WHMCS, which stands for Web Host Manager Complete Solution, is an automation and billing tool for web hosting providers and small businesses offering hosting solutions to clients.
It allows you to manage your clients’ hosting, set up automated billing, send invoices, and shut down web hosting accounts when clients don’t pay. You can set up a support ticket system and provide personalized support to clients.
WHMCS integrates with domain registrars and web hosting panels like cPanel and Plesk so your clients can manage their hosting and websites.
However, WHMCS is not for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a free alternative, something that is open source, a tool that is cheaper, or you just don’t like the interface, there are options out there.
One reason to not use WHMCS is that it has been bought out by WebPros, which has also purchased cPanel and Plesk and seems intent on buying up various web hosting solutions to create a sort of monopoly in the industry.
What does that mean for you? It means that you can expect monopolistic pricing schemes going forward – when one company owns so many tools in an industry, it can charge whatever it wants.
One of the major updates that came after the WebPros buyout was that WHMCS announced that it will no longer provide updates to people who bought lifetime licenses in the past.
WHMCS no longer provides lifetime licenses, and even old clients are now forced to switch to monthly pricing.
Many people don’t realize it, but WHMCS is not the only web hosting automation solution out there. Today, I will be showing you the best WHMCS alternatives, including free and open source options and options that offer lifetime licenses. .
BoxBilling is my #1 alternative to WHMCS. Not only is it entirely free to use, but it is open source as well, which means that the source code is open for everyone to see and available for the community to edit, fix, and update.
In fact, if you’re looking for a free hosting automation tool, there’s no better option than BoxBilling, hands down.
This particular industry is very competitive. While some free and open source projects have popped up throughout the years, BoxBilling is the only decent alternative that is currently updated – and there was a period when even BoxBilling was abandoned.
For example, TheHostingTool was a project that has been dead and abandoned for years. BoxBilling, on the other hand, survived and is thriving.
With the user-friendly admin panel, you can set up payment pages, domain registrars, and hosting servers for clients. It integrates with payment gateways like PayPal and Authorize.net and web management panels like cPanel and Plesk.
As BoxBilling is driven by the community, anyone can create extensions using the open API. As such, many official extensions and integrations, as well as community-created ones, exist.
One thing worth mentioning is that BoxBilling is currently looking for more experienced coders who can dedicate time to help maintain the project. As the project is free and open source, it relies on volunteers to address bugs and other open issues, as it can’t pay a team of developers to do that like premium tools can.
The community is active on Discord, Slack, and GitHub, so if you encounter any issues when using the platform, you can get help from other users or from developers.
Unlike WHMCS, Blesta still provides lifetime licenses to new customers, so you won’t have to commit to monthly billing for the rest of your life. Its lifetime licenses are affordable.
While some may worry that Blesta will sell out to WebPros like WHMCS did, Blesta released a statement addressing those concerns and affirming that it is a privately-owned company that puts its customers’ needs first, with no plans to sell.
Of course, there are no guarantees in life other than death and taxes, but that statement is reassuring.
Blesta is mostly open source, but not entirely. There are three files that are encoded, and while it’s less than 1% of the project’s source code, it’s enough to ensure license protection – you will need to purchase a license to use the program.
However, being that it’s almost entirely open source, developers can still enjoy a lot of flexibility when using Blesta and its robust addon system. It integrates with Authorize.net, cPanel, 2Checkout, and many other tools.
Furthermore, being that it’s a premium product, it can afford to pay a team of developers to keep the code free of any security flaws and other bugs. Blesta provides customers with excellent support as well.
Using Blesta, you can create client profile pages for self management, set up automated billing and invoicing, suspend inactive accounts, and create a support system so clients can open tickets. You can also create a knowledge base.
Blesta provides a helpful migration guide to WHMCS users. Not only that, but if you can provide proof of an existing license with a competitor like WHMCS, you can get access to a special coupon code that will give you 30% off your purchase (not applicable to lifetime license purchases).
The Blesta interface is sleek and easy to navigate. In each client profile, you can see existing services they’re paying for, send invoices, record payments, view tickets, and a lot more.
You’ll also be able to see the client’s account credits. Blesta supports multiple currencies, so you can have clients from all over the world.
Invoices can be generated automatically or sent via email, fax, or slow mail. You can accept payments automatically via credit card or bank transfer and create coupons for discounts.
The entire client front end is fully optimized formobile, so your clients can enjoy an excellent mobile experience. Furthermore, you can customize it with drag and drop; Blesta also includes multi-language support.
Even multi-company support is available for those who own several hosting companies.
