What is cPanel?
If you have dabbled in web hosting before, you’ll have no doubt heard of cPanel and probably used cPanel hosting without really realizing it – but what exactly does this control panel do?
cPanel is a Linux-based control panel for a web hosting account. In other words, it is an interface for users to manage different aspects of their website in an easy way. cPanel is by far the most popular interface for web hosting – chances are if you sign up for any web hosting plan, you’ll get cPanel to control your site.
cPanel is loved for its clean and functional design that is friendly to newbies and professionals alike. It simplifies a lot of web hosting operations that you would otherwise have to go about in a more technical manner. For example, if you wanted to create a subdomain without the help of cPanel, you would have to open up a command prompt, log into your server as an authorized user, locate your server’s configuration file, and edit it to recognize your new domain. It would be a real hassle for any website owner on their own server, not to mention shared servers. Needless to say, cPanel makes these tasks a breeze through an easy interface where many otherwise complicated tasks can be completed by a novice user within a few clicks.
Accessing Your cPanel Hosting
You can typically access your cPanel through the dashboard of your cPanel web hosting account. Most web hosts have a link to the control panel when you are logged in to your hosting account, which will also log you in to cPanel automatically.
Alternatively, you can directly access your server’s cPanel through port 2082 or 2083. This may sound technical, but it’s as simple as visiting your website’s domain, followed by :2082 or :2083. For instance, if your website’s domain is https://example.com, try visiting https://example.com:2082 or https://example.com:2083 or even https://example.com/cpanel. You’ll know the URL is correct when you see the login prompt for cPanel.
Navigating Your cPanel
In cPanel, all of the available controls are sorted according to different categories. Some categories of interest will be the email, databases, file management, domains and add-ons. cPanel allows for some level of customization, so you can drag and drop to reorder the categories, or even change the theme of your interface. Check out this demo of the control panel to see exactly how it looks and works.
If this is your first time logging in to cPanel, we highly recommend that you change your password to something more secure. You can do this once logged in to your cPanel under the preferences category.
If your hosting plan supports email accounts, you can use this tool to set up your email addresses and inboxes. cPanel has a couple of web-based email clients, but if you wish to set up your email inbox in a more convenient place, you’ll also be able to find information here for setting up a third-party email client (an email app) using a protocol such as POP3 or IMAP.
The database section is where you can access phpMyAdmin, view your databases and manage your database users. Databases are an integral part of any site unless you are only using static web pages, so you will probably be utilizing this at some point. You can also use the login information in this section to set up a third-party database client, saving you the trouble of having to log in to your cPanel to access phpMyAdmin in the future.
Files are the bread and butter of a website. Through the file manager, you’ll be able to upload pages, media, .htaccess rules and more. You may not touch the file manager much if you are using a content management system, but it is always good to know where your web directory is if you ever need to use it. cPanel typically comes with a built-in file manager, but for ease of access, we recommend looking into a file transfer client such as Core FTP, FileZilla, or WinSCP.
The domains section can get more technical. It allows you to set up subdomains, redirects, parked domains, add-on domains, DNS zones and more. If you are new to configuring the domains section, we would suggest you take a look at some in-depth domain guides before making any changes.
In the add-ons section, you’ll be able to find various extensions and libraries that can be used to enhance your website. For instance, most Softaculous software installers will be located here, allowing you to install different programs in one click. If you are looking to get a content management system (such as WordPress), forum, e-commerce section or anything else running, the add-ons are sure to have it. The system will ask you for some information and then it should install and set up the software for you automatically. Once installed, add-on software can also be managed through this category (such as when updating WordPress, managing backups, etc.).
These are some of the key areas of cPanel, but for a more complete guide and step-by-step instructions, take a look at our cPanel guides.