Plesk vs. cPanel – Which is Best for You?

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A server control panel for Web hosting is an interface that allows customers to manage their hosted services in a single place. Such control panels are available for servers with Windows and Linux operating systems. Web-based control panels generally have a graphical interface and tool suite designed to make the process of hosting a website more manageable.

Commonly available control panel functionality includes:

  • Server logs
  • Resource reports on availability including available space, and used space and bandwidth
  • Configuring email accounts
  • Maintaining users’ accounts
  • Database management functionality for user access and data manipulation
  • Web log analysis software for visitor information, including page visits
  • File management

Plesk and cPanel as control panel solutions

cPanel is a Linux-based Web-hosting control panel with an easy-to-use graphical interface and automation tool suite designed to make website hosting simpler to manage. cPanel is designed with a three-tier structure. Its functionality is tailored to suit the needs of administrators, reseller and end-user website managers, with server administration and website management controlled through a Web browser. cPanel is possibly the most popular and stable control panel solution.

The Plesk Web Host Edition offers hosting service providers the ability to configure and maintain Windows or Linux servers. Service Provider Management has simple controls to create subscription packages for resellers, customers and individuals. Bundled Word Press supportability tools make use of Plesk 12.5 enhanced server-to-site security features, which are useful for shared hosting. Unlimited accounts and domains are supported.

What are panel features? How do they differ?

Command line access – Both Plesk and cPanel offer command line access. cPanel has both command line access and API-based access, enabling interaction with third-party software. Plesk offers a command line access tool called the Panel Action Log Command Line Access Tool.

Administration – Web hosting developers are able to automate system administration processes. cPanel is designed to function either as a dedicated server or a virtual private server. The latest cPanel version supports installation on CloudLinux, CentOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Application-based support includes Apache, PHP and MySQL. Email-based support includes IMAP, POP3 and SMTP services.

Removing Panel – Removing cPanel is not possible. It requires reformatting the server and reinstalling the operating system. Uninstall scripts are available for Plesk but it’s not recommended.

Ease of Use – At the user interface level, cPanel aggregates functions into high level groups that include preferences, mail, files, logs, security, domains, databases and software services. On the other hand, Plesk is divided into functions that include statistical and resource usage, users, mail, websites and domains, applications and statistics.

Multi-server Clustering

Plesk does not support multi-server clustering. You need an add-on called Plesk Automation Services to perform such tasks.

cPanel & WHM 11.4 has new functionality for easily managing multiple servers. Root users will be able to use remote access keys. Some server configuration settings can be shared.

Loading speed – Plesk may cause loading to occur more slowly than cPanel. It can become particularly slow on Linux servers.

Database access from Plesk with Webadmin – You can manage MySQL or MS SQL Server databases via the Web browser. From cPanel, you can access PhpMyAdmin, which allows management of MySQL databases. In terms of database activities, if you need MS SQL access from the panel, you must stay with Plesk.

Support OS for cPanel and Plesk

  • Windows Server compatibility – Plesk is compatible with Windows. The integration between Plesk and Windows is strong. Full integration with Microsoft SQL Server is provided.
  • cPanel only compatible with Linux, CentOS and RedHat operating systems.

Advantages and disadvantages by panel

  • Plesk has more detailed support requests than cPanel, allows management of both MySQL and MS SQL Server from the Web browser, is strongly integrated with Windows and is intuitively easy to use.
  • cPanel loads more quickly than Plesk and aggregates functions into high level groups for ease of accessibility. For Linux environments cPanel may be best.

Handling Support Requests

  • cPanel’s interface includes access to support services from your Web host by email. Availability of this function is dependent on your Web host’s terms. Check with your Web host to find how support requests are handled. In order to submit a support request through cPanel interface, enter your name, email address and issue.
  • Plesk has a fairly detailed support request form that requires more extensive information including product, product version, OS version, work environment and issue. The last is selected from an extensive drop down list.

