The usage of web hosting services has increased astronomically over the last couple of years. Today, businesses of all sizes are looking for new tools to manage their web services and easily navigate through different servers and system admins. And that’s where web hosting control panels swoop in and save the day for many businesses.
The current marketplace is offering a ton of free tools to handle server migrations, web server switching, and many other management tasks. However, hosting control panels have made it quite easy for companies to manage a variety of online services such as mailboxes, web servers, and other DNS settings.
Almost every hosting control panel comes with a GUI and is rapidly becoming a game-changer for monitoring and managing web-hosting services. The interfaces of these control panels are much simpler and easy to use compared to conventional terminals. Admins can simply use the mouse pointer to interact with different tools/features. The visual representation provided by the control panels enables users to simultaneously work on web hosting and server management tasks.
In this article, we will provide essential information that you need to know about web hosting control panels. Also, we will list the best free web hosting control panels that your organization or team can use with ease.
Why Use a Free Web Hosting Control Panel?
The answer is pretty simple – to elevate your web hosting experience. When you are using your web hosting account, your experience will depend on the control panel you use to interact with the web hosting services you have opted for. Thus, it is crucial that the control panel you are using aligns well with your requirements. Control panels help you to check the stats of your website, server usage, speed, performance, etc. and make sure everything in your system is working smoothly.
Technical knowledge is essential for almost every website owner, but what many don’t consider is to make use of a robust hosting control panel. It has a huge impact on the way you optimize the performance of a website.
One of the main reasons to consider a web hosting control panel is platform independence. Most of the control panels support operating on different platforms. For example, Plesk is a control panel that works in Debian and Windows servers.
Support is always available even for the free web hosting control panels and one can access the forum to get the desired help. The compatibility to work with any required software is a major pain point for users and control panels take care of it by having access to multiple servers
Free web hosting panels are a great way to save up on the budget. Free versions may not have excellent customer support but they do offer reliable features. They also encourage users to access regular security updates to safeguard themselves from hackers. The security updates also help in fixing bugs and ensure better security.
Main Control Panel Features You Should Consider
Here are some of the key features to consider while choosing a hosting control panel:
- Cross-Platform Compatibility
The web hosting industry is growing fast and undergoing a rapid expansion by offering support for new platforms. If your control panel is limited to only one platform, then you are missing out on unique opportunities offered by other platforms like Linux, etc. The best option would be a centralized single interface that can run on different platforms. This makes automation more flexible for system administrators.
- Cluster Management
Having a single centralized interface may solve the cross-platform issue but it is still a tedious job to manage multiple servers at the same time. To eliminate the pain of surveillance, you should consider cluster management in the web hosting control panel. This feature can add/remove/edit clusters present in both Windows and Linux-based operating systems.
- Server Migration
Hosting control panels are supposed to be equipped with this feature to import users into your system and determine what type of role they will play in your business. System admins will have the control to assign a new account holder either with the role of a client or reseller. The server migration feature will also import existing website data onto your control panel.
- Mail Managers
A hosting control panel oversees multiple mail servers and accounts, so the control panel you choose should come with powerful mail management features. Mail managers should be able to handle remote servers on different platforms to help users access their control panels from any location. The mailing list can easily be accessed from a manager and you can edit it however you’d like. The same applies to mail domains and POP accounts.
- Bandwidth Monitor
This is a unique type of monitoring feature provided by very few control panels but it is a good add-on to help increase the overall functionality. By adding a bandwidth monitor to your web hosting control panel, you will have access to periodic reports consisting of graphical data.
- Encryption & SSL Manager
Having encryption features is a must for any control panel. Even if it is a free version, you need to prevent personal data or business statistics from getting intercepted by a third-party cyber influencer. An SSL manager is responsible for generating dedicated SSL certificates for multiple clients. It is a shared SSL but it can be configured to change SSL directory properties.
- Softaculous Auto Installer
Many companies are using this feature to offer extra SaaS applications along with every website. The Softaculous installer takes care of a variety of PHP and MySQL-based applications, and they are not sold separately but with the entire hosting package. By having the Softaculous app installer within your control panel, you can install or disable an application in one single click. Some of the main application categories used for websites are blogs, e-commerce payment solutions, and photo galleries.
10 Best Free Web Hosting Control Panels
Free web hosting control panels have many unique features in terms of security and functionality. To find the ideal hosting control panel for yourself, you have to consider all the features discussed in the previous section.
The basic elements like DNS management or file manager are present in almost every hosting control panel out there. To help you access all the top-rated features at zero-cost, we have listed the 10 best free hosting control panels that come with versatile features that can fulfill all your requirements.
This is a relatively famous open-source control panel and it comes under the BSD license. The GUI for this web hosting control panel is easy-to-use and can handle multiple servers with ease. The control panel comes with four main login levels: reseller, administrator, company client, and email user. ISPConfig has all the basic features but it also provides some special tools to lower the server resource needs.
- It is an open-source control panel. With no cost, it is a tempting hosting control panel for many independent website owners and other small businesses.
- The control panel provides better Linux support.
- ISPConfig is a rare control panel that can set up a virtualized environment to create OpenVZ virtual servers.
- The installation is complicated and very hard for beginners to accomplish.
- Customer support is almost impossible to find with ISPConfig. The forum is available but reliable solutions are provided rarely.
