Every website needs web hosting in order to be accessible to visitors on the web. That means every website owner needs a way to access the web server where their website lives.
But direct access to a web server requires a skill level few website owners have.
So how do millions of people who aren’t experts on working with website servers successfully run websites? They use control panels.
The subject of this article, the Plesk control panel, is one of the most popular options available for working with website servers. Here’s the main information you need to understand what it is and how it compares to your other web host options.
What Is a Control Panel?
To start, we should clarify what a control panel is to begin with. A control panel for a web server provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that makes it user friendly for the average person. Without a control panel, doing many of the tasks involved in managing web hosting plans would require having the professional skills of a system administrator who makes changes using command line interface.
Most of us don’t have time to learn all of that. A user-friendly graphical interface, like Plesk, brings all the necessary features for managing your web server into an interface that’s simple and intuitive. The main features a good web server control panel will have include:
- Domain name management – A big part of running a website—or multiple websites—is managing your domain name(s). That includes keeping all your domain name registrations current, setting up and organizing any subdomains, setting up redirects, and managing your domain name privacy.
- Email management – When you invest in a domain name, you also get the option to set up branded email addresses that use your domain. A server control panel will allow you to set up email addresses, monitor your inbox, and remove old accounts. They also typically let you use POP3 or IMAP to set up your email accounts with email clients like Gmail or Outlook and provide mail forwarding options.
- FTP file transfers – FTP, or file transfer protocol, is the main way to transfer files between your computer and your web server. Your can use an FTP client to do this, but a good control panel will provide additional options for doing so.
- File management – In additional to transferring files, you should be able to manage and organize your files in a control panel. That includes renaming them, moving them between folders, and creating new folders as needed.
- Third-party application installation and management – Many websites rely on third-party applications, such as content management systems or eCommerce software. A control panel will often include options for easily installing the third-party systems you need and managing them once they’re added.
- Security features – Server control panels give you access to important website security features like SSL certificates and permissions control, so you can manage who has access to your website and how much access they have.
- Backup options – Losing all your work due to a technical failure is everyone’s worst nightmare (well, other than things like clowns and sharks). A control panel will generally include backup options, so you can protect your website and all its files.
Many web hosting plans come with a control panel included, but in some cases you’ll need to invest in one separately. Plesk is one of your top options.
What Is Plesk Control Panel?
Plesk control panel is one of the two most popular server control panels available, falling only behind cPanel in how widely used it is. The Plesk control panel is used on over 380,000 servers, helping run over 11 million websites.
Plesk positions itself as being a comprehensive website hosting platform that brings everything you need—technical features, security options, and automation tools—all into one place.
What You Can Do In Plesk Control Panel
Plesk makes it easy for you to manage many aspects of your web hosting. The tool provides the features common to any control panel, along with some additional options.
You can add and organize your website’s files within the control panel. You can manage your domains, and add new domains and subdomains to your account. You can create new email addresses, monitor your inbox, and remove inactive email addresses. You can schedule regular backups for your website and files, manage any databases that are part of your website, and monitor which parts of your website are using the most disk space.
Those are all important functionalities that any website owner should look for in a control panel, but there are a few key areas where Plesk control panel goes beyond the basics. They offer self-repair tools that automate the process of fixing common technical errors so your website runs more smoothly. And they have a large library of extensions you can use to add extra functionality to your website.
For IT administrators, they provide useful features for creating and managing user accounts. You can assign specific user roles, control the level of access each one has, and determine the amount of bandwidth each user has access to. You can set up and manage subscription services for customers or resellers. And you can schedule specific commands and tasks in advance.
Notably, Plesk control center works with a lot of different programs. While the features you can use within the control panel itself are extensive, that third-party compatibility opens up even more doors for useful functionality to add to your website.
What Does Plesk Control Panel Cost?
Plesk control panel plans start at $9.16 a month, and for bigger businesses that want to take advantage of more features and options they go up to $13.75 a month and $41.25 a month. For many users, the efficiency that Plesk provides in comparison to working directly with a web server will save enough time to make that cost a fair tradeoff. And the additional features it provides will help some businesses make more money, which makes the cost easy to swallow.
7 Reasons To Use Plesk Control Panel
While you have other options, there are a few good reasons to consider going with Plesk control panel to manage your web hosting.
