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The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding cPanel

If you’re just getting started setting up your very first website, then you’re probably going to need to use cPanel. Most current web hosts use cPanel, so if you’re not using it now, you’ll probably need to use it eventually.

cPanel can be used to accomplish a lot of website-related tasks. Uploading files, creating a domain email address, adding more domains to your hosting account, and installing WordPress can all be done in your cPanel.

Even basic knowledge of cPanel can be very beneficial to website beginners. Let’s dive into cPanel and walk through how you can accomplish a variety of hosting related tasks.


What is cPanel?

cPanel is the control panel that allows you to easily manage your hosting account. cPanel doesn’t manage your billing preferences (go to your portal account for that), but rather the technical aspects of managing your website.

When you log into your cPanel you’ll find a graphical interface that’ll enable you to manage your website. For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to be using the HostGator cPanel for reference.

Below we highlight a few things you can do from your cPanel dashboard. Get your cPanel login ready now, as you’ll need it to access cPanel and perform the activities listed below. Your hosting provider should have provided you with your login credentials after you signed up for hosting.


1. Updating cPanel Preferences

Before we jump into actually managing your site in cPanel, let’s get a little familiar with the backend.

Once you login to cPanel you’ll be taken to the dashboard.

At the top, you’ll find a search bar you can use to locate the plugin you want to utilize, or you can just use the ctrl+f command to find what you’re looking for.

We’ll be focusing on these sections of cPanel:

2. Managing Your Domain Names

The Domains section of your cPanel will be useful anytime you want to add another domain to your hosting account, manage redirections, or create a subdomain that can be used to build a new site.

To add a new domain, click on Addon Domain. This will allow you to add another domain that you’ve purchased to your existing hosting account.

Now all you have to do is enter the necessary domain information and your new site will be ready to build!

You can also manage redirects and create subdomains under an existing domain within this section of cPanel.


3. Managing Your Email Accounts

Want to create an email address that matches your domain name?

Navigate to the Email section. Click on Email Accounts, and you’ll be able to create an email under your desired domain name using the drop down tab.

If you want to access your email for the first time, scroll down to where your email accounts and click on Access Webmail from the More drop down. Bookmark your inbox for easy access next time.


4. Understanding File Manager

To manage your website’s files, navigate to File Manager. Then select the website you want files from and click Go.

This will open up the list of files that make up your website. It’s important not to mess with these unless you know what you’re doing, as deleting just one of these files could render your website inoperable.


5. Getting to Know One Click Installs

The final tool we’re going to look at in this tutorial is under the Software section and it’s called QuickInstall.

With QuickInstall you can easily install WordPress and other popular content management systems on any domain you own. Below we’ll show you how to install WordPress with just a few clicks.

With QuickInstall open, click on WordPress. Scroll down and you’ll see a box that looks like the one below:

Click on Install WordPress, then select your domain name and populate the fields with your admin email, title of your site, and admin username. After the install is complete you’ll receive an email that allows you to login to the WordPress backend.

Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do within your cPanel. But, the five items above are commonly requested by beginners.


Any other common tasks you use cPanel for? Share your favorites in the comments below.