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8 Best Alternatives to cPanel (Free and Paid) Hosting Control Panel
Updated: 2022-08-18 / Article by: Jerry Low
cPanel has been one of the more popular web hosting control panels for a long time. It’s robust, powerful, and handy. Unfortunately, cPanel license prices have increased steadily, driving users to seek alternatives.
If that sounds like the situation you’re facing, then fret not. There are many cPanel alternatives in the market, many of which are just as powerful and competent. Let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives to cPanel you can get today.
ScalaHosting has made its footprint in the market for its thirst to advance in technological development. They believe that it is always better to develop their solutions and improve on them rather than rely on third-party products.
A Quick SPanel Overview
Being a reputable web hosting provider, one of ScalaHosting’s key milestones is the launch of its SPanel. SPanel is a state-of-the-art web hosting control panel that’s billed as “cPanel compatible.”
Similar to cPanel, SPanel works as a one-stop-shop for you to manage your web hosting account. It’s sufficiently user-friendly for shared hosting accounts and robust enough to handle Virtual Private Servers (VPS) as well. Best of all, ScalaHosting offers it to their customers for free.
In addition to the attraction of zero licensing fees, SPanel is lightweight. That means less strain on system resources, allowing you to reduce overhead on your hosting options. The interface is pretty much self-explanatory and intuitive; as such, onboarding newbies will not be much of a problem.
Why SPanel an Alternative to cPanel?
SPanel stands out in its two core features, namely SShield and SWordPress. The former is a security solution developed to work in real-time to combat cyber attacks. ScalaHosting claims that it is 99.998% effective in doing so.
And if you’re a fan of WordPress, you’ll simply love the latter; SWordPress Manager is a powerful tool that helps you with all management tasks about your WordPress site, not forgetting that it also improves your site’s security as well.
ScalaHosting is also known for its generosity. Not only do they not charge you for an unlimited number of website migrations, but they’ll also even check to see if the migration was successful or not. You also don’t have to worry about paying for any SSL certificate for your site, as ScalaHosting automatically installs and renews your free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt.
The great thing about all SPanel cloud VPS plans from ScalaHosting is that they are all fully managed. So, you get to entirely focus on your business, which you should, without having to worry about the technical nitty-gritty details of your site.
Webmin is open-source and thus is free – perhaps one of the key reasons for its popularity. It is based on Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license and targets various Linux flavors, but there’s also a Windows variant. That said, it’s still typically deployed on Linux or Unix platforms.
A Quick Webmin Overview
Webmin offers a user-friendly web-based interface to remotely manage user accounts, DNS, file sharing, and more. Webmin helps eliminate manual configurations, making it easier to manage Unix-based servers. It is deemed relatively lightweight and thus has speedy performance. However, many believe that Webmin is more complex than necessary.
Webmin vs cPanel: Who's Better?
Webmin allows integrations with other modules, including third-party ones like most control panels. To use them, you’ll need to install them on your server; you get to choose from various ranges such as DHCP, intrusion detection, IPsec VPN, Jabber, Kerberos 5, NFS, Samba, and many more.
That said, Webmin certainly has its share of drawbacks. Its interface seems lacking compared with most other competitor products, and it’s known to face scalability issues. You’ll find that if your system is of a smaller-scale nature, Webmin does the job well, but if you need to scale up later, you might need to look elsewhere.
Developed by Plesk International GmbH, Plesk is another solid alternative for cPanel. Plesk performs excellently as a web hosting control panel for VPS and dedicated servers. It also shines in its massive number of Plesk extensions; there are more than 100 extensions, which allow you the flexibility to expand your functions, such as into Cloudflare, Atomicorp, NodeJs, NGINX, Git, PHP, and more.
A Quick Plesk Overview
Plesk dashboard is simple. You can create, operate, manage, and run several sites from this centralized control panel. Unlike cPanel, Plesk’s interface is designed based on the respective hosted sites, so you’ll see all the features of the said site and configure them for that site only.
