cPanel Vs Plesk – Understanding their Differences and Similarities
It is commendable that you have decided to own a website. You have taken the first step to give an online presence to your offline business. As you would know, in order to have a website you would need a domain and hosting. If you are not aware of the two, you can read our guide on how to choose the best hosting. In this article, I will talk about the two main management interfaces used to manage websites – cPanel and Plesk.
Interesting Read – How to create your website for less than $100 – Beginners’ Guide
Most web hosting companies provide you with an interface to manage all the website related activities, something like a control panel. cPanel and Plesk are the two widely used Control panels which allow management of server related tasks. You could do all this with command prompt too. However, the goal is to make it simpler for you so that the least time is spent on such administrative tasks.
Let’s try understanding the differences and similarities between cPanel and Plesk. This will help you make a choice based on the requirements of the business. Also, note that not all web-hosting plans provide you with the flexibility of choosing the cPanel. This option of choosing your CPanel is mostly available for VPS hosting or dedicated hosting plans.
What is a Control Panel? What are the tasks it performs?
If you have not come across the word control panel before, it is time you understand what it means. Control Panel is an interface which allows you to perform administrative tasks related to the web server and the website. This makes it easier for you to operate the server without having to use the command prompt.
Here are some tasks which you can do using the Control Panel,
- Manage all your domain names which have been hosted on the server (add, delete, change existing domains), you can even manage the IP addresses.
- Create mailbox with a domain name and manage all tasks related to Email.
- Manage File transfers using FTP
- Create backups and file management
- Integrating and giving access to third-party tools
Now that you know what a Control Panel is and how can it be useful to you, let us explore the two widely used control panels in detail: cPanel and Plesk.
Complete cPanel Overview
cPanel is one of the heavily used web-based control panels which allows you to perform server related tasks with just a point and click interface. You do not need to know a single line of code in order to manage your website with cPanel. This software is popular for its ease of use and a wide range of features it offers.
cPanel can only be used if your server runs Linux OS as this is a Linux based software.
Here are some of the features cPanel offers.
- Mail management: cPanel provides end to end email management. Easily create email accounts, forwarders, and auto responders. You can make use of third-party apps to filter spam and set up email authentication. This also allows you to build an email list which could be used for marketing purpose.
- Security: Secure your directories with password protection. Restrict access based on IPs and GnuPG settings. Provides hotlink protection which protects your content in a shared hosting environment.
- Domains: Allows you to perform all the tasks related to domain management. Easily add sub domains, set up redirections, add-on domains etc. This ensures that you are in complete control of all the domains.
- Apps: Get access to a galore of apps which can help you build a robust website. There are various apps for all types of websites. Integrate third party software’s and provide unique functionalities for your readers.
- Files: Have control over the web disk space as you can edit and back up files and folders.
- Analytics: You can easily track the visitors and gain insights from your audience by using Webalizer and AW
- cPanel provides an option to manage multiple cPanel accounts with their WHM feature. WHM stands for Web host manager and makes it easy for people who have multiple web properties across different hosting providers.
cPanel is used by many leading hosting providers.
You can check cPanel for yourself here – cPanel Demo
Complete Plesk Overview
Plesk is a popular control panel which allows users to perform various web server related tasks. Plesk was introduced in the market during 2001.
There is no significant difference between the panels of Plesk and cPanel. The major difference is that Plesk can be used for both Windows and Linux. Most of the windows based hosting companies use Plesk as the default control panel.
In terms of features, it allows you to perform all the server related tasks just like cPanel. Let us have a closer look at the features it offers:
- Best site and server security: Plesk promises the best of security standards integrated into their networks. This facilitates smooth functioning of the website with the secure Plesk control panel.
- Extensions: A website can never be complete without extensions or add-ons, Plesk ensures that you get access to all the major extensions which allows you to have a robust website
- Toolkit for WordPress: A special toolkit for WordPress makes managing your WordPress site an easy task. This toolkit allows you to remove and add themes, update security features, back up data etc.
- Compatibility: This is one feature which makes it a winner. It is compatible with both Linux and Windows-based servers. Added to this, it runs smoothly on major cloud providers like AWS, Alibaba Cloud, Google Could, Azure, and Vultr.
GoDaddy & A2 Hosting use Plesk for their hosting plans. Other businesses which use Plesk include Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google, Node.js etc.
