Plesk vs cPanel: 5 Things You Need to Know
For many IT users, platform is a matter of preference. The same is true of hosting control panels. There are fans of different packages, and some people always argue about the pros and cons of each.
Often, your choice will come down to your own personal needs.
If you just want straight answers about the features of Plesk and cPanel, it can be difficult to sort out fact from opinion. The simple truth is this: the two applications are very similar. They have most of the same features. Both are perfectly capable of getting the job done, and both will cover the basics well.
As a long-time cPanel user, I’ve only started dabbling in Plesk. I can see differences between the two, but nothing life-changing. The variance in functionality is still worth noting, though. Let’s run through some key differences.
1. User Interface
Initially, the user interface might not seem to be important, but is the first difference most people notice between the two control panels. It’s also one of the biggest sources of heartache when moving between the two.
Plesk is generally regarded as having the cleaner and more attractive interface, and I personally agree with that. But cPanel is more popular, and since more users are familiar and comfortable with it, they’ll argue that its interface is friendlier.
Bear in mind that cPanel is very widespread, and some custom control panels are actually cPanel in disguise. Don’t write off a host with a custom control panel: it may be more familiar than you expect.
For most customers, cPanel is cheaper than Plesk.
- cPanel costs up to $425 per year on its dedicated plan, which breaks down to $35 per month for unlimited use.
- Plesk, for a similar plan, costs $40 per month.
Both also offer solutions targeted at VPS users.
- Plesk’s option, called Small Business Panel, is $70 per month for an unlimited account but has 1 and 5 user packs for $40 and $55 respectively.
- cPanel’s VPS plan costs $200 per year.
Plesk or cPanel licenses are often provided as part of a hosting package, but they’re not always. On VPS or dedicated server plans, you’ll sometimes have to pay for your control panel on top of the hosting subscription fee, so cost will become a factor.
3. Windows Support
Plesk, on the other hand, adds a host of other Linux distributions to the list, in addition to Windows support.
Clearly Plesk is more flexible, but that won’t matter to the vast majority of customers who use shared Linux hosting. It’s only going to be a concern if you’re fussy about OS, or you’re a Windows hosting user.
4. Admin Panels
cPanel comes with Web Host Manager (WHM) as standard, although shared hosting users will never see WHM unless they upgrade to reseller or VPS hosting. The cPanel side is for the website owner, whereas WHM is for the server administrator. Although linked, the two systems have separate logins and interfaces.
Plesk, on the other hand, has a single login for administrators and users. They look similar – the options are quite different.
Switching from one system to the other can cause some confusion at first. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something you’ll want to be aware of.
5. Ease of Migration
Perhaps the biggest and least desirable difference between the two is migration of a website from server to server.
Both Plesk and cPanel make it easy to migrate from one server to the other, assuming you move to and from the same control panel.
Moving from one to the other is near impossible.
When considering free migration services offered by a new web host, remember that they will normally only apply to like-for-like moves: Plesk to Plesk or cPanel to cPanel. Transferring between the two usually requires either the purchase of an advance migration or doing it by hand. Though there are migration tools, including Plesk’s own migration system, the process is still nowhere near as neat and problems are common.
In short, once you pick a control panel, it’s best to stick with it.
Deciding Between cPanel and Plesk
Plesk and cPanel are both fast, stable and secure. In the past, when one has advanced, the other has often caught up fairly quickly. If you’re new to hosting, find a web host that offers demos of both control panels and try them out for yourself.
For existing users, the biggest issue is migration. If you’re on a cPanel or Plesk system now, avoid changing unless it is absolutely necessary. Not only will you be forced to learn a new control panel, but migration issues can be a nightmare.