Last Updated: March 17, 2021
Top 7 cPanel Alternatives
BEST CONTROL PANEL OVERALL
- EASE OF USE: Fantastic
- FEATURES: 8/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Decent, but lacks script installation
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Feature-rich and powerful
- Doesn't spend server resources
- Unique robust tools
- Completely free
- Excellent for resellers and agencies
- Only available with two companies
- Lacks many popular 1-click installers
SPanel is Scalahosting’s proprietary solution. It has been around for some time, but the latest major update came out just a few months ago. This was a massive overhaul of the control panel, and the new features make it a direct competitor to cPanel.
This is what you can get out of it today:
SPanel is one of the most feature-packed dedicated hosting and VPS control panels.
For starters, it lets you handle all the basics like DNS management, setting up websites, changing your PHP version, etc. You can also automatically set up Let’s Encrypt SSL, which is always handy.
SPanel uses the RainLoop webmail client for emailing. This is a solid solution, on par with Horde and Roundcube, which are cPanel’s integrated clients.
SPanel also features an admin area where you can create unlimited control panel accounts. This includes tools for adding, modifying, suspending, or deleting accounts, changing passwords, as well as server monitoring and management tools.
Such versatile management features put SPanel in the category of best control panel for reseller hosting. You can even fully white-label it at no extra cost, which will make your business look way more professional.
One massive advantage SPanel has over most solutions (especially cPanel) is it runs in a separate server environment with its own resources. The panel won’t hog the resources of your hosting server, which allows you to get away with purchasing fewer server resources.
It also adds daily offsite backups at no extra charge for the backup storage. That said, Scalahosting only saves the backups for one day only. You’ll have to pay $1/month extra for each additional day you want to hold on to them.
Finally, SPanel was designed as a worthy cPanel alternative for already existing cPanel users. For this reason, it is fully compatible with cPanel.
The web hosting control panel comes with its own security suite called SShield. This includes a firewall (which the hosting provider will manage), an antivirus software, and an AI malware monitoring tool.
WordPress users can also access the SWordPress Manager from the panel GUI. This is a handy management tool that lets you set up WordPress websites, enable automatic updates, and configure additional security measures. If you’re a WP website owner or want to set WordPress hosting, you’ll appreciate how easy it is with this software.
Unlimited Free Migrations
You can easily transfer all data, including emails, passwords, crontab data, and everything else. If you opt for SPanel, Scalahosting will handle the entire migration for you, even if you need to transfer a full-on reseller business.
In an H2H comparison of cPanel vs. SPanel features, SPanel handles everything the other solution can and then some.
Let’s dig into integrations and see how it performs there:
SPanel is compatible with Nginx and Apache, which are the most popular web servers.
It’s also optimized to work with LiteSpeed. This is the recommended web server for it, and the panel lets you use many LiteSpeed caching solutions by default.
Just keep in mind LiteSpeed charges a licensing fee if you run over 2GB RAM or have more than one hosted domain on your server.
However, the web server can make a considerable speed difference for PHP-based apps like WordPress, Magento, or Joomla. Many webmasters and companies find the extra cost worth it.
Resellers can take advantage of the WHMCS integration. This is the absolute most popular billing/CRM tool among resellers and agencies.
SPanel does get a bit of criticism for the lack of 1-click installers. You can set up WordPress easily enough. Since there’s no Softaculous integration, there’s no option to automatically install apps like PrestaShop, Drupal, or Magento.
Scalahosting claims a solution similar to Softaculous is in the works and that it will be available free of charge. As things stand, though, the lack of easy installation for popular apps can be a bit of a pain for beginners.
Other than that, you get a solid offer. Plus, if you’re a business owner that needs to run many control panel accounts, a free cPanel alternative like SPanel can save you hundreds of dollars. The solution is fully supported, so you still get all the assistance you need.
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SPanel gets overwhelmingly positive reactions.
Many customers love the solution for working so well and for being such a smooth transfer from cPanel. Many also praise Scalahosting for providing excellent support for free—which is a fair point, Scala’s team performs remarkably well.
One user did complain about SPanel taking a bit long to make name server changes. This is, in fact, a thing across the entirea domain name system. Changes can take up to 48h to fully implement. While this is not an issue with SPanel, it’s something worth keeping in mind whenever you’re pointing your domain name elsewhere.
For the most part, SPanel user reviews are stellar.
SPanel is a completely free web hosting control panel—no expensive add-ons, no hidden fees for resellers, no paid support. The solution is entirely free to use, even if you decide to resell thousands of hosting plans.
What’s the catch, then?
Well, SPanel is not widely used yet. You would have to get hosting from either Scalahosting or Vivacom to take advantage of it.
That said, Scalahosting is one of the better hosting providers in the market, and it already caters to numerous businesses and resellers. You can take advantage of impressive cloud VPS and dedicated hosting plans and get direct support from the creators of the control panel.
Plus, since you can avoid the control panel licensing, you can take advantage of incredibly affordable deals. For instance, the managed VPS plans start at only $12/month. You will be saving at least $15/month with the included for free VPS control panel, and possibly even hundreds if you’re a hosting reseller.
SPanel is the crown jewel of Scalahosting’s offer. The solution is completely free, fully supported by an excellent tech team, and able to handle even large-scale endeavors. There is a lot to love about the panel, and it’s easily one of the top cPanel alternatives in 2021.