Comparing cPanel and Plesk: The Differences
So far, it seems that both the options are pretty similar. You may be wondering how this can help you in making a choice. In the upcoming sections, we will outline the differences related to each of the factors which will help you make a choice.
cPanel: As explained earlier cPanel is based on Linux and hence its usage is limited to Linux based servers. Here are some operating systems which support cPanel,
- Amazon Linux
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux
During 2011-2014, users could use the cPanel Enkompass on a windows server, this was a cPanel specially made for windows hosting. However, it is no longer available for new accounts.
Plesk, on the other hand, is compatible with multiple platforms. They can be used across various OS platforms,
- Windows Server
While it is compatible with many platforms, you will have to choose a particular OS when you make a purchase. You cannot have a standalone subscription and access the entire platform. For e.g. If you purchase something for the Linux server, then it can be used solely for that and not for any other platforms.
It is to be noted that most hosting plans come with Linux hosting, which is why compatibility is not a major consideration. However, if your host makes use of windows server then you will have to ensure that the product you choose is compatible.
As discussed above, both alternatives provide similar features when it comes to the management of the server and the website. The biggest and the only difference between the two options are with respect to extensibility.
Extensibility is the extent up to which the control panel allows integration of third-party apps or extensions.
This means that you will need to have a clear idea about the type of extensions or third-party tools you would use for the website.
If you are looking to use developer container apps like Docker or Git, Plesk is a better option. To use such apps on cPanel, you will have to do some tweaking. Both Plesk and CPanel support common integrations like WordPress.
Hence the best approach would be to look into the App store of cPanel and extensions offered by Plesk, this will give you an idea of the type of integrations they support. Based on what your project may require, you can go with the best feasible option.
Usability: How beginner friendly is it?
This is one of the very important factors you must look into. You may be assuming that both the options are user-friendly. However, the streamlined approach of Plesk makes it easier to get to the desired option. In cPanel, the same would take quite some time.
Plesk makes it easy for the users by grouping similar options together. This allows you to easily locate the option you are looking for.
It should be noted that cPanel allows you to customize the dashboard to a certain extent; you can arrange the most commonly used options and put them in a group for easy access.
You can access both the control panels on the go as there are mobile apps which allow you to do so.
Keep in mind that installing any of the Control Panel doesn’t disable your access to the command prompt. You can still run commands and run the server using the comment prompt.
Pricing and Licensing
Pricing is an important factor to consider once you have sorted the compatibility, both the control panels provide various plans and payment options. They even provide licensing options for agencies and large organizations. Let us explore the different plans and options they offer.
cPanel pricing and plans
There are two plans for VPS server
- $20/ month plan which is suitable for small web hosts
- The same could be paid annually at a discount of $40
Here are the plans for a standalone server
- $45/ month for a dedicated server
- You can avail huge discounts by opting for 1, 2, 3-year plans. With the 3 year plan, you can save up to $545.
In addition to this, there are volume discounts being offered for the purchase of multiple licenses. You can get a discount of 25% if you purchase more than 15+ licenses. This can ideal for an agency which deals with a lot of websites.
You can find the system requirements and installation info on this guide.
Plesk pricing and plans
Plesk offers 3 tier plans for VPS server
- The web admin edition comes with 10 domains and WordPress Toolkit at $10/ month
- The web Pro edition comes with 30 domains, WordPress Toolkit, Developer Pack, Subscription Management, Account Management at $15/month
- The Web host edition comes with $25/month with all features enabled.
Plesk offers 3 tier plans for dedicated server
The plans for dedicated server follow the same pattern as above. The only difference is that the ‘Web host edition’ is priced at $45/month.
In addition to this, you can get a discount by paying upfront for the entire year. I you are an agency handling multiple servers, you can look into their partner’s program. Plesk provides extended privileges to partners in terms of pricing and features.
In comparison, cPanel has a straightforward pricing. There is no restriction in features when it comes to cPanel. In the case of Plesk, each plan is bundled with limited features. Only the ‘Web host’ plan includes all the features.
As there are several technicalities related to control panels, it is very important you receive robust support. Fortunately, both the companies are known for the support they provide and have awards for the same. The only parameter they differ is the time that the teams are available at.
Plesk team is available 24/7!
Whereas the cPanel team is available:
- Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 6 PM Central Standard Time (GMT – 6)
- Saturday and Sunday from 6 AM to 4 PM Central Standard Time (GMT – 6)
As you can notice, there is no significant difference between the two in terms of the core features they have to offer. You can take a final call based on the user experience, cost, features they offer and compatibility.
If you are looking for something which is easy to use and extensible, then Plesk takes a slight lead over cPanel. However, if you are looking for a budget-friendly option then cPanel is the winner.
Either way, you will not be disappointed as both of them do a great job and provide a good set of features.