It’s a sad day when your favorite reporter signs off for the last time, or your best-loved hero gets killed off in the latest Super Hero blockbuster. Sudden, unexpected change takes you way out of your comfort zone.
Web admins are losing a dear friend, the cPanel. It has been with us through the thick of it since 1996 (almost as long as I’ve been on Earth), providing a user-friendly interface even the most web-declined can understand and work with.
cPanel has taken a lot of the code out of web work, with different tools that let us easily manage server files, databases, domain DNS, email, web applications – basically anything you’d need to embark upon your webventure.
A safe, easy, and user-friendly platform, cPanel takes the seemingly complicated world of web hosting and simplifies it into something any lay-developer can manage. For web developers, cPanel standardized what hosting could be. Should a developer not have in-house servers, they could hop from host to host and still use a system that they’re familiar with.
Every Hero has an Origin Story.
A lot has happened since 1996. We’ve been through 7 generations of iPods, the rise and fall of Facebook, Megabites became Gigabites and Gigabites have become Terrabites. The digital world looks insanely different than it did in the blocky, in-line, flash-driven 1990’s. All this has happened, but we still have the cPanel. How can something as old as Pokemon not have become obsolete in all it’s years of existence? Is it just that the cPanel has aged that well? Short answer, leading to a longer answer: kinda.
It’s not so much that the cPanel is ageless, but rather the underlying tech that powers the internet hasn’t really changed that much. PHP has been around since ’94, CSS was just a baby, and HTML was just forming it’s review board in ’96. cPanel really didn’t take long to create the much-needed interface and has scaled it’s performance with the introduction of newer HTML and PHP languages.
Why then are major hosting platforms like SiteGround and WP Engine doing away with something so evergreen? If cPanel really does what it says on the box, what’s the need for a new interface?
For one, these hosting providers need to fork over some cash to be able to include cPanel with their web packages. Developing a unique internal interface allows hosts to better troubleshoot errors within the interface and brand their services better. cPanel also doesn’t play nice with other web hosting installations, so it may be that hosts are including additional functionality not seen in the cPanel. I can see brand loyalty to hosts increasing as these companies choose to develop their own methods of overseeing servers.
The timeliness of the switch was no coincidence. cPanel announced a hotly-debated pricing structure in June of 2019, causing a gentle roar in the hosting community. Going forward, it will be nowhere near as economical for hosts to deploy cPanel hosting.
The Bittersweet Future.
There are free alternatives to cPanel which essentially do the same thing: manage your server. VestaCP and Froxlor are two great examples of free cPanel alternatives, just to name a couple.
The good news here is that cPanel isn’t going away – just that companies are starting to realize they’re outgrowing an old friend. And that’s fine. Change happens, albeit a bit quicker on the internet. You can choose to be a hard-head about it (like me) or suck it up and learn a new interface.