cPanel is one of the most popular hosting control panels on the market. It is used by lots of hosting providers. We point this out as two cPanel-related news recently caught our eyes. The first one was that cPanel, LLC. will be increasing the license fees that hosting companies should pay to be able to provide cPanel to their customers. This change can affect the entire hosting market, as it will most certainly result in a price increase by most providers that use cPanel with their plans. The second news we came across was that the latest version of cPanel introduces two new features – team accounts that allow other people to access the same cPanel, and support for Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.
Both features have been available in our hosting Control Panel for years, and our customers have been using them actively to secure their websites and to provide access to third-parties without compromising the security of their accounts. This is why, we decided to compare our Control Panel to the latest version of cPanel, as we wanted to see if there were other features we offer or if there was anything missing on our end. Of course, such a comparison requires looking at other things as well, not just the list of the features.
What is a hosting control panel?
Let’s start with a short introduction, what a hosting control panel is. If you have a website, you probably don’t need that information, but if you don’t have one yet, here is a brief introduction. This is a tool that allows you to manage your web content using a graphic interface. Without one, you would have to manage everything using only a command line (and in fact, some people prefer that). There are lots of control panels on the market, and they all have different functions and features, but they all usually share the following functions:
- File management. Usually this is done through an online File manager, but some control panels use web-based FTP access instead. You can also create and manage FTP accounts. Often, you will find a file editor as well (simple, rich-text or HTML one).
- Email management. You can create and manage email addresses, add filters, set auto-responders, etc. Note that a webmail interface to read and send emails isn't usually is not a part of any control panel. Most webmail interfaces are separate applications, that sometimes have some integration with the hosting Control Panel. Whether there will be one that you can access through the control panel or in some other way depends on the hosting provider.
- Database management. Usually, you can create databases and database users, and associate one with the other. Often you will find database management software such as phpMyAdmin as well, but not necessarily.
- DNS management. Create and edit various DNS records – A, MX, CNAME, TXT. Depending on the provider, you may have to edit some records using an additional interface that is not a part of the control panel.
- Additional features such as an application installer, traffic statistics, backups, IP blocking, etc. These features may vary significantly from one provider to another.
cPanel is a popular control panel that has been around since 1996. It is maintained by cPanel LLC. Our hosting Control panel is in-house built software that we have created from scratch to meet the needs of our customers. Let’s have a look at both panels:
Both control panels share multiple features – file and FTP management, email management, calendars, statistics, DNS records editor, database management, and a few more site-related options. This is why, we will look at some differences.
cPanel includes a number of useful features. You can track the deliverability of your emails, use a web-based SSH client to manage your content, or set up a Node.js/Ruby/Python application. Some hosting providers also add their own options in the cPanel to be able to offer their services to customers. For example, with some providers you will find a section to buy and set up SSL certificates easier, to contact support, or to launch a specific website builder. Some application installers and site builders are available as addons for cPanel and are sometimes added by hosting providers as well. Usually, there is an additional license fee for them, though.
Our hosting Control panel has a number of features and related services that you cannot find in a default cPanel account. We already mentioned that we have had control panel subusers and Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for years. Both things have just been added to cPanel. In addition, you will find the following in our Control panel:
- Website builder. Feature-rich, user-friendly software that will allow you to create a website with ease using a number of industry-specific templates and lots of useful modules and third-party integrations.
- Copy Mailbox. A tool that allows you to migrate any mailbox from any IMAP account to your ICDSoft hosting account.
- Logo Maker. Create beautiful logos from scratch or use thousands of ready designs. Download them in standard quality for free, or in high quality formats for a minimal price.
- SocialSync. Back up your Facebook or Instagram account and launch a blog-style website with your social content. Even if your posts are deleted from one of the social networks, they will still be available on your site.
- cPanel migrator. If you decide to switch from a cPanel account to our hosting platform, you can easily restore a cPanel-generated backup that will include all your content. File, databases and mailboxes will be restored automatically on our end.
- Server-side caching. Your site visitors will enjoy faster loading speeds due to our caching platform.
We look at the price as it is one of the two things we mentioned earlier, and because there is a big difference between the pricing models of the two control panels. cPanel is licensed software, so all hosting companies that offer it must pay a license fee to cPanel, LLC. The latter even changed their pricing model a couple of years ago. They used to charge a fee per IP address and per server type, so for a single server you would have to pay a single license fee, no matter how many individual accounts you would create. In 2020, they started asking for a license fee that depended on the number of individual hosting accounts that could be created on a server. This change put hosting providers in a difficult position as they had either to operate at a loss, or to increase their prices. For some of them, this meant 200% - 800% price increase. In addition, the license fees went up in 2021, and a new increase is due in 2022.
