cPanel stands for control panel, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. cPanel is one of the most popular ways to control the content and functions of your website, very commonly coupled with WordPress, and it’s very easy to see why. From just one dashboard, you can access and manage your email, control all your domains, view metrics and more. If that isn’t enough, there are a ton of plug-ins which are designed specifically for cPanel, like website builders, SEO and marketing tools, anti-malware software, it’s a fantastic system to build your website upon.
cPanel is synonymous with website hosting and has over the years become a type of hosting in itself as so many people look to manage their website using the software. There are a number of alternatives to cPanel, for example, Plesk and Webmin, but cPanel is by far and away the most popular. It is, however, an unfair comparison, as Webmin is typically for Unix based systems, which has gone from around 94% of computer users to 2%. The main difference between Webmin and the other 2 is that it is open source so anyone can contribute to it. The same way in which WordPress is built and developed. Webmin is also usually used on SuperComputers, so it’s not suitable for almost every other webmaster.
cPanel and Plesk are both used by big companies and their features are relatively similar, despite cPanel’s lower overall price. Price is only a consideration if you are looking to install cPanel or Plesk yourself though, as hosting companies usually include the cost of the software in their pricing.
cPanel hosting is generally suited to slightly more technically knowledgeable website builders, as you need to have a basic understanding of internet protocols to use the software to its extent. If you know how to code PHP or HTML, cPanel is ideal for you, with inherent support for those who like to customize a website down to it’s bare bones. There are a whole section of tools dedicated to altering, installing and managing PHP code on your cPanel site, which is of great use to the minority of webmasters that know and are confident in PHP.
If you’re not so computing inclined, a drag and drop website builder, or perhaps WordPress, is a better choice. You may also find some web hosts who have built their own version of cPanel, branded as their own hosting control panel to try to make things easier for users. Some have done a solid job and users will find their system straight forward, others have just over complicated things.