cpanel for beginners

The Complete Guide to cPanel for New Website Owners

If you’re in the beginning stages of creating your first website, it’s likely you’ve come across the term cPanel at some point. In fact, it’s highly likely that the web host you’re using for your small business, eCommerce shop, or blog uses cPanel to give you a clear, easy interface to manage your website from.

Still not sure what we’re talking about?

Whether you have no idea what cPanel is, or are just struggling to navigate it from your hosting account, you’re in the right spot. Today we’re going to explore everything that cPanel has to offer website owners just like you.

So, let’s get started!

What is cPanel?

cPanel hosting is web hosting for your website that uses the Linux operating system and includes the cPanel platform for managing your website and hosting account from one convenient location. In other words, cPanel is a control panel that makes otherwise difficult tasks (that would normally require programming) easy.

Here are just some of the things cPanel helps you do:

  • Troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with your computer
  • Managing FTP accounts for uploading files locally
  • Uploading files directly to your server
  • Adding and managing new domains and subdomains to your hosting account
  • Installing software such as WordPress (a content management system)
  • Boosting site security to protect you, your site, and your visitors’ information
  • Creating and managing new databases to store content

cPanel is not the only control panel available when it comes to web hosting. In fact, many web hosting providers employ their own custom control panel to rival the functionality of cPanel. That said, it is suggested that cPanel is the most widely used and user-friendly.

So, let’s see just what’s inside a typical cPanel.

cPanel Interface: Basic Overview

To access cPanel, the first thing you’ll need to do is log into your hosting account. For this example, we’ll use SiteGround, an exceptional web host that uses cPanel.

cpanel log in

When you click the cPanel button, you’ll be taken to your hosting account’s control panel. Though not every cPanel will look identical, you will notice that the basic interface is divided into different sections such as Domains, Autoinstallers, Files, and Security.

cpanel sections

Within each section will be the various tools you can use.

If you’re look for something specific, and aren’t sure where to find it, you can always use the built-in search function.

cpanel search function

cPanel Sections: A Closer Look at the Most Important Tools

Now that you know what the cPanel home looks like, it’s time to dive into the most important sections and what they have to offer website owners.

Domains

cpanel domains

When you sign up for web hosting, you’ll need to configure at least one domain name. After all, without a domain name, your website can’t exist on the internet. This domain, or URL, will always be your primary domain.

If your web hosting plan allows, you might be able to add these types of domain names:

  • Subdomains: domains that are additions to your primary domain. For example, if my site is “example.com”, I might create a subdomain called “blog.example.com.”
  • Addon Domains: domains that are entirely separate from your primary domain. This is for those times you want to have more than one website and manage them all from the same hosting account.

In the Domains section of cPanel you can add subdomains, addon domains, and even manage the domains you have in your account.

AutoInstallers

cpanel autoinstallers

One of the best features your web hosting provider can offer you is a software autoinstaller. This tool will help you install WordPress, or any other number of helpful software, so you can begin building your website.

Here are some of the most popular one-click installers found in popular web hosts:

  • Joomla
  • WordPress
  • Magento
  • PrestaShop
  • phpBB3

In addition, you’ll usually find an autoinstaller called Softaculous, which is an autoinstaller that comes with a ton of software you can easily add to your website such as image galleries, forums, and much more.

softaculous autoinstaller

Mail

cpanel mail

As the owner of a website, it’s important you give site visitors an easy way to stay in touch when they have questions or concerns. One popular method of opening the lines of communication with people is to use email. But the thing is, a Gmail account isn’t always the most professional looking. That’s why you might want to create your own email address that matches your site’s domain name.

For example, if my site was called “example.com,” I would create an email in cPanel with the name support@example.com.

mail in cpanel

In this section of cPanel, common features include:

  • Email account creation and management
  • Webmail setup for sending and receiving emails
  • Spam protection
  • Autoresponders
  • Email authentication
  • Forwarders
  • Default address

Files

cpanel files

cPanel helps you upload files to your web server in two ways:

  • File Manager: this tool lets you upload files from your hosting account using your web browser. It doesn’t require a third-party program, making it extremely convenient.
  • FTP Accounts: this will allow you to connect to your web server locally using an FTP client such as Filezilla. You will need to get your FTP account credentials from your hosting account to use an FTP client.

Being able to make changes to your website using the file manager or and FTP account ensures you don’t make changes to your site that create issues. Instead, you can make changes in a secure environment and upload the files to your live site once you know everything works right.

Security

cpanel security

The last section we’re going to talk about is the Security section. Again, every web host is different when it comes to the type of security features available to website owners. For example, SiteGround gives all users access to a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for all domains and subdomains.

ssl certificate cpanel

In addition, you’ll also be able to do the following:

  • Password protect directories
  • Access the IP address deny manager
  • Set up hotlink protection
  • Run a site security check
  • Manage SSL certificates

Site security is crucial to maintaining a successful website. If you’re lucky, your cPanel will also give you access to website backup tools for preserving your website just in case it crashed or is hijacked by cybercriminals.

cpanel backup

Wrapping Up

And there you have it! You now know how to navigate the most essential parts of cPanel so that when you launch your first website, you know exactly how to access the tools you need. Are you looking for a web hosting provider that offers cPanel to its users? Some of the top contenders include SiteGround, Bluehost, and HostGator.

If you’re ready to launch your first website, but find yourself on a tight budget, then make sure to check out this guide to building a website for cheap and get started today.

Do you use a web hosting provider that uses cPanel? Is so, we’d love to hear why you love it in the comments below!

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