Conclusion

cPanel and Plesk are the top server panels. While each has pluses and minuses, the best choice should be based on the features that most closely accommodate your environment and your clients. Consider your operating system, server configuration, security needs and access control, as well as usability preferences.

Highlights are:

  • OS suitability – Plesk is more suitable to Windows while cPanel better for Linux. Plesk is not integrated with many independent apps designed for Linux.
  • User friendly – Plesk is a bit more intuitive and user-friendly than cPanel.
  • Both have robust security options.
  • Both are powerful administration tools.
  • GSK

    I have been using cpanel for about a decade. It’s been great – until now. There are some security / privacy issues that most cpanel users are unaware of.

    As a webmaster, I set up the website and all required emails, and in some cases, hand over cpanel control to the client. In a previous version of cpanel, the client admin user, who is someone relatively junior (never the boss – who has better things to do), was not able click on an email in the control panel and login without knowing that account’s password. Worked well; simple security for non-techies.

    In the latest version of cpanel, this layer of security was removed. The cpanel login now allows you to immediately login to all emails. What’s the repercussions you may ask?

    – imagine a low-level staff being able to read all emails in all inboxes (ie of all staff)
    – able to send out emails as that user
    – able to read the emails of all management staff
    – able to login to the CEO’s email account and send out incriminating or nasty emails
    – able to use a staff’s email to send out hate mail or give company secrets to competitors. If traced back, that user get’s into trouble, not the cpanel admin!
    – the webmaster who sets up the hosting account can do the above as well (he is an external party).

    The security and privacy issues are glaring.

    What is cpanel’s response?
    “This is by design and it is not a security problem. The cPanel account user always has access to all of the data in all of the mailboxes on the account. ”

    I see many users complaining about this since last year but cpanel is sticking to its position. What’s with these guys?! I may have to switch to Plesk, etc because of this.

  • Dulara

    Hello,

    This blog post is highly subjective and is not matching each solutions apples to apples, but the reviewer is jumping around.

    Plesk and cPanel as control panel solutions:

    cPanel is built using two different software interfaces which are tied together. One is WHM which manages the Server Admin/Reseller aspect and cPanel is the Customer Panel. So cPanel is limited in functionality if not paired with WHM. cPanel works on RedHat, CentOS, and CloudLinux… as you can see all RedHat based. The grouping of menu items in WHM are a singe very long list it takes a lot of time to scan through to find what you want to click on. cPanel has a Web Application developed by 3rd party.

    Plesk is a single solution installation that has many UI options. It singularly provides Server Admin, Reseller and Customer relationship in one simple to manage interface. If you do not need business logic of a hosting company, in 3 clicks you can turn off the Hosting Logic and use Power User View. Plesk runs on 14 different distributions of Linux, from RedHat, CentOS, CloudLinux to Debian and Ubuntu. It also works on 4 Distros of Windows. So if you are looking for continuity between OS with the same interfaces, same API, and CLI commands you want Plesk. Plesk is also responsive web design which looks great from mobile phones, tablets to Laptop and Desktops. Plesk also controls the free mobile app.

    What are panel features? How do they differ?

    Plesk and cPanel do provide the same primary features, which Plesk offering much more functionality out of the box. To date of this update, Plesk offers a ready to code environment which covers Plesk 5.2 to 7.1.1 with options of CGI, Fastcgi and FPM, for Apache, Apache + Nginx, or just Nginx, all configurable at the single domain level. Want to code in Ruby on Rails and Node.Js, you can do that and Plesk will install the required gems and extensions. All these features can easily be configured from the UI and customized at Admin and Customer levels. Looking to manage a lot of WordPress domains, then Plesk is your solution with the WordPress Toolkit. The WordPress toolkit allows to one click install WordPress, Automate Upgrade of of Core, Themes and Plug-ins by the domain owner. The Admin can see All WordPress instances and can manage All installations from one place. Mass install plugins and themes on All/selective domains, mass delete plugins/themes on all/selective domains, check security on all/selective domains. Plesk has Docker Support built in for Linux, can manage Docker remote for a small fee for both Windows and Linux.

    cPanel does have easyApache to select some PHP versions, but with a bit more complexity. cPanel does have some Ruby on Rails function but users are begging for more functionality for years. cPanel does not have anything comparable to the WordPress toolkit. cPanel relies on a 3rd party product to manage Docker at a large price tag.

