Q: I'm just starting to shop around for web hosting and keep seeing reviews mention cPanel. What is it?
A: Good question. cPanel is a common control panel interface used by web hosting companies to let customers use design tools, upload files, manage their hosting, and adjust settings. Nearly everything you do with your hosting space, from setting up blogs and designing your site to uploading files and setting up email addresses, can happen through cPanel.
Not all web hosts use cPanel, and some charge an extra fee each month to upgrade from their home-built control panel to cPanel, but those hosts that do use this interface will look very similar. For example, here are the cPanel interfaces of a few of our favorite web hosts currently using cPanel (click to enlarge):
We like cPanel a lot for a couple of reasons. Though it may not always be a great aesthetic match for the rest of your webhost's site, the cPanel interface is very easy to use. Organizing tools, scripts, and applications into sections helps you find what you're looking for quickly, and keeps all the options out on the front page so you don't have to go digging through menus in search of the tool you want. Standardization from one host to another makes switching easy if you need to change companies later, and since so many hosts use cPanel, there are lots of tutorials and help materials for the system already. (Click here to check out some of our web hosting tutorials. We're adding new ones all the time, so subscribe to the channel on YouTube if you'd like to keep track of what we've added recently.)
Depending on your experience level and tastes, cPanel might be an attractive feature when choosing web hosting, or it might not be much of a factor. In any case, with easy navigation, simple tools, and thorough features, cPanel is a solid option for a web host control panel.
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