1. Plesk control panel’s user interface is intuitive.
Plesk’s intuitive interface is clean and well organized so that it’s easy to find exactly the features you need. The steps involved in completing the various tasks the control panel allows for are typically simple. But for anyone just starting out, the product’s help center includes an array of useful resources, from video tutorials to full Plesk courses.
The main reason to use a control panel is because it improves ease of use and makes working with your web hosting server faster, more efficient, and easier to learn. The Plesk control panel is one of the best options available in terms of being easy to learn and use.
2. It’s OS (operating system) agnostic.
While cPanel may be the most popular control panel out there, it loses to Plesk in this significant category. cPanel only works with Linux web servers. A lot of the web servers out there are Linux servers (usually if you don’t see it specified otherwise, that’s what a web hosting plan uses), but for a certain portion of websites, Windows hosting makes more sense.
Plesk control panel works with both Windows and Linux servers, making it accessible to every website out there, regardless of the hosting plan they choose. If you use Windows hosting services now, or if there’s any chance you may want to in the future, choosing Plesk is the smart choice.
3. Plesk is mobile friendly.
People increasingly do work on the go. For you and your employees to access your website and make the updates and changes that need to get done when you’re on the bus, in an airport, or just have your smartphone in easier reach than a laptop, you need a good way to access your control panel from any device.
Plesk control panel has a mobile app that’s optimized for smaller screens, so all the different tasks you need to do within Plesk are just as easy on your smartphone or tablet as they are on a desktop. That makes it more useful for you, your employees, and your developers and makes it possible to get more of your work done faster, at the moment it’s needed.
4. It’s good for security.
Anyone with a website needs to be thinking about website security. There are a number of things you can do to protect your website from hackers or malicious attacks, but one of the first steps to take is choosing the right web hosting platform and control panel. Plesk has a strong reputation for security and provides a number of different options for making your website more secure.
The ability administrators have to control user permissions helps protect you from allowing low-level employees or contractors too much power over your website. You can register for an SSL certificate to provide website encryption through Plesk. And there are a number of firewalls and extensions available in Plesk that will make your website harder for hackers or other malicious users to access.
5. It’s compatible with a wide range of third-party applications.
As people rely on an ever growing list of tech products in lives and business, compatibility has become one of the most important concerns to consider when choosing a new tech tool. The Plesk web control panel promises compatibility with a huge number of popular and essential third-party applications.
In addition to compatibility, for some of the most popular third-party applications, such as WordPress and Amazon, they provide toolkits that make using the products together that much easier. Natural, seamless integration between two products you rely on will make your life much easier. Plesk can offer that with most additional products and tools you may need.
6. They offer helpful customer support.
Even though Plesk is known for being easy to use, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever need some help. For something as important as your website, when you encounter a problem, you want help that’s thorough and fast.
In addition to a thorough help center which answers the most common questions users have, Plesk also offers tech support 24/7. You can contact their representatives by toll free phone, email, social media, or by using the Plesk forum.
7. Over 100 extensions are available.
In addition to the core functionality you’ll find with Plesk, you can also make use of over 100 extensions that extend the product’s features. These extensions add functionality in categories including security, appearance, backups, email, SEO, and website speed, to name just a few examples.
Between the features offered by Plesk itself and the many extensions you can take advantage of, there’s a lot your business can do within the Plesk control panel to make your website more powerful.
Who Should Use Plesk Control Panel?
The Plesk control panel is a good choice for anyone that wants a way to access their web server that’s intuitive and user friendly. But it’s especially useful for business users and anyone who uses Windows hosting or other Windows products like ASP.NET that aren’t well supported by other common options like cPanel.
Plesk web control panel is a smart choice for businesses that want more control over who has access to the website’s backend, and an efficient way to organize your website assets like domains and databases. It’s powerful, affordable, and easy to use.
Get Plesk Web Hosting
Plesk has a lot to offer, but choosing the Plesk control panel isn’t the only important decision you have to make when setting up your website. You also need to choose the right web hosting plan. HostGator’s web hosting plans—in particular our Windows hosting options—provide compatibility with Plesk and many of the third-party applications it works with.
HostGator’s web hosting plans offer high-level security, 99.9% uptime, and 24/7 customer support. With web hosting plans that span from affordable shared hosting options to enterprise-level VPS and dedicated server hosting, they work for businesses of any size and include room to grow. For more information on choosing the right web hosting services , or learning how it works with Plesk control panel, our web professionals are available to answer any questions you have.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.