The Ultimate Beginners Guide To cPanel

If you are about to set up your own website for the first time, then in all probability you will definitely turn to cPanel at some point to accomplish tasks such as uploading files, adding domains to your host account, managing your applications, product databases and emails or even for installing WordPress. Websites also require continuous maintenance for improving the site’s SEO performance, such as uploading new content, adding pages, backing up data and taking measures to reduce page loading times. The web host provides a web-based control panel to facilitate and simplify the main administrative tasks of hosting for the end user.  cPanel is one such control panel for supervising tasks for your hosting account and it is an immensely popular configuration with Linux based servers among the majority of web hosts. But navigating cPanel may be challenging for new users so some basic knowledge can go a long way in solving any technical issues.

This beginner’s guide will introduce you to cPanel so that you can find your way around better.

How to Log In

The graphical interface of cPanel is a big help for anyone with appropriate login credentials in managing different aspects of their website. This web-hosted interface offers a 3-tier architecture that allows the end-user, administrator and resellers to make their own changes. It provides command line and API based access to third party vendors, web hosting companies and the developers.

To see what activities can be performed through the cPanel dashboard, you first need to get your cPanel login credentials ready. Your hosting provider will have given you login credentials once you signed up for hosting. Most providers will also offer links to cPanel when you sign into your account but otherwise you can access cPanel by suffixing a website’s homepage address with “:2082” (unsecured) or “:2083” (secured).

Introduction To cPanel Interface

Once you log into your cPanel, you will see a page with options to manage files, databases, domains, emails, etc. It is possible to change your cPanel’s style through the ‘Preferences’ section at the bottom of your Home page. You can choose between ‘Retro’ and ‘Basic’ before clicking the Apply button for the changes to take effect.

What Features Will You Find In cPanel?

Search bar – Located at the top of your cPanel, under the navigation bar, you can use it to look for different functions and find your way around.

Navigation bar – You will find this on the top right corner of your screen and it provides Search features, Account management, Notifications, and Logout.

  • Search Features offers the same functionality as the search bar.
  • Account management allows you to set up your page by changing password, style, language, or contact information. You can also reset if you run into any issues.
  • Notifications give you updates from your cPanel regarding security warnings, outdated applications, and such.
  • Logout is where you come to logout each time when you are done with your cPanel\

Sidebar – Look on the left part of your cPanel for the side bar, which has four icons including Home, Statistics, Dashboard, and finally, User Management.

  • Home is the primary access page for the majority of cPanel functions.
  • Statistics gives you the numbers, for instance of domain names, emails, bandwidth, or disk space.
  • The dashboard icon provides quick links to the most popular parts of your site that you use most often. It also provides an overview of statistics, disk space, and bandwidth that you are using.
  • User Management is used for adding or removing users from the account. This is very important if you share the upkeep of the site with several admins.

Update Preferences

Always keep your contact information updated through the Preferences section of cPanel so that the server can notify you about any errors it encounters or inform you about completed backups. Through Preferences you can also change the password of the account, the language used or the style of your cPanel.

Change the password

To protect your site from hackers, you should change your password regularly. You can do this by clicking on Password & Security, where you will be prompted to type in the current password, and then type in a strong, new password, and then rewrite it again. You might want to write it down somewhere safe, just to be on the safe side.

Update contact info

To keep your contact info relevant and updated, go to Contact information and you will be asked to enter your email addresses. This way you will also receive updates on how your hosting resources are performing and you will be warned in case of strange activities on your site. You will find many options with their boxes checked by default and it is preferable to let them be as they are.

Add a New User

You can add a brand-new user to cPanel by clicking the “User Manager” icon in the Preferences section. You will get an overview of all accounts set up inside your cPanel and you may notice three icons next to each icon- mail envelope, delivery truck, and the disc drive. The first is indicative of the fact that the account has an email account set up in cPanel, while the delivery truck shows that the account has access to File Transfer Protocol, and the last icon shows that the user can use the web disk services. Use the “Add User” button in the top right corner to add the brand-new user. You will be prompted to add the user’s full name, username, and the associated domain for that user, and if you want, an alternative email for the user. Then you should create a unique password for the user.

There is a section called “Services,” right under these fields that has email, FTP and web disk settings that you should check out as well. Through the Email settings you can enable, or possibly disable users’ email accounts and set space limit for each account. Through FTP settings, you can allow accounts to upload files on the site and set a space limit or give full file system access or pick specific directories that they will have access to.  You can set up Web Disk permissions to either allow or disallow full access to files, documents within a specific directory. You should only give Read-Write access to admins with top-level accounts.

Manage Domain Names

To add a new domain you have purchased, click on cPanel’s ‘Domains’ section. Click on ‘Addon Domains’ to add another domain. Then enter the necessary domain information (name, a subdomain, as well as a document root) so that you can start building your new site. There is no limit to the number of domains that you can add but do make sure that your hosting plan can deal with it. The ‘Domains’ section also allows you to manage redirects and create subdomains under an existing domain.

Manage Your Email Accounts

If you want to add an email address that matches your domain name, then you should go to ‘Email Accounts’ in your ‘Email’ section. All you have to do is enter the email address in the first field, as in “[email protected]” and then choose a domain to connect the email to from the dropdown menu. Then set a strong password and set limits on your mailbox quota.  The final step is to click ‘Create Account’ and you should see your newly added email on the list of email accounts. You can also manage different email accounts from the ‘Email’ section, set up spam filters, create email lists, directly login to email accounts already set up and also see recommended mail settings for third-party clients.

How To Use File Manager

You can view/edit/delete/create your website’s files and folder by navigating to ‘File Manager’ under the ‘Files’ section. You can choose the website you want files from and click ‘Go’ to open up a list of files that make up your website. Where you are dealing with large amounts of files, FTP is highly recommended.

Create New Folder

You can properly organize the files in your site by creating folders. This can make managing and maintaining your website so much easier. All you have to do is click on “+ Folder” button on the top of the menu and then name your folder. Then drag and drop whatever files you desire and once you are finished, click “Create new folder.”

Add An FTP Account

You can give someone else permission to upload files from their computer to your site using an FTP client (like FileZilla.) You can click on the ‘FTP Accounts’ icon and create a new FTP account with the login information of your choice.  From the dropdown list, select the domain you want to create the FTP account for and add a password. Define the highest level of directory access through “home directory” and then set the maximum quota for the space the new FTP user can take up. (How to use FileZilla)

One Click Installs

The final tool we will touch on in this guide can be found under the “Software” section of your cPanel home page, ‘‘Softaculous Apps Installer,’ which doesn’t just install apps but also content management systems, like WordPress on any domain you own. Find WordPress and click ‘Install,’ which will open up another screen so that you can configure settings correctly. Select a protocol of your choice then pick a domain to add to your WordPress from the dropdown list and fill in details about the admin email, title of your site, and admin username. Make sure to enable the Limit Login Attempts in order to prevent someone from cracking your password by entering a series of guesses. Use the “Search” function to browse through themes you might be interested in and then select one you like and hit the “Install” button. Once the install is done, everything else will happen automatically and you’ll receive an email that enables you to login to the WordPress backend.

Ready, Set and Go

There’s so much more you can do within your cPanel but we hope this basic guide helps you understand and know how to use cPanel. Now that you know some of the most important basic functions of cPanel, you can follow the instruction and begin setting everything up to enjoy your new site. After all, cPanel is a rather user friendly platform. At Hostlabs we are always happy to help you with any technical queries regarding this powerful web hosting tool.