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cPanel vs DirectAdmin vs Webmin

Whether you’re brand new to the web hosting world or a seasoned expert, chances are you’ve already used a control panel to manage your site. But choosing the correct control panel isn’t always easy. Different features, different prices, and different specialties – combined with the fact that there are dozens of panels out there at every price point – can all make the choice feel a little overwhelming. How do you know which control panel is best for you?

A control panel is nothing more than a simple way to manage your web hosting. It makes it easier to perform everyday tasks like adding email addresses or setting up FTP access. Depending on the options you choose, a control panel can even install, update, and remove applications for you. Put simply, a control panel exists for the sole purpose of making your life easier.

At Fresh Roasted Hosting, we offer three of the most popular control panels: cPanel, DirectAdmin, and Webmin. We think these three offer the best combination of simplicity and flexibility, while still being fairly easy to use. Let’s see what each one has to offer:

cPanel

cPanel is the cream of the crop. If control panels were coffee, cPanel would use freshly-roasted beans ground to perfection and carefully crafted using the pourover method in your favorite local coffee house. It’s powerful, and its simple, intuitive design means those who have never hosted before can pick it up quickly. It’s also wildly popular, which greatly simplifies the task of migrating from one web host to another. And if you use our shared hosting packages, we include cPanel for free.

DirectAdmin

DirectAdmin is easily the best compromise between price and simplicity. It’s a less expensive option than cPanel, but still covers all the basics. The ethos behind the control panel is to be lightweight (thus using fewer resources), which results in a slightly less polished interface. Despite – or perhaps because of – this interface, DirectAdmin remains very popular and costs about one-half to one-third the price of cPanel.

Continuing the coffee analogy from above, DirectAdmin would be like coffee made from high-quality grounds in your home coffee maker. It might not be as perfect as that pourover cup from your local coffee house, but it’s still plenty good – and much less expensive.

Webmin

Webmin is free, extremely flexible, and extremely lean. It runs on servers that would normally choke on cPanel or DirectAdmin. It’s built to get things done without being “pretty”. In short, it’s the perfect example of function over form.

But there’s a catch: Webmin isn’t really meant to be a direct competitor to cPanel or DirectAdmin. For that, you’ll need to purchase Webmin’s sister system, Virtualmin (which will set you back less than $20 / year).  Webmin is more of a control panel for system administration.

Yet despite not being a clone of cPanel or DirectAdmin (or perhaps because of it), Webmin remains wildly popular with system administrators who want the convenience of a control panel without any fluff getting in the way. And did I mention it’s free?

Webmin isn’t recommended for inexperienced users. It lacks the user-friendliness of cPanel or DirectAdmin, and its interface is extremely basic. But if you know your way around a server, Webmin is an extremely powerful and flexible time saver that is worth every penny! We can wrap up the coffee analogy by saying Webmin is like instant coffee. It’s fast, it gets the job done without “looking pretty” or “being trendy”, and it’s dirt cheap.

At the end of the day, choices with control panels all boil down to budgeting and personal preference. You can’t go wrong with any of the above (though we recommend cPanel or DirectAdmin for new users), and we’re always happy to help you pick out the perfect panel!

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