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What Is Plesk Hosting?
Hosting companies sell their packages based on performance and resources. But for many customers, the control panel offered is a critical factor. Plesk is one of the most common branded control panels you'll come across when shopping for a new web host.
Plesk is the shortened name for the Parallels Plesk Panel, a control panel used in web hosting. It offers hosting customers a friendly graphical interface to make website management easier for novice users. The way it's designed also makes web hosting simple, and that has given Plesk longevity among resellers too.
There are versions of Plesk for various Linux distributions (including Red Hat, Debian and Ubuntu), plus various versions of Windows Server. It also supports platforms like Ruby on Rails, Apache, Tomcat and more. Note that the various platform specific versions of Plesk are not exactly the same, although users of one should be able to use the other without issues.
Plesk Tools and Features
Plesk comes with all the tools you need to manage your website:
- Assignment of IPv4 and IPv6 to each domain
- Support for phpMyAdmin, PostgreSQL, ColdFusion and MySQL
- White label reseller tools
- Tools to add premium services, such as site builder tools, that can be resold with hosting
Some hosts install Plesk with the Power Pack, an optional extra that offers social media integration, smartphone monitoring, phpPgAdmin for PostgreSQL and website builder tools (Parallels Web Presence Builder and UNITY Mobile). Some also offer Kaspersky antivirus tools as part of the Plesk installation; this is included in the Power Pack, but can also be installed as a standalone product. Other modules can be installed from within the Plesk panel interface, including alternative antivirus solutions.
Plesk vs the Competition
On Linux hosting, Plesk's main competitor is cPanel. On Windows, Plesk's rivals include DirectAdmin and some smaller, lesser known applications. All have their own quirks. Some hosts have developed custom control panels unique to their own hosting packages, while cloud hosting often calls from a bespoke platform.
We're often asked whether Plesk or cPanel is 'better'. In truth, they are both very capable, although quite different. The choice comes down to personal preference, to a point. Both support common software packages and scripts, such as WordPress. Plesk does have the advantage of being modular, which means it's easy to extend. But there are a few caveats:
- Moving hosts is not straightforward at the best of times, and it can be very problematic if you don't stick with the same control panel. If you plan to grow your site and may need to move in future, it's best to go with a branded panel like Plesk so you don't have to learn everything from scratch
- Plesk data cannot be exported and imported into cPanel, or vice versa. This may make it difficult to migrate data from one account to another, or from one host to another
- Similarly, you cannot export backups from Plesk into any other tool
- Plesk is only online and functional if your web server is fully functional too. If something breaks and your site breaks, Plesk stops working. That means that it can be difficult to recover from a catastrophe without the help of you host
- cPanel is arguably easier for a beginner to navigate, since all options are available with a single click from the home page
Plesk For Resellers
There's one big difference between Plesk and cPanel, and that's the server management side. If you resell web space to clients, this could make a difference.
cPanel is dedicated to management of individual sites, and it's installed with a separate application for managing accounts - WHM. In Plesk, these two functions are integrated into the same browser based interface. This makes it easier to quickly manage a server alongside individual accounts. However, for regular cPanel users, this combined system can be confusing, even though it makes a lot more sense 'on paper'.
Plesk also has the option of offering software and scripts for sale. This can help resellers bring in extra revenue alongside the price of their hosting plans, and that could help them increase revenue and offer a more professional service.