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If you have spent any time shopping for web hosting services, you have undoubtedly seen a lot of them mentioning cPanel. While it is certainly not the only control panel software suite available for web hosting, it is definitely the most popular. Because of this, many people wonder if they should pick a web host that uses cPanel, or if it would be better to use an alternative.

Taking the time to learn more about \ cPanel, what it is used for, and why it is so popular will help you to make the best decision for your situation. Read through this article so you can get the information you need about things like:

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What is cPanel?

cPanel is a software suite designed to serve as the control panel for managing websites. It is a Linux-based suite offering those who run a website a simple graphical user interface for performing tasks related to their website.

Some of the many functions that you can perform from the cPanel interface include the following:

  • Install Your Content Management System – You can install the content management system of your choice with just a few clicks using applications within cPanel. This makes it extremely easy for anyone to start a website, even if they do not have any coding or technical experience.
  • Schedule Website Data Backups – Scheduling backups and performing recoveries is all done from one convenient place on your cPanel system.
  • Manage Databases – Almost all websites will need some type of database to function. You can create and manage many different types of databases, including SQL, from cPanel.
  • Create Sub-Domains – If you want to host multiple sites on one hosting package, you can set up sub-domains to accomplish that task.
  • Much More – cPanel is a comprehensive web hosting management suite that lets you perform hundreds of different tasks from one convenient interface.

Is there a Difference Between cPanel Hosting and Web Hosting?

When shopping for web hosting, it is confusing seeing what is listed as a feature and what is just the web hosting service in general. For example, one hosting company may list some of their packages as ‘cPanel Web Hosting.’ Another may list it as just ‘Web Hosting.’

The fact is, both of those two listings are similar, and both work well for running most types of websites. cPanel is just one type of control panel used to perform tasks on your hosting server and website. One way to think about it is that all cPanel packages will be for web hosting, but not all web hosting packages will use cPanel (though most of them do).

Is cPanel Free?

Technically speaking, cPanel is not free. However, the average person or business who wants to run a website will not have to pay for it. cPanel sells its suite of products to web hosting companies. The web hosting companies pay one license fee to offer it to all of their customers. Virtually all web hosting companies provide cPanel to their customers free of charge.

So, while technically not free, practically speaking, it really is for the end-user. The only exception to this would be if you want to self-host your website in your own data center and you want to use cPanel. This, however, would be an extremely rare situation.

Who Are the Best cPanel Web Hosting Providers?

If you decide that cPanel web hosting is best, your next step is finding a good hosting company. We constantly evaluate and review hosting companies to help our readers find the best cPanel hosting providers in business today. We evaluate them based on many different factors and look at both new and hold hosting companies to see which ones are the best at any given time. You can read our list of the best cPanel hosting companies (updated continuously) to get our recommendation.

However, you will want to find hosting providers that meet your specific needs even within that list. When looking at your options, there are some things that you will want to make sure are offered and some that should be avoided.

What to Look For in cPanel Web Hosting

Look for the following key points when choosing a cPanel hosting package. The best options for you depend largely on what type of website you run and how much traffic it generates.

  • Clear System Resources – When you order a web hosting package, you should know exactly what you are getting. They should list out system specs like RAM, bandwidth, disk space, and more so you know exactly what to expect.
  • Helpful Customer Support – If you have a lot of experience running websites, you likely will not need to interact with the hosting company’s customer support when ordering. If you are newer, however, it is good to ask questions. Make sure you choose a hosting provider that offers friendly support that is willing to answer your questions and help you every step of the way.
  • Room to Grow – Most new websites are not going to get a ton of traffic, so a basic shared hosting package is sufficient. If your site becomes popular, however, you need to have the option to upgrade, so make sure the hosting company you choose gives you room to grow.

What To Avoid in cPanel Web Hosting

On the other hand, there are things that you want to avoid when choosing a cPanel hosting company. These things are not necessarily bad as much as they are indications that they aren’t going to be the right option for your situation.

Some things to avoid are:

  • Distant Data Center – The closer the data center where your website will be housed is to likely visitors to your site, the faster your website loads. When considering a web hosting company, find out where their data center is located and pick one in the same country (or a nearby one) as visitors to your site.
  • Costly Migrations – If you already have a website and you are just looking to move to a new hosting company, find out if it will cost anything to migrate your site. Most good hosting companies will offer free website migration services, so it is best to avoid one that charges you for this.
  • Unmanaged Only – Most readers are fairly new to running websites. For this reason, you will want to avoid hosting companies only offering unmanaged hosting services. Choosing a hosting company that offers managed services lets you focus on running your website without having to think about things like installing and maintaining operating systems.

Is There an Alternative to cPanel?

cPanel is definitely the most popular option, and with good reason. It is able to make managing your web hosting environment far easier than it otherwise would be, and it is made for Linux, which is the most popular operating system for web servers.

However, there are several other great control panels for web hosting. For example, Plesk is a control panel suite for Windows-based web servers. There are also various other options to choose from if, for some reason, you do not want to use cPanel.

Should I Pick a Web Host that Uses cPanel?

The chances are that you want to use cPanel web hosting. While there are many alternatives to cPanel available, there is also a reason why cPanel is the most popular. It really does make things very easy for users, and since it has been so popular for so long, there is a ton of support documentation, videos, and other resources to help people running websites.

In addition, just about every web hosting provider is going to offer cPanel options, so it is easy to find great service at a great price.