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Control Panel Showdown: Comparing Hosting Platforms for Effective Website Management

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Choosing the right web host can be quite a detailed process. Once you’ve found a host with appropriate uptime, features, and reputation, it’s worth taking a closer look at one small, often overlooked element: the control panel. 

This is where you’ll spend the majority of your time when you log into your web hosting account. Having a good grasp of the control panel will help you make the most of your website while minimizing frustration. Keep reading because we’re comparing hosting platforms for effective website management! 

What Is a Web Hosting Control Panel? 

For those unfamiliar with control panels, it’s the interface you land on when you log into your web host’s backend. This is where you’ll find all the tools you need to create, edit, and manage your website and your web hosting account. 

Control panels can vary widely in what they contain. Generally, this depends on what hosting plan you’re on—basic plans will offer minimal tools, while more advanced plans will give you access to more detailed functions like security, stats, and even server settings. 

But the type of control panel your host uses also makes a difference. Each control panel offers its own specific features, functions, and user-friendliness level. Choosing one that caters to your own comfort level and needs is crucial if you want to be able to manage your site with as little stress as possible. 

Hosting Platforms and Their Own Control Panels 

Some web hosting platforms have their own custom control panels. These have specific tools designed to make it easy to navigate and maintain your website and hosting settings. 

SiteGround 

SiteGround web hosting started off using cPanel but now uses its own custom control panel called Site Tools. It’s a little more sleek and modern than the previous one, giving you easy and intuitive access to all the tools necessary to manage your hosting and your site. 

It’s a great choice for beginners who aren’t familiar with complex control panels. Its user-friendliness means it’s not intimidating, and it offers a full range of functions, including email management, domain management, security, and more. 

You’ll have access to 24/7 customer support and a library of resources to support you as you learn how to navigate the control panel. SiteGround is known to take user feedback seriously and actively develop its control panel to better suit the needs of users. 

DreamHost 

DreamHost’s control panel is custom-built to accommodate the majority of their users’ needs. It’s known to be simple and easy to use, which means it’s one less thing for users to worry about when managing their websites. 

You can manage and optimize your email, hosting services, domain, and various other things. Being a proprietary control panel, it’s super flexible, so it’s fairly easy to adapt to changing needs and specific preferences. 

It’s particularly easy to use with WordPress websites, offering one-click installs, tough security features, and a wide range of WordPress plugins. If you’re new to DreamHost, they also have a collection of resources, user forums, and impressive customer support. 

Bluehost 

Bluehost mostly uses cPanel, but features a customized layout that users can optimize to their own needs. It’s designed to be user-friendly for most people, without the need for technical knowledge. 

Like others, you’ll be able to manage various aspects of your website from the dashboard, from your domain to your security features. One-click installs are convenient and easy, and you’ll also have access to website-building tools so you can create everything from scratch right on the control panel. 

You’ll also be able to monitor your website’s performance and analyze statistics, and if there’s anything you need to know, you can browse through their video library or contact 24/7 customer support. 

WP Engine 

WP Engine is specifically geared towards hosting WordPress websites. Their control panel is a customized one, accessed through a custom user portal, and carefully designed to make managing a WordPress website easy and quick while maintaining optimal performance and strong security features. 

Handy features include automatic WordPress updates, one-click staging environments, and direct management of your WordPress plugins, themes, and other installations. You can also manage multiple WordPress websites from one dashboard, which makes life a whole lot easier. 

WP Engine also offers direct access to WordPress experts if you need help troubleshooting anything to do with WordPress website management. It’s a bonus that it’s centered firmly on WordPress sites because no other web host or control panel provides quite as much value for WordPress website owners and managers. 

The only downside—it seems they don’t offer email through their hosting service, so you’ll need to make another plan to get your mail out. 

IONOS 

IONOS has been around since 1988, and its control panel is completely unique. If you’re used to a well-known one like cPanel or Plesk, you might get a shock when you log in, and it might take some getting used to. 

But it’s definitely got its advantages. They offer managed and unmanaged hosting, so it’s got everything you need to customize your site as you want it. There’s a website builder at your disposal, so you can start from the bottom up and control everything to your liking. 

