January 22 2019

Why shouldn't you use cPanel?

Unveiling cPanel's inefficiencies: from slow database backups with mysqldump to security risks, discover why it's time to look for better-performing, more secure alternatives.

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I'll get started right away - if you're using cPanel, stop before it's too late! Backup your website and clean your server.

The importance of choosing the right technologies for managing your website cannot be understated, and today I would like to talk about a technology choice that could have a significant impact on your online presence: the use of cPanel. And I want to be clear from the start: if you're using cPanel, it's time to take a pause and consider some more efficient alternatives.

I know this might seem like a strong, and even bold, statement, but it's necessary, especially if you're a user who doesn't look past the headlines. cPanel may seem like a convenient solution for managing your website, but the reality is that it could harm your site's performance and security in the long run. The chances of your website becoming slow or even compromised are significantly higher with cPanel. Forgive the harshness, but if security and speed are a priority for you, cPanel is not the answer.

Why You Should Avoid cPanel: A Detailed Analysis

Slowness due to use of Apache

If you're technologically savvy, you'll know that Apache isn't the fastest solution when it comes to web servers. In a world where every millisecond counts, solutions like NGINX represent a much lighter and more efficient alternative, which also requires fewer system resources.

Mounting and Partition Problems

cPanel's decision to mount all folders under the directory /home It may seem harmless at first, but it actually has significant implications on system performance, especially when using high-speed SSD or nVME disks. Let's analyze the details:

Why the Directory /home Is it problematic?

In theory, the directory /home is intended to host user files. However, in a web server context, this can become problematic when considering separation of responsibilities and security. A more logical organization might include mounting the web content in other directories, such as /var/www, to separate it from user files and system settings.

The effects of mounting flags noatime e nodiratime

These are flags that can be set when mounting the file system partition. They are extremely useful for optimizing disk I/O operations:

  • noatime: This option completely disables file last access tracking. In a web server, where numerous read operations are performed, last access tracking can lead to unnecessary use of disk I/O.
  • rarely: Similar to noatime, but specific to directories. Again, disabling directory file last access tracking can save a significant amount of I/O operations.

The Performance Impact of SSD and nVME

SSD and nVME are storage technologies that are significantly faster than traditional hard drives. However, the absence of the flags noatime e nodiratime means that every time a file or directory is read, the system must also write the last access information. This can slow down operations and reduce the longevity of disks, which have a limited number of write cycles.

Wasted I/O in High Traffic Systems

In a high-traffic environment, where every millisecond of response time counts, these additional writes can add up quickly, creating a bottleneck. For websites with a high number of requests per second, I/O savings could translate into significantly reduced response times and better use of hardware resources, thus improving user experience and potentially even rankings. search engine.

In summary, cPanel's choice not to use these optimization options can have a negative impact on performance and efficiency, especially if you are using high-end hardware like SSD or nVME.

Swelling and Bloatware

Defining cPanel as “bloatware” is almost a compliment, considering its heavy impact on system resources. In fact, it would be more accurate to compare cPanel to a collection of root-kits: a collection of software designed to access deep into the core of your Linux operating system. This intrusive nesting is not only dangerous from a security point of view, but also has serious implications on server performance.

The fact that cPanel is the most used control panel in the world of web hosting is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, its popularity attests to its functionality and ease of use. On the other hand, this same popularity makes it a prime target for cyber attacks. Let's explore the various dimensions that make cPanel a potentially vulnerable platform.

Popularity as Target

Being widely used, cPanel inevitably attracts the attention of hackers and malicious actors. A single vulnerability discovered in cPanel could potentially expose thousands, if not millions, of websites to security risks. This makes it a particularly coveted prize for those seeking to exploit flaws in computer systems.

Proprietary Code and Opacity

Unlike open source software, where the code is available for public inspection and potential fixes by the community, cPanel is proprietary software. This means that its source code is an inaccessible “black box”. Users and security experts cannot easily inspect code for vulnerabilities, making it inherently less secure.

Root Privileges and Deep System Access

Another critical aspect is that cPanel requires root privileges to work. This means it has almost unlimited access to operating system files and processes. If an attacker were to exploit a vulnerability in cPanel, they would gain very deep access to the system, making the potential consequences much more severe than for software running with limited privileges.

Additional and Superfluous Software

cPanel seeks to be an “all-in-one” solution, offering a wide range of additional features and services. While this completeness can be seen as an advantage, it also brings with it a burden in terms of security. Each extra service or function represents an additional potential entry point for an attacker. In practice, the more software running on your server, the greater the attack surface, thus increasing the risk of vulnerability.

In conclusion, while cPanel may offer unparalleled convenience and ease of use, these come at the cost of potential security risks that cannot be overlooked, especially in a business environment where data security is of primary importance.

So, How Should You Manage Your Server?

If you're serious about running your own website, the first thing you need to do is set up your server correctly. If you're not familiar with server configurations, our systems support team can help you optimize performance, reduce costs and accelerate your site. For more complex and proactive operations, hiring a dedicated system administrator would be ideal.

A Note on Backups with cPanel

When it comes to making database backups, especially if they are large, your choice of tool can have a significant impact not only on the length of the backup process, but also on the availability of your website. In cPanel, the standard approach to database storage is done through the use of mysqldump, a utility provided by default. While it may seem like a simple and straightforward solution, it has some critical gaps, especially when dealing with larger databases and high-performance systems.

Lock on Tables and Service Interruptions

One of the most serious problems of using mysqldump is that, to ensure data consistency, it is often necessary to lock tables during backup. This “table lock” can make the database inaccessible for new writes and, in some cases, even for reads, for the duration of the operation. In a production environment, where every second of downtime can mean a loss of revenue or reputation, this is not a viable option.

Long Backup Times

mysqldump can be notoriously slow on large or complex databases. Because it makes a table-by-table copy of the data, the amount of time required grows exponentially with the size of the database. Additionally, because each table must be locked and deserialized, the process can become a real time and resource challenge, further putting the availability of your service at risk.

Percona Xtrabackup: An Advanced Alternative

Unlike mysqldump, Percona Xtrabackup is capable of performing “hot backups”. This means it can create a database backup while the database itself is online and in use, thus minimizing downtime and performance impact. Percona Xtrabackup it is able to do this without locking the tables, making everything more efficient in terms of both time and resources. Plus, it's optimized to work with large databases and high-performance systems, making backups faster and less intrusive.

The decision to use cPanel, with its dependency on mysqldump for database backups, it may not be the best choice for businesses or web projects that require high performance and a strong emphasis on availability and security. If speed, security and uptime are critical to your business, then it's time to evaluate more robust and efficient alternatives, both in terms of control panels and backup solutions.

Do you have doubts? Don't know where to start? Contact us!

We have all the answers to your questions to help you make the right choice.

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