THE MOST RELIABLE CONTROL PANEL FOR BUSINESS
- EASE OF USE: Very straightforward
- FEATURES: 8/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Extensive
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Excellent features
- Stable and highly reliable
- Price-lock guarantee
- Per-server billing
- Awesome for businesses and large-scale projects
- Clunky layout
- Kind of limited integrations
DirectAdmin is often considered one of the top three control panels, along with cPanel and Plesk. This solution, however, brings plenty of advantages of its own.
Here’s what they are:
DirectAdmin has many handy features. Aside from the basics, it comes with resource usage monitoring, DNS clustering, and automatic updates.
Secure and Reliable
DirectAdmin gets a lot of praise for being a more stable cPanel alternative and causing minimal downtime. The control panel even automatically tries to fix any service that crashes by restarting it. If that doesn’t work, you’ll get an instant notification.
A rather advanced backup solution is available out-of-the-box. It’s possible to select any or all files for backing up. You can also restore individual files, which is always handy since you might not want to roll back the entire server. You can’t integrate the backup tool with cloud storage, though, so it only uses FTP/SFTP storage.
There are also quite a few security measures. This includes easy setup for SSL certificates, a firewall solution, spam filtering, and more. DirectAdmin does get a bit of criticism for lacking an advanced security suite add-on, but there are no obvious security gaps. What’s more, it has a positive reputation for getting zero-day vulnerability fixes, making it more reliable than most panels.
Excellent for Resellers and Agencies
DirectAdmin is regarded as one of the best control panels for reseller hosting. It covers many advanced features for reselling or letting others resell your hosting services.
It’s easy to create reseller accounts, set up preset hosting plans, and get an overview of the statistics. There’s even a built-in support system, so you can broadcast a message to all clients or provide ticketing support directly from the app.
The solution is also relatively lightweight. You’ll need less than 500MHz of processing power, 1GB RAM, and only 2GB storage to run it. Businesses will likely need a bit more, but DirectAdmin is still one of the more forgiving web server control panels.
DirectAdmin handles script installation with Installatron and Softaculous integrations. This gives you a choice of hundreds of solutions to install.
A small note for agencies and resellers—your clients are more likely to be familiar with Softaculous since it’s more popular. Still, Installatron works just as well if you prefer it.
One handy integration is CrossBox, which is an emailing and communications solution. Its advantage is it can be fully white-labeled, so you can offer advanced emailing to customers under your own branding.
If you need a hand managing your hosting business, you can also use the WISECP add-on. This automates much of hosting account creation, handles cost calculation, and adds extensive security measures. Plus, it can help you set up your own hosting website and design a full-on support center for the web hosting control panel.
Blesta is DirectAdmin’s add-on for handling CRM and billing. Blesta is one of the more popular solutions here, and many hosting providers prefer it to WHMCS. If you enjoy it, you can get a lifetime license and never worry about payments—something WHMCS doesn’t offer.
All in all, you can take advantage of a few decent integrations, especially if you’re looking for the best control panel for a web hosting business. DirectAdmin does well in the feature department, though its add-on library isn’t as extensive as that of a few other solutions.
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DirectAdmin gets mostly positive reviews. Many of its satisfied clients enjoy the lightweight solution and the low prices.
Some users do complain about the interface. To be fair, the design is a bit dated, though you can change this with an add-on pack. The layout could also be a bit more straightforward, which is something to be aware of.
Other than that, though, it’s all positive comments. Many server administrators even like to compare DirectAdmin vs. cPanel and rank it favorably.
DirectAdmin offers three pricing tiers:
Personal—1 account, 10 domains, $2/month
Lite—10 accounts, 50 domains, $15/month
Standard—Unlimited accounts, unlimited domains, $27/month
The Personal license is much cheaper, but you have to install it yourself, while others include an installation service. You also have to subscribe for at least a year to use the personal license.
The price is the same regardless of whether you have a VPS or a dedicated server, which is helpful for larger providers. You can also get a 60-day trial, which is more than enough to see if the panel works for you.
A nice touch is that DirectAdmin guarantees the prices will be locked in when you purchase your license. This means no price increases out of the blue, which is an issue with other panels, cPanel included. The guarantee makes it the best control panel for web hosting if you’re worried about sudden price hikes or run large projects.
DirectAdmin is similar to cPanel in terms of functionality. Still, it has a much more reasonable price and even provides protection against price hikes. Of course, it brings a few unique advantages, especially for agencies and hosting providers. It’s an all-round solid alternative to cPanel.
BEST FOR VIRTUAL MACHINES & CLOUD PLATFORMS
- EASE OF USE: Very easy
- FEATURES: 7/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Decent
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Decent features
- Built-in clustering
- Per-server licensing
- Bulk discounts for large providers
- Support for multiple popular hypervisors
- Some features feel a bit clunky
- Kind of pricy for private users
InterWorx is among the more popular solutions. Since cPanel’s price hikes, it has seen a rapid increase in popularity. Even premium hosting providers like Liquid Web adopted it as a more suitable solution.
Here’s what kind of features you can expect.
InterWorx splits its panel into two distinct interfaces. NodeWorx is a WHM alternative, and it is used to handle the administrative side of things, like setting up firewall rules, creating client accounts, DNS options, etc. SiteWorx lets clients manage their websites, backups, DNS records, etc.
