going to need something else.
Control Panel Features
But how do you determine which options to try? There are lots of control panels out there, ranging from open-source releases to those that require paying license fees. Not all of them come with the same features as cPanel; in fact, you can expect a lot of variation among control panels when it comes to features.
Some will include enterprise management tools like support ticket systems or multiple server management. These can come in handy if, for example, you’re running a reseller hosting business. If you’re just overseeing your personal website, though, these tools might just be clutter on your administrator dashboard.
In general, you can expect control panels to perform some combination of these basic functions, if not all of them:
- Configuring/maintaining user and email accounts
- Domain name management
- Database management
- File system access and management
- Reporting on your disk space, bandwidth, and other system resource usage
- Logging server and web status and activity
Of course, the best control panel is the one that performs all the tasks you need it to do, with minimal cost and hassle. Below, you’ll find a list of the best starting points if you’re looking to break away from cPanel.
Your Top Alternatives
Best for: Users who need Windows hosting
The other big name when it comes to web hosting panels, Plesk is a system-agnostic option that enjoys support from hosting providers big and small. It works with a larger number of Linux versions than cPanel does, from CentOS and Ubuntu to CloudLinux, Debian, and beyond. You can even run it with Windows. In fact, most web hosts that offer Windows hosting–such as Arvixe–tend to use Plesk as the default control panel for their Windows hosting plans.
Developers out there will like Plesk’s integrations with Git and Docker, making your development workflow that much easier to manage with built-in version control and support for tons of Docker containers.
Best for: Users who want cPanel-level utility at zero cost
This open-source control panel promises efficiency, ease of use, and versatility at virtually no cost. VestaCP works with Linux CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu, and it comes with Nginx out of the box, too. In fact, you’ll get a full arsenal of bells and whistles here, from DNS management tools to easy SSL certificate installs, WHMCS support and more. The control panel’s interface is clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate, so you’ll have no problems digging into the ins and outs of your website.
Best for: Multi-server management
If you’ve got a network of servers to take care of, consider Core-Admin. This panel is built to serve as your central command center, collecting logs and controls for different servers so you can oversee everything from one handy console. As a bonus, sharing server administration duties with others is a breeze too, since Core-Admin comes with a highly sophisticated structure for user permissions. If you’ve got 10 or fewer domains to keep an eye on, you can also cut costs by using Core-Admin’s free web edition.
Best for: ISPs and resellers
Write this down as another win for the open-source community. Froxlor comes from an active community of developers who keep expanding this control panel’s functionalities with every update. You’ll find support for Nginx, IPv6, and more, plus handy service-oriented tools like support ticketing and customer messaging systems that will no doubt put a smile on hosting resellers’ faces. The interface itself is sleek and easy to navigate, so no need to worry about muddling through a page full of eyesores just to dig up an important setting.
One thing worth noting, though: Froxlor currently doesn’t include a file manager. You can create FTP accounts as a workaround, but that’s still unnecessary extra effort on your part.
Best for: Cloud hosting and general-purpose use
Another widely used alternative, Virtualmin might well be the Swiss army knife for control panel needs. You can choose from three different iterations, each built to serve different server management needs. The main Virtualmin iteration comes with the essentials of control panel software features, which the Professional version extends with a larger selection of supported one-click installations and commercial support.
Cloud hosting purveyors or service providers will like Cloudmin Professional, a Virtualmin offshoot that allows for multi-server management. Cloudmin supports various cloud server systems, from Amazon EC2 containers to Xen, Solaris Zones, and vserver. Whichever version you choose, you can count on a clean user interface, as well as a number of options for accessing your control panel.
Of course, there are more control panel software options out there, and if you’ve got highly specific needs, you might want to do a bit more browsing yourself, as well. That said, this list of five is a good springboard into the world of cPanel alternatives. With many control panels out there using open-source software to create increasingly effective and pleasant-to-use consoles, users looking to save money or simply try something new will have more choices now than ever.