Parallels Plesk and cPanel/WHM: Control Panel FAQs

March 18, 2014 by iWeb Technologies in: Hosting Essentials

Ever wondered what a control panel can do for you, and which control panel to choose? This short guide covers some of the most frequently asked questions about control panels and their alternatives, including control panel definitions, features and benefits, and a comparison between the two most popular control panels: Parallels Plesk Panel and cPanel/WHM.

We love them both, but which one will win out? In the end it’s you who decide!T.i. Joes: Pleask & cPanel

What is a control panel?

Control panels provide a convenient means to perform common server and hosting tasks, like managing files, FTP accounts, email and databases, using a visual interface.

The visual interface provides a more user friendly layout and automated (one-click) functionality. The benefit of this is that performing common tasks becomes a simpler and quicker process, especially for less advanced users.

The features and benefits of a control panel are designed to help both website owners and sellers of shared web hosting (‘resellers’).

What can you do with a control panel?

The broad categories of control panel functionality includes the following areas of system administration and website hosting:

  • Install, update and configure server and CMS software
  • Manage files and FTP
  • Managing and link up server clusters
  • Manage email accounts and servers
  • Manage Domains, DNS, IP and SSH settings
  • Install and manage SSL certificates
  • Manage database software and access
  • View and monitor server resources

Which are the most popular control panels?

The most popular control panels are Parallels Plesk Panel and cPanel/WHM, although many proprietary and open source alternatives are available, and you don’t have to use a control panel at all to manage a server.

Both Parallels Plesk Panel and cPanel/WHM offer suites of features for website owners, server administrators and sellers of shared web hosting (‘resellers’). Both are available when you configure a an iWeb hosting server.

What’s different about Parallels Plesk Panel and cPanel/WHM?

Parallels Plesk

Parallels Plesk includes automation tools specifically aimed at ‘cloud web hosting’ providers, and the wider Parallels product range includes more advanced tools for server virtualization (for the creation of private clouds).

Parallels Plesk


cPanel/WHM actually stands for cPanel and WebHost Manager. With access to both services, there is a clear distinction in the interface between the tools aimed at website managers (cPanel) and those designed to help web hosting companies (WHM). This division of interfaces is a useful bit of UX design for people using one or both of the services separately. cPanel is the most popular control panel.


Both cPanel and Plesk can be used with Windows and Linux OS, although the Windows version of cPanel is called enkompass. Both cPanel and Plesk allow you to access your server console using SSH or a Java Applet .For more information, take a look at the full list of features for cPanel/WHM and Parallels Plesk.

What are the alternatives to using a control panel?

The main alternative (and, in fact complementary) methods of server administration are accessing the server console using a secure shell (SSH) or to access the server OS via a remote desktop. The latter is usually for Windows Server, which has a more extensive graphical interface.

SSH is the most common way to directly access the console (terminal), and your hosting provider should provide SSH access, although not all cloud server providers offer this ‘root’ access. When you deploy either an iWeb dedicated server or cloud server, you receive both your server IP addresses and your SSH access details, the latter for root access to the server console where you have full system administration rights and possibilities.

Some hosting providers, including iWeb, offer another level of control showing server and account details and usage. In the case of the iWeb Control Center, you can link up your Smart Servers or Cloud Servers, view and monitor server resources, configure server backup, deploy volume snapshots and much more. These services can be very convenient when used in tandem with SSH access and/or your choice of control panel.

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