VPS Control Panel Options

Virtual Private Servers allow you, as the customer, to choose the exact control panel you want for your virtual server. The problem is, how do you choose between all of the various options available? Choice is great, but not if you do not understand what each control panel is, their pros and cons, and cost factor. Below, we discuss the various control panel options available. This is not a conclusive list, but should give you a much better understanding of your options.

Linux cPanel WHM Control Panel

For Linux users, the cPanel / WHM (WebHost Manager) is by far the most popular control panel and is the most sought after control panel by web hosting clients. A cPanel VPS includes both the WHM login and the cPanel client login for management. cPanel provides an intuitive interface to help website owners manage their sites, while WebHost Manager (WHM) automates server management tasks for server administrators. Together, they reduce overhead by simplifying complex tasks and allowing customers to manage their own accounts. Professionals and novices alike love the power cPanel and WHM offers, including the ability to activate new web technologies with the click of a mouse. This allows your company to meet the needs of today's hosting customers with minimal effort.

cPanel, the client administration client that is designed for website owners simplifies tasks such as uploading and managing web pages, creating email accounts, installing web-based applications, abuse protection, website statistics, viewing error logs, setting up parked domains, adding add-on domains, and much more site-related tasks.

WHM, the WebHost Manager, is designed for server administrators such as those with a Virtual Private Server. The WHM client allows you to setup and modify cPanel accounts, receive alerts if the server goes down, install applications, create hosting plans, integrate web technologies, upgrade apache, and even allows you to brand cPanel interfaces with custom logos if you so desire.

Parallels Plesk for Linux or Windows

One of the major advantages of the Plesk control panel is simplicity. Whereas cPanel has two applications, the client and server management (WHM), Plesk combines it all under one login destination and they use different logins that grant access to administrator, reseller, client, domain owner, or mail user privileges.

Parallels Plesk Panel has a redesigned cleaner and easier to navigate interface. Your most commonly used tasks will be available to you immediately and all menu options have been streamlined allowing you to get what you need done efficiently and with minimal hassle. Parallels Plesk Panel comes with many additional skins and gives users the ability to design custom skins and manage them in the browser-based interface. Use the custom desktop feature to design and brand the panel to your specifications.

With Parallels Plesk working on and releasing Plesk 10, they are constantly innovating and adding new features to make their control panel as easy and painless to manage for clients. With 10.0, they have added service plans and subscriptions, easier multiple domain hosting management, multiple FTP account management for Linux, a new administration panel for administrators, a health monitor to track server health, and a new integrated customer and business manager module to manage billing, store fronts, online payments, and accounting.

Whereas in years past, Parallels Plesk didn't have all the features and functionality of the cPanel control panel, that has changed. Now, the features for Linux Plesk or Windows Plesk and Linux cPanel or Windows Enkompass are comparatively the same. As we mentioned, the major differences between the two brands is the layout and usability. When it comes down to choosing, visit parallels.com and cpanel.net and try the available demos and see which one feels better to you.

Linux DirectAdmin

DirectAdmin works with a VPS to provide client, reseller, and administrator features and costs similar to that of Parallels Plesk. DirectAdmin offers Email, FTP, DNS, Statistics, Subdomains, File Manager, Backup, customer error pages, and other advanced tools on the client backend.

For reseller features, DirectAdmin includes ability to create and modify accounts, user packaging, reseller statistics, skinning, and system information.

The administrator features include creating reseller accounts, setting up reseller packages, view all users, IP management, DNS administration, complete usage statistics, and system updates.

When we compare DirectAdmin to Plesk or cPanel, we find DirectAdmin to be the most simplistic control panel. For those that demand more options, they will find DirectAdmin lacking.

Webmin Free - Virtualmin Professional - Cloudmin

Unix & Linux Webmin Free

Webmin is a free control panel made available to Linux users and supports many various Linux and Unix operating systems with the best support with Solaris, Redhat Linux, and FREEBSD.

