Usability is a key feature among the best web hosting providers. Above all else, an easy to use interface is essential, allowing you to quickly manage your site without too much fuss. Many web hosts have tried to design a control panel that ranks highly for power and usability, but few can come close to cPanel.
cPanel, or simply control panel, is a front-end interface built for Linux servers. It began back in 1997, developed by the then teenager Nick Koston. It took five or so years to catch on, but since then, has been the go-to interface for massive web hosts such as HostGator and GoDaddy.
However, it’s not as clear cut as simply installing the interface and calling it a day. cPanel can be tweaked by the web host, meaning some implementations are better than others.
Before diving into the hosts, though, a definition is certainly in order. cPanel is often confused as a simple shortening of “control panel” and while that’s true, the term cPanel refers to an actual product. It’s still a control panel, but differentiated as one of the best control panels for web hosting.
The reason it’s so good because it’s easy to use: cPanel offers a clean, icon-based layout for controlling your site. It’s an all-in-one hub that offers a surprising amount of power without overwhelming newbies.
The interface is reminiscent of icon-based operating systems, making it an entirely intuitive experience. Even those without a clue about web hosting can easily find their way around, using the collapsible categories and icons as a roadmap to find what they need.
Even with the ease of use, cPanel is one of the most powerful interfaces around. WordPress users, for example, can often manage most aspects of their site without ever logging into the WP backend. It’s an exploratory interface that presents a ton of options, a far cry from a finicky control panel like that of DreamHost (read our DreamHost review).
Put simply, cPanel is the best way to manage your site. It operates on Linux, meaning most servers can run it, offers an abundance of power and wraps the entire suite up in an easy to use interface.
It’s also a very nice partner with WordPress. You can see how cPanel and WordPress integrate in our WordPress guides.
1. Best Web Hosting with cPanel: HostGator
HostGator has a proprietary take on cPanel, taking the familiar interface and overhauling it. While this isn’t the last redesign of cPanel on this list, it’s certainly the best, taking the already great design and making it even better.
The look is mostly the same as any other cPanel. You still have categories built on top of each other, with icons inside for each different option. As far as features go, it’s the same cPanel as you’d get with any other host.
However, HostGator implements some of its own features around the main design. For instance, there’s a search bar on top of the cPanel to search for functions within it, and a separate bar on top of the entire page to search HostGator’s knowledge base. A small change, sure, but one that helps you get around even quicker.
The largest inclusion in the cPanel, though, is a link to the MOJO Marketplace. HostGator has a tab on the left-side menu that allows you to go directly to the marketplace without opening another tab. You can browse themes, plugins and more, all within your cPanel.
Other Reasons We Like HostGator
HostGator certainly ranks highly in usability, but that isn’t the only area where this host gains stripes. It ranks as our first choice for best web hosting for small business, and for good reason. The large lineup of plans means this host can accommodate almost any user.
The list feels balanced across the board, granting options at both ends of the price spectrum. Often times, a web host focuses on one of the ends, skewing the entire lineup in that direction. At HostGator, each plan feels balanced for its respective price point, meaning you’re sure to find one that works for you.
HostGator is a one stop shop, and our go-to recommendation for most users. The usability is excellent, yes, but so is every other area of this web host. Read our HostGator review to learn the specifics, or try it out yourself with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Best cPanel redesign
- Large selection of plans
- MOJO Marketplace integration
- Options may be overwhelming
Bluehost comes in as a close second to HostGator. Much like its competitor, Bluehost offers a unique take on cPanel that adds additional features without compromising the ease of use. You still get the icon-based design, with a few upsides, especially for WordPress sites.
The main cPanel area is eerily similar to HostGator’s. The main panel holds all your icons, with a search bar at top for quickly finding what you need. On the left-side, the same menu can be found with a direct link to the MOJO Marketplace.
However, the largest departure for this interface is the integration with WordPress. Bluehost includes a “my sites” tab that allows you to get a quick overview of your WordPress sites, the resources they’re using and the different plugins and themes installed.
This makes managing WordPress an absolute breeze. You can perform many functions normally restricted to the WordPress backend right inside of your cPanel. While it doesn’t apply to everyone, WordPress users will be happy with the amount of options presented here.
Other Reasons We Like Bluehost
Bluehost ranks second on our best web hosting for WordPress list, and that’s largely due to how deeply cPanel integrates with the CMS. You have a massive amount of control over your site without opening another tab, a perk that no other web host can rival.
There are other perks with Bluehost, though. You get access to one of the best support centers we’ve seen from a web host, with options for DIY and direct support. Additionally, WordPress users get a free SSL certificate and SiteLock Pro with any purchase, meaning your site is completely protected.