Excellent Control and Reliability
The panel comes equipped with Webalizer, AWStats, and Analog. This gives clients a comprehensive overview of all key statistics, including the status of various services and resource usage.
The backup solution works rather well. Clients can do full or partial backups or set up scheduled ones—which is all you really need.
The security features are also decent. You can configure the firewall and antivirus on a whole-server basis from the admin panel. Clients can also install Let’s Encrypt SSL in one click, and the entire solution gets automatic security patches in real-time.
A Gem for Hosting Agencies
It’s also quite easy to use InterWorx to sell hosting plans. The NodeWorx panel has all the tools you need to create and start selling accounts.
InterWorx lets you use its inbuilt clustering tool for maximum performance. You can connect multiple server instances to get both higher reliability and fewer latency issues. It’s easily the best control panel for VPS clustering.
This is excellent for businesses that need top-notch performance and will make you look more professional if you decide to resell hosting plans. Unfortunately, you can’t enable true high-availability clustering, but this option is in the works too.
The panel supports Virtuozzo, VMWare, OpenVZ, and Xen hypervisors. This covers the most used solutions, so you have a decent choice if you decide to set up virtual servers.
The control panel requires 1.1GHz of CPU availability and 2GB of RAM. There are less demanding solutions, but it’s reasonable for most users and companies.
InterWorx has a few handy integrations.
For starters, you can enable either Softaculous or SimpleScripts for one-click installs. The former definitely offers more options, and clients are more likely to be familiar with it if you’re a reseller.
You can also integrate the R1Soft Backup Manager. This allows for more advanced backup options within the web host control panel.
Cloudflare CDN can also be enabled in one click. This boosts load times, helps save bandwidth, and adds an extra layer of protection from threats like DDoS attacks.
If you work with clients, you can integrate WHMCS with InterWorx. This is a highly advanced solution that can help with billing and CRM automation. It’s a massive timesaver for businesses.
That and numerous other integrations are available. It all makes InterWorx an impressively feature-rich cPanel alternative.
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InterWorx gets its fair share of positive reactions. Users like that the solution works well, and many server admins have been loyal to it for well over a decade.
A few InterWorx user reviews did complain about the solution being a bit clunky. Admittedly, the control panel does use unorthodox naming conventions for features. Many tools have descriptive names, which is way more intuitive for first-time users. Those who already have experience with a different control panel, though, tend to ask questions like “What’s a pointer?”
It’s a fair complaint. InterWorx takes a bit of getting used to, though it is still a relatively easy hosting control panel.
InterWorx offers a single-license plan. You can pay $20/month for a single server and host as many domains and SiteWorx accounts as you want. The price is always the same, regardless of whether you’re a private user or if you use a VPS or dedicated server.
Once you scale to 500 servers or more, you qualify for partner status. This means massive bulk discounts on licenses, and it gets you priority support over the phone.
The licensing cost is a bit much for private users who need just one control panel account. For companies that run numerous accounts on a single server, though, the pricing is more than lucrative. You’re getting a better deal than even with the old cPanel pricing structure.
You can also get a three-month free hosting panel trial, which is generous. It’s plenty of time to test the ins and outs of the platform and see if it’s a good match for you.
InterWorx offers many advantages of cPanel and Plesk while being much more affordable for businesses and hosting providers. It’s an excellent choice if you want maximum speed and uptime.
THE OPEN-SOURCE POWERHOUSE
- EASE OF USE: Requires technical work
- FEATURES: 8/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Limited
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Excellent features
- Multi-server management
- Hypervisor included
- Very low system requirements
- Completely open-source
- Limited integrations
- Some learning materials are paid
ISPConfig is one of the open-source panels that looks to be an alternative to cPanel. Many popular solutious start out as open-source, so it’s definitely an avenue worth exploring.
This is what you can get out of ISPConfig.
For starters, ISPConfig handles all the basics like database management, FTP access, DNS management, emailing, etc. You can also run Webalizer or AWStats for monitoring.
Great for Businesses and Corporations
The solution was built for larger-scale businesses like internet service providers. The benefit here is you can use ISPConfig to manage multiple servers from one area, while most panels give you one admin account per server. This can make things dramatically easier, since you don’t have to switch between accounts to run separate servers.
The solution also lets you create resellers accounts. One unique aspect here is that the OpenVZ hypervisor is already integrated into the platform, so you can set up multiple virtual machines on top of your Linux kernel.
This is excellent if your business relies on VMs. ISPConfig is also likely the best free control panel if you want to sell VPS hosting.
Fast and Secure
The solution also comes with a few security tools. For one, you can automatically set up a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. A full-on malware scanner and antivirus is available, though this is a paid upgrade.
The emailing solution is rather advanced as well. It comes with extensive spam filtering options, a virus filter, and SKIM signing.
In addition to all that, ISPConfig is among the most lightweight solutions out there. For one, it doesn’t use resources permanently, since it doesn’t always run as a background process. Second, it lets you switch off any services you don’t intend to use, so they don’t hog the CPU and RAM. The actual resources you need will depend on your project, but ISPconfig is a remarkably forgiving free cPanel alternative.
ISPConfig offers several handy integrations.
For one, you can get its malware scanner. Aside from detecting malicious activity, the solution can check if CMSs like WordPress or Magento need to be updated. Your clients will thank you for this kind of service.
