cPanel vs DirectAdmin, Which to Use and Why?

A web control panel can make or break your hosting account experience and server configuration. So, it is important to select the right one. And narrowing down to the two most popular options available i.e., cPanel and DirectAdmin, is very easy. But it is tricky to choose between the two. Especially, with the increase in the price of the cPanel licensing fee, there has been a lot of buzz on the Internet and hosting forums regarding its alternatives. So, in this post, we will compare cPanel and DirectAdmin on key areas to find out which one is good for you. So, let’s get started!


What is cPanel?

Used by some of the best and biggest hosting companies, WHM/cPanel is a UNIX based control panel and officially supports Linux. cPanel allows managing the website’s administrative functions from end-user, retailer, and administrator level. It’s easy to navigate, thus beneficial for all type of users irrespective of their ability.

What is DirectAdmin?

Designed to make website administration work easier, DirectAdmin is a graphical web-based control panel for web hosting. It is a lightweight control and supports Linux. This control panel is highly efficient that uses the least amount of system resources, making it perfect for systems ranging from heavily-loaded dedicated servers to low-end VPS units.

cPanel vs DirectAdmin: The Major Differences

Both cPanel and DirectAdmin share similarities like Linux support and free SSL. Additionally, both offer a server configuration framework and GUI (graphical user interface). However, this is not all. So, let’s dive deeper into their differences.

  • Functionality

Though cPanel and DirectAdmin may seem to be similar, they are very different. Both of them provide UI and server configuration framework, but in DirectAdmin, quite a bit of work is needed to be done from the command line. On the other hand, cPanel provides nearly all the functionality and configuration within the UI, making it a better fit and easy to use for different user levels. But the advanced users who are looking for doing the changes from the command line may get it difficult to ‘stick’ these manual changes with cPanel.

Along with being feature-rich, cPanel also provides a lot of online tutorials, forum discussions, how-to guides, and more. As it is a popular choice, so you can easily find helpful resources all over the internet.

  • Expandability

In cPanel, it is very easy to add plugins and modules without any or much-added cost. Additionally, the advanced users can directly customize the code options in the system for expandability and extending the functionality of the control panel. On the other hand, DirectAdmin is also expandable by using a range of plugins but you need to pay extra for the additional functionality.

  • User Interface

There are multiple menu options in DirectAdmin and also it will look less overwhelming as compared to cPanel while logging in for the first time. However, with cPanel, it is easy to find what you are looking for and you get a lot of direct accesses while you log in. For a new user, it may seem to be overwhelming but you get everything categorically divided that includes:

  • Files
  • Mail
  • Logs
  • Domains
  • Preferences
  • Security
  • And more

The categories are all expandable and collapsible for easy customization of your front page design. In addition to the categories, the search function is also there to help you find any option within the cPanel. Whereas, DirectAdmin has only three main sections that are: Your Account, Email Management, and Advanced Features. Though it may seem to be easier initially, it gets difficult for you if what to look for in the admin area is not known to you. cPanel suits the need of every type of user and easy to understand, whereas, DirectAdmin suits only a small percentage of users.

  • Pricing

Price is an important factor to consider while choosing the ideal control panel for your hosting requirements. cPanel was the preferred choice of most of the hosting providers until they significantly raised their prices in 2019. This has caused some people to look for another solution and switch to it. Although DirectAdmin has a little fewer options than cPanel it costs less too.

Why You Might Consider to Switch from cPanel to DirectAdmin?

cPanel is the first one that comes to our minds when talking about web control panels. They have been the industry giant for more than 20 years, providing a powerful platform for every size of company.

However, due to the large spike in their cost of licensing, one may not find it as a cost-effective option. In such a case, DirectAdmin can be a budget-friendly alternative, also it offers virtually everything that one would need or expect from a control panel.

Final Verdict

The choice of control panel plays a vital role in the overall management of the hosting account. Therefore, it’s important to research and learn about each available solution before going for one. Above, we discussed the differences between the two most popular control panels, cPanel and DirectAdmin, to find out how they compare in the key areas.

cPanel is the best overall except for its high price, so if you can pay extra for this powerful control panel then cPanel is the ideal choice. Its features and easy usability makes it suitable for both beginners and advanced users alike.

But if you have budget constrain and looking for a budget-friendly alternative, DirectAdmin is the right one for your hosting needs. However, it is better for advanced users. So, if you have the skills and have low server configuration then DirectAdmin is the ideal choice but if you will use a server for hosting your client’s websites, then cPanel is the apt choice.


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