Differences between Plesk and cPanel - ­čĆć Managed Server


July 11 2023

Differences between Plesk and cPanel

Comparison, pros and cons of the two most popular web control panels.


The evolution of web hosting has led to the emergence of numerous solutions to facilitate the management of websites. Among these, control panels such as Plesk and cPanel have taken on a fundamental role, making it easier to manage web resources even for less experienced users. This post will detail the differences between Plesk and cPanel, two of the most popular control panels used in the hosting industry.

The History of Web Panels

Web hosting control panels arise from the need to provide users with an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical interface to manage their web resources. Before they appeared, managing a web server required extensive knowledge of operating systems and scripting languages. With the advent of control panels, however, it became possible to manage a website without having to know in detail how the server works.

The History of Plesk

In the landscape of web hosting control panels, Plesk is undoubtedly one of the most recognized names, thanks to a history of success that spans over two decades.

Plesk saw the light in 2001, launched by the Russian company SWsoft. This company, led by a team of experts and visionaries, created Plesk with the aim of providing a complete and user-friendly solution for managing a web server. The result was one of the first control panels that offered the ability to automate many routine tasks. Thanks to Plesk, tasks that once required significant technical expertise and a lot of time, such as creating email accounts, managing databases, and installing web applications, have become quick and easy to perform.

Plesk's innovative strength has not gone unnoticed in the hosting industry. Within a few years, the software has become a benchmark in the industry, acquiring a large following of users who have appreciated its intuitive interface and the wide range of features on offer.

In 2008, Plesk's story took a significant turn when SWsoft merged with Parallels, a company known for its virtualization solutions. This merger resulted in further development and expansion of Plesk's capabilities, further solidifying its position as one of the most popular hosting solutions on the market.

In the following years, Plesk has continued to evolve, expanding its support to a wide variety of operating systems and introducing new features to meet the growing needs of users. At the same time, the company behind Plesk has never lost sight of its original mission: to make web server management accessible and simplified for everyone, regardless of their technical skills.

Today, Plesk is a global tool, used by millions of professionals around the world, credited with making web hosting management a much more manageable and user-friendly reality.

The History of cPanel

Steeped in tradition and innovation, cPanel has earned a place of honor in the landscape of web control panels. Its history, dating back more than two decades, is a tale of steady progress and industry leadership.

Launched way back in 1996 by a company called Speed ÔÇőÔÇőHosting, cPanel was one of the first web server control panels ever created. Although the digital environment of the time was very different from the current one, the fundamental objective of cPanel was already clear: to make web server management a simple and intuitive operation.

Right from the start, cPanel was able to stand out for its user-friendly interface and the wide range of features it offers. The software was designed with the user in mind, aiming to provide a tool that could make even the most complex tasks simple. This commitment to creating a high-quality user experience has helped make cPanel a popular choice among users worldwide.

But cPanel didn't stop at mere ease of use. Even then, the company demonstrated a strong awareness of the importance of security in web hosting. Thus, cPanel was one of the first control panels to offer a complete suite of security tools, including spam and virus protection mechanisms. This commitment to security has helped cement cPanel's reputation as one of the most secure and reliable control panels on the market.

Over the years, cPanel has maintained a leadership position in the control panel market. It has continued to innovate, adding new features and improving usability and security. At the same time, it has maintained its commitment to providing a high quality service, sustaining its reputation as one of the most respected control panels in the industry.

Today, cPanel remains a mainstay in the web hosting landscape, widely recognized for its intuitive interface, robust suite of features, and commitment to security. Its long history of success is testament to its ability to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing industry.

Acquisition of Plesk and cPanel from the Same Investment Fund

In the digital business world, mergers and acquisitions are the order of the day and can lead to significant changes in the industry landscape. An event of this type directly involved Plesk and cPanel in 2017, when both companies were acquired by Oakley Capital, a prestigious British investment fund.

Founded in 2002, Oakley Capital has distinguished itself through its commitment to investing in high-growth, innovative technology companies. The acquisition of Plesk and cPanel fits into this strategy, representing a significant investment in the web hosting sector. This move has not only heralded a new era for both platforms, but has also fueled a number of discussions and speculation in the industry.

After the announcement of the acquisition, many observers and users started speculating about a possible merger of Plesk and cPanel. Considering both platforms were now under equal control, the prospect of a merger or integration seemed possible and even logical to some.

However, Oakley Capital has taken a different approach. Instead of merging the two platforms, the investment fund decided to keep Plesk and cPanel separate, allowing each to continue to develop independently. This decision ensured that each platform maintained its uniqueness and continued to serve its user base as always.

This does not mean that there have been no synergies or cooperation between the two platforms. But to this day, Plesk and cPanel have remained two separate entities, each with its own identity, strengths, and vision. This strategy has enabled both platforms to thrive under the leadership of Oakley Capital while continuing to deliver high quality services to their respective users.

Oakley Capital's acquisition of Plesk and cPanel is an example of how movements in the investment world can affect the technology landscape. While the two platforms have remained separate, Oakley Capital's influence has certainly helped shape their development and ensure their continued success in the web hosting industry.

