cPanel, Plesk or DirectAdmin: Analysis and Comparison


No matter the control panel is needed for Linux VPS server, dedicated server or shared hosting, today two control panels dominate the market – cPanel and Plesk. However, there is a third heavy competitor named DirectAdmin reaching the top as well. All three control panels provide the possibility to manage the server easier, without the need of command lines that may seem difficult to handle. Moreover, choosing the most suitable one is crucial as migration from one to another is expensive and troublesome. To make the choice easier, let’s discuss all three control panels in more detail and compare them in relation to user interface, security, functionality, usability and pricing.

cPanel, Plesk or DirectAdmin: analysis and comparison

User interface differences

Featured in Linux VPS server hosting, cPanel together with WHM allows to enjoy flexibility, power and a big number of options as well as front-end and back end. Therefore, it makes the interface more complicated and harder to manage than Plesk and DirectAdmin.

Meantime, Plesk uses UX/UI modern JavaScript technology, thus making the interface very similar to WordPress content management system. Plesk features are grouped in a list down and it expand more options when clicked – it is especially convenient for beginner users.

Finally, DirectAdmin OS interface is the simplest of all previous mentioned control panels and DirectAdmin use this fact as one of the main selling points.

Difference in OS compatibility

cPanel, featured only in Linux VPS server hosting, supports Linux systems and is compatible with RedHat, CloudLinux and CentOS. For this reason, if one is more familiar and comfortable with Windows server, cPanel will require to deepen the knowledge of Linux working environment.

DirecAdmin is like cPanel in relation to running on Linux based systems – Debian, RedHat, CentOS and FreeBSD. Therefore, DirectAdmin advantages the ones who chose Linux server hosting as well as provides better support for Linux environment products.

Finally, Plesk provides the biggest variety of OSes – it not only supports CentOS, RedHat and CloudLinux, but Ubuntu, Debian and openSUSE as well. Comparing Plesk with other two operating systems, it is the only one with Windows support.


Compatible with Linux VPS server, cPanel differs from Plesk and DirectAdmin because of its possible combination with WHM. Two of them combined, greatly improves server’s management and efficiency as well as allows to manage sites, monitor and create unlimited user accounts at the same time enabling database management and various reports. WHM opens the possibilities to use functions unavailable for cPanel users only.

Meantime, Plesk, DirectAdmin and cPanel alone requires permissions to carry out more complexed actions. If to compare the functionality of all three OSes, they all have configurable reseller hosting packages, multiple language packs, availability to manage MySQL databases, phpMyAdmin integration, configurable spam filtering and more. Yet, Plesk in the only one providing multiple IPs per domain, external MySQL servers and external file servers.

Linux VPS server and other Linux systems supporting OS DirectAdmin, compared to other two, don’t have PostgreSQL support, secure remote assistance feature and external DNS synchronization.

Price comparison

DirectAdmin is the only OS who allows to purchase license that provides updates for indefinite period as well as unlimited functionality. Meantime, Plesk and cPanel charge regular fees in the whole product usage period. Also, the OSes, contrary to DirectAdmn, have two separate money charging schemes – one for VPS and other for dedicated servers.

Customer support also differs between all three OSes. Only with Linux VPS server and other Linux systems compatible cPanel charges for phone call support while Plesk and DirectAdmin offer free technical support. However, DirectAdmin provides support in all packages, whereas Plesk depend on the kind of purchased license.

Final thoughts

Every OS differs in user interface, security, functionality, usability and pricing, and the final decision should be based on personal needs and expectations. cPanel, Plesk and DirectAdmin all offer a number of great services, functions and tools for successful and efficient VPS management and because of their differences, individual demands can be met, and situations resolved.


Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.