Complete cPanel Tutorial

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cPanel was created in 1996 by John Nick Koston, former owner of now out-of-business firm Speed Hosting. It was developed to service their Linux servers at the time being. Today, cPanel has grown into a standard for managing all kinds of Linux hosting servers. The straightforward UI of cPanel and the simplicity of installing apps has been the number one factor for their success.

What is cPanel?

The cPanel meaning is about as simple as cPanel itself, as its name is derived from the two words that describe what it is: a control panel.

cPanel Definition

Functioning as a control panel, cPanel is what allows you to manage every part of your hosting account. It is a Linux-based control panel that simplifies everything that goes into hosting a web site.

There is so much you can do with cPanel, including:

How Does cPanel Work?

cPanel is the control panel that gives you a simple interface to help you do things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do without knowledge of programming.
With cPanel, your web server is much easier to manage.

How To Use cPanel

When using cPanel for the first time, the task can seem overwhelming and complicated. Fortunately, this cPanel tutorial for beginners makes the entire process easy from start to finish and shows you exactly why cPanel is the must-have tool for building and managing your own web site.

Logging In


If you’re logging in for the first time, you should have a username and password that was given to you by your hosting provider. I most cases, the hosting provider you are using should give you a link to your cPanel when you sign into your hosting account.

The quickest and easiest way to use your cPanel.com login is to enter your web address into the search bar, then add :2082 for unsecured or :2083 for secured. You’ll then be prompted to enter your username and password.

Once you have logged in, you should see the main cPanel interface. The interface was updated in 2015 to a theme called “Paper Lantern” to ensure things look as organized as possible.

To make sure your cPanel interface is set up to reflect the most recent updates, locate the “Preferences” section of the Home page near the bottom, and select “Change Style.” If the current style is listed as “Basic” you are already good to go.

cpanel searchbar

At the top of cPanel, right below the navigation bar, you should find a search bar. You can use this helpful tool to find what you need in seconds.

In the top right corner of your screen, you should find the navigation bar. Included in the navigation bar are “Search Features”, Account Management, Notifications, and Logout. Keep in mind however, some web hosts might have added a touch of their own modifications here.

Account Management

Within the account management function, you can change your password, style, contact information, or language. They even make it easy to reset the page with the click of a button.

Notifications

With this feature, you will be notified of important updates from cPanel, including security issues, applications that have expired, or other pertinent information.

On the left side of the screen, you should find a sidebar with four graphics. Beginning from the top, these icons represent Home, Statistics, Dashboard, and User Management.

Home

This is the primary page of your cPanel where you can find most of your applications.

Statistics

This feature will show you important information related to numbers, including:

  • How many email accounts you have
  • File transfer protocol (FTP) accounts and domain names you have
  • How much bandwidth and disk space you are using
Dashboard

This is a quick way to locate links to some of the more often-utilized parts of your website. Here, you can also look at your bandwidth and disk space usage, as well as mail statistics.

User Management

Here, you can add or remove users from the account. Additionally, you can see the email accounts you have created as well as who can access your web disk and FTP. This is especially helpful for those who share their account with other admins or users.

Reorganizing Your Home Page

To make your home page easier to navigate, you can minimize the sections you aren’t using by clicking the “-” sign located in the top right corner. You can also drag and drop a full section to reorganize your home page and change the order in which your sections are read. It may be beneficial to place the sections you use first at the top.

Updating Your Preferences

When you first log in to cPanel, you will want to update your contact information and change your password in the Preferences section.

How To Change Your Password

For security purposes, it is highly recommended to change your password at least every three months. This way, your site is better protected against hacking.

To change your password, click “Password & Security” and enter your old password. Then, select a new, secure password. For an easy way to generate an incredibly strong password, user the “Password Generator.” Just be sure to write your password down somewhere safe so you don’t forget it.

How To Update Your Contact Information

When using cPanel, it’s important to provide an email that is not attached to the domain name you are using, to receive necessary updates. To do this, click “Contact Information.”

You should find all the boxes under “Contact Preferences” checked. It is highly recommended that you leave all the boxes checked to ensure you don’t miss an important update or notification. Such alerts include suspicious activity or a problem with your hosting.

How To Add A New User

If you want to give another person access to make changes to your account, you will need to add a new user. To do so, click the “User Manager” icon in the Preferences section.

