Free Alternatives to cPanel

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cPanel is one of the most popular web hosting control panel choices for webmasters around the world. Primarily used in shared, VPS (virtual private server), and dedicated hosting environments, cPanel provides a graphical interface that allows for easier maintenance of common website tasks, such as email creation, domain forwarding, website building, and more. However, despite the popularity of cPanel, it can often be too expensive for many webmasters to consider purchasing a license in addition to their web hosting fees. For these reasons, many webmasters opt for a competitive, free alternative to cPanel. Luckily, there are several options to choose from.

Webmin

  • Webmin provides an open source hosting control panel that provides many of the same features that you would find through cPanel, such as disk and bandwidth usage, website backups, scheduled cron jobs, system logs, SSH access, and support for MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. Webmin is also incredibly customizable, just like cPanel, so if you are reselling server space on a machine with webmin, you can brand it to your own company.

    Three major differences that set Webmin apart (and some believe, above) cPanel are the expansion of Webmin via modules, Usermin, and Virtualmin. Through Webmin modules, you can further expand Webmin's usage, and because Webmin is a free control panel, there are hundreds of 3rd party modules that others have created as well. Usermin and Virtualmin provide extended usability through webmail and domain hosting integration.

Easy Hosting Control Panel

  • Easy Hosting Control Panel (EHCP) is a web hosting control panel that is offered by a variety of hosting providers and available to you for free. Though EHCP is branded as the easiest option for web hosting, it does not include all the options that cPanel does. However, for a simple and effective solution, EHCP does work well for the following features: domain management, email management, FTP setup, subdomain management, MySQL and phpMyAdmin support, and one-click installations of Joomla, Forums, Drupal, b2evolution, Wordpress, and more.

    The only real downside to using EHCP is the lack of support on their website. However, because so many 3rd parties create modules for EHCP, other websites (as well as EHCP's forums) may be able to offer assistance to the most common issues.

GNUPanel

  • GNUPanel is a viable competitor for cPanel, with one minor difference: GNUPanel only works for the Debian OS. While Debian is a pretty popular Linux distro that runs on PHP5, you may need to double check with certain web hosting providers to ensure they can support it.

    However, despite this small shortcoming, GNUPanel can help you manage nearly everything you can through cPanel but without the cost. Through GNUPanel, you can manage your web hosting server, email, databases, FTP accounts, protect directories, park domains, accept online payments, and more. GNUPanel also comes with support for webmail, mailing lists, MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, and the Quanta web development environment. Essentially, it is one of the leading cPanel competitors because of its long list of features. However, like EHCP, the support is unfortunately lacking.

SysCP

  • Another big free competitor for cPanel, SysCP is unlike the others in that it provides a large and extensive knowledge base and how-to support system via its main website. Because SysCP works with nearly every Linux distro, your web hosting provider is very likely to support it as an installable control panel option instead of cPanel. Plus, like EHCP, SysCP offers many 3rd party modules, so there is always room for expansion.

    SysCP includes the following features, which are very similar to cPanel's offerings: reseller and customer administrative settings, email and FTP management, billing and ticketing systems, SaaS application installers, newsletter options, logging and error page management, support for SpamAssassin and webmail, and more.

Expert Insight

  • In reviewing your options for free alternatives to cPanel, always try the control panel's demo if they offer one. All of the free control panels mentioned here offer demo interfaces that you can instantly view and work in. That way, you can play around in the control panel and ensure it is both efficient and works for exactly what you need. Testing all the features and ensuring there is a good support community for the product are two of the most important things to consider when making your final choice.

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