Typically, Webmin is the control panel of choice for those opting for an unmanaged VPS solution with basic functions. Webmin is a web-based interface for system administration for Unix. Using any modern web browser, you can setup user accounts, Apache, DNS, file sharing and much more. Webmin removes the need to manually edit Unix configuration files like /etc/passwd, and lets you manage a system from the console or remotely.

Webmin is a non-flashy unattractive control panel that provides the basic functions for server management. Webmin is recommended for advanced users looking for a control panel that makes self-management a little easier for mundane tasks.

Virtualmin Professional - Licensing Required

Webmin is generally meant to be more of an overall server management tool and is not specifically geared to hosting like cPanel and Plesk. There is a module for Webmin called Virtualmin that implements the multi-user hosting features. Virtualmin has been GPL code, but recently has come out with a payware offering where all of the new development is taking place. Virtualmin is a "prettier" version of Webmin with more advanced features available.

Virtualmin is a powerful and flexible web server control panel based on the well-known Open Source web-based systems management GUI, Webmin. Manage your virtual domains, mailboxes, databases, applications, and the entire server, from one comprehensive and friendly interface. Virtualmin offers four methods for managing your server: Web, mobile device, command line, and remote API. Virtualmin is always available, no matter where you are or how you want to work. Integrate with Cloudmin, Webmin, and Usermin for management of your whole data center, from servers to users and applications.

Cloudmin - Licensing Required

Cloudmin is a new product from the folks who brought you Webmin, Usermin, and Virtualmin. It provides management of multiple virtualized system types, as well as management of existing Virtualmin and Webmin systems. Cloudmin allows building new virtualized cloud services, integration with existing cloud services provided by Amazon (more to come!), and tools to assist you in migrating from physical systems into the cloud.

Cloudmin provides a unified UI for building cloud services based on Linux Xen, Solaris Zones, Linux vservers, and Amazon AWS. Cloudmin also supports physical servers, allowing you to gradually migrate your websites into the cloud. Cloudmin, like Webmin and Virtualmin, is designed with flexibility in mind.

Build your own cloud, integrate with existing clouds, and migrate existing servers into the cloud on your schedule, and do it with industry standard technology like Xen and Zones. With a comprehensive web-based UI and scriptable API, you can build the cloud services you want to use, while leveraging existing cloud services, like those provided Amazon Web Services, when needed.

With Cloudmin, you can create and manage virtualized server instances using Xen, Zones, OpenVZ, vservers, and Amazon EC2 technologies. You can also manage existing physical servers, whether running Virtualmin, Webmin, or merely SSH. Cloudmin aggregates system data for providing charts, allows migration of Virtualmin domains across instances as well as to or from physical Virtualmin servers, and provides a comprehensive, but simple to use, API for making changes from your own applications.

Which Control Panel is Right For Me?

For those looking for a managed VPS solution with support from your Virtual Private Server web host, your choice will be between cPanel/WHM and Parallels Plesk. For those wanting a hands-on unmanaged VPS solution, your choice is Webmin, Virtualmin, or Cloudmin depending on the setup you want.

For managed VPS solutions, based on our comparison of cPanel 11.28 and Parallels Plesk Panel 10 Marketing Preview, we use and recommend Linux cPanel VPS and recommend Windows Plesk VPS for those who need a Windows based client. Our reasoning is simple, for Linux, cPanel is the most widely used and trusted control panel and for Windows, the Windows Plesk control panel is currently the most widely used and trusted platform.

We choose the most widely used platform because customers have the widest selection of options, choices, and pricing. For instance, in late 2013, the Windows Enkompass brand only has a select few hosts that currently offer Enkompass to their clients. We expect this to change as Enkompass gains branding and awareness, but until then, we would recommend Plesk for those that need dependable Windows hosting for ASP, .NET, and MS SQL needs.

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