Web hosting in and of itself is nothing without an easy to use set of tools and interfaces designed to control, maintain and monitor a hosting account commonly referred to as a control panel. Typically these control panels are installed, managed and maintained by the web hosting provider and can be installed on most VPS and dedicated servers by end-users if desired. The key advantage of a control panel is the ease-of-use it provides you to control your account via a graphic user interface which means you do not need to know or understand, at least not completely, operating system specific commands and information to perform common tasks for your hosting.
Control panel features normally include easy web-based methods of:
- Manipulating Files (eg. File Manager)
- Monitoring Quotas (eg. disk space, bandwidth, mail accounts, etc…)
- E-mail Accounts (including creation, modification, termination and checking mail, auto responders, forwarding and more)
- DNS Management (eg. creating, modifying or removing A, TXT, CNAME and MX records among many others)
- FTP Accounts (including creation, modification, privileges of said accounts and more)
- Domain Management (eg. creating separate addon domains, parked domains and subdomains)
- Database Management (eg. creation, modification and removal including of database users among other tasks)
- Statistics (eg. unique visitors, page views, search engine crawls, etc…)
A fast performing, reliable and feature-rich webhosting control panel can significantly increase the productivity and versatility of any website be it a personal site, a business site or a project site. With the right set of tools webmasters can perform the most crucial administrative procedures with ease. Without such a control panel however, every webmaster and user would need an extensive knowledge of Internet and server operating system training including various program configuration to effectively use their hosting accounts.
There are many solutions to the problem of an easy to use control panel for web hosting but the market has essentially made two industry standards out of cPanel and DirectAdmin. This is due to the unique set of features and capabilities provided with each of these separate solutions and due to their popularity with end-users. Although both cPanel and DirectAdmin have a Windows variant typically under a new name but, both are regarded as a Linux hosting platform control panel.