On the next screen, you will see all the accounts that have been created for your cPanel. There are three images next to each account:

  • The mail envelope shows the account has a cPanel email account associated with it.
  • The delivery truck shows the account has access to FTP.
  • The disc drive means that user can use the web disk services

Here, you can edit any user, change their password, or delete them completely, using the options listed below their name.

To add a new user, find the “Add User” button in the top right corner and click on it. Then, add the user’s full name, the preferred username, the domain the user is associated with, and an alternative email that can be used to reach the user.

You will also be prompted to create a password for the user. Create a password that is unique to that user and different from the other users on your account.

Then, find a section called “Services.” In this section, you’ll find the following essential settings:

  • Email: Here you can enable or disable email account soft users once they are created, and set a limit for the amount of space each account has.
  • FTP: This function allows you to enable or disable accounts from being able to access File Transfer Protocol that allows them to upload files to your site. You can select what directory they will be able to access and limit the space they can use.
  • Web Disk: These permissions should be accessed only by top-level admin accounts. “Read-Write” level access allows the user to do essentially whatever they want, within a set directory, while Read-Only allows reading, listing, and downloading files.

Once you have finished those settings, click “Create” or “Create and Add Another” on the left, bottom corner of the page. This will save the new account.

Managing Domain Names

manage domain names with cpanel

The “Domains” part of cPanel is where you will go whenever you need to add a domain name that you have purchased to your hosting account. Here, you can also manage subdomains or redirect a domain you already own to another site.

How To Add A New Domain Name

Adding a domain name to your hosting package is the same as adding a domain name to your cPanel. To do this, you will need to click “Addon Domains” which can be found in the domain section.

An “Addon Domain” is an entirely new, unique domain you can use to build a fully-functional website. You can host multiple domain names using the same control panel, which makes it much simpler to manage.

When you are on the “Addon Domains” screen, you will be prompted to enter your new domain name, the subdomain, and the document root. We have explained what each of those is, below.

  • New domain name: The domain name exactly as it was registered, without the “www.” portion.
  • Subdomain: This creates a subdomain for the primary domain on the cPanel account. This function is automatic and visitors to your site will never know they are being redirected to your new domain name.
  • Document root: This is where your new domain’s files will be located on the server.

When you type in your new domain name, cPanel will automatically fill the other two text boxes.

Click “Add Domain” to complete the process.

How To Edit Or Remove A Domain Name

On the “Addon Domain” screen, locate a section labeled “Modify Addon Domain.” This section allows you to edit the document root, manage any redirections you’ve created, or remove the domain.

Email Accounts & Settings

Once you have a domain name set up, you will want to set up an email account to go with it. The “email” section within cPanel includes every tool you need to manage your email.

How To Set Up A cPanel Email Account

cpanel email manager

To add a new email account to your domain, click “Email Account” then follow the directions below to set up your new email account:

  1. Where it says “Email”, enter the address you want to be contacted at.
  2. Choose the right domain name from the drop-down menu. If you haven’t yet added your domain to cPanel, you will have to do that first.
  3. Create a password and make sure it is secure.
  4. Adjust the Mailbox Quota for the account. Remember that emails use space on your server so it may be a good idea to not give everyone unlimited access.
  5. Click “Create Account”.

When you have completed the steps above, the email you just created should have been added to the list of email accounts.

How To Forward Your Email To Another Address

If you want to have the emails that go to your domain-related email address forwarded to another address you already own, like a Gmail address, first you will need to click on “Forwarders.”

Then, enter in the email address you have already created and select a destination you want those emails forwarded to.

Take note: When you answer those forwarded emails from your other account (like your Gmail account), the response will come from that account, not the domain name-associated email account.

If you want to send emails from your domain name email, you will need to log in to your webmail or set up your Mail Client and MX Records to allow you to do so.

How To Set Up Spam Filters

cpanel SpamAssassin

With cPanel, you can set up filters to keep spam far away from your inbox. First, click on the “Apache SpamAssassin” button in the Email section.

Then, you have a few options to choose from:

  • You can click “Enable Apache SpamAssassin” to turn on the smart spam filter.
  • You can click “Auto-Delete Spam” to flag spam and automatically discard it.
  • You can adjust how selective the spam filter is, using a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the most liberal and 10 being the most conservative.
  • You can enable your “Spam box” or empty it.