Speaking of clients, you can also get a billing module. This offers all the standard options to help you automate billing. You can even deliver invoices to the end-user control panel, accept payments, and store customer info. All in all, you get all the essentials for running a hosting business.
You can also use ISPConfig’s migration toolkit for a one-time fee of $65. The solution lets you transfer control panel data from older versions of ISPConfig or other panels like Plesk and cPanel. Just keep in mind the cPanel migration option is still in beta, so some troubleshooting might be required.
That’s about it for the notable integrations. This free hosting panel focuses on giving you a solid basis for setting up a business. Customizing the details is up to you.
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Like many popular open-source projects, ISPConfig has a tightly knit community packed with loyal users. Many praise how well the solution works and how powerful and scalable it is.
Some users did complain about the lack of resources available on using ISPConfig. It’s important to understand this is an open-source control panel, so it’s bare-bones in terms of support. Much of the resources are community-driven, so you have to rely on the forums for assistance.
The creators did publish a user manual. This costs $5, but it’s very comprehensive and has answers to the majority of questions and common issues.
ISPConfig is an open-source hosting control panel published under the BSD license. This means the core software is completely free to download and use. You are also free to make your own alterations to the software, which can come in handy in some instances.
That is not to say there are no costs. ISPConfig does charge for some addons. However, the prices are rather reasonable. The lifetime price of the billing integration is around $65, which is way cheaper than even the starter WHMCS license.
You can also pay $7.50/month for the security suite for one server. An alternative is to pay per security scan, though this usually ends up being more expensive.
All in all, you should account for the cost of extra software. The price is mostly negligible when you consider you’re getting a free web hosting panel, though.
ISPConfig is one of the top open-source Linux control panels in the market. It’s excellent for more ambitious projects, and it can easily help you scale your business. A word to the wise: it takes intense work to set everything up correctly and to effectively use the panel. Still, with a skilled team, you should handle it easily enough.
THE MIDRANGE VIRTUAL HOSTING SPECIALIST
- EASE OF USE: Straightforward
- FEATURES: 7/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Decent
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Decent features
- Extremely lightweight
- Very durable and customizable
- Caters to both beginners and advanced users
- Lacks unique features
- Suffered security vulnerabilities in the past
Created in Russia, Vesta Control Panel is one of the popular open-source solutions. It lacks the large-scale capabilities of ISPConfig, but it gets solid results for smaller and midrange projects.
Here’s what the open-source web hosting control panel has in store for you:
Vesta is relatively simple to install. The website offers a variety of different setups, including several web servers, databases, and FTP servers. All you have to do is download the script and run the installation command. If you’re an AWS user, you can use an Amazon machine image for even simpler installation.
The interface is very intuitive. Even though there’s no shortage of options, even beginners navigate Vesta without difficulty and find it an easy hosting control panel.
Security and Backups
The panel comes with the Fail2Ban security system. You can also get a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate installed by default.
The backup solution works fairly well too. Everything is backed up automatically, and you can configure how many backups you want to store (the default is three). Admittedly, doing a restore requires you to move a few files around, but the process is relatively straightforward.
The solution is also great for server administrators who like to tinker with their setups. Not only do you get a lot of options to work with, but Vesta is also notoriously durable. The panel doesn’t lose a nick of performance even after extensive changes to the server configuration. Contrast this with mainstream solutions that break with every minor change, and it’s easy to see why many admins prefer Vesta vs. cPanel.
The creators of Vesta also offer preset templates you can use to change the server configuration. For instance, the “hosting” template sets up separate PHP memory limits for each domain, which is handy since apps like Magento require more PHP memory than others. The templates don’t do anything too advanced, but they are a time-saver for many users.
Speaking of performance, Vesta likes to brag about being highly lightweight. In testing performed by the creators, the panel could handle a website with 8,000 daily visitors on only 512GB RAM, with almost no speed loss. This depends on the website, of course, but some webmasters recreated the testing and managed to squeeze in even more traffic. Vesta could be the best control panel for you if you’re in the market for something very lightweight.
Vesta is compatible with a number of other software.
Like many other panels, it uses Softaculous for script installation. This lets users install 400+ apps in one click, which is incredibly useful for beginners and companies offering hosting.
Vesta is also compatible with WHMCS, which is an excellent solution for resellers and agencies. It’s a multipurpose piece of software that lets you easily handle billing and CRM.
You can also install ClamAV. This is a free antivirus software, which can help prevent potential threats. It’s also possible to install SpamAssassin if you run emailing from your control panel.
All in all, Vesta handles the basics well, though you don’t get as much choice as with some other cPanel alternatives.
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Vesta user reviews lean to the positive. Some server admins even tested how well the control panel handles traffic and how much resources it needs. Many even got better results than the minds behind Vesta promise.
The panel did attract some negative publicity back in 2018. This is because an attacker managed to get root access to Vesta servers, which compromised thousands of accounts. The issue has since been patched, but having such a glaring vulnerability still leaves a bad taste.
Vesta is an open-source control panel, meaning the core setup is completely free. You are also free to download the source code and make any alterations you want.
The provider earns by selling a few non-essential plugins. For instance, you can purchase the SFTP chroot add-on and prevent users from accessing the root directory via SSH.
This is pretty much a must-have if you want to offer shared hosting since you don’t want users to interfere with each other. The price for the plugin is very reasonable, though, and a lifetime license will only set you back $18.
Keep in mind everything else is free, but third-party integrations might still require licensing. Softaculous, for instance, would cost you $12/year for a VPS.
