Using cPanel for Managing Services
WHM (Web Hosting Manager) is the core program that has administrative access to the back-end of cPanel. With WHM you can create cPanel accounts and set global settings that apply to them or the server. You can also create reseller accounts and offer hosting services to clients or you can use it for your own personal needs. cPanel on the other hand is the website management panel and allows you to create databases, email accounts, FTP users, add-on domains, subdomains etc. Each individual cPanel account controls the settings for that particular account.
WHM/cPanel with it's easy to use interface is perfect for managing services such as MySQL, BIND, Apache etc. You can create databases, add domains to Apache's configuration, create and modify DNS records for your domains, configure your services, manage the PHP version and modules, implement security rules and many more features with just a few clicks. The control panel, to a point, replaces the common system administrator that you will have to hire to configure and manage your server.
So in this article we will scratch the surface of cPanel and explain some basic features that services like Apache, MySQL, Exim+Dovecot (cPanel's mail server trusted buddies) provide.
Probably at this point you are wondering, OK, how can I have cPanel? Well, there are two ways for acquiring a cPanel account. One is to purchase WHM and then create your cPanel account, another is to purchase shared hosting from companies that offer such with cPanel as control panel. We at RoseHosting offer both shared and fully-managed VPS hosting with cPanel and our support team is online 24/7.
How To Log Into Cpanel?
Logging into cPanel can be accomplished by navigating your favorite web browser to either https://your_server_IP:2083 or https://your_domain.com:2083. You've probably noticed that I've just provided the URLs that go via the HTTPS protocol. Accessing cPanel through HTTPS is recommended, even though on some servers a self-signed certificate is used. However, if you wish to access cPanel via HTTTP then use the port 2082 in the URL.
I Am Logged In. What Now?
As you can see from the interface there are several sections which correspond with the respective service on your VPS. You have Files, Databases, Domains, Email, Metrics, Security etc. Of course these sections can vary since some companies use a custom setup of cPanel.
Below is a picture with some of the sections we described into a cPanel account that uses the paper_lantern theme.
Most of the options are pretty straightforward. You can check the account's disk usage by clicking on (you've probably guessed it, yes) Disk Usage.
You need to use FTP to upload data to your server? Click on FTP accounts, create one and use FileZilla or any other FTP client to connect to your server. If you don't know how to configure FileZilla, CoreFTP or Cyberduck then cPanel has a solution for you. Next to each FTP account you have the "Configure FTP Client" action menu and when you click on it you will get to choose from three configuration files for FTP clients to suit your needs.
Another great feature that cPanel offers is the File Manager which is exactly as the name suggests. A manager that can be used to organize and edit your account files and directories. Think of it as some kind of an FTP client GUI that with it's ease of use enables you to modify files, change permissions, extract and compress files/directories, upload and download data etc.
What if you want to password protect some directories in the account? Then use Directory Privacy. It will allow you to prevent access to directories of your choice so when a user tries to view the content in the protected directory, he will be prompted for a username and password.
And of course we cannot forget one of the most important things to have when running a server - backup. Using cPanel's Backup Wizard you can make a partial or a full backup of the account in question. So when something goes horribly wrong, then you can easily restore the account/website/app functionality from the latest working backup.
Once you are in the backup wizard you will find two options as shown below:
So by clicking on the Backup button you will start a creating backup process which later in the second step you can choose whether to be full or partial and then download it to your local machine. The backup will be stored in the /home directory on your server.
Restoring a backup is easy-peasy. Just click on Restore, select the restore type and then upload the backup from your local machine.
How To Create A Database From Cpanel?
It is pretty simple actually. Locate the Database section and click on ‘MySQL Database Wizard’. A window will open where you can create a new database, database user, modify user privileges over a database and add a user to it's respective database. The steps are presented with the below images:
When in need of editing a database use phpMyadmin. You just need to click on phpMyAdmin and you will be redirected to this very useful tool's interface.
How Can I Create Another Domain?
Let's go to our next topic, Domains. This sections is all about the names that represent your website, domains. Every cPanel account has one main domain that it is configured during the account creation.
Now what if you want to host another domain (website) in the same cPanel account? The name of this feature pretty much says it all: Addon Domains. Using Addon Domains you can create another domain and configure the document root for the data according to your needs.
You can also create subdomains if that is needed.
Aliases serve in cases when you want to use an alternative domain that has no content to point to another that you use. Cases such as holding a domain that you want to sell later or when you want to redirect traffic to another domain.
The Redirects are similar to an extent. Using them you can send all your domain visitors to a particular page or a different URL. For example, you have a long URL but you want your visitors to enter a shorter URL, They can do that if you configure the redirect from the short to the long URL.
There are two types of redirects:
- Permanent (301);
- Temporary (302).
This feature is very useful for webmasters. To a user these types of redirects seem to work the same way, but as far as search engines are concerned they are very different. A 301 redirect means that the page has permanently moved to a new location while a 302 redirect is only temporary. Search engines need to know whether to keep the old page or to replace it with the one that is hosted elsewhere. SEO wise, almost always it is recommended to use a 301 redirect.
When managing domains DNS is essential. The DNS records for a given domain define to which server is the domain pointed, which server handles the domain emails, whether the domain has DKIM and SPF records etc. In cPanel there is the Simple Zone Editor that can be used to manage the records if the domain's authoritative DNS servers are set to the ones from the server on which the cPanel account is hosted.
Creating and using email accounts for your domain has never be easier. cPanel has a default email server in place which is very useful for users that are not that Linux savvy. Configuring a mail server on your own can cause some headaches along the way.
From the Email section you can create email accounts for your domain/s. Your users can create autoresponders for when they cannot be reached and set email filters for specific accounts. What a great and easy way to have email for your domain, right?
The Metrics section is useful when the webmaster or user needs to view the logs of the domain and especially useful when debugging a problem. One can also monitor the bandwidth that the cPanel account uses and access some raw log files if needed.
A good security is a must considering the many exploits and attacks that are happening on a daily basis. In the security section you can configure a firewall and block malicious IP addresses, leech protect a directory which allows you to detect unusual levels of activity in password-restricted directories on your site.
An SSL certificate for the domains that are hosted in the cPanel account can be installed using the SSL/TLS option where you also manage the existing SSL certificates and sites.
This article clearly shows you why cPanel is so popular and why it is used by users all around the world. There's a lot of resources and documentation you can read on their official website or you can just ask your hosting provider to help you.