Plesk comes with built-in security across all layers, including the network, apps, and OS. The ImunifyAV extension is a competent anti-malware and security monitoring website tool. Plesk is highly versatile and compatible with other popular platforms; it is the only WebOps platform that runs on all virtualization platforms, including Azure, DigitalOcean, AWS, and others.
Plesk – A Cheaper cPanel Alternative?
If you’re a WordPress site owner, you’d be glad to know that Plesk comes with a capable and secure WordPress toolkit where you can perform all necessary tasks to run and manage your WordPress site. There's automated AI-empowered regression testing, backup, cloning, restore, and other nifty features too.
Plesk's pricing is overall cheaper than cPanel’s. So, it all boils down to your preference, business, and technical requirements. Be aware that Plesk is the same ownership umbrella as cPanel.
Like Webmin, ISPConfig is open-source and is free and based on the BSD public license. However, unlike Webmin, you can only use ISPConfig for Linux-based hosting such as Debian, CentOS, and Ubuntu.
A Quick ISPConfig Overview
ISPConfig is a web-based control panel used to manage and administer sites. Resellers popularly use it when handling their multiple accounts. From a simple small personal site to a massive enterprise-level site, ISPConfig can get the job done well.
ISPConfig – A Free Hosting Control Panel
A unique feature of ISPConfig is its availability in 20 languages, hence making it easily adaptable across the globe. Like others, ISPConfig allows you to attend to your servers, sites, emails, and DNS. ISP Config is also feature-rich and supports SMTP. POP3/IMAP, FTP, HTTP, and upcoming powerful features such as DNSSEC. It also allows virtualization by supporting OpenVZ.
You can opt to add on extras for ISPConfig; you’ll get billing, migration, malware scanner, monitoring application, and more. However, you’ll have to pay a one-time licensing fee to enjoy such extras. There has been feedback that ISPConfig can be cumbersome to set up and use. That said, ISPConfig still shines as a robust free alternative to cPanel.
DirectAdmin was initially released in 2003 by JBMC Software. Since then, they have introduced more than 1400 features in this readily available commercial solution. DirectAdmin’s interface supports multi-languages, leading to use in over 130 countries.
A Quick DirectAdmin Overview
As a web-based hosting control panel, DirectAdmin is well-equipped with the necessary elements to help you manage your server better. You can create and edit all DNS accounts and perform IP management.
DirectAdmin shines in that it offers DNS Clustering. This feature enables communication with other machines that run DirectAdmin (you can transfer DNS data automatically among various machines with no DNS duplication issues).
DirectAdmin vs cPanel: Which Hosting Control Panel is Better?
There are three granted access levels: Admin, Reseller, and User. You can extend to a fourth level of access via a free plugin. All accounts support Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
You can integrate with plugins to get more features and functionalities like many others. Its TaskQueue function monitors all services, so DirectAdmin will restart the said service when anything is down. Otherwise, the admin will be alerted.
DirectAdmin's paid plans come with a 60-days free trial with no credit card required. Both their LITE and STANDARD plans come with a much-desired price-lock. That means no worries about unforeseen price increases in the future.
Interworx is another solid cPanel alternative currently developed and managed by InterWorx LLC. There are two interfaces, namely NodeWorx and SiteWorx. They ensure both the server and client sides are covered.
A Quick Interworx Overview
NodeWorx provides you with the admin interface that helps you manage the server-side and hosting accounts. You’ll have complete server control via this one-stop-center tool as the system admin. You can set up and configure all your hosting accounts, manage your user profiles, perform email alerts management, and monitor your system status.
Why Interworx Web Hosting Control Panel?
Unlike cPanel, NodeWorx supports multiple server clustering features where you can scale up to cater to higher demands of applications as and when needed.
On the other hand, SiteWorx is for you and the users. Here, several basic hosting management features are available, such as creating domains, emails, installing software, uploading content, and making backups through easy one-click actions.
