Plesk vs cPanel – two hosting control panels compared

When it comes to web hosting control panels, Plesk vs cPanel comparison is something you may think about. Apart of DirectAdmin, ISPConfig and Webmin, both cPanel and Plesk has long history on the market of server management tools.

About Plesk and cPanel

Plesk has helped system administrators for over 10 years. Because of its user-friendly interface and wide set of features, admins can manage their servers more efficiently. The latest Plesk is available in Windows and Linux and is designed to work unobtrusively, manage performance and gatekeep in the shadows.


Plesk Onyx

cPanel first appeared in 1996. As its a pioneer in this market, cPanel still has a dedicated fanbase for its obsolete products. Even though its current offering is called cPanel 68. Newer iterations of this popular solution are a kind of welding together of cPanel. This facilitates customer account management and Web Host Manager (WHM) which tackles server administration.



Plesk vs cPanel – Usability

CLI (command line interface) is an option for each of these interfaces. But most users will no doubt want to unlock their goodies via the GUI (graphical user interface).

Most users favour Plesk over cPanel for its tidier GUI, which makes it simpler to understand and more intuitive to use. Its approach is to group tools on the left of the screen – as that’s the side people start reading from. And you can find more options buried under each tool.

cPanel’s approach comes from the ‘garden shed’ approach to GUI design. Because the designers seem to have just thrown everything in there and shut the door. The redeeming feature that helps it claw back some points in the Plesk vs cPanel contest is that you can modify the interface to suit your own preferences.

Security – Plesk or cPanel?

Both solutions boast a variety of features designed to make servers bulletproof. Or at least, safe from incursions by nefarious bots and their human handlers.

But Plesk offers features such as fail2ban – which prevents intrusions, active directory integration, and spam defence for email. Meanwhile, cPanel offers automatic installation of SSL certificates, directories with password protection and IP address denials.

Best Features – cPanel or cPanel alternative, Plesk

So, Plesk or cPanel in terms of variety of features? Plesk and cPanel give clients identical features to manage accounts and servers. Users can configure DNS settings ( read about name servers setup ), manage email accounts and databases. And they also get FTP (File Transfer Protocol) facilities. The cPanel experience can be bolstered with extra apps. But Plesk hits the ground running with straight-out-of-the-box access to more helpful apps and extensions.

Plesk, as cPanel alternative, supports Docker for Linux, putting the 200,000 image Docker catalogue at their users’ fingertips through the web hosting control panel. And Gitman extension makes Git use a feature too. In contrast, cPanel users can only enjoy the same experience via complicated workarounds. Which may not really be ideal.

Plesk vs cPanel: Distros

As we said before, Plesk runs on both Linux and Windows Server, while cPanel is a Linux-only deal. True, you can achieve Windows-server-compatibility, but only via certain tweaking and fiddling.

CentOS, CloudLinux and RedHat Enterprise Linux are the only OS incarnations supported by cPanel. In contrast, Plesk works with 14 Linux distros that include Debian, CentOS, and Ubuntu. This in addition to being compatible with Windows servers.

Solutions Plesk Onyx cPanel/WHM
OS compatibility Both Linux and Windows operating systems are supported.
  • Windows family: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012)
  • Linux family: Debian, CentOS, Ubuntu, Cloudlinux 6-7, Virtuozzo, Red Hat Enterprise 6-7
cPanel is Linux control panel. Supported distributives: CentOS, Cloud Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Web servers Apache, NGINX with caching Apache with Nginx caching
Administration Unified authorization procedure for users and administrators. cPanel basically consists of cPanel and WHM – WHM is accessible only for server-related administrational tasks. cPanel access gives control only over website.
Interface Modern UX/UI based on React.Js. Built-in ready to code environment with support of Javascript, PHP, Perl, Ruby On Rails, Python, Java and .NET. User-friendly interface with full control over majority of cPanel/WHM features. Availability of command line and API-based access as the way to automate administrational tasks.
Security A lot of security features are provided from the box e.g. Plesk Firewall, Revisium Antivirus, Fail2ban AutoSSL, cPHulk, built-in support of CSF/LFD and some other useful features
WordPress support WP Toolkit provides full list of automation & management features vital for the scalable WordPress infrastructure support. cPanel’s WordPress Manager is far away from perfection.
Extensions/Add-ons Plesk comes with ecosystem of various extensions, covering all possible needs of any server administrator. Among these extensions are Security Advisor, WP Toolkit, Joomla! Toolkit, Let’s Encrypt SSL support, SEO Toolkit etc. Extra apps are available via auto-installers.
DBMS MySQL / MariaDB / MSSQL Server databases can be managed via web browser. MySQL/MariaDB databases management via web interface
SSL Let’s Encrypt + Symantec AutoSSL with Let’s Encrypt
Mobile accessibility
Backups Ready to use solutions based on Dropbox, Acronis, Google Drive Compatibility issues can be spotted between various cPanel backup versions.
Technologies Support of Docker, Git, Node.js, WP Toolkit Docker, Node.Js & Git can be still supported by cPanel, however workaround here is sophisticated