Ajenti is another fantastic control panel that comes at zero cost. This is also open source, so one can download and use it for free. The efficiency rating is high in the case of Ajenti and the control panel comes with a lot of customizable settings. It also delivers impressive performance with its pre-installed packages and modern tools. Some of the essential tools available include text editor and file manager. Ajenti is a lightweight web hosting control panel, so it allows users to integrate third-party applications developed with Python, PHP, Node.js, and Ruby.
- Virtual mail servers are available on different platforms.
- DNS management features and mail managers are included in the web interface.
- User-friendly GUI.
- Users can integrate third-party plugins.
- No multi-language support.
- Cannot integrate with other web panels.
- Access to the command line is not available.
This particular web hosting control panel is made for RHEL 6.X and CloudLinux distribution. The web panel is available for free and the best part about CentOS Web Panel is its installation process. In just a couple of clicks, you will have everything set up. Some of the major features of CentOS Web Panel include live monitoring, security firewalls, and automated processes. CentOS Web Panel has a file system lock feature that increases the safety of the website and makes it extremely hard for hackers to breach the system.
- Forums are active and the community is always present to provide expert solutions.
- CentOS Web Panel provides RPM support and it makes the development of a machine easy for you to mirror in the production stage.
- The web control panel also provides different command line customizations that make the deployment of a new instance much simpler.
- The user interface is outdated and it lags behind every major control panel in the industry.
- CentOS Web Panel doesn’t provide a robust driver solution.
- English is the only language supported.
When you need more authentication features for your control panel, you need to consider Virtualmin. You should give it a try because it is open-source and free to use. Virtualmin is recognized globally and it has thousands of active users. It comes with all the essential features that you need to manage your hosting effectively and on top of that, it also provides website statistics reports and a 2-factor authentication feature.
- Cluster management is easy to implement and one can even find mirrors of the same for the production process.
- Importing scripts can be done within seconds using Virtualmin.
- Designed for system administrators, so it is easy to modify settings and account services.
- Virtualmin stands out in Subdomains and permissions. It can help create sub-server and new domains.
- The interface is indeed powerful but has a steep learning curve. A lot of technical knowledge is required to use its tools and features.
- Community support provides no reliable solutions and it is majorly because of the small user base.
This is a reliable and trustworthy hosting control panel suitable for corporations and even small enterprises. DirectAdmin is a user-friendly control panel with a beautiful interface with modern design. It has been running for the last 18 years and it has added almost 1400 new features to date. They stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and try to incorporate as many features as possible.
- The stability of this panel is quite impressive and they also offer immediate solutions in case of a system crash.
- The speed of this control panel is impressive.
- Offers great customer support.
- DirectAdmin is not compatible with Windows.
- System administrators cannot add third-party applications.
Virtual Hosting Control Systems is another Linux-based server management software that comes with a great GUI. It is majorly used by domain owners, network administrators, and resellers. The open-source control panel is used worldwide by many top corporations that are using Linux and Unix platforms. VHCS is famous for its simple features that are deployed to shorten active time on the server and it doesn’t require high-level technical knowledge to understand its operation.
- Multilingual support is available. for its skin-based graphic user interface.
- Disk Quotas.
- Virtual asset management is done in two ways: name and IP-based.
- Forums and communities are inactive.
In our list of top control panels, Froxlor is the most flexible and lightweight open-source platform, which promises exceptional performance even under heavy server loads. The control panels offer many customizable options to the user. Some of the key features associated with Froxlor are SQL database management and SSL encryption features. Froxlor is recommended for developers and resellers because it works great on a Debian-configured VPS.
- Easy to implement PHP environments.
- Froxlor comes with robust APIs that make it easy for developers to integrate third-party apps like photo galleries or blog sections.
- Advanced SSL support.
- GPL licensed.
- The free version has limited features and paid versions are expensive.
- Customer support is not available 24/7.
VestaCP is an impressive hosting control panel under the GPL v3 license. As it is freely distributed, you can always use the source code to load and change it in whatever way you want. PHP implementation is easy with VestaCP and one can choose from a variety of versions available online. VestaCP’s simplicity and convenience are its main highlights.
- Everything is ready to use once you install the software. You can add sites and work with databases immediately.
- You need to pay a fixed fee for customer support.
- Security features still have room for improvement.
YunoHost is one of the most user-friendly hosting control panels. This control panel can be repurposed in many cost-effective ways and it can even be done at home with the help of an ARM board. With YunoHost, you will have physical control of the entire machine and if you wish to configure your panel settings, you would need to insert new hardware and do it manually. The best part about this control panel is that you don’t need to have any technical expertise, and also it is completely free to use.
- High-quality administration experience.
- It is only available for Debian.
- No access to integrate third-party applications.
ZPanel is a robust control panel and has been around for a quite long time. The basic features include mail management, database management, and interface monitoring. It also comes with many advanced features but that are available with the paid version. ZPanel also comes with multilanguage support to encourage wide variety users and it also does not limit any use of plugins for design and grid.
- They are inclined to support home users and hosting resellers.
- Active community with experienced developers.
- Requires a significant amount of technical knowledge to use it.
- No proper security features are available.
It is not easy to find highly compatible web-hosting panels at zero cost or low prices because the marketplace now is highly competitive and it is crucial to check different parameters to narrow down to the best free web-hosting panel. Some of the most essential solutions required for a free web hosting panel include support for email hosting, having necessary features to make SSL integration feasible, and built-in support for one-click CMS installation.
The platform you are working on is also important and it is better to have a hosting panel that is compatible on multiple operating systems. We have given our picks for the best free web hosting panels above and they all are having decent features and collaboration tools, but if you find an alternative that saves you time and avoids hassles, it’s worth spending that extra amount.
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