With the 30-day free trial, you can try Blesta out for an entire month without even creating an account; an online demo is also available. After that, you’ll need a license.
Pricing is affordable, starting at $12.95/month or $250 (a one-time fee for a lifetime license with one year of support). If you want lifetime support, you can pay $750 as a one-time fee.
See updated pricing here.
Freeside.biz is another open source alternative to WHMCS for hosting providers as well as VoIP providers and others. It has an online and downloadable demo, and it provides many of the features of WHMCS.
For example, you can set up billing systems to charge clients, with usage-based pricing and recurring billing available. You can send digital or physical invoices and process checks and credit cards.
Users can set up a ticketing system with auto-reply features and a customer self-service dashboard where your clients can sign in, manage billing, view invoices, and more.
While Freeside Biz is open source, it does charge for the implementation service if you want Freeside to install the billing, ticketing, and network monitoring software.
Prices start at $3,900 and go up to $7,900 depending on how much customization you need. See updated pricing here.
You can also buy hardware from Freeside. On-site service is available as well.
While Freeside’s code is open source, it seems as if the project’s blog has not been updated since 2017, so use it only if you know what you’re doing, as it may have some bugs. You can check out this page for links to the source code and documentation.
Leap is a work in progress – when it’s ready, it will be a free and open source alternative to WHMCS. The developer of Leap, who owns Katamaze (a provider of hosting solutions and tools), has become quite dissatisfied with the direction WHMCS has been going after being bought out by WebPros.
While Katamaze still uses WHMCS modules, it is working on replacing them with Leap.
Leap is supposed to not only be an open source alternative to WHMCS but also fix various problems that WHMCS has and provide additional features.
For example, some of the features Katamaze has added to its WHMCS modules already include monthly invoicing, SEO for WHMCS, and more, according to the Leap project GitHub page.
Again, Leap is still a work in progress, and it’s not ready just yet. You can follow the project and check for updates on the GitHub page.
Another excellent alternative to WHMCS is Clientexec. As of this writing, while WHMCS offers a self-hosted solution, its hosted option is still under development and not yet ready.
Clientexec, on the other hand, offers a fully hosted solution at a slightly higher price than the self-hosted one.
Another thing that sets Clientexec apart from WHMCS is that while WHMCS forces you to sign up for monthly billing, Clientexec gives you the option of buying a one-time lifetime self-hosted license.
While its extent is not entirely clear, Clientexec does offer a “refugee discount” to people migrating from competitors like WHMCS. You’ll need to email email@example.com for more information.
Clientexec allows for account management, giving you the ability to view ticket history, set up subscriptions, send invoices, and a lot more.
As it integrates with payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, BitPay, and BluePay, you’ll have multiple ways of collecting payments from clients.
Providing support to customers with Clientexec’s support system will help you build strong and long-lasting relationships. You can offer a knowledge base, live chat, email support, and ticket support.
Not only will you get analytics about how helpful your knowledge base articles are, but you’ll also have access to growth and customer satisfaction analytics to help you do better and improve your bottom line.
In your admin dashboard, you’ll be able to view tickets, see a list of all your clients and a client profile for each one, view invoices and other billing data, and a lot more. The dashboard is pretty easy to navigate.
On your client’s end, they’ll be able to view their current packages, account credit, support tickets, domains, and more.
They’ll also be able to perform actions like order new services, add a new payment method, and edit their profile. A demo screenshot of the client’s dashboard is shown here:
A demo and 30-day free trial are available. Pricing for the self-hosted solution starts at $11.95/month or $295 for a lifetime license with one year of updates; hosted plans are more expensive.
You can see updated pricing for hosted, self-hosted, and reseller licenses here.
From facilitating domain transfers to providing clients with a self-service interface for choosing different products, setting up different payment methods, and applying coupon codes, HostBill makes it easy to onboard new customers.
Automated billing and automatic invoicing allow you to ensure clients pay for the hosting services they purchased on time. You’ll be able to offer clients excellent customer support and provide them with a self-service dashboard and client panel.
HostBill integrates with over 500 platforms, panels, payment processors, file backup tools, DNS services, email services, and other tools. You can see all of the integrations – all of which were built by the HostBill team – on this page.
If you feel like HostBill is missing a specific feature, you can always use the feature request form to ask for its implementation.
Pricing starts at $599 and goes up to $5,999, depending on the number of support cases and integrations you get access to, although all plans come with access to most features and most integrations. Additional support cases and other features are available as addons.
All licenses involve a one-time fee and come with support and updates for one year. You can continue using the license without support and updates after the first year or subscribe for ongoing support for $99/year.
