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Linux Web Hosting Control Panels Compared

by Sospeter Okoth

When choosing a web hosting provider, there are a number of factors to consider. One very important factor is the control panel that comes with the web hosting package. You might ask: Why should the control panel be important? Well, the control panel is important because it determines how accessible the features of the server are to you so as to maximize the benefits to your web site.

Since a number of web-hosts offer hosting on Linux, this article shall give a run down of the types of Linux control panels that are common on the market. We shall compare cPanel, Ensim and Plesk with the aim of helping a user decide on how to choose between the different control panels.

The first and most common control panel is actually called cPanel (from the word control panel). It is the most common type and actually in my opinion it offers the most functionality and user friendliness. Some of the features that make it stand out are the themes which make the control panel very accessible and user friendly. The current version of cPanel also offers quite a number of useful features e.g. a variety of web statistic programs. cPanel also allows multiple file uploads which Ensim does not allow. It also allows automatic installation of other 3rd party programs and scripts via its Fantastico section.

The second type of control panel is Ensim. This control panel has the advantage of being secure since the updates are very strictly controlled from the parent company as compared to the automatic updates of cPanel. Ensim Pro's control panel offers four powerful roles, each with their own roles & responsibilities. Service Provider Administrator manages servers, resellers and sites, Reseller Administrator creates and manages sites on a portion of the server, Site Administrator manages users and site configuration and lastly End User Administrator manages email and supports site as permissions allow. Ensim Pro works for both Windows and Linux servers efficiently.

The third type of control panel is Plesk. This control panel has a very beautiful interface. It has a favorites interface for the most recent tasks. Like cPanel, it also has an Updater to aid in maintaining and updating the control panel software. It also allows easy installation of 3rd party software. In terms of features, it easily competes with cPanel. Like Ensim, it also has four user levels: Administrator, Client, Domain Owner and Mail User. Its downside is that not very many servers have it pre-installed as compared to cPanel or Ensim.

Other variants of control panels exist, but the above 3 are the most common. In conclusion, all the 3 control panels have strengths and weaknesses, and the primary factors in deciding which ones to settle for would be price difference and/or availability on the web host's servers.

Thursday, Aug 31st, 2006