Every website you visit, including how it looks, fares, and functions is determined from a software engine room (a control center, that is).
Prior to the era of the graphical user interface, a website control center used to be presented as a monochrome back-end where complex command lines were typed in. But these days, it is more popularly represented as an interface filled with windows, icons, tabs, and other graphical components.
The entire range enables webmasters and site owners to run websites more easily via mouse clicks and screen taps rather than command lines. This GUI-based website engine room is known as a web hosting control panel.
cPanel is a pioneering web hosting control panel brand that has gained a reputation as the industry standard over the years.
Having been around for a long time, it is easy to understand why most modern webmasters may be more familiar with cPanel than any of their contemporaries. For instance, users like the intuitive outlook and the rich detail of the cPanel interface.
Other features of cPanel that have endeared it to users over the years include, but not limited to its relative quality email hosting, the flexibility of its web hosting functionality, and the fact that it supports a wide range of popular CMS/modules integrations.
cPanel is now often a value-added inclusion in most web hosting packages. However, for the web hosting companies themselves, the cPanel pricing starts from $15 a month and gets as high as $48.
While this may not be an issue for many big hosting companies out there, there are certainly budget-tight start-ups that need a free replacement for cPanel here and there. Because of cPanel’s account-based pricing and annual license policy, it becomes difficult for resellers and small companies.
In this post, we have compiled a list of the 10 best free cPanel alternatives to help you out.
Virtualmin is an open-source web hosting control panel that has a good free version and is available based on the Public Licence. It boasts an interface that is just as intuitive as that of cPanel.
Linux-based Virtualmin is one of the very few open-source control panels that support the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) facility.
Among other benefits, this implies particular ease of use. While this support is also available on cPanel, it is significant that it is also available in this case on a free open-source offer.
As it is in cPanel, both the front-end and the back-end scripts of Virtualmin are written in Perl. Like cPanel also, this web host control panel runs on the latest version of the internet protocol (Ipv6).
In terms of security, Virtualmin sign-in supports a two-way verification process powered by the Google Authenticator app.
As of June 2021, Virtualmin’s latest release was in July 2019. Compared with cPanel’s latest release in December 2020 though, the current version of Virtualmin is outdated, but it’s still within a healthy range.
This is quite true especially because Virtualmin also has a considerably effective span and antivirus scanning capability, brute force protection, backup encryption keys, and more.
The range of Linux operating systems officially supported by this control panel software is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian.
It is capable of virtually everything that cPanel is capable of. For example, it offers flexibly managed domain accounts, domain name servers, databases, and web apps all available on a single interface.
It also provides efficient mailboxes that include forwarders and autoresponders, aliases, and more.
As it is with cPanel, subscribers can also create both user and reseller accounts on the Virtualmin interface. It also sports a functionality for monitoring a subscriber’s capacity usage.
While some users complain cPanel cannot back up directly to the Amazon S3 bucket, Virtualmin does that well. And, like cPanel, it is compatible with MYSQL, PHPMyAdmin, PostgreSQL databases, and many more.
It also integrates well with popular content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Froxlor is a lightweight, open-source, and web-based hosting control panel.
It was developed by the creators of SysCP. This software is known for its simplicity and versatility. Its interface is deemed to be as intuitive as that of cPanel.
Froxlor can run on nearly any version of Linux. One great instance of its ease-of-use is that its installation is super-easy going by what real users say.
This software’s overall simplicity is the one reason we noticed why a modest fanbase has developed around it.
Froxlor aims to help web hosting businesses administer an efficient but simple system of web and email servers.
Just as it is with cPanel, this software is equipped with functionalities that enable users to perform admin actions. Some of these actions are creating custom email addresses, establishing file transfer protocols, and administering domain name servers.
Basically, using the Froxlor interface, you can do just about anything that is possible on cPanel. Hence, the one reason we consider this hosting control panel a valid potential replacement for the standard offer.
Froxlor also includes an integrated user support system, the functionality to calculate resource usage, and the one to execute translations across multiple languages.
With Froxlor, you can also enable customers to log into their hosting and domain servers from wherever they are. The users or their representatives can establish messaging with customers.
ISPConfig is another open-source web hosting control panel with a good free plan. Scripted in PHP, this platform is available on the BSD Licence. Like cPanel, it is a multilingual platform supporting up to 22 languages.
Admittedly, the ISPConfig interface is considered to be archaic in the 2020s, but this hardly affects the intuitive functioning of this web hosting control panel. It empowers subscribers to create both reseller and user accounts just as it is with cPanel.
Users can also easily manage the domain name server, email client, file transfer protocol, and basically every feature and function that is available on cPanel. Likewise, you can use it to create subdomains and aliases for your website.
