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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.
Plesk Frequently Asked Questions
What is Plesk?
Plesk is a web hosting control panel that runs on the Windows operating system. It offers the same features as cPanel, with the exception of email. Plesk users can manage thousands of virtual hosts on a single server. Plesk control panel can be used with VPS, Shared, and even Dedicated web hosting. Plesk automates tasks that allow web hosting providers to reduce resources and operating costs.
What are some good reasons to use Plesk?
Plesk control panel is 100% automated and includes features that make it easy for you to manage your server and domains. Unique features include migration manager, key auto-update mechanism, auto-component updater, and web-based installation assistance in managing your server and domains. Plesk is a highly stable control panel and is capable of supporting many domains on a single server.
Are there any reasons to avoid Plesk?
There are three reasons not to use Plesk. First – there are security issues with Plesk. One of the shortcomings is that all virtual hosts are running under the same Apache user and configuration. Second – Plesk defaults to Port ‘8443’ for HTTP applications, which causes problems with servers that don’t consider non-standard HTTP ports such as Microsoft ISA and Microsoft Small Business Servers. Third –Plesk uses large amounts of server disk space before uploading files to an FTP server, which limits available storage space and prevents frequent data backup and restore functionality. The latest versions of Plesk address most of these issues.
What are the alternatives to Plesk?
The most direct ‘alternative’ to Plesk is cPanel. Some people claim that getting used to cPanel is easier, as most web hosting service providers install cPanel for their clients. cPanel has powerful tools that perform essential tasks easily and quickly. Other Plesk alternatives include open-source control panels like Zpanel, Zentyal and Vesta control panel. Most alternatives support Microsoft Windows operating servers and PHP applications.
What are the system requirements for Plesk?
Plesk requires the following Windows Operating Systems: 1) Windows Web Server 2008 R2 SP1 2) Windows Web Server 2008 R2 SP1 3) Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions) 4) Windows Web Server 2008 SP2 5) Windows Server 2008 SP2 (Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions) 6) Windows Server 2012 7) Windows Server 2012 R2. For Linux Operating Systems, it requires: 1) CentOS 5.x, 6.x, 7.x 2) CloudLinux 5.x, 6.x 3) Debian 6.0, 7.0 4) openSUSE 12.3, 13.1 5) RedHat Enterprise Linux 5.x, 6.x, 7.x 6) Ubuntu Server LTS 10.04, 12.04, 14.04.
Are there any additional requirements?
Plesk control panel has the following minimum hardware requirements for Windows: 1.4 GHz (x64 processor) or 1 GHz (x86 processor), 1 GB RAM (2 GB for hosting multiple accounts), and 32 GB Hard Drive. Minimum hardware requirements for Linux are a 266 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM (1 GB for hosting multiple accounts), 10 GB Hard Drive. For mail client support, Plesk documentation recommends setting up MS Outlook Express, MS Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail.
Do I need to be concerned about installation?
Not usually. Most popular web hosting companies will install Plesk for you without any additional charges. Customers may be given an option between Plesk and cPanel upfront.
Can I use Plesk in the cloud?
Plesk control panel is compatible with the cloud in the case where there are several sites and servers in the cloud and these are stable enough to keep the cloud functioning correctly. As Plesk has a stable architecture, it can be used in cloud computing where people have their sites hosted on a cloud server.
Can I monitor my servers using Plesk?
Plesk offers mobile monitoring to let you monitor your servers 24/7 so that you can fix issues at a short notice rather than leaving things for later. By monitoring the servers by mobile, your company is more streamlined with this function available. You can log into Plesk by pointing your mobile browser to https://sample.org:8443 (replace sample.org with a domain pointed at your server).
Can I upload data without FTP clients?
Yes. Plesk provides a built-in file manager so you can manage, upload, move, copy, download, and modify all the files on your hosting package. You can also package several files into a zip archive. The File Manager can be accessed from the icons on the control panel page.
Is the Admin Panel similar to cPanel?
cPanel has WHM (Web Host Manager). The cPanel side is for the domain owner, whereas the Web Host Manager is for the server administrator. These two systems have separate logins. Plesk, however, has a single login for domain owners and administrators. The options are different and switching from one system to another may cause confusion at first – this is something you’ll want to know beforehand.
Does Plesk support all major CMS platforms?
Plesk features an internal application installer that makes it easily to install and manage most CMS platforms, including Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, and Magento, in just a few clicks. The application installer can also be used to install eCommerce applications like a shopping cart. Also, any of the applications can be uninstalled directly through the control panel.
Can I customize Plesk?
Yes. Plesk control panel can be customized with the ‘Virtuozzo’ software to create a variety of templates. Professional web hosting providers and webmasters can customize the Plesk user interface to make it consistent with their brand’s outlook.
What can I do with Plesk at the Client level?
Plesk allows you to set limits, generate a complete report of your accounts, view assigned IPs, and setup your custom buttons, logos, and directories at the Client level. You can also set up domain templates and view traffic stats with the press of a button.
What can I do with Plesk at the Domain user level?
Plesk allows you to control everything associated with your domain at this level. Resellers can give this level of access to their clients. Features include one-click install of popular scripts, password management, DNS management, and built-in SiteBuilder.