It’s fairly easy to account for the costs. Since it’s a free Linux control panel, Vesta usually ends up more affordable than other solutions.
Vesta is a decent lightweight solution that’s also completely free. It offers easy server management while leaving enough breathing room for more advanced users. It’s an overall solid choice.
A DO-IT-ALL SOLUTION FOR WINDOWS SERVER
- EASE OF USE: Very easy
- FEATURES: 8/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Excellent
- OS SUPPORT: Linux and Windows
- Lots of features and integrations
- Strong containerization support
- Beginner-friendly dashboard
- Works on Windows Server
- Per-server pricing
- Kind of pricy
- Strikes a bit too close to cPanel
Plesk and cPanel used to be hard competitors, going head to head to carve their respective pieces of the market. In fact, only a few years ago, these were the two default options when choosing a control panel.
Today, both solutions are owned by Oakley Capital, bringing the company dangerously close to a monopoly over the market. Still, the tools have their distinct features, so let’s cover what Plesk does differently.
Plesk offers a lot of similar features to cPanel. For starters, you get the basics like database and DNS management, emailing, file access, etc.
Flexible Solution for Windows as well as Linux
One massive advantage for Plesk, though, is that it supports both Windows Server and various Linux distributions. This makes it the de facto industry standard Windows hosting control panel, though many Linux admins prefer it as well.
Plesk covers both the admin and client areas with one solution. The solution completely supports reseller functionality and can be fully white-labeled. Agencies and hosting companies can use it just as easily as they would any other panel.
Plesk also gets a lot of praise for its intuitive layout. All the options are set up so you can easily find everything, and the design is reminiscent of the WordPress dashboard. It’s a very easy hosting control panel, which is where many other solutions stumble.
The backup manager helps you automate backups. By default, the backups are stored in local storage. You can use an add-on, however, and make offsite backups to a cloud storage service like S3 or DropBox.
The panel also comes with a host of security features. You get a firewall, optional spam filter, and Cloudflare’s ServerShield, which both secures and speeds up your websites. You can either get SSL encryption via Cloudflare or install the Digicert add-on and get a free DV certificate. Both are handy options, and Digicert is one of the more reputable providers out there, so this is a big plus.
Keep in mind you should have at least 512MB of RAM if you want to run Plesk (2GB for the Windows variant). This is pretty much a non-issue for companies.
If you run many Plesk client accounts, it’s recommended to have at least 1GB RAM per 50 websites. This will depend on your particular business, though.
Plesk is one of the best control panels for web hosting in terms of integrations.
For starters, you can use the instant installation for various scripts, web servers, website builders, and apps like Joomla. WordPress users definitely get the most attention here since they can enable monitoring and automatic app updates by default.
Plesk is also rather developer-friendly. You can set up several technologies like Ruby, Node.js, and multiple versions of PHP. It also handles integration with Git much more smoothly than cPanel.
One remarkable integration is with Docker. Plesk lets you easily deploy containers and choose from thousands of images. If your business relies on containerization, Plesk might be the best control panel for you (along with, perhaps, Cloudron).
In addition, you can set up add-ons for security, monitoring, authentication, social media integration, etc. There’s no shortage of extensions to choose from.
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Plesk gets mostly positive reviews, as the solution performs well overall. Server admins like all the features and how well they work, and Windows users especially enjoy there’s a suitable alternative to cPanel for them.
That said, Oakley Capital did spark outrage in 2017 when they hiked up the prices of all Plesk products. Many companies saw their licensing fees increase as much as 700%. This crushed many businesses and caused others to lose hundreds of clients.
Sounds familiar? It’s the same reason people are transferring away from cPanel right now.
Plesk offers three tiers of pricing:
- Plesk Web Admin—$10/month
- Plesk Web Pro—$15/month
- Plesk Web Host—$25/month for VPS, $45month for dedicated servers
You can get a further 20% discount if you prepay for a year in advance.
The Web Admin Edition is for more independent website owners that want an easy way to manage up to ten websites. Web Pro adds a bit of advanced functionality for agencies and developers, and it can handle companies with up to 30 domains on a server. The Web Host version is intended for resellers and hosting providers. It is the only edition that can be fully white-labeled.
Keep in mind that, while many web host control panel extensions are free, some cost extra. The WordPress and SEO toolkits, for instance, both cost $5/month. Some extensions can go up to $30/month, though.
One benefit is that the end cost includes 24/7 support. You can contact it at any time you have an issue, and it’ll help you resolve it.
Plesk is a decent control panel, but it strikes a tad too close to cPanel. It’s a worthy choice if you want to run something very similar to cPanel on Windows. If you’re interested in getting better value, however, your best bet is to check out a different cPanel alternative above.
BEST FOR RUNNING CONTAINERIZED APPS
- EASE OF USE: Straightforward
- FEATURES: 8/10
- INTEGRATIONS: Excellent integration with cloud environments
- OS SUPPORT: Linux
- Relatively easy to use
- Unique solution for deploying containerized apps
- Excellent for devs, agencies, and hosting companies
- Comprehensive features for all deployable applications
- Works excellently with various cloud computing providers
- Premium price tag
- Lacks a few usual integrations
Compared to some, Cloudron is a relatively fresh solution. In a way, it goes way beyond simple control panel functionality, since it takes Docker integration way further than even Plesk. Still, it includes much of standard control panel functions as well, which warrants a review.
