25 January 2018 Reading time: 7 minutes

Our guide to hosting and web server control panels: ISPmanager, Plesk, cPanel and others


Web server control panel is an interface allowing to work with your web server from the web browser. Inexperienced users utilize control panels to add domains, install CMS, upload files, while the experienced administrators have it to manage a few websites on the hosting and solve typical tasks more swiftly.

In this article we’re going to compare a few control panels working on Linux.

We will have a closer look at website management features (FTP account creation, domain addition, databases and mail) as well as features for managing different websites (user resources allocation).

All control panels are to be integrated with website security and stability programs.

Let’s consider seven control panels: ISPmanager, Plesk, cPanel, Webmin, ISPconfig, Ajenti, Vesta.


Linux control panel from ISPsystem

ISPmanager is a Linux control panel from ISPsystem. It has two versions. Both versions are unlimited in users or domains.

ISPmanager Lite can set up your web server for your website: Install a CMS, add web domains and DNS, upload files, work with databases (MySQL and PostgreSQL). ISPmanager Lite users can easily install free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, free nameservers from Cloudflare, popular web apps through Softaculous, protection from Virusdie and DDoS-GUARD. You can also change PHP and MySQL versions. IPv6 is supported.

ISPmanager Business is developed for hosting management. It allows to set limits for users and track resources consumption. You can manage a cluster of servers and assign different roles to your cluster nodes. CloudLinux integration module improves server stability and performance.

ISPmanager Lite costs €4 per month, ISPmanager Business — €12 per month. Additional modules are be paid separately.


Web server control panel on Linux and Windows

Plesk is a web server control panel on Linux and Windows. It supports Github and Docker and provides development tools with Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails etc. Plesk has three versions.

Web Admin edition is designed for website owners and admins. It allows adding not more than 10 domains. With this version, you can set up your web server, mail, DNS, and database servers. It supports only one language; if you want to add more, you need to pay for the additional module. You can also add tools for WordPress, antivirus, development kit, and CloudFlare.

Plesk Web Pro allows for 30 domains and supports subscription and account management. It works better for customer website hosting. WordPress support and development kit are included in the price. Additional features are paid. The third version, Web Host, is for hosting providers. It doesn’t have domain limits and has reseller management.

Plesk Web Admin Edition costs from €8 per month, developer version costs from €12 per month, for hosting providers - from €20 per month. Each paid addon costs from 5€ per month.


cPanel works on Linux only

cPanel works on Linux only. It has the pretty high price and severe feature limits in different versions.

cPanel Solo, the basic version, can be used for one server and one user. With it you can add domains and subdomains, set up DNS, redirects, upload files, and create databases (MySQL и PostgreSQL). You can also view logs and add the 3rd party applications.

In VPS version, administrators can create additional user accounts, set up protection, track server status, establish data transfer and backups.

Dedicated Server version is needed for dedicated server management. It has branding and integrations with solutions of other companies.

cPanel Solo costs $15 per month. VPS — $20, Dedicated Server — $45.


Open source software complex

It is an open source software complex. Not the best solution for inexperienced users, while the experienced admins might not get enough functionality they need.

Webmin has dozens of modules for server settings. It supports Apache virtual server management, DNS, databases and mailboxes creation, has the file manager, but doesn’t allow to change PHP or MySQL version.

You have to install Apache and other services manually via CLI to be able to manage them. Nginx is not supported.

Virtualmin is an add-on to Webmin. It allows to manage a few virtual hosts via one interface. Cloudmin can manage virtual systems on Xen, KVM and OpenVZ.

All control panels are available for free.



ISPconfig is another open source software complex for hosting management, which is also not very friendly to newcomers.

ISPconfig is difficult to install and set up. You have to install the required software over CLI before installing the control panel itself. There are over 20 different installation guides for ISPconfig, depending on goals of the web server administrator.

This control panel has three levels: administrator, reseller, and user. It can operate one or a few virtual or physical servers (cluster) and is able to set up Apache2/nginx and add domains, mail, create FTP users, MySQL databases etc. Also it supports APS which makes it easier to install popular web scripts and apps.

The control panel is free. Full documentation access costs $5.



Ajenti is an open source project for inexperienced users, with an easy-to-use interface.

The main control panel can manage server but doesn’t work for hosting management. For this, developers created another plugin called Ajenti V (still in beta). It uses nginx + php-fpm and supports WSGI, Unicorn, Puma, Node.js. Also this control panel can automatically set up mail (Exim 4 with Courier IMAP), including virtual mailboxes, DKIM, DMARC and SPF.

This product is written in Python. You can develop your own extensions by using the rich API. However, Ajenti is not developed that fast in comparison with other open source projects. The latest update on Github has been made in September 2017, four months ago.



VestaCP is also an open source project. It can manage a single web server or help create web hosting.

VestaCP supports nginx + Apache, nginx + php-fpm, as well as single Apache. It can manage mail, databases, FTP, create backups and set up Firewall. It has integration with CloudFlare. Additional functionality can be added via the API.

Server administrators can add users and limit their rights. However, the control panel cannot create or manage a cluster of servers.

All basic features are free. File manager costs $3/mo., support is $60/hour, SFTP connection is $1/mo.