How Does The cPanel Work?

After you purchase a web hosting account; your web host will send you an email with your username and password for cPanel. Make sure that you save that email into a special folder or print the email out and save it.

If you never received the email, then make sure to check your spam folder. If you still can’t find the email with your account information, then contact your web hosts over the phone.

The next step is to sign onto cPanel using your username and password. If you don’t have a web hosting account yet, you can log into an online demo account and still follow along with me.

Here’s a link to log into a demo cPanel account for Bluehost: Online Demo 

Click the link on the page that says “online demo site.” See Figure 1.

Even though I’m going to use Bluehost in the follwing examples; your cPanel will you look very similar to the Bluehost Online Demo. Keep in mind that cPanel is a 3rd party software that most web hosts install to make website management easier.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting with Bluehost, InMotion, or Hostgator; your cPanel interface will have the same commonly used features.

cPanel offers different themes, so your cPanel screen might look different. Your web host might also offer different features which I’ll discuss later. At first glance, this screen may looks confusing but it’s not.

Starting at the top right of the screen, you have a basic “log out” button. Always make sure to log out when you’re finish using cPanel. Directly below the “log out” link, you’ll see your website address along with the type of hosting that’s associated with your domain name.

Below that section you’ll see a menu that says Home, Hosting, Domains, Addons, and Account. Those are just shortcuts that you can use later once you get familiar with cPanel.

Below that menu, you see another menu that says cPanel (the current screen you’re on), Server, Email, Website, FTP, Databases, and Manage IP’s. Once again, those are shortcuts to the most important cPanel features. A lot of these top menus have links that’ll forward you to the exact same pages, so don’t become overwhelmed with this screen.

After I explain some of the commonly used cPanel features; I’ll refer back to the top menus and you’ll notice that they lead to the same places. Before I start discussing the different cPanel options, I want to direct your attention to the “Stats” section on the left side of the screen.* (See Figure 2.)

*You’ll only see “Stats” if you’re logged into an active cPanel. You won’t see any stats if you’re logged into a demo cPanel account.

Main Domain: This is the main domain you chose when you opened your hosting account.

Username: cPanel username, but you can also log in using your website address.

Home Directory: Directory where your website files are stored.

Last Login From: This shows the IP address of the last person that logged into your cPanel. You should pay close attention to this IP address. If you only log into cPanel from your home office, then your IP address should be the same every time you log in.

File Count: How many files you have.

Email Accounts: This shows you how many email accounts you’ve created versus how many you’re allowed to have. I’ve only created one email account, and Bluehost offers unlimited emails. If you look at Figure 2, it shows “1/infinite symbol” next to the email accounts section.

Subdomains: This section will show you how many subdomains you have versus how many you’re allowed to have. Bluehost offers unlimited sub- domains, so once again you’ll notice the “infinite symbol” in that section.

Sub-domains are prefixed to the main domain. Sub-domains are used to make certain parts of your website easier to find. For example, the sub-domain maps.google.com takes you directly to Google Maps.

If I were to make training videos on my website, I could create an easy to remember subdomain like videos.bestwebhostinginc.com.

Parked Domains: Parked domains are other domains that you own that are currently pointing to your main domain. For example, I could purchase bestwebhostinginc.org, bestwebhostinginc.info, and webhostinghelp.com and park those domains.

If someone were to visit those parked domains, the domain will mirror the same content on my main website at bestwebhostinginc.com. This section on your cPanel will show you how many parked domains you have versus the maximum amount allowed.

Add-on Domains: Add-on domains are similar to parked domains. The main difference is that add-on domains get treated as if they were a completely different website.

If you noticed, the main domain for our Bluehost account is read2learnstore.net. Kent Mauresmo created an Add-on domain for me which is bestwebhostinginc.com.

This item on your cPanel will show you how many add-on domains you’ve created versus how many you’re allowed to have. Since Bluehost allows unlimited add-on domains, you can create multiple WordPress websites with different content.

FTP Accounts: FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. People use FTP accounts to transfer files from their personal computer to their web server. Since you’re using WordPress, you probably won’t use FTP accounts that often.