For starters, you get all the basics like DNS management, monitoring, email configuration, etc.
Unique Management Tool for Docker Containers
Cloudron works a bit differently than other panels, though. Once you install it, it relies on Docker to instantly deploy containerized apps on your server.
You can choose from some 50+ different apps. This includes a variety of scripts, including a blank LAMP stack server, WordPress, mailing servers, peer-to-peer file sharing, VPNs, RSS, and much more. You can even set up a Minecraft server and TeamSpeak, making Cloudron the best control panel for game servers for many users.
Now, I already hear you asking how this is different from Softaculous.
Unlike 1-click installers, Cloudron provides much more comprehensive application-level support. It makes sure the apps are always up-to-date, the SSL certificates work, and provides fine-tuned backups for each app.
It’s relatively easy to set up the backups. Cloudron takes nightly backups by default, though you can set up your own schedule. The backups can be exported to a service like AWS S3 if you prefer remote backups.
The features make it a precious asset for all kinds of developers and companies that rely on containerization software like Docker. Cloudron simply saves them a ton of time on menial maintenance.
You can assign a specific amount of resources to each container. This is pretty handy to prevent one application from slowing down the others in case of a usage spike.
The Linux control panel is also equipped with extensive security, complete with a robust firewall. The apps are separated from each other using Linux Containers, meaning it’s highly unlikely one compromised app will affect the others. You can also easily set up WildCard SSL encryption—all you need to do is connect your Let’s Encrypt account.
You Can Resell It as Well
You can also let third-party users access individual apps, although Cloudron containers aren’t designed to let you sell shared hosting.
What you can do, if you want to offer hosting, is to sell separate virtual machine instances with their own Cloudron panels. In fact, it might just be the best control panel for VPS resellers.
The dashboard can easily be white-labeled. Don’t expect anything spectacular, though—you can just change the name and the logo and customize some aspects of the support page.
You can set up custom rules for backups and DNS for all clients as well. The users will be able to see the rules if you allow SSH access, but they won’t be able to change them. You can also blacklist certain apps if you don’t want your clients to install them, which is an essential option for managing your hosting business.
Cloudron is primarily meant to work with cloud computing services. However, it does the job in other hosting environments as well.
For this reason, it works well with services like Linode, Vultr, and DigitalOcean. You can even automatically deploy Cloudron on an AWS server instance. Cloudron also integrates with several cloud storage services like S3 and uses them for remote backup storage.
Apart from that, Cloudron handles most things out-of-the-box. It does lack some features other cPanel and Plesk alternative solutions have, like an easy billing integration. You can set up your own billing system. Cloudron handles the automatic purchase of licenses for new users remarkably well. Still, handling billing yourself just means more work.
Other than a few details, though, Cloudron handles everything well without needing to rely on too many add-ons.
Around the Web
Cloudron gets no shortage of positive attention. Many professionals love using it and praise it for how easy it is to deploy containerized apps in the cloud.
Now, Cloudron did phase out its free plan a few years ago, which sparked some violent reactions. This is understandable, but the free hosting panel variant wasn’t very viable for professional use anyway. If you’re interested in just trying docker, you can use it for up to two applications for free. This is enough to try all the options.
The Standard Cloudron license costs $30/month, which is, admittedly, a bit pricy. That said, the license is meant for businesses that will use Cloudron on a full dedicated server or cloud instance.
If you want to resell hosting with Cloudron, you can apply for a “Hosting” license. This lets you purchase licenses at a reduced rate and resell them to clients.
Unlike most cPanel alternatives, Cloudron is not meant to be used for shared hosting, so this kind of pricing structure makes sense. The solution also doesn’t rely on paid add-ons as much as cPanel, so it’s even more affordable in some cases.
Cloudron is an excellent solution for businesses using containerized apps that want to simplify their workflow. You can also use it to sell more premium hosting solutions to businesses or private users that want an easy time deploying applications. It’s one of the most innovative solutions out there, though it might not be the best control panel if you need something simpler.
The Leading cPanel Alternative Solutions – Find the Best Fit for You
Let’s face it, cPanel isn’t nearly as accessible as it used to be.
The recent pricing changes pushed thousands of users to look for a suitable cPanel alternative.
That’s the reason why we, at HostingTribunal, reviewed and analyzed the top alternative solutions.
We tested the most prominent panels available today. Afterward, we compiled our results and determined the best:
- Proprietary panel
- Open-source panel
- Control panel for Windows
- Control panel for large-scale providers
- … and a lot more.
Check out the comprehensive reviews below to discover a fitting solution for you or your business.
How We Ranked the Best cPanel Alternatives – Our Review Process
Even though control panels coexist with web hosting, they are a completely separate type of solution, with its own characteristics and features. There is a vast control panel ecosystem out there, and each one provides its own advantages. We had to dig a bit deeper to test their intricacies.
This is our review process:
- See what’s available—We’ve been tracking the development of alternative control panels for some time now. We shortlisted the best cPanel alternatives in 2021 for in-depth testing.
- Test the features—We checked if all the features and add-ons work as they should. This is simply to see if a control panel can do everything it promises it can.
- Is it user-friendly—There is obviously a bit of a learning curve if it’s your first time in hosting. Still, it shouldn’t take months to figure out where all the features are. We confirmed the navigation is intuitive, and all the functions are easy to find and use.