Additionally, SiteWorx gives you access to valuable, insightful data statistics. That can help you better manage your site’s performance. And, if your priority is to have more than one admin and user account, cPanel may not be ideal for you, but InterWorx will be.
They have three plans available. The single VPS license plan only costs you $7.40 a month, and you’ll get unlimited domains which is a big deal. However, if you need bulk licenses, you’ll have to contact their sales personnel for more details.
CentOS Web Panel has now changed to Control Web Panel (CWP). Currently, it is running on 30,000 servers which is a pretty nifty figure. CWP is an AI-empowered Linux web hosting control panel that helps you efficiently manage dedicated and VPS hosting.
A Quick Control Web Panel Overview
The software is pretty comprehensive in that its DNS manager is feature-rich enough to ensure your domains are handled efficiently with no additional need for other systems. The interface is modern and responsive, making it idiot-proof.
You can use CWP for free and purchase a support plan customized to your needs. While CWP is free, there is a more premium version called CWPpro which you’ll have to pay a minimal fee of $1.49 a month or $11.99 a year. It’s a small price to pay, seeing that you’ll be getting a professional and fully-equipped CWP version with all the goodies.
Is Control Web Panel a Better Alternative?
Equipped with advanced email features, CWPpro enables you to manage multiple email domains internally or even via external email servers. There are lots more security features built-in along with often automatic security patches.
If you are currently using cPanel, no worries, CWP has detailed step-by-step instructions as to how you can migrate accounts created in cPanel to your CWP server. Also, they have scripts in place to help convert from cPanel into your CWP.
CWP is a comprehensive and powerful control panel with all the necessary functions you need to keep tabs on your server and so much more.
Cloudways was established in 2012 as a multi-cloud managed application hosting platform provider. You can tell they mean business when partnered with big guns like Google, AWS, Linode, Digital Ocean, and others.
A Quick Cloudways Overview
Technically speaking Cloudways is not a web hosting control panel. However they do offer a valid espcape window to cPanel's aggressive pricing surge.
Their tag – ‘You don’t need to be a developer to love Cloudways’ says it all! Cloudways’ highly visual and intuitive control panel dashboard makes managing your hosting solution easy via just several clicks. Cloudways is a one-stop center that offers the control panel and lightning-fast hosting solutions, unlike cPanel.
Unlike cPanel, which charges you based on the number of accounts, any plan you go for on Cloudways will grant you an unlimited number of accounts. Here, they go the extra mile and give you everything but the kitchen sink – automated backups, unlimited application installations, along with dedicated firewall – at no additional charges.
Also, Cloudways collaborates with Malcare and offers you DDoS protection. Their cheapest plan at $12/month gives you hosting and all the goodies, a lower price than cPanel, and this is only the control panel alone! It speaks a lot of how strong Cloudways is as an alternative to cPanel.
Since cPanel is so popular, why would anyone seek to explore other alternatives? Just one word – pricing. cPanel started with attractive pricing. That, along with its many capabilities, helped gain its rapid traction in the market. However, in 2019, out of the blue, cPanel’s pricing increased by a significant amount.
Despite the tons of complaints received, cPanel stuck to their guns and remained firm on their increased price standing, citing that this was due to upgrades on their hardware. However, in 2021, they increased their prices again, much to the chagrin of the existing customers.
Nobody is sure how relentless cPanel is going to be, resulting in many customers jumping the boat. As you can see from our list above, there is no lack of excellent alternatives.
Having a robust and feature-rich product is only half of the equation. If a product hits customers too strongly where it hurts – their wallet – things are bound to turn. Since cPanel licensing fees steadily increased, we’ve noted a gradual decline in market share that doesn’t seem to have stopped yet.
Perhaps cPanel will wake up and realize it isn’t the behemoth it seems to consider itself. Meanwhile, you can migrate to a cPanel alternative until the day that happens.
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.