Introduction to WHM

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.

If you’ve been building websites for a while, you’ve probably heard of WHM, even if you’re not using it yet. 

But like a lot of our customers who have web design and reseller businesses, you may wonder what WHM can do for you. The short answer is “a lot.” 

The longer answer is the rest of this post—read on for answers to your WHM questions. 

What exactly is WHM? 

WHM stands for Web Host Manager. It’s a dashboard program that helps hosting resellers and web designers manage multiple sites for different customers safely and easily. It’s available to our reseller, VPS and dedicated hosting plan customers.

Is WHM the same thing as cPanel?

WHM is similar to cPanel—they’re produced by the same company—but WHM is a level up from cPanel, because you use WHM to set up and manage cPanels. Then you can allocate bandwidth, disk usage, email volume and other resources for all the websites you manage for yourself and for your clients. 

Unlike a shared hosting setup, you can create a separate cPanel for all your domains and allocate resources however you like, within your plan’s limits.

Why not have all your domains on one cPanel, the way shared hosting users do? 

In a word (OK, two words): website security

When you separate each domain into its own cPanel, you’re basically putting those domains on their own little islands (umbrellas and sunscreen not included). Now, if one of your domains gets infected with malware, your other domains are safely tucked away on their own little isles. But if your domains were all on the same cPanel, with the whole file structure in one place, there would be more opportunity for the malware to spread to your other domains. 

There’s another security feature you can use if you or your clients have multiple eCommerce websites. Ecommerce sites need a dedicated IP address to comply with PCI DSS (the global card payment security standard), but you can only have one dedicated IP address on each cPanel. 

With WHM, you can easily set up separate cPanels for those dedicated IP addresses, and that’s more cost-effective than buying separate shared hosting plans for every ecommerce site in your stable.

Finally, more security. If you’re developing websites for multiple users, a reseller account with WHM access lets you give your customers access to their site’s individual cPanel alone, without also giving them incidental access to every domain on your account.

What other cool stuff can you do with WHM?

So much, but we’ll start with two things for now. 

  1. You can brand your cPanels with your company’s logo, so your customers see it when they access their cPanel. 
  2. You can set up private nameservers that feature your company’s URL, so you get a branding opportunity there, too. 

OK, so how do I get started with WHM?

There’s a lot going on in WHM and learning your way around can take a while. 

screenshots of web host manager (whm) account functions
Just keep scrolling (Images: WHM)

For one thing, WHM gives you access to many more functions than cPanel. And because you can do so many things with WHM, it pays to know how to do them correctly, so your sites—and your customers’ sites—keep working the way you want them to. 

Start by getting to know the WHM basics. Read articles, look up tutorials on WHM tasks you want to do, and maybe check out cPanel University’s free WHM administrator courses. Even those of us who’ve been working with WHM for a long time are still learning new things about what it can do. 

Things to keep in mind when you start with WHM

You know how you’re used to logging into cPanel and seeing all your domains? Well, don’t freak out when you log in to your new WHM account for the first time and don’t see your domains. They still exist! But with WHM, you have to create the cPanels for them before you can see and manage them. Like we said, a level up.

And keep in mind that WHM doesn’t automatically allocate your resources among your websites. It’s up to you to parcel out disk usage, bandwidth, and more so you don’t oversell your reseller quota or leave a website short of the resources it needs to work right. 

How can you move from shared hosting to a reseller plan with WHM access?

Let’s say you’ve got 20 domains on your shared hosting plan that you’re accessing through a single cPanel, but you’d like each domain to have its own cPanel. You can set up a migration with HostGator support so you can get all those domains moved and separated out. 

  1. First, you’ll need to choose your new hosting plan. For people with lots of domains, we generally recommend reseller or dedicated hosting, depending on the number of domains you have and your budget. (VPS is a great developer sandbox tool, but it doesn’t offer the memory and resources for running lots of memory-intensive websites.)
  2. Second, contact HostGator support to request your migration. If you want all your sites on the same cPanel, you’re all set. If you want your domains on separate cPanels in your new hosting plan, request that specifically and let us know which of your domains you want to be the primary domain. Your primary domain is the one you’ll sign into—making it your primary domain doesn’t affect how your other domains are hosted or displayed.
  3. Third, if you’re on a dedicated hosting plan, you’ll need to create private name servers for your domains. You don’t have to do this if you have a reseller account, but you can if you’d like the branding that comes with it. Pro tip: if you have a reseller account and you point all your domains to your private nameserver, you only have to make one change to point them all to the new server if you ever upgrade to dedicated hosting, instead of having to go through and change them for every single domain. 

Ready to get the security, site management and branding benefits of WHM? Pick your PRO hosting plan from HostGator now.

Natasha is a Tier III Web Advisor at HostGator. She has been working in web hosting and the tech industry for over 7 years. In her free time she enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and spoiling her 4 cats.