If you want to create advanced settings, click “Configure Apache SpamAssassin” to add blacklisted email addresses or to protect important emails from being deleted with whitelisted email addresses.

When you are just getting started, it may be best to leave the settings as they are.

How To Manage Your Files

The “Files” part of cPanel is where to go when you want to upload files, back up your website, and manage your FTP accounts.

FTP is how you can manage the files associated with your website, including reading, uploading, or retrieving them.

How To Use The File Manager

As the name suggests, you will want to become well acquainted with the File Manager when it comes to managing your files. With the File Manager, you can control all your site’s files with HTTP, rather than having to use an FTP tool or different third-party apps.

To use the File Manager, click the appropriately labeled icon. Be extremely careful when making any changes in the File Manager, as this is where all of the files for your site are kept.

Notice the root folder and sub-folders on the left. Then, in the middle of your screen, you should see the contents of the selected folder.

How To Create A New Folder

Folders keep your files organized and help make everything for your site easier to understand.

Instructions on how to create a new folder are below:

  1. Click the “+ Folder” button located in the top menu.
  2. Name the new folder and enter a destination where the new folder will be created.
  3. Click “Create New Folder”.
How To Upload A File Using File Manager

To add a file, such as a document you want people to be able to download or a picture you want to use on your website, you will first need to select the folder you want the file to be uploaded to.

Then click the “Upload” button. You will be prompted to drag and drop the file you want to upload. You can also click to select the file.

How To Add An FTP Account

If you want to give someone else permission to upload files to your website using an FTP client, you will first have to set up an FTP account. To get started, click on the “FTP Accounts” icon.

Then, you will need to create a login. Enter the name another user will use to log in, in the “Log In” box.

Use the dropdown list to select the domain where you want to make the FTP account, then add a password. Make sure the password is secure enough to prevent hacks.

The “Directory” box clarifies the new FTP account’s highest level of directory access.

You will also want to define the quota for the space the new FTP user’s account can take up. You can select a limited amount or allow for unlimited disk space.

How To Back Up Your Website

Not backing up your files puts you at risk for suddenly losing them in the case of unforeseen circumstances. Fortunately, on the cPanel website, it is easy to keep this disaster from happening. You can manually back up your site at any time.

Below are the instructions for how to back up your site:

  1. Click the “Backup Wizard” icon in the Files portion of your site.
  2. Click the “Backup” button.
  3. You will then see a screen that gives you the option to choose whether you want to do a full backup that includes all files, or a partial backup that includes only your Home Directory, MySQL Databases, Email Forwarders, and Filters.
  4. Select a backup destination. Unless you have a separate FTP server, this can be left as “Home Directory”.
  5. Type in your email address if you want to be notified when the backup is finished.
  6. Click “Generate Backup” to create a total backup.

How To Check Your Disk Space

It’s important to know how much space you are taking up, even if your hosting company told you your disk space is unlimited. By periodically checking your disk space, you can also see what parts of your website are using the most space.

To check your disk space, first, click the “Disk Usage” icon. You will then be able to look at the different sections of your file manager. You can also look at your quota or limit.

Guide To 1-Click Installs

Using cPanel, WordPress installations are easier than ever.

First, you will need to find the “Software” section of your cPanel home page. Then click “Softaculous Apps Installer“. You will then see a screen full of apps that can be easily installed.

To install WordPress, click “Install” and the deed is done!

Setting Up Your Admin Account

While you can leave the admin name as “admin” is fine, you may want to change it to your name. As for the password, it’s important to use a very strong password. To avoid being hacked, do not leave the password as “pass”.

It’s also important to update the email of the admin to match an account that already exists. Then set your language and enable the “Limit Login Attempts” to avoid brute force attacks.

Choosing A Theme For Your WordPress Site

When installing WordPress with Softaculous, you can choose a free theme as soon as you install your website. Find a theme you like then select it and click “Install”.

From there you are good to go!

Which Web Hosts Offer cPanel?

With web hosts like Bluehost, cPanel is the feature that makes their sites easy to use and manage. Bluehost is just one of ten hosting providers that offer cPanel.

The following web hosts offer cPanel hosting:

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