Again, just like cPanel, the range of Linux operating systems supported by ISPConfig includes CentOS, OpenSuSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian. As for database support, ISPConfig integrates with MySQL. Its addon/plugin support may not be as copious as that of cPanel but most users seem to be satisfied with the range because it is all free.
ISPConfig supports the two standard versions of the internet protocol (Ipv4 and Ipv6). Unlike cPanel that supports only the latest version of the internet protocol, ISPConfig makes itself available to more users by this means.
Ruby developers are one group of users that will have good reasons to prefer ISPConfig to cPanel. That’s because, while Ruby is not installed on cPanel by default, the contrary is the case with ISPConfig.
This web hosting control panel also sports one of the nicest security features you can find among open-source offers. Such features include the ability to password-protect your folders, virus filtering, and a firewall.
If you’re looking for a free alternative to cPanel that is specifically meant for powering a web hosting business, you’ve got to look no further than Domain Technologie Control (DTC).
This web hosting control panel is endowed with unique functionalities for delegating tasks to webmasters and site administrators.
They are such tasks as database management, registering domains, creating subdomains, FTP/email accounts, click-button development and management of mailing lists, and the creation of support tickets.
This control panel can manage hosting – including shared hosting, dedicated servers, and VPS.
The interface is equipped with features and functionalities for creating hosting plans and effective billing of both end-users and reseller services. Also, the integrated billing system works for the regular accounts and the dedicated servers alike.
It sports a store-front integration that allows for invoicing, registration forms, and plan subscriptions and renewal via a single payment gateway. It even has book-keeping tools.
Backed by a MySQL or a PostgreSQL database, DTC has a Unix-like kind of versatility that enables it to run on RHEL, Debian, FreeBSD, and many other Linux operating systems.
It also integrates with an array of applications and specifically works with DTC-Xen to manage and track the usage of virtual private servers (VPS).
Although DTC is thoroughly open-source, one edge that it maintains over cPanel is that it tracks capacity usage in real-time on a per-server or per-user basis.
Users under each admin can also customize their own error pages – to reflect their brand values for example.
Another instance in which DTC squares up to cPanel is its top-notch security features. For example, it is supported by a strong antivirus.
It also has one of the best anti-spam portfolios in the industry. By this, it stands out with a capacity for spam quarantine through the creation of spam-tagged IMAP folders.
Like cPanel, DTC also supports multiple languages. These languages include English, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Latvian, and Hungarian.
If you are looking for a free and open-source cPanel alternative that is tailored for managing shared hosting, this is for you.
i-MSCP stands for Internet Multi Server Control Panel. It sports a richly detailed interface that enables it to meet a host of web hosting demands. Also, it supports a wide range of integrations for extending its functionalities.
Unlike cPanel that is written only in Perl, i-MSCP is written in five unique scripts that include Perl, PHP, Unix, C, and Shell.
The software is available on two licenses: the GNU Lesser General Public Licence (GNU LGPL) and the Mozilla Public Licence (MPL). Thus, it is a full-length open-source platform in contrast to cPanel’s proprietary license.
The MPL is essentially for the base code while the GNU LGPL covers new codes and developer submissions.
i-MSCP supports three main Linux distributions that include Debian, Devuan, and Ubuntu. By contrast, cPanel runs on the Linux core and – only now in its latest version – on CentOS, RHEL, and CloudLinux distributions. i-MSCP’s database support includes MySQL, Percona, and MariaDB.
One instance in which i-MSCP stands out shoulder high above cPanel is in its quality of support. Although the platform lacks dedicated support unlike cPanel, a fully community-supported discussion forum makes up for it.
On the forum, you can get adequate and live guidance on anything from system setup to updates/upgrades and documentation. Official patches and fixes are also released and discussed openly in a highly professional environment.
Members make profound and instantaneous contributions to the pool. The submissions include plug-ins, listeners, how-to guides, enhancements, and snippets and translations.
There are active boards dedicated to the speakers of seven international languages apart from the main English areas. The languages supported include German, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, French, and Russian.
This is yet another web hosting control panel that can serve as a valid replacement for cPanel. Like cPanel, CyberPanel has all the basic features and functionalities needed to run a website including web servers, domain name system, CMS support as well as FTP/email servers, and more.
Again, like cPanel, Cyberpanel has a paid plan. But, unlike cPanel, CyberPanel also has a good free plan. The direct resemblance between the names ‘Cyberpanel’ and ‘cPanel’ may well have been premeditated to reflect the fact that one is meant as a direct improvement on the other.
To start with, CyberPanel shares cPanel’s intuitive graphical user interface unequally.
If CyberPanel appears more streamlined and less cumbersome, there is a good reason why. Many regular users realize sooner than later that cPanel is bloated with too many features that are often like a family of four living alone in a 20-floor skyscraper. That’s because a lot of the features are not needed by the everyday end-user.