As pricing is subject to change, check out the pricing page for updated pricing plans.
I know that WHMCS can seem expensive for small web hosting companies, which is why I’m including HostLaunch in this list of WHMCS alternatives. It has two simple pricing plans, and while you’ll be paying monthly, you’ll only be paying based on the number of clients you have.
In other words, if you only have one client, you’ll only pay for that client. Not only that, but if you have zero clients, you’ll pay nothing at all, so you won’t have to spend money until you start earning a profit.
That allows you to bootstrap your hosting business even on a limited budget or while waiting for your marketing campaigns to kick in. You’ll have time to convert your leads to customers.
Another way HostLaunch is different from WHMCS is that while WHMCS (and major competitors) have both branded and unbranded plans, all of HostLaunch’s plans are nonbranded and white label. You won’t have to pay extra to remove its branding.
You’ll also be able to offer your clients perks like a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt and one-click WordPress installation, all the while providing a branded, white-label dashboard so they won’t know you’re using HostLaunch.
All of your clients will get virtual private servers; HostLaunch doesn’t do shared hosting. However, to avoid overwhelming the servers, you can set a per-server site limit; clients can also get multiple servers if they exceed the limits.
Pricing is set by you, and billing is through Stripe; you can bill clients in more than 135 currencies. Unfortunately, PayPal is not supported, though that is subject to change.
Servers are from Digital Ocean or ServerPilot, which you must have accounts for.
So, let’s get to the juicy part: How much does HostLaunch actually cost?
Pricing is always subject to change, so do check the pricing page for updated information. Right now, the Essential plan costs $1/month for each customer you have.
Yes, that’s one dollar a month.
The Professional plan, which includes perks like custom domain support, costs $2/month per customer.
A free trial isn’t available, but I don’t think it’s really necessary given the low, flexible rates.
WISECP stands for Web Hosting Billing and Digital Services Platform. It bills itself as an alternative to WHMCS.
According to WISECP, it includes addons for free while WHMCS charges for them and offers features that WHMCS doesn’t, including:
- Brute force protection
- IP, location, and browser authentication
- Protection against VPN and proxy usage
- Client blacklist
- And more
Using WISECP, you can sell hosting plans and domain names. It integrates with various domain name registrars.
You can set up automatic invoicing and payments and automatic account suspension when payments are not made.
Support for regional tax systems, including EU tax laws, are supported.
With the “Cash Management” feature, you’ll be able to keep track of your cash flow.
You can provide support to your clients with the ticket system.
The AJAX supported ticket system means you can see replies from clients in real-time without refreshing the page first; you can save reply drafts, assign tickets to staff members, add custom notes, and more.
WISECP integrates with major control panels, payment processors, and virtual servers. However, it is very developer friendly, and in addition to the in-house integrations, it provides documentation, APIs, and more for custom integrations and plugins.
One way WISECP stands apart from its competitors is in its extra strong security. It even has a client blacklist database, as mentioned, which allows you to block clients who commit fraud.
Pricing starts at $12.95/month or $295 for a lifetime license; see updated pricing here.
Ubersmith is a billing solution for hosting companies and a WHMCS alternative with a slightly different target audience. While WHMCS is more geared towards startups and small businesses, Ubersmith is pricier but geared towards larger hosting providers who need more customization.
From quotes to billing to order provision to ticketing to reports, Ubersmith has all you need to help your hosting business grow. Your customers will be able to log into their self-service accounts and view their invoices and account history. They’ll also be able to see their support tickets, pay bills, and more.
You can see updated pricing on the pricing page (it currently starts at $500/month). You can also schedule a demo before committing.
Finally, the last WHMCS alternative on our list is BILLmanager. Unlike WHMCS, it offers lifetime licenses and a free trial.
The trial version, which lasts for 30 days, is fully functional and allows you to sell domain names, hosting plans, and SSL certificates. It integrates with more than 30 payment processors, and you can set up automatic invoicing or bill clients manually.
Using the ticket system, you can provide support to your clients; you can also provide live chat support. Extensive documentation is available, and you can view the roadmap to see upcoming updates.
You can request pricing information on the pricing page. As of now, if you are using a lifetime license, you can exchange your lifetime license for a monthly or yearly license and get up to one year free.
The best free and open source alternative to WHMCS is BoxBilling. It is the only truly free and truly open source alternative that is fully updated and supported.
The best premium alternative to WHMCS is Blesta. It is mostly open source, making it very developer friendly, though you’ll still need a license to use it.
The best alternative for low-budget businesses and startups is HostLaunch, as it has very affordable plans that only make you pay for the exact number of clients you have.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.