cPanel is by far the most popular control panel for server and website management to date. It’s been around for over two decades. By now, virtually everyone in the hosting industry has either worked with cPanel or at least encountered it as their web host’s control panel of choice.
That being said, it tends to surprise a lot of our new users when they find out that cPanel isn’t free – let alone how expensive it is. In fact, some argue that cPanel is looking to punish smaller companies and individual developers the most, with their single-license plans starting at $15/month which is more than most users pay per month for their servers. cPanel’s pricing policy is now account-based which makes it extremely expensive especially for resellers.
Aside from that, for most, cPanel just isn’t the best option available anymore. So – without further ado, let’s take a look at all of the best cPanel alternatives and help you make an informed decision...
Self-Hosted vs SaaS cPanel Alternatives
When looking for a cPanel alternative, the first decision you’ll need to make is to choose between self-hosted and SaaS options.
Self-hosted control panels are usually free to use or require a lower-cost license. These options are typically geared towards people more experienced with server management & the software has to be installed on your server with your VPS hosting provider of choice.
Self-hosting means you are the owner of the software, and you (or your IT team) are also responsible for operating and maintaining it This is a good option for big companies that need reinforced security and stability or smaller entities with more advanced IT knowledge.
The “software as a service” (SaaS) alternatives, on the other hand, which are growing in popularity, are particularly useful if you intend on running specific software such as a content management system like WordPress. Due to their monthly billing, most of our favorite SaaS cPanel alternatives which we’ll cover in this post, also come with excellent support for those who are new to VPS hosting.
Unlike with the self-hosted options, installations are typically hassle-free and require running a simple script to connect your VPS to their hosted server control panel. These platforms are extremely user-friendly because updates, maintenance, and security are left in the hands of true, full-time dedicated professionals.
What To Consider In Your Search For The Best cPanel Alternative
Before we start looking at the best available options, you need to set some expectations. Ask yourself – what are you looking for in a cPanel alternative?
Support for Linux Distributions
First of all, you’ll need to consider whether the control panel is compatible with your sever’s operating system. If you have a Linux-based OS, for example, this could be Ubuntu. If you end up choosing a self-hosted cPanel alternative, you’ll, therefore, need to make sure that the control panel can be installed on your server and if you chose a hosted (SaaS) alternative, you’ll need to make sure that the install script is compatible with your server’s specifications and Linux distribution.
Functionality & Integrations
If you are currently using cPanel and looking for alternatives, you may lean towards choosing options that provide you with most (if not all) of the functionality that you’re used to – such as email, FTP, databases, backups, managing domains and easily deploying web applications.
While this is definitely going to be convenient if you’re an existing cPanel user, we actually don’t recommend relying on your server control panel for absolutely everything. Especially some of the hosted cPanel alternatives, won’t include functionality such as email. This is done for performance reasons which is why we recommend using G Suite instead.
Ease-Of-Use, Support, and Pricing
And last but certainly not least, you’ll also want to consider ease-of-use, support, and pricing. Especially if you’re new to managing your own servers, the support & ease-of-use of options like RunCloud and SpinupWP are well worth the added cost as they’ll be able to help you diagnose advanced issues with your content management systems and step in if backups start failing. If you are using a self-hosted server control panel, this would be something that you would have to handle.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s dive in – and compare the very best cPanel alternatives out there...
ApisCP is a fully self-hosted server control panel that was built by a hosting company that just wasn’t satisfied with what cPanel offered its customers. This server control panel combines years of experience and a wealth of knowledge rolled up into best practices to achieve higher throughput, lower TTFB, fewer burnt CPU cycles, and denser servers.
Installing ApisCP is extremely simple and they now even support migrations directly from cPanel. So if you’re currently using cPanel to manage your servers or are with a hosting provider that forces you to use cPanel, you can easily migrate away and start self-hosting on your own servers with ApisCP. ApisCP is built by Apis Networks and was started as a control panel for their hosting company back in 2002 – so it really was built by the community for the community. As an alternative, ApisCP is noticeably (as well as deliberately) different from cPanel in the way it was designed from the ground up for performance & security. It definitely can be daunting when you’re just getting started but thanks to their extensive documentation and supportive communities on Discourse and Discord, you’ll definitely find people more than ready to help you in the unlikely event that you run into issues or can’t find something.
According to their developers, the main focus is security. The software has even received a recommendation from Rack911 – a penetration testing firm – who said it performed very well in their security audit.
This control panel is compatible with Linux distributions as well. It offers a ten-year support cycle for RHEL and CentOS, and a five-year cycle to Ubuntu systems.
- Free 30-day trial
- $30/year Mini Licence
- $50/year Startup Licence
- $20/month Pro Licence
RunCloud is a cloud server control panel that runs on the SaaS model & focuses on PHP web applications such as WordPress.
Installing RunCloud takes you through the process of making an account and then running an installation script they provide you with to connect your server to your RunCloud dashboard. You’ll need to SSH into your server as root first in order to run this script but once you’ve completed the installation, you’ll be able to perform actions such as install web apps, create backups & more all directly from RunCloud…
Although their platform is far from young, they are still constantly working to improve their solution and ensure it offers everything people need to manage their cloud servers. As is common for any online business – in their early days, they attracted a few negative reviews as a result of their customer service at the time. Members of the SSD Nodes team have however since tried RunCloud and can report that this is no longer the case. Their team has since taken significant steps to improve their support quality as well as document common issues in their knowledgebase.
It includes a free 5-day trial, as well as the following paid options:
Annual payment options (first 2 months free)
- Basic license at $6.67/month
- Pro license at $12.5/month
- Business license at $37.5/month
Monthly payment options
- Basic license at $8/month
- Pro license at $15/month
- Business license at $45/month
RunCloud’s unique take on simplifying managing servers & self-hosting web applications on your own servers which were once too complicated for most has made it possible for virtually everyone to be able to take advantage of superior hosting without the unreasonable costs. Fortunately, they offer a 5-day free trial (no credit card required) so all you’d need to bring along is an SSD Nodes server with Ubuntu 20.04, 16.04, or 18.04 x86_64 installed (all of which we offer).
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