Control panel is a graphical user interface (GUI) to manage your web hosting account. Within your control panel you can upload and organize site content, manage domain name settings, schedule duties and much more. Whether you need comprehensive traffic analysis or a simple interface to check your emails, a good web hosting control panel can do all of this and more.
Control panels give you complete control over your hosting account within a centralized user-friendly interface. There are various control panels on the market, and each one has its advantages.
The most popular control panel is cPanel, which is by far one of the simplest and well-documented tools on the internet. With such a large user base, it is literally impossible to be confused with cPanel. Most web hosting providers offer complete video tutorials for every module within cPanel, and if your hosting provider does not, you can usually find the same tutorials on other sites like Youtube. A good control panel will give you complete control over your hosting account with very little training using visual modules and integrated instructions.
Control panels have replaced programming and other web skills that are no longer needed for site and server administration. Control panels are split into sections that simplify the process of operating web sites and controlling the features of your web hosting account. If you have ever tried to upload a web page to your sever manually without the help of a content management system, or if you have had the misfortune of setting up cron jobs manually through your server without the help of a control panel, then you probably understand the importance of the convenience offered by control panels.
Processes that take hours to complete can be reduced to minutes of work. After offering volumes of hours of support to their web hosting customers it became clear to hosting providers that a simpler solution was needed. Thus, the control panel was born.
When you log into your control panel, you will notice a set of modules arranged in rows. Each row pertains to a different a section of website and server management. Some of the modules which you will be using most often include the email module (where you can check your site's email and create new email accounts), the domain manager (which lets you assign new domains and manage your current list of domains and subdomains), redirects (which lets you assign specific redirects from one web page to another), and the FTP section (where you can set up access to your web server through an FTP client).
The aforementioned sections are just some of the many modules that you have at your convenience within the web hosting control panel. If you operate an online business with multiple business email addresses associated with your domains, then you'll most definitely use the email account module the most. You'll want to choose an email client that suits your needs. Most of the time, you can choose from applications such as Squirrel Mail.
In many cases, control panels are supplied with the hosting account by default, so there is not much of a choice involved after you've selected the hosting plan. However, in some cases, you can choose your own web hosting control panel and have it installed on your server if you'd like.
The easiest way to get the control panel of your choice is to opt for a web hosting plan that includes your preferred control panel pre-installed. It may be hard to find a web hosting provider that offers a control panel other than cPanel for basic hosting accounts. However, VPS and dedicated servers usually come with more powerful control panels like Virtuozzo and Plesk. It is important to note that even though these control panels are more powerful, they are not easier to use. If you are just starting out with web hosting, you should definitely consider learning how to use cPanel first.
If you are new to web hosting, you'll definitely need a simple control panel. Look for hosting plans that include tutorial videos that will help you learn how to use the control panel efficiently. Once you become comfortable with your basic control panel, you can start using more advanced software that will give you complete control over more advanced server configurations.
If you have no clue what a script is, then you will definitely need a quick-installation utility such as Simple Scripts or Fantastico. These utilities let you quickly install over 50 scripts without any formal training or technical knowledge.
A script is basically a program or application that will enhance your website in some way. For example, content management systems such as Wordpress can be installed using simple installation utilities. Without these one-click installation utilities, it would be nearly impossible for the average person to install all of the scripts needed to operate the site optimally.
Aside from content management system scripts, these utilities help you install traffic analysis scripts, entire forums, and various blogging platforms that give you complete administrative control over your sites.