Plesk Technical Features

Plesk control panel

Plesk has, over the years, established itself as a reliable and powerful tool for web hosting management, offering a number of distinctive features. Here is an in-depth look at its main features:

  1. Cross-platform support: One of Plesk's main strengths lies in its ability to support both Linux and Windows. This makes it an ideal option for those looking for versatility in the server environment. While many other control panels only support Linux, Plesk has a strong presence in the Windows sector, allowing users to harness the power of both operating systems. You can choose the operating system that best suits your needs and be sure that Plesk will be able to handle it.
  2. Comprehensive server management: Plesk offers a complete management environment, going beyond simple website hosting. Includes email functionality, making it easy to create, manage and delete email accounts. FTP support allows users to upload and download files directly from the server. SSL management is simplified, allowing you to install certificates with just a few clicks. In addition, Plesk manages databases effectively, providing an interface to MySQL and PostgreSQL, and making it easy to create, modify and delete databases.
  3. Intuitive user interface: Plesk stands out for its friendly and intuitive user interface. Users can manage web resources quickly and easily, thanks to a user-friendly design. Plesk divides the features into several clearly defined sections, making it easy to find and access the desired features. The interface also offers a number of shortcuts and tips that make learning and using the control panel easier.
  4. Extensibility: Extensibility is another important feature of Plesk. The control panel can be expanded and customized through the use of extensions, which add features and services. This includes access to third-party services, developer tools, security integrations, and more. Users can thus build a hosting environment that exactly meets their needs. Extensions are available directly through the Plesk catalog, making it easy to explore, install, and manage these control panel enhancements.

Linux distributions that support Plesk

Plesk offers broad support for various Linux distributions. Below is a list of the main supported distributions:

  1. CentOS: This is one of the most popular Linux distributions for web hosting and Plesk supports recent versions of CentOS.
  2. Debian: Debian is another very popular distribution in the world of web hosting and Plesk offers full support for recent versions of Debian.
  3. Ubuntu: Ubuntu is one of the most user-friendly Linux distributions and Plesk supports this too, allowing users to leverage the ease of use of Ubuntu with the power of Plesk.
  4. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): RHEL is an enterprise oriented distribution and Plesk supports recent versions of RHEL.
  5. CloudLinux: Designed specifically for shared hosting, CloudLinux offers an isolated environment for each user on one server. Plesk supports this deployment to improve server efficiency and security.
  6. Virtuozzo Linux (formerly known as OpenVZ): This is a virtualization oriented Linux distribution and Plesk also supports Virtuozzo Linux.

Remember that it is always a good idea to check specific compatibility with the version of Plesk you intend to use, as the list of supported distributions may vary from one version to another.

Technical features of cPanel

cPanel Control Panel

cPanel is another highly regarded web hosting management tool, with a wide variety of features aimed at simplifying and securing hosting. Below is a more in-depth look at its main features:

  1. Support for Linux only: cPanel differs from Plesk in its unique Linux support. This choice may seem like a limitation to some users, especially those working in a Windows environment. However, it's important to note that cPanel's ÔÇťLinux-onlyÔÇŁ approach isn't without its advantages. By focusing on a single operating system, cPanel can optimize its performance and functionality specifically for Linux, ensuring an efficient and integrated hosting experience.
  2. Comprehensive suite of security tools: cPanel pays particular attention to hosting security. It has a complete suite of security tools designed to protect your server and websites from various threats. These tools include spam and virus protections, which help maintain data integrity and user safety. cPanel also includes features such as Hotlink Protection, which prevents other sites from inappropriately using your content, and the IP Deny Manager, which allows you to block unwanted IPs.
  3. Intuitive user interface: cPanel shares Plesk's reputation for having an intuitive and user-friendly user interface. The cPanel interface is designed to simplify the management of web resources, presenting the features in an organized and accessible way. Users can easily navigate between the different sections, ranging from managing email accounts to overseeing website statistics. The cPanel interface is also customizable, allowing users to change the look of the control panel according to their preferences.
  4. Routine Automation: Another strength of cPanel lies in its ability to automate many routine tasks. This saves users valuable time that can be spent elsewhere. Tasks that can be automated with cPanel include website backups, software updates, cron management (to schedule recurring tasks on the server), among others. This automation makes site maintenance and management easier, making cPanel a popular option for many users.

Linux distributions that support cPanel

cPanel offers support for several Linux distributions. Below is a list of the main supported distributions:

  1. CentOS: This is one of the most popular Linux distributions for web hosting and cPanel supports recent versions of CentOS.
  2. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): RHEL is an enterprise oriented distribution and cPanel supports recent versions of RHEL.
  3. CloudLinux: Designed specifically for shared hosting, CloudLinux offers an isolated environment for each user on one server. cPanel supports this deployment to improve server security and efficiency.
  4. Amazon linux: cPanel also supports Amazon Linux, which is optimized to run on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

Remember that it's always a good idea to check specific compatibility with the version of cPanel you intend to use, as the list of supported distributions may vary from one version to another.

