The majority of new website designers will use a shared hosting package, because it is the least expensive and most efficient option for the majority of small business owners. With that in mind, this tutorial covers the basics of using a cPanel for creating and managing your own website.
Your web hosting company will give you a place where you can login to your control panel. This will typically be an address like:
Login with the username and password that your server provided and you’ll see a screen with icons that allow you to set up e-mail, backup files and so on.
One of the first things you’ll want to do when you get a new website is to set up your e-mail accounts. From the main page of your control panel, click on “Email Accounts.” Fill in the blanks for username, password and mailbox quota. Your webhosting provider may or may not offer online access to your e-mail account. If they do not, you can access it via Webmail or email software with the username and password information you’ve set up.
Fantastico is a true Godsend for new website owners. In fact, it is so handy that I would look for this as a feature when signing up with a new hosting company. More than likely, the company you choose will offer this feature as most do offer it through cPanel. Fantastico helps you install software, much of it PHP based, without you having to know any coding. Some types of software you might see include:
Choose the one you want to install, which directly you want it in and install. Poof! As easy as that, you are ready to start using the software. Of course, there are glitches at times, but you can always uninstall and start over.
This area of your control panel allows you to access databases and make changes. This might be necessary if you want to move your database, change the name of the database or when files become corrupted. Under the “Databases” section, you’ll find choices like MySQL, phpMyAdmin and Remote MySQL. Each one has a different purpose. For the most part, if you are making updates, you’ll use phpMyAdmin.
Another important area of your cPanel is the “Security” area. If your site is targeted by hackers or you want to prevent a specific competitor from accessing your site, you can utilize this area to achieve that.
IP Deny Manager If a competitor regularly attempts to gather information or steals your great ideas and you know their IP, you can block them from seeing your site at all. This will only block them from the location from where they typically access your site, so they can still go to a different computer at a library or such and access. However, this will slow that person down. This is also a handy way to block hackers from your site.
Password Protect Directories Set up directories that only specific groups can access or that are hidden from everyone but you. You simply add another level of protection and the person must have the password to move forward in your site.
SSL/TSL Manager Generate secure keys to use with online shopping carts or when visitors are providing sensitive information that you’d like to keep encrypted.
Your cPanel allows you to access logs that will provide you with vital information to keep your site running at optimal capacity. Some of the features found in this area include:
Latest Visitors Whether you’re running an ad campaign and want to see where the traffic is coming from or you are just curious about who is visiting your site when, this nifty feature will let you know. Lists IP number, referring URL and browser used.
Bandwidth If your server limits bandwidth, and most do, then you can double check your usage on this tab and make sure you aren’t going to go over. Bumping up to the next package can keep your site from having down time.
Webalizer This program tells you about your website’s traffic and helps you track changes over time. You’ll get details on IP address, referring sites, which pages are visited most and how many visitors you had on a day or at a certain time.
Other Things You Can Do Through cPanel
Most cPanels offer some additional options, but these can vary from server to server. Some of the more common and most useful features include:
Error Logs Find out which pages are not pulling up that visitors are trying to access as well as other errors within your site.
FTP Accounts Set up FTP access for someone doing temporary work on your site or additional helpers. Each can have a separate login, which allows you to track who has made what changes to your site.
Disk Space Usage If you are running out of space on your server and aren’t sure why, this tool can help you track down how much space each file is taking up. You may find that deleting a few heavy graphics and replacing them with compressed counterparts will make a huge difference in how much free space you have available for updates.
Restore Backups Some servers offer the ability to restore your site to their last backup. This can be helpful if your site has been hacked or all the files mysteriously become corrupted. It isn’t likely, but these things do happen, so finding a server that offers backups and lets you do the restore from them is a definite plus.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of cPanel, you’ll have your new website running like a well-oiled machine.
Article by Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.