Plesk vs cPanel – what’s your decision?

After reading this far, it’s obvious that your ideal web hosting control panel will be largely dictated by your server’s OS. But as a human who has to use an interface every day, you want to choose the one that makes your life easier. With 100+ extensions and a more intuitive interface, Plesk seems like the current winner. Though both solutions are feature-rich, the Plesk vs cPanel face-off must be won by the new kid on the block.


  1. I found plesk to be easier and more user friendly

  2. I prefer cPanel myself. When Plesk breaks, it really breaks. CPanel has started offering Git and integrates nicely with CSF/LFD. They aren’t focusing on adapting to many OSs but rather are conquering one. CPanel also offers more in terms of APIs so I can work via ssh with the panel all day if I want. CPanel also offers way more consistency between upgrades. With Plesk, you really have no idea what to expect with each upgrade. Version changes may as well be complete panel changes. Being consistent while adapting and innovating is definitely where CPanel shines over Plesk. CPanel support is far, far better., too. Just look at their forums versus those for Plesk. It doesn’t help matters that Plesk jumped their cost by a billion percent, either.

  3. I’m planning to use PLESK/CPANEL vs MS EXCHANGE for just email hosting and group collaboration. Does anyone have views on which is better for that purpose? I would appreciate any insight.

    Key features needed:
    Strong Anti-spam
    Reliability and robustness

    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Mel! You should go for Plesk, without a shadow of a doubt 🙂 Our Plesk Premium Email, powered by Kolab extension provides a great secure and self-hosted online office. And you can add on extra cool tools to make your experience even better: Sync and share files with Seafile, stay connected to your team with Mattermost, co-create with Collabora Online, and keep emails safe from spam and viruses with Plesk Email Security. Fancy giving it a go? Find out more about Plesk Premium Email here.

  4. I’ve just started a trial of Plesk and I must say I’m impressed. With the recent cPanel price increases, I’m certainly going to use Plesk on my next production VM I spin up for customers.


    I am a total Newbie that has just had my Domain and my FIRST Business Website Theme set up on WordPress…via my Hosting Provider Control Panel…PLESK and it was all “Done For Me” (D.F.Y.) as part of a course/system purchase deal!

    But NOW that the D.F.Y. bit is over (the basic theme having been setup FOR me, as part of a course I have purchased!)…it is now MY responsibility to…”set up the API key for the Google Map and Auto Lead Importer to work”.

    THIS is where I am in trouble: The instructional Videos that come WITH the course I have purchased, on
    how to make changes in my WordPress setup…are ALL done using “cPanel” and there is NO similarity
    with “Plesk” and “cPanel” LAYOUTS of where all the necessary “tools” are, so as I watch the video on “setting up my API Key”, I am at a total LOSS to “follow” those instructions…using the “PLESK” control panel!

    What can you do to help me with this, as I am completely “STUMPED”!!!

    Regards: DAVID MAHONEY (Melbourne, Australia).

  6. Hello,

    I want to install Plesk on my servers. Question is I want a website only server and Premium emails only server with multiple domains there. Is that possible?

    • Louis Vanfraechem
      Louis Vanfraechem Moderator

      It is certainly possible to have two instances of Plesk, one for your website, and another for your email infrastructure with Premium Email for multiple domains. In case of doubt, do not hesitate to reach out to our, it is a pleasure to assist you further. Thank you, and enjoy Plesk.

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