Since it is the central place you go to administer your website, your control panel is one of the most important features of your web hosting services. There are tons of control panels available, including web hosting provider specific custom control panels. However, the two most popular control panels for web hosting providers to use are Plesk and CPanel. They are basically like the Apple and Android of the control panel industry. We’re going to compare both of these applications in this article so you can make a wise and educated choice about which control panel is the best for you.
Introduction to Plesk and cPanel
CPanel is a very popular control panel platform that was started in 1996. It’s used on millions of websites and is most frequently used in many Linux based shared hosting packages. It can also be used for dedicated servers and cloud hosting. For dedicated server configurations, cPanel usually comes with WHM (Web Host Manager), which is a server administration interface.
Plesk also has become a dominant force in the web hosting control panel industry since its inception in 2001. Plesk Onyx is the most recent version of Plesk and comes with over 100 extensions, as well as being available in three different versions. These versions are Web Pro, Web Admin, and a special version for web hosting providers.
Operating System Compatibility
CPanel only works on Linux servers and is incompatible with Windows. It is compatible with popular Linux platforms such as CentOS, CloudLinux, and Red Hat Linux based operating systems.
Plesk on the other hand, while originally developed for Windows, can also be used on a wide variety of Linux platforms such as Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Red Hat Linux, and CloudLinux. In this it surpasses CPanel in terms of operating system compatibility.
In many cases though, which control panel you get depends on which operating system your server is running on. Most web hosting providers use Plesk with Windows based servers, and CPanel with Linux based servers.
Both Plesk and CPanel features very easy to use control panels. However, Plesk comes out slightly ahead in its ease of use due to using a standard software layout that most people are already familiar with. Very much like the WordPress control panel, Plesk places all of its control panel options in nested menus on the left side of your screen. When an item is selected in the left panel, it shows up on the right part of the screen. There are more options featured in the right-hand side of the screen for each option selected on the left-hand side. To further enhance its ease of use, Plesk features icons for each menu item on the left-hand side of the screen.
The interface for CPanel is laid out differently. There is no left-hand menu, and instead, CPanel lists all the options on the main screen in groups. Like Plesk, there are icons for each menu item to help you identify them. CPanel also features some customization options to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for.
cPanel organizes the menu items by grouping them under the headings of files, mail, logs, preferences, databases, domains, security, and software services. In contrast, Plesk organizes its menu items by grouping them under the headings of statistics, applications, domains, websites, mail, users, resource usage, and statistics. Interestingly, the WHM control panel for cPanel resembles Plesk more than it does cPanel, having its menu on the left-handleft-hand side of the screen.
Both Plesk and CPanel allow users to have command line interface access. CPanel includes both command line and API access. API access enables the user to interact with third-party apps. Command line usage also is included in Plesk by its not so aptly named “Panel Action Log Command Line Access Tool”.
However, in terms of which is the easiest to use, Plesk takes the cake for having a very clean and familiar user interface that most users can understand and use straight out of the box. While cPanel has made a lot of strides in recent years to make its interface more user-friendly, it still has a way to go before it can truly be competitive with Plesk in this aspect. Its large menu screen with a lack of menus nesting makes the user interface feel cluttered and overwhelming.
cPanel is without a doubt the best performing out of the two control panels. cPanel’s developers have worked hard on improving cPanel’s performance over the years, resulting in it having a very tiny memory footprint. Thanks to this, cPanel performs quicker account creation, page loading, and other operations than Plesk.
Features and Tools
Both cPanel and Plesk allow you to carry out all the web administration tasks that you need. Some of these tasks include:
- App installation
- File management
- Traffic data and analytics
- Managing user accounts
- Resource reports
- Server Logs
- Managing email accounts
- Configuring DNS
- Running FTP
- Managing databases
- Scheduling backups
Plesk comes with support for a larger amount of extensions and apps out of the box when compared to cPanel. However, cPanel allows a lot of apps and extensions to be added to it, as well.
Plesk also comes with support for Docker on Linux. Docker includes over 200,00 Docker images which can all be launched from the Plesk control panel. Additionally, Plesk is compatible with Git through its Gitman extension. While cPanel can work with these apps as well, it is a lot more complicated to work around its limitations.
Both control panels feature support for popular app add-ons like WordPress and Virtualmin. They also support a wide variety of shopping carts, e-commerce tools, micro-blogs, and more.
Security is always a big issue in web administration. Thankfully, both Plesk and cPanel have a wide range of security tools to help protect your website from malicious attacks. Automatic installation of SSL certificates, password-protected directories, and IP address blocking are just some of the tools that CPanel packs under its tool belt. Plesk includes tools like outbound spam filtering, fail2ban intrusion detection, and active directory integration.
CPanel and Plesk have both developed cell phone apps that allow you to connect with and manage your website or server on the go. There’s also a wide variety of third party apps that you can use to do the same.
Both CPanel and Plesk offer their own user support teams, which can be useful if you find yourself having questions or issues your web hosting provider can’t assist you with. Plesk has 24/7 user support available, while the CPanel team is only available during the usual business hours throughout the week.
Migrating your website from Plesk to CPanel or vice-versa can be very tricky and complicated. Because of this, it is not recommended that you switch control panels if you are already using one with a preexisting website. If you attempt to migrate your website between two different control panels, you may find that you have bitten off a bit more than you can handle.
Plesk or cPanel: Which Control Panel is The Best?
It is incredibly easy to run your server or website with both Plesk and cPanel, so there is no clear winner on which of these control panels is the best. It mostly depends on you and your preferences as to which control panel is the best. You should be aware though that your choice of control panel console may be limited by the operating system your server is running on, as well as your web hosting provider. However, some web hosting providers do offer you the choice between the two, and hopefully this article has helped you understand enough about each to make the wisest decision for yourself.