Summary comparison between Plesk and cPanel

Plesk and cPanel are two of the most popular and reliable web hosting management control panels on the market, each with a wide range of features designed to simplify the administration of web resources. Despite their similarities, there are some key differences that could influence a user's decision on which platform to choose.

  1. Cross-platform support: One aspect where Plesk and cPanel differ significantly is in their support for operating systems. Plesk supports both Linux and Windows, making it a suitable choice for users who manage servers based on both operating systems or who want the flexibility to switch between them. On the other hand, cPanel is exclusively dedicated to Linux. Although this choice may seem limiting, it allows cPanel to optimize its performance and functionality for the Linux environment, offering a highly refined hosting experience for this specific operating system.
  2. Security tools: In terms of security, cPanel has a slight edge, thanks to its large suite of security tools. These tools offer comprehensive protection against various threats, including spam and viruses, ensuring data integrity and server security. Plesk, however, doesn't lag behind and offers a solid selection of security tools as well.
  3. User interface: Both control panels are known for their intuitive and user-friendly user interfaces, making web resource management a relatively simple task even for non-tech-savvy people. However, the visual appearance and arrangement of functions may vary between Plesk and cPanel. The choice may therefore depend on the user's personal preferences: some may prefer the cleaner and more modern interface of Plesk, while others may feel more comfortable with the more traditional and time-tested interface of cPanel.
  4. Extensibility: In terms of extensibility, both platforms stand out. However, Plesk might have a slight edge, offering a wide range of extensions that allow users to add features and customize the control panel to their specific needs. cPanel, however, is no different and also offers the ability to add functionality via plugins.

License costs between Plesk and cPanel

Another crucial aspect to consider when comparing Plesk and cPanel is the licensing costs and related pricing models.

Plesk offers several licensing options based on the type of usage. For a single installation, costs start at $10 per month for Plesk Web Admin Edition, which allows you to manage up to 10 domains. Plesk Web Pro Edition, which allows you to manage up to 30 domains, is available for $15/month. Finally, Plesk Web Host Edition, which offers management of an unlimited number of domains, is available for $25 per month. It is important to note that Plesk offers discounts for annual subscriptions, making the actual monthly cost slightly lower.

On the other hand, cPanel has a slightly different licensing model. In 2019, cPanel changed its pricing structure from a fixed price to a model based on the number of accounts. cPanel offers the Standard license at $45 per month which allows you to manage up to 100 accounts. If you need to manage multiple accounts, cPanel Premier is available. This license starts at $45 per month for the first 100 accounts and adds $0.20 for each additional account.

By comparison, Plesk's pricing structure may seem simpler and more predictable, with fixed costs based on the number of managed domains. cPanel, on the other hand, offers a scalable pricing structure that can be more affordable for those managing a few accounts, but could become significantly more expensive for hosting providers with a large number of accounts. Before making a decision, it is therefore important to carefully evaluate your needs in terms of the number of domains or accounts to manage.

Note: the prices mentioned may vary over time and it is recommended to check directly on the official websites of Plesk and cPanel to get the most up-to-date information.

In conclusion, the choice between Plesk and cPanel will largely depend on the specific needs, preferences and operating context of the user. Both control panels offer a robust set of features that can make web hosting management much easier, making them both good choices. It is therefore essential to carefully consider which aspects are most important for your operational needs before making a decision.

Alternative to Plesk and cPanel

Despite the advanced features and user-friendly interface offered by Plesk and cPanel, some may find that these control panels are not the ideal solution for their needs. Licensing costs, limitations in web server optimization, and the need for a certain degree of technical knowledge can be significant barriers.

Alternatively, an effective solution may be to opt for a managed assistance service, provided by expert Linux systems engineers. This type of assistance offers numerous advantages in terms of competence and safety.

First, mitigating DDoS attacks is a critical issue for any server. While both Plesk and cPanel offer some security tools, a managed service can provide much more sophisticated and customized security solutions capable of dealing with a wide range of potential threats.

Additionally, backup management and disaster recovery are areas where a managed service can excel. While Plesk and cPanel include backup capabilities, a managed service can offer more comprehensive and sophisticated backup strategies, as well as detailed disaster recovery plans that can ensure continuity of service even in the event of serious problems.

Our company specializes in providing managed support on Linux servers, offering a highly effective alternative to traditional web control panels. With our experience and expertise, we are able to guarantee a high level of assistance, customized according to the customer's needs. Our services go beyond simple server management, including performance optimization, advanced security, backup management and disaster recovery.

In conclusion, although Plesk and cPanel are valid solutions for web hosting management, a managed support service can offer a more complete and personalized solution, which can save time, resources and potential future problems.

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Managed Server Srl is a leading Italian player in providing advanced GNU/Linux system solutions oriented towards high performance. With a low-cost and predictable subscription model, we ensure that our customers have access to advanced technologies in hosting, dedicated servers and cloud services. In addition to this, we offer systems consultancy on Linux systems and specialized maintenance in DBMS, IT Security, Cloud and much more. We stand out for our expertise in hosting leading Open Source CMS such as WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal, Prestashop, Joomla, OpenCart and Magento, supported by a high-level support and consultancy service suitable for Public Administration, SMEs and any size.

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