Cpanel vs Plesk: Choosing the Better Web Hosting Control Panel

A web hosting control panel is provided by a web hosting service, allowing you to manage any servers and hosted services that you might have. With the web hosting control panel, you’ll be able to manage your servers, protocols, and DNS settings. They can also help you manage databases, file transfers, mail, and other web hosting services. 

It’s important to have a simple and intuitive control panel to manage these tasks, which lets you do them quickly and easily. Some external hosting services will set you up with a control panel fairly easily. If you have your own servers, you’ll have to get the integration up and running on your own.

In cPanel vs Plesk, both companies offer web hosting control panels that do all of these things. But there are some differences between cPanel and Plesk, particularly the nitty-gritty of the security features, the systems that they run best with, and the user interface. Let’s take a look at some of those similarities and differences.

cPanel vs Plesk: Quick Overview

Plesk is the newer and fresher competitor, though cPanel is trusted and used by a number of companies. cPanel released in 1996, on the dawn of the dot com bubble. It’s been a trusted source for hosting control for a while. Plesk’s fresher face gives it an edge in the user interface category. It doesn’t have to cater to so many older users who have a particular way of doing things. Can’t beat the run speed of cPanel though.

cPanel can only run natively off of a Linux operating system. Windows and Mac users will be out of luck, although there are a few different boostrapping operations that you can perform if you’re insistent on scoring it for a different system. Plesk, on the other hand, is built to run natively off of Windows. 

cPanel has better security features for the more experienced programmer or team who can add some features of their own. If you’re more unfamiliar with coding and web hosting, Plesk might give you all the stuff you need for less time and hair-pulling. 

Usability

Plesk is the newer company and contender in the web hosting control panel game, which may contribute to its better user interface. Plesk is simply a bit easier to use than cPanel. cPanel has been a bit slower to update some of its clunkier user interface decisions because it has a lot of legacy users that have been with the site for awhile. If you’re new to web hosting, Plesk will be the easier system to learn.

cPanel looks a bit like the older Windows control panel. It uses clusters of icons to navigate you to different categories. Plest has a more modern design, looking a lot more like WordPress with its sidebar and simple task-based categories.

cPanel has a quicker loading time than Plesk does. It has a smaller memory size and has less to load in general.

Plesk has a wider initial functionality, although both cPanel and Plesk have the ability to add more functionality with a spread of apps and add-ons.

Features

There are a number of features that both cPanel and Plesk offer, and a subset of features that only one of the services offer. Let’s start with the features that are native to both systems before moving to features that are exclusive to one. Remember that a number of these exclusive features can also be boostrapped onto the other system through apps or add-ons.

Features that Both cPanel and Plesk Offer:

  • Create new email accounts.
  • Create spam filters (Plesk has additional anti-spam features native to the system, but both cPanel and Plesk have basic spam functionality.)
  • Manage mailing lists. Particularly useful for businesses that want different groups of subscribers.
  • Upload and manage files on the server.
  • Create and utilize databases.
  • Manage various web security metrics.
  • The ability to add and manage domain names. You can grab up new internet real estate and make adjustments to those settings.
  • Server traffic. This is especially useful to compare against monthly search volumes and other Google analytics that you can pull. You can see how often your data was requested by browsers and search engines.

cPanel Exclusive Features

  • cPanel is the legacy system. It’s been around for longer than Plesk, and is trusted by more people. 
  • A better automatic backup system than Plesk offers.
  • Free SSL encryption. Really useful if you don’t already have a service that lets you do this.
  • Support for Amazon Linux, a system that Plesk does not support.

Plesk Exclusive Features

  • As the most important Plesk exclusive feature for many prospective web hosting control panel customers, you can run plesk on Windows! It also supports a variety of Linux systems. Without Windows support, cPanel alienates itself from some users.
  • Supports a greater number of apps from its native system, including a full WordPress management system.
  • Integrates SSL certificates easily.
  • Plesk is built to run in tandem with WordPress, and handles the updates.
  • Plesk features a native mobile accessibility which helps you make adjustments to your servers and controls on the fly.
  • Plesk can backup all your files on Dropbox or Google Drive with its integration.

Security

cPanel and Plesk both offer a slightly different set of security tools for your web hosting. These security tools will work in tandem with the hosting tools that you have. 

cPanel:

  • Password Protection for Directories: Fairly intuitive. Your directories and information are protected by passwords.
  • Automatic SSL Installation: SSL is a Secure Sockets Layer, which creates a standard encrypted connection for web browsers and web servers. SSLs can be painfully difficult to install for the uninitiated in the nuances of coding, and an automatic certificate installation makes this process much easier.
  • IP Denials: Can help protect against certain types of hacking (like DOS attacks) by denying IP address access.
  • Two-factor authentication: Makes your system more secure by making it more difficult to break into.

Plesk:

  • Custom firewall system: Plesk offers a custom firewall that you can configure to suit your security needs.
  • Active Directory Integration: Microsoft uses an Active Directory system to manage networked resources. With active directory integration, your web hosting control panel can also access and manage those networks, resources, and permissions.
  • “Fail2ban” Prevention: An intrusion prevention software is included with Plesk that can help prevent against something called a brute-force attack, a method of hacking that attempts to overwhelm a system with password and passcode guessing in hopes of eventually gaining access.
  • ImunifyAV: Plesk gives you a smart virus blocker that can control your domain reputation and protect you against malware.
  • Email Antispam: Protects for inbound and outbound email spam. Helps prevent spamming inboxes and the inboxes of email addresses that you possess.

What does all of this mean? Remember that cPanel is not built to run on Windows. Plesk, on the other hand, has Active Directory Integration that not only lets it run on Windows, but also excel on Windows. It’s built for Windows. Plesk also has Fail2ban prrevention to avoid those brute force hacking attempts and email antispam to avoid compromising your inbox or the inboxes of the people that trust you.

On the other hand, cPanel has automatic SSL installation to get your sites running quickly and smoothly. People who aren’t running Windows won’t need Active Directory integration, and more experienced coders might not need Fail2ban or antispam to be run from their web hosting control panel.

Pricing

If the pricing were farther apart, you might be able to make a clean decision based on this one fact alone. Hopefully you’ve seen that cPanel and Plesk go toe to toe in most all of the relevant categories. Pricing also ends up being similar.

Both cPanel and Plesk have a couple of different options for how you’ll access them. You can install them on your own server or sign up with a web hosting company that leverages either one of the companies. Either way, cPanel or Plesk will be your web hosting control panel.

Beause Plesk has slightly better functionality and user interface, they seem to feel confident that they can charge a bit more. If you’re using a different hosting service, they might be the more expensive choice. If you happen to own your own servers, Plesk actually works out to be a bit cheaper.

cPanel is built to work with hosting companies. You’ll probably save money on your web hosting control panel if you use a web hosting service and use cPanel for your control panel. If you own your own servers, cPanel usually works out to be a bit more expensive.

Conclusions

cPanel vs Plesk is a battle of ultimately similar web hosting control panels that are built to help you manage your servers and data easier. Ultimately, cPanel has some history on its side, and a dedicated fanbase. Plesk works great with Windows and WordPress, and has a bit of a cleaner user interface.

Price may also be a consideration. While you won’t save that much, cPanel might be a bit cheaper if you’re using external hosting. If you don’t need the Windows and WordPress functionality, it might be the better choice.