    Multi-server Clustering

    To correct this section. Plesk Automation was not a Product that worked with Plesk, it was a separate product all together. Plesk does have Plesk Multi Server extension released Nov 15th which does allow for managing many Plesk service nodes. At the time of this article it is true that that feature was not available.

    The comments on speed of the control panel should not be stated unless there are specific statistics to validate against. I can state that on hyper scalers, cPanel installs a swap file without anyones knowledge to offset services which do not have swap space. This actually causes hyper scalers SSD drives a lot of damage.

    Last clarification:
    *********************************
    OS suitability – Plesk is more suitable to Windows while cPanel better for Linux. Plesk is not integrated with many independent apps designed for Linux.
    *********************************

    This is very subjective to the blog writer. Plesk has been on Unix/Linux server since its creation in 1999. It runs on 14 distributions of Linux, and 4 distributions of Windows. It has over 200+ applications that can be installed in the website, has a robust ready to code environment which caters to more developer requirements with ease than cPanel and has an eco system of applications called extensions which add all kinds of additional functionality to Plesk.

    I hope this better clarifies some of the issues of the original blog post.

    • krazybob

      Plesk has the absolute worst customer service known to man! For years it was pay for service. Plesk lost me so many customers from unwarranted support delays that I can’t even count them all. The most commonly heard statement from the support representatives was something along the lines of “we can’t help you.” The customer support representatives in various parts of the world with a limited command of the English language have cost me more downtime and lost customers than anything I’ve ever done. It got so bad that I hired a third-party company to charge me $25 a ticket instead of $75 to $150 a ticket. Support maybe free now but that’s a few dollars too late.

      Plesk Support has put one support ticket after another on the back burner waiting for “clarification.” A simple ticket would take a week to 10 days to resolve. At one point I hired SW-Soft as they were called at the time to migrate HSP to my new data center. Even though there was a telephone call made and they indicated they had started the process we would learn hours later that they never even started and we had moved all of our equipment to the new data center. They took us off line for two weeks and cost us thousands of customers. Everything was in writing so what I demanded to know why they took my money up front and then didn’t do is ask they had the unmitigated gaul to tell me I had no arrangements with them to do anything. Then why did I pay them $1,500? It was in writing!!!

      I’ve been a customer since they were SW-Soft and they’ve changed their name three times since along with their corporate structure. I paid for the original HSP that went by a different name when it was in Ensim Enterprise or something like that would cost me a couple thousand dollars only to have it obsoleted instantly and another $15,000 down the drain for HSP which was a dog to begin with. It never worked right. When I asked why it couldn’t manage to properly take an order when it one point it was I was given the BS excuse that I was expected to hire someone to customize the order process for me. It used to work right out of the box. It to was obsoleted without notice. It became PBA. Plesk Billing Administrator and y’all wanted more money to have that. I had an unlimited Perpetual license for modern Bill and you told me you would only upgrade modern Bill one time and after that I had to switch the PBA. You wanted a piece of my pie for every customer that I had and you wanted a royalty

      I’ve had more broken applications and corrupt MySQL tables that I can shake a stick at with plesk. Plesk, HSP and Virtuozzo. Your site Builder is a dog and never could compete with any of the third-party site building tools. I’ve lost business to them as well. I’ve lost more business because customers have demanded cPanel in spite of me giving them the party line of how wonderful Plesk is supposed to be. There’s a reason companies like GoDaddy use cPanel and not Plesk. I am leaving them all behind and going with cPanel.