- Scalability—For larger-scale projects, you want a website hosting control panel that can scale easily (and affordably). In fact, probably the biggest pitfall of cPanel is that it’s costly for hosting companies, resellers, and other businesses with hundreds of accounts. We looked for solutions that don’t have this issue.
- Bug the support—Control panels are different here. Some include full-on support, others charge extra for it, while open-source ones hardly have any support at all. All types of solutions have their virtues. We checked what support is available, and we also tested how effective the support teams are.
- Is the price fair—You can find a completely free cPanel alternative, while other solutions can get somewhat costly. Plus, you have to account for the cost of add-ons and professional support, if applicable. We matched all the info from the testing to the end cost to determine which panels offer good-value deals. You’ll find the best offers in the reviews below.
Do I Need a Web Hosting Control Panel?
The short answer—no, not really.
Control panels are undoubtedly useful, and they come packed with a range of features. Still, they don’t do anything you couldn’t set up manually.
In fact, a good server admin should be able to work without a control panel. Panels make things easier, but they are more of a crutch than an essential.
That said, most users aren’t professionals. If you don’t want to learn your way around a server or just want to save time, a control panel can be immensely helpful.
Your typical control panel can handle things like:
- File management
- DNS management
A lot of the best hosting control panels out there include a bit more advanced functionality like automatically installing Let’s Encrypt SSL, crontab, and configuring other security aspects like a firewall.
All are massively useful features, and they save you a ton of time configuring everything yourself. For non-technical users, a control panel is practically a must-have.
Hosting resellers or agencies offering hosting to go with their services also might want to invest in a panel. If your customers do server or website management, they’ll likely expect some sort of control panel. Plus, panels can make it way easier to separate a server into multiple plans you’ll resell.
Bottom line—few website owners are actually experienced server admins. If you’re a regular webmaster or you need to provide hosting to many people, you’ll likely need a control panel.
Luckily for everyone, there’s a broad choice of options here. So, let’s cover whether you should go for cPanel, which is the most popular, or one of the cPanel alternatives.
Should I Look for cPanel Alternatives?
cPanel is the first web hosting control panel to establish itself as the de facto industry standard.
The thing is that, before cPanel, there just weren’t that many solutions to choose from. All the same, even though it gets plenty of competition today, cPanel is definitely the most popular tool in its category.
That said, it’s far from a do-it-all solution. For one, it doesn’t work at all on Windows, meaning you would need a suitable cPanel alternative to manage Windows Server.
One of the biggest concerns about cPanel, though, are the recent pricing changes. They are the cause for thousands of users transferring to other solutions.
Let me break it down for you:
cPanel Pricing Issues
Let’s preface this by saying the price change last year didn’t affect shared hosting users much. cPanel’s pricing is mostly a problem for businesses that run multiple control panel accounts.
The thing is that the Solo cPanel license, which lets you set up to 5 accounts, costs $15/month. Admittedly, this is not too much, unless you’re on a very low-end VPS plan.
But things get complicated when you have to factor in the integrations. If you need features like incremental remote backups, 1-click installs, or advanced security tools, they’ll cost you anywhere from $3/month to $25/month. Meanwhile, other control panels have these tools out-of-the-box.
The pricing really gets messy if you run a company or a reseller hosting business and need to run many website hosting control panel accounts on one server. In addition to paying extra for features like billing, you might also need to pay per cPanel account.
For comparison, until 2019, cPanel was charging a flat $45/month per server. You could let as many users share the server as you wanted to, all with their own cPanel account
After the price change, the $45/month only gets you up to 100 accounts. Each account after that costs an additional $0.20/month. This essentially doubles the monthly cost once you need 325 accounts, and triples it if you need 550. You get the idea.
$0.20/month might not seem like much, but the price hike can be debilitating for resellers or agencies that offer hundreds of small shared plans. Providers using cloud servers reported as much as ten times the price increase.
Now, does this price hike make cPanel a bad web hosting control panel? Definitely not. It still makes it incredibly easy for anyone to manage a server and provides all the essential features.
That said, it’s value for money has definitely dropped in recent years. And, once a company relies on conniving price changes to scale instead of attracting customers with innovation, it’s usually a sign of worse things to come.
The cPanel pricing change sparked positive shifts in the hosting world. Notably, many providers developed new solutions, and companies offering control panels ramped up the development of their products.
The result is that there’s an incredible variety of quality software in the market. Compared to a year or two ago, you have a way more comprehensive choice.
Many of the solutions look to compete with cPanel on the basis of price. Either they’re flat-out more affordable or only charge on a per-server basis. You can even find a completely free web hosting panel.
There’s little to explain here. As long as the control panel offers everything you need and a good price to boot, it’s the right choice.
Still, many solutions look to offer more. Alternative control panels may be more user-friendly, provide new features, or just offer some of cPanel’s add-on functionality out-of-the-box.
The bottom line is that a different control panel can end up saving you quite a bit of money while offering a more appropriate toolkit. This is especially true for businesses that run dozens or hundreds of user accounts—they can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
A cPanel alternative is definitely worth looking into. cPanel simply doesn’t have the best value for money anymore, even though it remains the most used solution. You can get much better value, especially if you need a control panel for business.
Which Control Panel Should I Use?
There’s lots of choices out there. The question is which control panel to choose. Should you go with the most popular one, or perhaps the most affordable?
