Plesk vs cPanel – Which Hosting Solution Is Best?

Saturday, April 18, 2020
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Market data indicates that cPanel and Plesk hold no less than 98% of the web hosting control panel (WHCP) market share. Although Plesk is, without a doubt, the more popular choice, with nearly 77.4% of all domains, cPanel also has a strong position at 21%.

As seasoned competitors in this niche, both cPanel and Plesk boast roughly two decades of experience in server administration. However, their lion’s share has less to do with how long they’ve been around (even though it certainly helps) and more to do with the features they offer. Both services have stellar reputations and benefit from high levels of trust among their users.

To help you figure out which fits you best, I compare cPanel and Plesk on various aspects of their service. It’s a close race, but Plesk does manage to come out on top in several areas. Read on to find out more.

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What Is a Web Hosting Control Panel (WHCP)?

Simply put, a WHCP enables easy server administration with the help of an intuitive GUI (graphic user interface). These control panels are commonly web-based and do not need any special hardware in order to be rendered. You can think of them as apps that make website management faster, easier, and more secure.

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Many of the processes streamlined by control panels used to require intimate knowledge of server architecture and console commands to complete. Today, hosting a website is no longer as complicated. Expert admins have developed web-based interfaces like cPanel and Plesk to help hosting companies and web developers alike.

With the right WHCP, web hosts create hosting packages that can be sold to the public, while the latter can easily manage one or more websites without having to hire an entire IT department for the job. Some technical knowledge is necessary, but if you have basic computer operating skills and a willingness to learn, you can find comprehensive tutorials for anything website related.

cPanel vs Plesk – Which Has More Features?

The good news is that both solutions have all the basic features you need to manage websites. You can easily create FTP accounts, assign various levels of administrative permissions, set up email addresses, transfer files, create databases, configure the Domain Name Systems (DNS), and more; all without having to type a single Linux command.

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The bad news is that migrating websites from one to the other is not an easy process. Companies don’t usually offer cross-migration, which is the reason why this service has recently generated a market of its own. It’s not impossible, nor tremendously difficult to carry out the transfer yourself, but it won’t be a 1-click process.

When it comes to fundamental operations, there’s little to no difference between Plesk and cPanel, which is a good thing. However, in terms of advanced integrations and developer features, Plesk has the upper hand.

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For example, if you’re managing a cloud hosting option and you want to work with Docker or Git, you can easily install and manage the latter using Plesk. With cPanel, there is no such option, so if you feel that you might need advanced features at one point or another, you’ll definitely have to work harder for them.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something to help you manage a simple WordPress site or one that’s built with any of the other popular content management systems (CMSs) out there, both Plesk and cPanel are viable solutions.

Plesk vs cPanel – Compatibility and Support

When it comes to the user interface, Plesk is admittedly easier to navigate than cPanel. Everyone agrees that it’s better designed. The former groups similar features together, making it easier to find your way as a beginner. You won’t have to scroll through a large and often confusing number of options until you get to what you need, unlike with cPanel.

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It’s worth mentioning that cPanel does make it easy to create custom categories, which might be more useful for those looking to resell management or hosting services.

Because your control panel is a mediator between you and the server, it’s important to make sure that the two are compatible with one another. Here, cPanel has some restrictions, since it can only work with a handful of Linux distributions, namely:

  • Amazon Linux
  • CentOS
  • CloudLinux
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Plesk, on the other hand, will work on:

  • All the cPanel Linux distros (from CenOS to Amazon Linux)
  • Ubuntu
  • Debian
  • Virtuozzo
  • Windows Server

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And let’s not forget about support. Should you encounter any problem with your control panel, from add-ons to malfunctioning features, it’s important to know whether you can talk to a tech guru that can help you out.

With any Plesk account, you benefit from 24/7 phone support and an impressive knowledge base that covers every possible topic. With cPanel, however, you only have access to a knowledge base. For phone support, you have to pay a steep fee every time you need help; something in the lines of $65 per ticket.

Which Should You Get, Plesk or cPanel?

Ever since cPanel hiked its prices in 2019, the service has lost a significant portion of its customers to the more affordable competition, Plesk included. On average, Plesk licenses are 15% to 30% cheaper than cPanel equivalents. This is not adding in the value of support, which can easily skyrocket your costs in the case of cPanel.

However, just because a license is cheaper doesn’t mean that you should jump straight on it. For example, the entry-level plans for both cPanel and Plesk have limited features, e.g. you just get one account, so be sure that you know exactly what it is you’re looking for.

While it would be difficult to make a wrong choice here, since both Plesk and cPanel are robust solutions likely to include everything you need, Plesk has more features and is more affordable than cPanel. Beginners will also find it easier to get accustomed to Plesk thanks to its straightforward design.

Whatever you do, if you’re migrating from one server to another, make sure to pay attention to the control panel you’re currently using and the server OS you’re transferring to. While it is possible to change from cPanel to Plesk and the other way around, you wouldn’t want to buy a Plesk license that’s intended for a different version of Linux.