In comparison, our hosting Control panel is completely free for our customers and resellers. This is valid no matter if you use it with a shared hosting plan for one website or with our SmartVPS platform that allows you to create multiple hosting accounts with addon domains on the same managed VPS. We have added quite a lot of features through the years, including some that other companies have added recently or are still in the process of implementing, but we have never even considered asking for an additional fee. While it is true that we are developing an in-house product and cPanel is a standalone product that other companies use, the price you have to pay in the end does matter. The latter is valid especially for resellers that have a lot of customers or for clients that have multiple websites.
For some people, this is not something that important, but it can affect the way you manage your web presence. cPanel used to have several themes through the years. Paper Lantern was the most modern one and many people are still used to it. In 2021, a new style for it was introduced – one without any icons. Instead, the so-called Glass style displayed only the names of the different sections. Naturally, this move received quite a lot of negative comments from users. If you were used to finding a section quickly by spotting its icon, you were no longer able to do that. In 2022, cPanel introduced the Jupiter theme, which includes icons, but they are hard to distinguish. The File Manager and the Email Accounts sections, for example, have almost identical icons, which can be quite confusing.
Our hosting control panel comes with three different themes – Classic, Modern, and Dark. You can choose whether the icons to be displayed thematically (like in cPanel) or in columns. What sets our Control panel apart is that you can unlock the icons and move them one by one, instead of rearranging only the entire sections. In addition, unlike cPanel, our tool includes a lot of useful section-specific information and links to relevant help articles. This way, you can learn more about a particular function without looking it up online in some third-party knowledge base. Of course, we have to mention that our Control panel is mobile-friendly as well.
Adding new features
cPanel LLC is a multi-million company. They have a large team of developers that can work on new features. Nonetheless, new features are introduced rarely. It takes a long time for anything new to be added – it simply takes a lot of time to develop a service that can be used on different setups. The latter is needed because cPanel is quite popular, so the development, testing, and deployment take quite some time. The fact that many companies use cPanel also means that custom requests from one company cannot be fulfilled, let alone a request from a single end customer.
We have added quite a few features to our Control panel through the years. Some of them have been requested by our customers. We consider every request we receive and if we decide that it is justified, we add the feature in a timely manner. Our advantage here is that our Control Panel is designed to work on our hosting platform, so we can easily expand its functionality and add new features. We don’t have to consider whether a particular feature will work on hundreds of different setups, which can ultimately lead to certain limitations of the feature on some setups. This is one of the advantages of being a small, independent company, and not a large corporation.
Although there have been free SSL certificate providers for many years now, the decision to offer them for free through the hosting control panel is up to the provider. There are some major hosting providers with cPanel, that don't offer free SSL Certificates (or offer them only for a certain time, hitting you with renewal fees afterwards). All hosting accounts using ICDSoft's Control Panel get access to our interface providing free Let's Encrypt certificates for all hostnames pointed to us.
This is something important as it can affect you directly. If there is some bug or a security vulnerability, usually hosting providers cannot do anything until cPanel LLC releases a patch. This may happen quickly, but it may take weeks as well. Even if a patch is released, then you will have to wait for your hosting provider to update the cPanel version on their servers. This may take some time if they have added some customizations, and they have to test if the patch will be compatible with them.
If anything like that happens with our hosting Control panel, we can resolve the issue right away, usually even the same day the bug has been reported. Since the Control panel is designed to work on our platform and our developers and administrators know it inside out, we have not had a security vulnerability through the years. Nonetheless, no software is perfect, and in the past, customers have reported small glitches sometimes. Of course, we have fixed them right away.
There are hundreds of hosting providers on the market, and they use a number of different control panels. cPanel is the most popular one of them as it is used by lots of providers, for one reason or another. Unlike many of our competitors, we do not use cPanel or another third-party control panel. Instead, we have developed one of our own.
After comparing our Control panel to cPanel, we can say that each one has its pros and cons. Our Control panel is a great alternative that can offer you most, if not all, basic features that cPanel comes with, but it also gives you access to a number of additional features and services as well. A logo maker, a website builder and our unique SocialSync - social backup service are all services that you get for free at ICDSoft. What is more, you can use a virtual server and create multiple hosting accounts on it, each one with its own control panel, without paying anything extra for the additional accounts.