WHMCS Hosting: Which Option is Right For You?
What Is WHMCS Hosting
If you are going to become a hosting reseller, it is most important than ever to get the right base host. In this article, I will go over WHMCS and explain how to find the right host.
What Is 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 are needed.
What Is Reseller Hosting?
Briefly, let's clear up what reseller hosting is before we explore one of the most popular tools for managing reseller accounts.
Ways to Create a Reseller Hosting Business
If a person wants to create a hosting business, they have a few choices. One is to invest in the (usually quite expensive) hardware to create a network of servers sufficient to support the websites and data associated with all their hosting clients.
Another much more economical way to enter the hosting industry is through the reseller model. Instead of acquiring your own hosting hardware, you essentially rent another company's infrastructure, then resell it to your own clients.
Benefits of a Reseller Hosting Business
The reseller hosting model, therefore, offers a number of benefits for savvy digital entrepreneurs. It's also a natural fit for web developers who need a convenient place to host client sites for continued access, administration, and maintenance in the future.
- Income for entrepreneurs
- Increased control and flexibility for web developers
- No large setup costs
- Ability to focus on customer service
- Branding Opportunities.
History of WHMCS
WHMCS History via Whoishostingthis.com
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.
What Does WHMCS Stand For?
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.
Find The Best WHMCS Hosting For You
WHMCS Functions via Whoishostingthis.com
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.
- Control panel operations
- Accepting payments
- Generating client invoices and estimates
- Client account setup and suspension
- Performing client support and and social media functions.
Control Panel Operations
Users can link WHMCS to hosting control panels including WHM, cPanel, Plesk, XPanel, and Helm, 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 recognized brands are supported, as are many small providers - and bank transfer payments.
Generating Estimates and Invoices
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.
Account Setup and Suspension
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.
Support and Social Media Functions
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.
Here's What Your WHMCS Hosting Needs To Offer
WHMCS makes reselling hosting much easier. Some shared hosting reseller accounts include WHMCS. If it isn’t included, WHMCS can also be user installed as long as the resold space is in a private environment such as a VPS or dedicated server. In order to install WHMCS PHP 5.2 or above, MySQL version 4.1 or above, and ionCube must be installed on the server. We recommended InMotion Hosting for reseller hosting powered by WHMCS.
Differences Between WHMCS, WHM, and cPanel
Beginners are often confused by the differences between WHMCS and WHM (WebHost Manager), cPanel and other similar software.
Here are some of the key differences between the software options:
|Type||Billing Software||Master Control Software||End User Control Panel|
|User||Web Hosting Reseller||Web Hosting Reseller||End User / Client|
|Function||Controls billing and support functions||Performs administrative tasks for hosting accounts on a server||Client interface for managing own hosting account|
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.
Use of Plugins
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 System Requirements
WHMCS System Requirements via Whoishostingthis.com
There are a number of minimum system requirements in order to run WHMCS 7.0 and later:
- PHP Version 5.6.0
- PHP Memory Limit: 64MB
- PHP Database Extension: PDO
- PHP Extensions: Curl with SSL, GD2 Image Library, JSON Support, XML
- MySQL Version: 5.2.0
- Ioncube Loaders: 6.0.2 or later
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 and WordPress
WHMCS and WordPress via Whoishostingthis.com
Previously, if you wanted to utilize WHMCS to automate your reseller business but also use WordPress as your hosting site platform, integration could be a struggle.
The world's most popular content management system is a convenient way to build beautiful, functional websites. For most purposes, WordPress is a well-coded foundation on which to build a site.
Possible Issues with WordPress
However, WHMCS is a bit different from most functional platforms. It's designed to manage your reseller client accounts in an automated, independent fashion. It wasn't built specifically to integrate into WordPress, and as a result, it can take a little extra effort to achieve the smooth integration you'll want and need.
Plugins such as WHMPress can help bridge the technological gap between WHMCS and WordPress. WHMPress helps improve your site performance by caching data such as your plan price list. It also helps you publish plan details, price charts, order links and buttons.
WHMCS Friendly Themes
In addition, there are a number of themes available coded specifically to integrate with WHMCS. However, theme developers often abandon niche theme projects such as WHMCS/WordPress integration, so it's important to read updated reviews on such themes before you install them on a live site and hope for the best.
Ideally, you should set up a duplicate test site on a local WordPress installation and work out all the details of configuration there before porting over to your live domain. This will help minimize conflicts and issues.
My Top 3 Hosts
WHMCS Top Hosts via Whoishostingthis.com
Among our WHMCS-friendly hosting companies, we especially like InMotion Hosting. A feature-rich hosting provider, InMotion is an excellent choice for resellers. Prices for its three reseller plans are competitive and come with unlimited email accounts.
You'll also enjoy around-the-clock customer support and your choice of Linux or Windows servers. The top reseller package features 260 GB disk space and 6 TB storage space.
If you need more finely grained control over your plan's features, A2 Hosting is a solid choice.
Offering four plans each for both Linux and Windows-based plans, A2 allows reseller a greater degree of control over major features such as bandwidth and storage. The top three levels come with free access to WHMCS. Top Plans include up to 200 GB storage, and a 2000 GB transfer limit on top of support for up to 100 accounts.
Certain accounts also come with a free eNom reseller account, free SSL & SSD and access to the WHM control panel.
Our third choice option is Host Papa. Their reseller packages come with WHMCS and WHM control panel support.
The top package also features up to 1.4 TB bandwidth along with 200 GB storage space. All reseller packages support unlimited websites and email addresses, 24-7 tech support and a 99.9% up-time guarantee.
They also offer white label name servers to allow you to build your own brand.
Points to Remember
Selecting a WHMCS-enabled hosting company is not much different than selecting any reseller hosting provider.
Research existing providers carefully, specifically with respect to reseller features. Compare these features to your own goals and plans for your new reseller business.
Once you have a shortlist, narrow it down by the company's support for and integration of WHMCS. We've rounded up our preferred group of hosting providers that offer WHMCS for reseller accounts here as well.
You'll want to consider:
- How many customers you reasonably believe you can attract within a short period of time
- What price points you'd like to offer to your customers
- Your budget and resulting profit margins
- Hosting company's integration and support for WHMCS
- Hosting company's commitment to WHMCS.
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 knowledgebase and support tickets. In addition, 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, 2Checkout, TrustCommerce, and many more. There are also modules available to add other payment gateways, such as Stripe.
Can customers buy other things besides hosting through WHMCS?
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.
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. Many third-party sites sell premium templates for WHMCS. You'll have to pay a slightly higher license fee to get rid of the "powered by WHMCS" link, though.
In addition, WHMCS has an API, as well as action hooks so you can interact with the code for further automation. Developers can create their own plugins.
What kind of plugins are available to extend the features of WHMCS?
WHMCS supports a library of hundreds of 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 only 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. 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. Additionally, there are plugins available to extend the functionality to sell other products and services.
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.
Will WHMCS automate the work of reselling hosting?
Yes, WHMCS offers complete automation of time-consuming tasks like the 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 has a well-documented API for developers.
How does WHMCS compare with HostBill?
HostBill is another popular client management, support, and billing software application for hosting resellers. In contrast to WHMCS's single order form design, it comes with many order form templates for your customers.