      You can write in from your biased perspective of how great plesk is instead of asking an actual customer like me who’s been screwed over since 2007. You were the absolute worst business decision I ever made.

      • Hello,
        I’m outing here myself that I’m working for Plesk since many years and running their marketing & alliance team now. I’m sorry to hear your experience about the HSPcomplete/Odin Service Automation experience. Please note that all these products like HSP and others as well as Virtuozzo are *not* part of Plesk anymore and we have changed a lot!

        Plesk has become an independent company early 2016. We are completely independent from any of those other products and our support is a team of experts that is supporting you now. That means we have *no outsourced* support, only in-house developers and senior engineers in our support now, helping our customers – developers, admins and agencies.

        I would appreciate if you could give us a chance again as we hear mostly positive things since we spun off as a company. We are all working very hard to make you successful with your business.

        this is not just marketing language – it’s real and I can proof it even from my own usage of Plesk for a few websites I’m running for some small customers, to not lose the connection to reality 🙂

        all the best

        regards
        Lukas

      • Dulara

        I am a bit confused at your statement. I am writing from a customer perspective. I go all the way back to the days when I bought my Plesk licenses from Apache because they had a business model that resold licesnes for S&W Soft before they became SWSoft.

        I started my hosting first hosting company in the mid 90’s I used Plesk and later Virtuozzo. I was one of the first adopters of HSPc in which I ran my hosting company. I paid about $6k for HSPc and the professional training from a guy over Webex from Russia. I even setup OBAs to manage all my servers in multiple geo locations. I had data centers across Canada, in NY, LA, Atlanta and even in London. After I sold off my hosting company I got into global consulting and administration. I helped setup over 100 hosting companies of all sized in HSPc. It was and still is a great piece of software. I say still is because unlike your statement it was not replaced, it still exists today. As companies go through their lives they may buy another company, may merge or be acquired. SW-Soft became Parallels, so the name of the product went from HPSc to PBAs, just a rebrand, same product. Then the company rebranded from Parallels to Odin for the Hosting Industry. The Product was rebranded OBAs. Parallels Holding sold Odin to Ingram Micro in Dec of 2015. I believe they sold all the automation software and IP as well as the billing.

        With a half way decent administrator, one could have a full cloud offering from store to infrastructure automation including Virtuozzo, Plesk and HSPc in less than 8 hours. It was so easy to manage that when upgrades came out, my customers would contact me and I could have 10-20 systems upgrading at the same time. Nothing like charging 10-20 times for the same 30 minutes of work. But here we are talking about OBAs, not Plesk and the question was about Plesk. Two different products and now different companies.

        It is true that back in the day, Plesk charged for support tickets, but just about every company in tech did. But today if you go to their website, they provide free support for their customers and partners, and they also have free Plesk University and Free Certifications. I think you maybe stuck in back in 2008.

        As for GoDaddy, they sell Plesk too, https://ca.godaddy.com/hosting/windows-hosting

        I lot of the companies I helped build and start under service contracts are still up and running today. Many are in the multi-million Dollars a year range now. Others did so well they sold out.

        Last I checked though, the OBAs product is coming to the end of the road. It looks like Odin(Ingram Micro) is going to replace it.

        Sorry your experience was not so good. Seems pretty isolated from my global experience.

        Anyways, when it comes down to it, you have to test the products and make the decision of which solutions is going to be the best for your business model. Then you have to be smart enough to execute and hope things turn out.

  • Tom Gonza

    I loved Plesk but it was hard to find a good VPS provider still using plesk! I HATE Cpanel and WHM….the are nightmares! Mostly WHM! In WHM it takes longer to find the right place to set what i need! Nothing is in logical place imo.

    • Martfox Web Hosting

      Why it takes longer?

      • Tom Gonza

        bc trying to figure out under what menu item is what your looking for is listed is very hard. I have to click thru what I think is obvious only to find it somewhere else that makes no sense to me. With plesk ALL the possible tasks are ALL on one page (settings) of links so is is one click away.