Yet, all these features consume system resources while also adding to the overhead pricing.
Again, many users find WordPress installation on CyberPanel far easier than it is on cPanel. All you need is to click on the ‘websites’ pane and navigate to ‘list websites’ and then click on ‘manage’.
This launches the auto-installer for WordPress which is packaged with LS Cache Plugin. The advantage of this cache plugin feature is that, compared with similar software, it is reported to reduce a website’s load time since it is encoded into the server itself.
CyberPanel connects with the Litespeed web server as opposed to cPanel’s Apache webserver. Users upon users testify about Litespeed running faster than Apache.
That’s because it is able to handle more requests per time than Apache especially with the implementation of HTTP/3. Yet, Litespeed is compatible with all popular Apache features.
CyberPanel provides a one-click file backup and backup restoration. It’s a lot faster than that of cPanel – whether it is a full or partial backup.
CloudPanel Admin refers to the service as “a free server control panel for PHP, built for the cloud…“. Calling it a server control panel (rather than a web host control panel) is to stress the fact that CloudPanel is targeted at web host administrators rather than end-users.
Users particularly celebrate CloudPanel’s beautiful and intuitive GUI offering. It is widely considered to be far beyond anything that cPanel has been able to offer so far.
The CloudPanel interface looks sleek and modern with enough spaces and streamlined categories. Compared to this, many users consider cPanel to be clogged up and even archaic. The best part is that CloudPanel’s superior GUI is all available for free.
For the fans of Remote Dictionary Server (Redis), this web host control panel comes in-built with Redis which is the top-most key-value database according to a DB Engine’s ranking.
Most other control panels out there (including cPanel) require added confirmation for Redis to be included during installation.
This is not to suggest that the Ajenti interface looks anything near awful though. Instead, it’s quite beautiful, intuitive, modern, and comes packed with a remote terminal and features for managing users – including IAM (identity and access management).
This covers user access to systems, devices, apps, and network resources to ensure near-perfect security and safety. In this regard, Ajenti is deemed to be better than cPanel and most other alternatives out there.
Because it is web-based, the Ajenti interface is also mobile-friendly. It can also run on most devices because its resource consumption rate is low. Then, of course, it is free and open-source, unlike cPanel. You can find Ajenti on GitHub.
This web host control panel also allows you to establish firewalls, install software with ease, and control the rate at which the network or system resources are used.
It also supports a wide range of plugins and other ready-made or custom-built integrations. This, coupled with the vibrant community support via GitHub endows Ajenti with such a versatility that is rare in the industry (cPanel inclusive).
Apart from the fact that Ajenti works with Redhat, Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS, it also runs on Gentoo. It can also be ported to other Linux distributions without hassles.
This is the cPanel alternative for you if you are an individual or a small business looking for an easy-to-use server management solution. Built mainly for Debian GNU/Linux distribution, Alternc focuses on handling web and email hosting and management.
There are user reports about ease-of-use regarding this platform right from installation. Its interface provides for domain management, email/FTP accounts, statistics, and more. The entire set is available on the web. Developers can contribute to the AlternC source code on GitHub.
In many ways, Sentora is like cPanel. For instance, it offers a simplified environment to enable web hosting companies, site administrators, and webmasters to manage web servers, domain name servers, email/FTP accounts, and – for hosting providers – to automate billings and hosting plans. It is offered as a paid and a free plan.
Like cPanel’s, the Sentora user interface is also good-looking as well as intuitive. It is tailor-made for managing shared hosting services. So, we particularly recommend it for reseller hosting businesses.
Users can set up accounts, log in, and manage their websites on their own.
One unique feature that helped Sentora to make this list of cPanel alternatives is its extensibility. It has a rich repertoire of add-ons, modules, and themes that can augment its functionality.
The free account is community-supported while the paid plans are backed by premium support from the Sentora customer service team.
We’ve come a long way here, haven’t we? We found that the kingdom of control panels is one of the most variegated and populous in the tech world.
So, it’s really been a painstaking task trying to stick with what we consider the top 10 of them.
Is our top 10 list perfect? Maybe not. We have given you what we found according to our honest evaluation.
Meanwhile, what is our top pick among the ten? Hard to say of course, but we give it to Domain Technologie Control (DTC). It’s not because its name is long.
Rather, here are the reasons why:
First, it seems quite reasonable to think that the number one industry that this list serves is the web hosting sector. That’s because most end users are already getting control panels for free via hosting companies.
Now, Domain Technologie Control is the open-source offer most suited for web hosting companies on the list above.
Another reason we consider DTC our top of the 10, is its completeness despite being free. It can manage all levels of hosting from shared to dedicated servers to VPS.
Finally, one other reason why DTC comes at the top of the list is that it offers the best billing functions among the ten. Of course, this was to be considered since this list has been principally targeted at web hosting services.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.