The popularity of cPanel can mask the fact that it is far from the only control panel option out there. It is also not the only good one. Dozens of well-supported feature-rich control panels exist, and as not every host even uses cPanel, the beginner who is facing the question of choosing a new web host might want to know whether or not the control panel system that they use adds value to their web hosting package or not.
So let’s do a brief rundown of some of the other common web hosting control panels out there, so you know how much you should smile when you see that your host offers it.
Short for Parallels Plesk Control Panel, Plesk has gone through many revisions, and is considered by some to be even more stable than cPanel. Also, if you are going with a Windows-based host, then Plesk’s support for it is several years older, meaning that it’s going to be even more stable (and secure: a Windows-based control panel is a double-whammy of potential security holes). It also has extensive module support, and can be used in multiple speaking languages. On the negative side, a number of users have complained that Version 10 is too overloaded and slow.
Formerly known as Lxadmin, Kloxo is an open-source control panel for CentOS and Red Hat Linux servers. It had a troubled history to get where it is now, including a number of security holes, but users now report their satisfaction with using it. One drawback to it is that support is only available via community forums, though word is that the software is growing enough in popularity that paid consultants are stepping up to the plate.
For a software package available on multiple platforms (Unix, Linux and Windows), H-sphere gets its share of mixed reviews. Some of the negative points are elements that the end user won’t see: it is expensive for a host to purchase and it’s described as difficult to install. There are also complaints about its ease of use. On the other hand, its help documentation is extensive, and it has multi-lingual support in 10(!) languages. It certainly has its devotees: in one online poll 15% of users listed it as their favorite control panel.
Interworx is a control panel that’s quickly growing in popularity, though it’s more for backend purposes. It supports load balancing and server clustering, and uses real-time graphs; what this means for you as the end user is greater stability both with the panel and on the server. It’s described as not only being easy to use but also being very command-line friendly, something that doesn’t always get much control support. It includes a module called ScriptWorx that is described as letting the user install just about any third-party software package.
There is a lot of energy being put into making competing control panel software packages. So when you go to a new web host and see a name there that isn’t cPanel, don’t panic. Many of these packages are high quality, and some would argue are better. Take a close look at the plus and minuses, but definitely don’t just write them off. If cPanel is still your choice check best cPanel hosting providers.