Regardless of the company, every web host offers some type of control panel. This software application is what allows a webmaster to manage and control all the essential aspects of their web hosting account. You generally get administrative control over your domains, email accounts, databases and web stats among other features. While the functionality varies among programs, most control panels are designed with user-friendliness in mind, allowing you to manage just about everything from a centralized interface. A good program will give you the ability to manage your account with ease regardless of technical experience.
The main objective of a control panel is to enrich the webmaster’s experience by providing a number of tools that dramatically reduce administrative challenges. One of the most widely used control panels on the market is cPanel and its counterpart WHM (Web Host Manager). Both are incredibly easy to use, offering a Graphical User Interface with icons well designed on the main page. cPanel comes integrated with a variety of features and tools that allow you to control various aspects of your web hosting account and even provides details on bandwidth and other vital statistics.
Similar to most technologies related to the web hosting arena, control panels have evolved tremendously over the years. Aside from the basic functionality such as creating email accounts and adding domains, most of today’s software offer the ability to transfer files via FTP, database management, marketing tools and backup utilities. The average control panel typically comes included with pre-designed templates and software that allows you to build your entire site. Other advanced functionality that has become common is the inclusion of application installers. For example, cPanel is integrated with Fantastico which enables the easy one-click installation of additional software such as WordPress, Cube Cart and Joomla.
There are several factors that must be considered when looking for web host and the control panel is one of the most important of all. Although the software for you will largely depend on your personal requirements, a good control panel should offer the following qualities:
Interface: The control panel interface is the main page and the first thing you will see upon logging into your account. Look for a program that has all the essential features located on the interface as this will make your management tasks much easier.
Platform: In the web hosting world, platform simply refers to the operating system installed on the web host’s server. The platform is crucial as control panels tend to be designed for one system or another.
Features: Control panels are all about features. The more features you get, the greater level of control you will have over your website.
There are numerous control panels on the market and taking the time to choose a good one is extremely important. If you would like to get more hands on, look for a web host that offers a demo version so you can test out the control panel for yourself.