This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.
Managing your website with cPanel works great if you’ve only got one or two sites to manage for your small business. But what if you’re building a small business that creates or maintains websites for your clients?
Managing multiple sites for different clients through cPanel is possible, but it’s difficult, doesn’t help you build your brand and can create security vulnerabilities for your clients.
There’s an easier way to keep your clients’ websites in top shape, keep them secure and grow your small business brand–WHM (Web Host Manager). In this post, we’ll cover the basics of what you can do with WHM.
What Is WHM?
WHM is an advanced cPanel interface that gives you more tools and capabilities than cPanel. WHM and cPanel work together seamlessly because they’re made by the same company, so you can focus on managing your clients’ sites and building your business.
WHM access is free with HostGator Reseller, VPS and Dedicated Server accounts. All these accounts give you access to basic WHM. Let’s look at what you can do with basic WHM. Then we’ll cover what VPS and Dedicated Server customers can do with root access WHM.
What you can do with basic WHM
The thing most users notice right away when they get access to WHM is that they no longer have to manage all their customers’ websites through a single cPanel. WHM lets you create multiple cPanels, so you can set up one for each of your clients. When you give each of your customers a separate cPanel, you start to see the other upsides of WHM, too.
WHM makes your clients’ sites more secure
One of the biggest WHM benefits is that you can provide your clients a level of security and privacy that you can’t really get when you’re managing multiple client sites on one shared hosting account.
That’s because on a shared hosting plan, you get a single cPanel on your shared server. The security and privacy issue with managing multiple client websites through one cPanel is that depending on your configuration, all of your clients can potentially have access to each other’s sites since they’re all stored in your cPanel home directory. It’s unlikely that your website clients will deliberately get into your other customers’ sites, but they could do so accidentally and wreak havoc.
With WHM, you can set up your client Bob’s lawnmowing business website on its own cPanel. That way Bob only has access to his own space on the server. When you then set up your client Jenny’s blog on her own cPanel account, Jenny and Bob never have the opportunity to access each other’s site controls.
Creating separate cPanels for your website clients also helps protect the data they collect on their customers, so they (and you) can stay in compliance with data regulations like GDPR and California’s new Consumer Privacy Act.
WHM lets you extend your brand
Many of our clients who resell hosting and manage client websites want to build brand recognition and set themselves apart from other businesses.
If you’re managing multiple sites with our shared hosting, the sites you create have our name servers—something plus hostgator.com. One of the benefits of WHM is that you can start to set up private name servers with your business domain name. It looks more professional when your customers see your brand in their domain information panel and DNS lookups.
You can also add your logo to the cPanel you create for each customer so they see it when they log in. That makes your business look more professional, creates another touchpoint for your brand and makes customers feel like they’re getting the best possible service from you.
Another way WHM helps you brand your business is that you can set up a branded default page for your customers’ hosting in each cPanel. So, if they don’t have their webpage set up yet, their domain can display a default HTML page that says they’re hosted with your brand.
You can also make customer service part of your brand with WHM. Instead of telling your customers they need to contact HostGator to reset their passwords, change their disk usage or adjust the number of email accounts they can create, you can have them contact your business, and you can manage those things for them.
What you can do with root WHM
All of those functions make WHM valuable to resellers, design agencies and other businesses that set up or maintain client sites. Some businesses need even more functionality, and for those customers, there’s server-level WHM access.
HostGator offers this root-level WHM access to VPS and Dedicated Server customers. That means you have Super Administrator privileges—you can essentially access and modify everything that’s on the server. That frees you up to modify process limits, MySQL, Apache, PHP and install new software at your convenience.
What kind of WHM access do you need?
If you want to manage your clients’ websites and do simple maintenance, a Reseller account with basic WHM access is probably the right fit for you.
If you’re setting up and managing highly customized sites that need specific resource allotments for disk space, CPU usage or PHP variables, you’ll have a better time with a VPS or Dedicated Server plan that offers root WHM access. For example, some Magento eCommerce sites require more resources than you can access with a shared hosting or reseller plan.
You can always move from a plan with one type of WHM to another, depending on your business needs. For some resellers, basic WHM is a good tool when they’re starting their business. As their client list and technical skills grow, they may decide they need root-level WHM access later on so they can offer more customized sites for their clients.
What’s the WHM learning curve like?
Let’s say you’re a brand-new reseller and you’re getting started with WHM. How much time should you plan to spend getting up to speed?
The exact time it takes to get comfortable with WHM will depend on your technical skills and your familiarity with cPanel. Based on my customer support experience helping new WHM users get started, I suggest that you give yourself a couple of days to a week to master the basics. Then for advanced functions, you can learn as you go. (cPanel has a virtual WHM tour you can take to see for yourself what the interface looks like.)
The WHM learning curve is worth it. It’s efficient, more secure and far easier to brand your business when you have cPanels for each of your clients rather than 20 or 30 customer domains hosted on a single cPanel.
Want to know more about using WHM to boost your business? Check out our WHM Getting Started Guide.