It’s simple to view and easy to navigate, too. For those new to control panels, it’s a great choice that’s practical and intuitive. 

Hostinger 

Hostinger uses its own custom control panel, known as hPanel. Yes, not the most original, but it works! It’s a user-friendly interface, so it doesn’t matter how experienced you are at managing websites and accounts—you shouldn’t have any problems. 

From one easy dashboard, you can manage things like your hosting accounts, your uploaded files, emails, domains, software installs, bandwidth, and disk space. Hostinger has also made sure that the control panel doesn’t use a lot of resources, so for all its user-friendliness, it won’t use up valuable space or memory. 

Being a proprietary tool means it integrates super easily with their infrastructure, so everything is streamlined. They’re also quite on the ball with updates and adaptations based on user feedback. 

Third-Party Control Panels and Integration 

Those web hosts who don’t have their own proprietary control panel use a third-party one to provide their users with all the functions they need to manage websites with ease. cPanel and Plesk are the most commonly used, but here are 5 control panels that are worth knowing and have a great reputation. 

cPanel 

cPanel is one of the most widely recognized control panels, and it’s a popular choice for web hosts thanks to its user-friendly design. It’s comprehensive in features but simple enough for both experienced users and beginners to use with ease. 

While there’s no need for tech expertise, web developers will be pleased to know that cPanel accommodates a range of programming languages to facilitate streamlined use. On the other hand, it also offers simple solutions like one-click installations and intuitive navigation, so the experience is streamlined even for newbies. 

cPanel is compatible with various apps and add-ons. Whatever your needs for your website, you’ll be able to bring in a third-party application to make managing your website easier. Customization is easy and expands the functionality of your site. 

Built-in tools like email management, a file/content manager, database management, and server/resource monitoring functions keep your management easy and your server running optimally. 

Plesk 

Plesk is another well-regarded control panel in the web hosting world, known for its versatility and user-friendliness. One of the things that sets Plesk apart from other control panels is its multi-server management function. Managing various servers from a single dashboard is a superb feature for those managing multiple clients at one time. 

The dashboard is extremely customizable, so you can set it up in a manner that works for you. However you choose to set it up, it’s a sleek, clean interface that’s easy to figure out without a big learning curve. 

Plesk supports both Windows and Linux servers, and it also includes a handy WordPress toolkit designed to kit out your WordPress website with ease. 

DirectAdmin 

DirectAdmin is straightforward and colorful. Large logos make it easy to find your way around, so it doesn’t matter if this is your first time handling a control panel or if you’ve seen them all. 

Its simplicity makes it light on resources, so it works well for those who have hosting with limited resources as it is. You’ll be able to upload and manage files, as well as manage emails, domains, and security features. 

This control panel also works well for setting up websites from scratch, thanks to robust support for scripts, web apps, and third-party software. 

Ispmanager 

Ispmanager is different to others in that it’s an open-source software that’s made specifically for Linux distributions (Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, etc). 

One of its special features is seamless integration with automation systems and billing systems, which makes life a lot easier for website owners, especially those making sales. 

It’s fairly intuitive and comes with a comprehensive suite of website management tools that not only allows you to manage your website, but also things like your email accounts, databases, files, and more. 

CloudPanel 

CloudPanel is another user-friendly option with a modern, streamlined design and a bunch of great features. It supports various Linux distributions and it’s compatible with a range of online services, like Google Cloud, AWS, etc. 

You’ll be able to manage every aspect of your website right from this one dashboard, from server to storage. You’ll also get multi-language support, so it’s an excellent choice for those who prefer languages other than English. 

Conclusion 

Don’t neglect the power of the control panel! This simple feature can make or break how easy your experience as a web host is. If you’ve got experience with control panels already, consider which one you particularly like, its features, limitations, and if you might need something more customizable. 

If you’re new to them, think about what exactly you need from a control panel. Would a “generic” one suffice? cPanel, Plesk, and others are designed to be easy and user-friendly, and as a newbie, you probably don’t need any fancy. 

Do a bit of research before leaping into a web host. Once you get the hang of a control panel, it’s pretty straightforward, but it’s worth knowing the difference so you can find the right things for you. 

About the Author 

Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related at his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting