The growing popularity of virtual private server (VPS) solutions among businesses in the U.S. and around the world has led to an expanded array of choices in VPS control panels. These interfaces allow the end user to customize, update and administer their websites. Essentially, the VPS control panel system is the access point for the website owner or IT administrator to manage all aspects of the web hosting process on the VPS. Choosing the right control panel is an important element in the ultimate success of the website, so it is vital to find an interface that offers the necessary and desired functionality while remaining easy to use and flexible for end users who may not have a high degree of computing expertise. While Plesk and cPanel are the undisputed leaders in the marketplace, several other contenders have stepped up to challenge their dominance and offer some significant advantages for web hosting applications.
Billed as the most complete control panel on the market, Parallels Plesk Panel is designed to provide a wide range of functions in an easy-to-understand interface. While added features mean added complexity for the end user, the Plesk system does offer a full lineup of add-ons and utilities to make their control panel even more useful and provide added customization opportunities for users. Plesk is preferred over cPanel for Windows by most professional web administrators, but DNS management and virtualized hypervisor solutions make Plesk’s control panel an outstanding choice for server management whether they run on Linux or Windows operating systems.
With unparalleled ease of use, point-and-click convenience and an intuitive GUI, cPanel is one of the most popular VPS control panel choices in the world. Users can easily create and manage all aspects of a MySQL database, manage email accounts, incorporate an auto-responder function, set up subdomains and directories and manage password protection for those locations and even add domains to the existing website structure, all with the flexibility clients need to manage their websites effectively. For Linux systems, cPanel and WebHost Manager are considered to be the state of the art in control panels, while the Windows version of cPanel, Enkompass, is somewhat less popular and provides a solid basis for most website maintenance tasks.
The major selling point for DirectAdmin control panel software is its exceptionally low memory footprint, which allows it to run almost invisibly in a smaller VPS hosting environment. DirectAdmin is significantly less expensive than the two market leaders as well, making it a viable alternative for companies looking to save money and manage their space and memory requirements more effectively in the VPS marketplace. While lacking some of the features of the two market leaders, DirectAdmin web control panel interfaces are extremely easy to use and may be preferred by novice web administrators.
Designed to perform in the UNIX environment, Webmin is a web-based suite of system administration applications that also includes the Virtualmin and Cloudmin modules. Users can access the administration control panel through the integrated console or remotely through the internet, making Webmin a solid choice for UNIX administrators who want added flexibility in their interface options.
While lacking some of the versatility of the cPanel system, Interworx provides added security by installing Advanced Policy Firewall along with the base software package. This allows out-of-the-box protection and added security for the VPS; however, the interface and options may be overwhelming for some novice users.
Designed specifically to work within the VPS hosting environment, Solus Virtual Manager (SolusVM) provides outstanding cluster control through its easy-to-use interface. Point and click convenience allows administrators to schedule automated backups, manage security settings and create hierarchies for the entire sales and administrative team that offer real chain-of-command workflow solutions for business uses.
Parallels Pro Control Panel (Formerly Ensim Pro)
With a well-organized interface and an outstanding spam filter feature, Ensim rivals cPanel in its array of features and can be implemented in both Windows and Linux VPS environments. However, Ensim offers fewer appearance customization options for its clients than Plesk or cPanel, which may limit its appeal for some clients and end users.