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Recommended Host for WHMCS
Selling web hosting is a great way to support an existing business, or start out a new venture offering web space for profit. As your reseller business grows, it will become harder and harder to manage everything manually, and automation becomes an essential part of the job. WHMCS is a tool that automates vital processes and ties up all of the tasks you'll need to carry out. It can also be used for other businesses where billing and support is needed.
History of WHMCS
WHMCS was released in 2005 to help resellers streamline their hosting administration tasks. The application is developed by the same team that makes cPanel and Web Hosting Manager (WHM), tools which many resellers will be familiar with prior to starting their reselling venture.
WHMCS stands for Web Host Manager Complete Solution, although you'll almost never see it referred to under that title, since the abbreviation is used most of the time. Its name reflects the fact that it was initially designed for use with WHM and cPanel, although that requirement has now been removed and it works with a variety of control panels and services.
What WHMCS Does
Initially, WHMCS combined two functions: invoicing and technical support for web hosting. Now, WHMCS supports a range of industries as well as hosting, offering full client management. Its focus is still hosting administration, and that's where you'll find most of its functionality.
Users can link WHMCS to their hosting control panel (WHM, cPanel, Plesk, XPanel, Helm and more), their VPS and other critical services needed for their hosting business. They can also take payments through a dizzying number of gateways; PayPal, 2Checkout, Google, Amazon, Skrill, PayPoint, Nochex and other recognised brands are supported, as are many small providers - and bank transfer payments.
WHMCS generates estimates and invoices in multiple currencies, and lets you bill on a one-off or recurring basis. You can collect any number of data types using custom fields, and create promotions and coupon codes, and let users add items to a cart before they check out.
Once a user pays, WHMCS triggers account setup and can suspend accounts if payment is not received. It also has a nifty pro-rata function that syncs up everyone's billing dates. WHMCS also integrates with many services and web hosting add-ons, so resellers can use it to upsell extras on top of hosting plans. For example, you can resell SSL certificates, domain names and cloud backup services.
In terms of support, WHMCS handles your announcements, social media feeds, knowledge base and ticketing system. The help desk area is surprisingly good, given that it's not the main focus of the tool.
WHMCS is designed to be themed so that it blends in with the rest of your business website. You can download templates to change the look and feel, and remove features that you don't intend to use. If you want to fully integrate WHMCS with your website, it's possible to match both appearance and functionality. From CSS tweaks to the API, all options are open to you, providing you have the skills to edit the code.
There's also a plugin system. Modules can be installed to extend what WHMCS can do. Developers can create their own modules and contribute them to a growing library. WHMCS integrates with more than 150 different services via these modules, so there's bound to be a combination that suits the way you sell web hosting.
You'll need to pay for a license to use WHMCS. There are three ways to do this:
- Buy a subscription, so you essentially lease WHMCS for as long as you need it
- Buy it outright
- Buy a license from your web hosting provider
All options include a secondary key that can be used for a testing server, essentially allowing you to run a live copy and a staging copy.
Note that buying the software doesn't entitle you to ongoing updates, which attract an additional fee. You will also have to pay extra to remove the 'Powered by WHMCS' link at the bottom of the page; this is essential if you want to completely blend WHMCS with your website template.
WHMCS can be installed on most web hosting packages, although you'll obviously need a reseller account at the minimum. For most customers, a virtual private server (VPS) makes sense, since it's difficult to isolate your clients' sites from other sites on a shared server.
WHMCS can run on Linux or Windows servers with PHP version 5.2 or above. You'll need MySQL version 4.1.x or above, plus the ionCube Loaders installed and configured.
WHMCS Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is WHMCS?
WHMCS stands for Web Host Manager Complete Solution. It is a billing, support, and customer management tool created for hosting resellers, developed in 2005 by the same team responsible for cPanel and WHM (Web Hosting Manager). While it was primarily designed for hosting resellers, it has developed to support customer management in other industries as well.
What does WHMCS do?