Bluehost certainly focuses on those seeking inexpensive plans, but at the gain of each plan being far more feature rich. It’s an easy to use web host that gives you all the bells and whistles to get your site off the ground. Read our Bluehost review to learn more, or try it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- cPanel redesign
- MOJO Marketplace integration
- WordPress integration
- No monthly plan
- Focused on inexpensive plans
Once a simple domain registrar, GoDaddy is quickly becoming one of the better web hosts available. The lineup has expanded to quite a long list of offered services, including WordPress and shared hosting. However, what makes all of these plans come together is cPanel.
The look is slightly different than a normal cPanel, but holds the same functionality. The icons, for instance, have a more unified color scheme and are slightly larger on the page than the typical cPanel build.
Unlike HostGator and Bluehost, there is no left-side menu. That means that any sort of WordPress control or access to the MOJO Marketplace is gone. While this con makes GoDaddy rank lower on our list, it isn’t a feature that is sorely missed, especially for non-WordPress users.
GoDaddy instead uses this screen real estate to give you an overview of your resources and how you’re using them. You can see quick stats on your memory limits, CPU usage, number of email addresses and much more right from the main cPanel page.
Other Reasons We Like GoDaddy
GoDaddy wouldn’t be much of a web host if it didn’t have some power behind cPanel, though. Despite the humble roots of the company, there are a surprising amount of features here, including one of the best website builders.
It’s not as powerful as the builder at Wix (read our Wix review) for example, but it’s still quite good. The interface is familiar enough that most inexperienced builders can craft a good looking design pretty quickly.
In addition to the builder, every plan comes with a free domain, a plus at GoDaddy, who has one of the largest selections of domain extensions. You can read our GoDaddy review to learn more about the host, or try it out yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Free website builder
- Largest selection of domain extensions
- A bit slow
4. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting presents a more honest look at cPanel, fussing around very little with the intended design. The left-side menu, whether for additional tabs or resource management, is completely cut, leaving a wide-open look at the options.
For some, this look may work a bit better. There is still some information about your website on the right side of the screen, but most of the real estate is dedicated to the different options. In many ways, this is cPanel in its purest form, presenting you with a ton of power without being too overwhelming.
However, it’s lower on our list for one simple reason: you must access the cPanel through a dedicated customer area. At Bluehost or HostGator, once you login, you land directly in cPanel. Such is not the case at A2, where you instead have to login, and then login to cPanel.
A bit confusing, yes, but also a bit of a nitpick. Despite the slightly clunky process, A2 has an excellent implementation of cPanel. The design manages a ton of information in a small space without being too overwhelming which is quite a feat.
Other Reasons We Like A2 Hosting
The real draw of A2 Hosting are the different options, though. Even more so than HostGator, A2 has a massive lineup, allowing to choose not only your type of hosting, but even the operating system of the server you’re hosted on.
As mentioned above, though, cPanel is Linux only, meaning Windows users will be locked into Plesk Onyx as a means of control. It’s not quite as good as cPanel, but still has a clean, icon-based design that’s not too difficult to figure out.
There is arguably an overabundance of options at A2. However, that also means you can tweak each plan to fit your needs specifically. Read our A2 Hosting review to learn more, or sign up today with an anytime money-back guarantee.
- Windows & Linux servers
- Large selection of plans
- Separate customer area
GreenGeeks is a web host that makes you feel good about starting a website. The eco-friendly company stands in a class of its own, with a dedication to green hosting that few other companies even mention.
Thankfully, it also uses cPanel. The implementation is actually quite a bit dated, with lower resolution icons exposing its age. Even so, the look is perhaps more easy to use. The icons stand out more boldly on the page instead of conforming to a universal color scheme.
On the left side, you can spot a similar layout to GoDaddy, with basic information about resource use and your primary domain. Above that, you’ll find the latest news from GreenGeeks, including any announcements, and below you can select your cPanel theme.
It’s a basic cPanel look and, compared to the redesigns from HostGator and Bluehost, falls a bit short. However, it’s still simplicity at its finest, granting you a clean interface in which to manage your site.
Other Reasons We Like GreenGeeks
GreenGeeks is a unique web host because of its dedication to eco friendly hosting, though. It may not seem like this industry would have much of an impact on the environment, but GreenGeeks claims the web hosting industry will surpass the airline industry in environmental pollution by 2020.
However, the company can’t change the nature of web hosting and the energy it consumes. Instead, GreenGeeks vows to purchase three times the amount of electricity used in wind energy credits to offset the environmental impact.
GreenGeeks is a truly special host and, while it focuses primarily on low power plans, still ranks as one of our best cheap web hosting providers. Read our GreenGeeks review to learn more, or try it out yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Green hosting
- Classic cPanel look
- Only offers low powered plans
Undoubtedly, cPanel should be your first choice for web hosting. While it’s not the only indicator of a good host, it’s certainly a solid one, and we suggest looking for it among the features list of any web host before checking it.
These five hosts are not the only ones that offer cPanel, but they stand head and shoulders above the others, especially HostGator and Bluehost. Which cPanel host is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.