Your WordPress dashboard does almost everything that an FTP account does. For example, most people use FTP accounts to upload web pages, images, or their entire website.

If you’re familiar with WordPress, then you know that you can upload images, themes, plugins, and new pages by using your WordPress dashboard. WordPress already has a built in FTP.

There may be a few situations when need to use an FTP account. For example, you might have trouble uploading a theme through your WordPress dashboard because the file is too large. In a situation like this, you can upload the theme using a FTP client like Filezilla. I’ll talk more about FTP later, but this item will show you how many FTP accounts you’ve created versus how many you have available.

Mailing Lists: This shows the current number of mailing lists you’ve created versus the total number allowed. cPanel includes mailing lists software that’ll allow you to send out newsletters and updates. I’ll give you more information about this feature later.

All SQL Databases: This item shows you the total number of databases (MySQL & PostgreSQL) you’re using versus the total number allowed. A WordPress website will require at least one MySQL Database to work properly.

MySQL Databases: The section will show you how many MySQL Databases you’re using.

PostgreSQL Databases: This section shows you how many PostgreSQL databases you’re using. WordPress doesn’t require this type of database to function.

Account Expires In: Here you’ll see how many days you have left until your hosting account expires. You’ll also receive an email when your hosting account is close to expiring.

Hosting Package: This shows you which hosting plan you’re on. For example, Go Daddy offers 3 different packages:

  • Economy (basic)
  • Deluxe (best value)
  • Ultimate (PRO package)

Hostname: Web host name for the purpose of mapping the hostname to an address, or the reverse process. You won’t need to worry about this for the most part.

cPanel Version: This section shows you which version of cPanel you’re using. There’s a 90% chance you’ll be using the most current version of cPanel depending on your web host.

Theme: This item tells you which theme you’re using for cPanel. cPanel has multiple themes which is why your cPanel interface may look somewhat different. The screenshots I’m using are from the “Bluehost Theme.”

Apache Version: This is the version of the web page serving software that is running.

PHP Version: This is the version of the PHP programming language that is currently installed on the server. Make sure that you choose a web hosts that has the most current version of PHP installed. Some WordPress themes and plugins require the latest version of PHP to work correctly.

MySQL version: This section will show you which version of MySQL is currently installed on the server.

Architecture: This is the architecture of your server. An output of x86_64 means you use a 64-bit server.

Operating System: The operating system that your server is running. There’s a 90% chance this will be Linux unless you have a dedicated server and you’re running Windows.

Shared IP Address: This is the IP address that your website and cPanel account are on. This IP address is shared with other web hosting accounts on the same server. You can also purchase a dedicated IP address that’s only assigned to your domain name. The only time you’ll need to purchase a dedicated IP address is if you want an SSL certificate for your website.

Path to Sendmail: This is where the process that handles sending mail is. Path to Perl: This is the path to Perl on your server.

Kernel Version: Kernel is the core of the Linux operating system. This section shows you which version you’re using.

cPanel Pro: cPanel Pro allows developers to add new features to Cpanel. You don’t have to worry about this section because you’re new to cPanel.

GoDaddy Users

If you’re using Go Daddy’s hosting control center, your stats section will look a little bit different. Follow these steps to launch Go Daddy’s hosting control center:

  • Log into your GoDaddy account, and then click “My Account.”
  • Click the “Launch” button in the “Web Hosting” row.

On the right side of the screen, you’ll see your “Account Snapshot.”

Below the account snapshot, you’ll see a section that has your “Server Details.” Click the “details” link to expand the list.

Some of the information displayed on the stats section in cPanel isn’t displayed on Go Daddy’s “hosting control center” screen. Don’t be alarmed. As you progress through this guide, you’ll notice that both cPanel and GoDaddy’s Hosting Control Center offer the same information, just on different screens.

That’s pretty much it for the stats section! The next time you log into cPanel, you can look at your stats with confidence and you’ll understand what you’re looking at.

In the next chapter I’m going to log into the “Bluehost Demo” version of cPanel.

I’ll go over the “icons” within each section to help you easily understand what’s happening within your control panel.

Leave a Comment