WHMCS can be used as a stand-alone client portal, or integrated into your website. Customers can login to the portal to sign up for hosting, manage their accounts, make payments, and request support. Using WHMCS, you can set up recurring payments, and automatically suspend service if a payment isn’t received. It also has a help desk tool and can be used to manage your knowledge base and support tickets, and there are plugins available to extend the features.
What payment gateways does WHMCS support?
WHMCS supports over 50 different payment gateways, including Paypal, Amazon SimplePay, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, SecurePay, TrustCommerce, and many more. There are also modules available to add other payment gateways, such as Stripe.
Can customers register domains and buy SSL certificates through WHMCS as well as purchase hosting?
Yes, WHMCS supports over 20 domain registrars including NameCheap, ResellerClub, PlanetDomain, and others. You can offer your customers SSL certificates from Enom, ResellerClub, and GlobalSign. Your customers can register, transfer, and renew their domains, as well as change their nameservers, update WHOIS information, lock or unlock domains, and more.
Do I have to use cPanel with WHMCS?
While WHMCS was first designed for use with cPanel, it has expanded to support many other popular hosting control panels including Plesk, XPanel, Ensim, and others.
Can you customize the look of the WHMCS client portal?
Yes, you can completely customize the look and feel to match your branding. There are a variety of templates available for download, or you can create your own templates. Many third-party sites sell premium templates for WHMCS.
What kind of plugins are available to extend the features of WHMCS?
WHMCS supports a library of over 300 plugins by various developers. They add a huge variety of functionality. Some of the most popular plugins add VAT tax options for EU invoices, allow customers to sign up for free trials, or automatically integrate Google Analytics tracking or social media accounts.
Is WHMCS free?
No, a license is required to use WHMCS. You can pay a one-time fee to download the software, but support and software updates are included for a limited time. You can pay to extend support and updates on a yearly basis. Another option is to pay a subscription, which will include future software updates.
What are the hosting server requirements for WHMCS?
The WHMCS software can be installed on most servers that meet the minimum standard requirements, but a reseller hosting account will be necessary. A VPS (virtual private server) hosting account will make it easier to isolate your client’s hosting accounts than using a shared server.
Can WHMCS be used for other industries besides hosting?
Yes, you can use WHMCS to sell other products as well. There are plugins available to extend the functionality to sell other products and services. Out-of-the-box, WHMCS offers inventory management, product options and custom fields, and download distribution so you can sell software, ebooks, and other digital products.
What billing cycles can I offer my customers with WHMCS?
You can set up one-time billing as well as monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, and biennially (every two years) billing cycles. You can also pro-rate a customer’s bill for partial cycles.
What can my customers do in the client portal area?
Customers can login to update their personal information, change their password, view their order and payment history, purchase upgrades, request cancellation, and manage domains.
How customizable is WHMCS?
WHMCS was intended to be completely customizable. There is an API as well as action hooks so you can interact with the code for further automation. Developers can create their own plugins while non-developers can customize the look of their client portal with downloadable templates. You’ll have to pay a slightly higher license fee to get rid of the “powered by WHMCS” link, though.
Will WHMCS automate the work of reselling hosting?
Yes, WHMCS offers complete automation of time-consuming tasks like creation of hosting accounts upon purchase, account suspension or additional fees for late payments, customer password resets, database backups for your customers, domain registration and renewals, and more.
How does WHMCS compare with Blesta?
Both Blesta and WHMCS are very popular hosting reseller management tools, with many proponents for each. Blesta is reputed to be more straightforward, with comparatively limited functionality since it doesn’t have all the plugins available for WHMCS. However, Blesta’s code can be modified to support whatever functionality you need, and it does have a well-documented API for developers. Blesta is also said to be more secure than WHMCS.
How does WHMCS compare with HostBill?
HostBill is another popular client management, support and billing software for hosting resellers. In contrast to WHMCS’s single order form design, it comes with many order form templates for your customers. Much of WHMCS is hard-coded in English while HostBill has a built-in translation module that makes it easy to translate into other languages. HostBill requires more of an upfront investment, since they only offer their licenses at a one-time fee, instead of the lower-cost monthly subscription options provided by WHMCS.