There are quite a few factors to consider, in fact. Don’t fret, though, here are the critical ones so you can ensure your panel is a good fit.
Most web server control panels let you set up and manage databases, manage subdomains, handle backups, access files, etc. Even this varies from panel to panel, though. For instance, DreamPanel has no direct file access, so you’d have to use an FTP client.
You should assess what kind of features you need and what a control panel offers. Just keep in mind that a tool may be available as an add-on even though it’s not there out-of-the-box.
This is a big deal when you want to make a web host control panel available to clients.
Your solution should let you easily create and manage client accounts. This includes performing most actions for clients in case they can’t handle it on their own (like resetting their passwords). The best solutions have one unified area where you can access all client accounts.
White-labelling is also critical for resellers. This means adding your own branding to the control panel. It makes you look more professional and lets you promote your personal brand instead of the panel manufacturer.
Ease of Use
Most cPanel alternatives out there are relatively user-friendly since their job is to simplify running a server. Still, not all the solutions are created equal.
You want it to be fairly easy for complete beginners to navigate all the options. Ideally, you should be able to find all the key options in a click or two—bonus points if all the icons and other navigation features are obvious.
It’s fairly easy to test this. Pretty much every panel either has a freely available demo or will schedule one for you.
Admittedly, if you’re a technical user and want to offer the control panel to clients, you might not be the most objective tester. Try to find a friend who’s not so good with computers and as them for an opinion instead.
If you’re looking to grow your operation, you’ll want a website hosting control panel that can keep up. Check out what kind of scale the control panel can support.
Also, if you’re paying for a licensed solution, you should look for affordable deals once you scale into a vast number of accounts. Charging users with hundreds of accounts is what’s driving many users away from cPanel, so you might as well find a solution with a more forgiving policy.
Many website owners actually forget to take into account that a control panel actually spends server resources. It’s worth checking out how much you need to dedicate to running the software and what’s left over for other operations.
There’s a variety of solutions here. ISPConfig, for instance, is known for spending very little RAM. This is because, firstly, it’s not a daemon, meaning it doesn’t drain the resources at all times. Secondly, it lets you turn off any services you don’t use, like email.
One nifty free cPanel alternative is SPanel. Scalahosting, the hosting provider behind it, runs this control panel in its own environment, meaning it doesn’t eat away at your server resources.
Still, most control panels aren’t too demanding either. You should just be aware of the resources you need to dedicate to your solution.
Also, keep in mind that not all panels support cross-platform use. Your control panel should be compatible with your operating system of choice, web server, and any other technologies.
The support you get depends on the control panel. If you’re paying for a licensed solution, you can expect support round-the-clock Paid tools are also more likely to receive frequent updates, though there are no hard-and-fast rules here.
With free and open-source control panels, on the other hand, the company behind the control panel may not provide much. You would be left to your own wits and whatever help the community.
Evaluate what you’re comfortable maintaining yourself. Being able to rely on emergency support can save your face in front of customers, though you may not need it if you run a qualified team.
The pricing is a fairly big deal, especially for businesses running numerous accounts on a server, or even servers.
Look up the pricing and work out how much the panel would cost you per month. There are affordable solutions out there, and there are even some decent free web hosting panels. It should be easy to find something that fits your needs while having a reasonable price.
A Few Suggestions
There are plenty of solutions to choose from. You can find everything from very high-end to completely free cPanel alternatives.
SPanel is the absolute favorite at HostingTribunal, since it works well, handles many cPanel’s functions plus a few more, doesn’t spend server resources, and is completely free. It’s excellent if you or your business need a straightforward solution without overspending. It’s also excellent for those just getting into reselling hosting.
DirectAdmin and InterWorx are both reasonably similar to cPanel while being much more affordable for large-scale projects. Plesk is a bit more expensive, but it’s a decent alternative for Windows Server.
If you’re looking for cPanel open-source alternatives, on the other hand, you can check out ISPConfig. Not only does it work well, but it can make things dramatically easier for companies running multiple servers.
All in all, there are plenty of decent solutions to choose from. You can check out more details about the top ones above.
That concludes the review of top control panels in the market.
You now know which solutions to look out for. We found the best free and paid options out there with their benefits and drawbacks.
You also know if you should go for a cPanel alternative for yourself or your business and how to pick the right one.
You are now ready to get out there and pick the right solution for your needs and skillset.
3… 2… 1… Go!
It does not. cPanel is Linux-exclusive.
If you’d like something similar, Plesk works on Windows and has many of the same features as cPanel. It’s even owned by the same company. You can check its full review above.
Not really. In fact, you’d expect an experienced administrator to be able to manage a server without a control panel.
That said, for most users, a panel simplifies server management and saves a ton of time. Moreover, if you want to resell hosting, the end-users will likely expect some sort of panel.
Still, cPanel is not the only solution out there. If you’re interested in something else, you’ll find the best cPanel alternatives above.
It is not. cPanel is a licensed solution, meaning you have to pay for it.
If you’d like an open-source solution, you can check out ISPConfig or Vesta.
No, it is not. In fact, the recent pricing changes made it way more expensive for many users—sometimes, over 1000% costlier.
If you get shared hosting, the provider may offer complimentary cPanel. If you go for other types of hosting, though, you’d have to pay at least $15/month.
If you’re interested in something more affordable, you can check the top cPanel alternative solutions just above.