On June 27th, cPanel introduced new, account-based pricing, which is bound to increase costs for both hosting providers and users.
This decision was made a few months after cPanel was acquired by Oakley Capital, the investment group already owning Plesk - one of cPanel's biggest competitors.
cPanel promised that this partnership will have “no immediate customer impact” at that time, but it is now clear that the customers have been affected - and affected hard.
New cPanel Prices Explained
Previously, cPanel used to charge per server, meaning that companies were free to host as many accounts as they liked, as long as the server had a cPanel license.
Such a service used to cost $45 a month - or $425 a year. However, cPanel has now switched to account-based pricing, meaning that now companies get charged based on the number of the accounts they host.
Here's how the new monthly pricing looks like:
While the prices seem reasonable, the situation gets worse if we consider larger numbers of accounts. Going upwards from 100 users, every additional user costs 20c/month, so the numbers look like this:
|Accounts per server||100||300||500||1000|
|Price/year with old pricing||$425||$425||$425||$425|
|Price/year with new pricing||$540||$1020||$1500||$2700|
Or to better visualize:
Many companies tend to put more than a hundred accounts on one cPanel server; some have up to a thousand users on a machine. Clearly, this change will have a massive effect on them. The more users per server a company will have, the bigger the price increase will be.
Recent Pricing Update
On July 5th, after the storm of criticism, cPanel has released an update on the pricing scheme for its Partner users.
The per-account pricing scheme still applies, but for some, extra accounts will cost a little bit less.
An upgrade for 100 to 150 users will be available for an extra $2.50 a month ($30/year). That's 5c/month per user, compared to the standard 20c.
For an additional 50 users, customers will be charged an extra $5/month ($60/year). That's 10c/month per user, compared to the standard 20c.
However, it's worth noticing that these reduced prices will only be valid for the cPanel Partner users, and if you're not one of them, the standard new pricing will apply. And it can be expected for the bigger hosting companies to stretch even compromises even further - while the smaller players might suffer.
New Pricing Will Massively Affect The Hosting Business
Hosting businesses, however big or small, will definitely feel the effects of increased cPanel pricing.
For starters, there are plenty of hosts offering cheap cPanel hosting - such as Hosting24, with plans starting from $1.95/month. With the new cPanel pricing, it's expected for such cheap hosting plans to completely disappear - or to become much more expensive than they currently are.
Reseller hosting is facing similar dangers. The way this business operates now is that one reseller purchases a VPS or a dedicated server and can use it to host as many users as they want using one cPanel license.
Using an account-based pricing model, hosting companies will not be able to offer unlimited cPanel reseller hosting, and its prices may either strongly increase, or this product may disappear altogether.
As you can see, Hostinger's hPanel is very similar to what cPanel currently offers.
Such a move from cPanel may encourage other providers to follow suit and develop their own panels in order to reduce dependency on the products that they use.
For many smaller hosting companies, it's going to be a test on flexibility. With cPanel becoming much more expensive, it's going to be up to the small players to find the solutions that will keep them competitive in the business.
One solution could be moving to an entirely different hosting panel, for example - DirectAdmin or other cPanel alternatives. These solutions are cheaper than cPanel and might allow keeping the prices at a competitive level.
Companies are alarmed, and they have many reasons for this. For example, a New Jersey hosting company InterServer was left disappointed, as it calculated that the cost to some customers might increase by a staggering 800%. This increase might be necessary to offset the reduction in revenue.
Community Reaction Is...Expected
The changes rattled the community - after all, there are so many negative outcomes affecting so many people. There's been a lot of chatter in articles and blogs and an especially active - and mostly negative - reaction of social media users.
Many of them felt let down and pledged to abandon cPanel altogether:
We already started making the move to DirectAdmin, you lost the trust of the community and nothing will change that.
— Sharics Web Solutions (@SharicsWeb) July 5, 2019
This is not surprising - just remember InterServer's estimate of 800% increase in customer costs. This figure is not the only example - others also joined the discussion with more estimates for skyrocketing expenses, like this Redditor:
There were many, many more comments like this, all showing one thing - that in the eyes of the community, cPanel shot themselves in the foot.
cPanel Price Increase: The Future Is Uncertain
So overall, the cPanel price increase has been met with an overwhelming wave of negativity. And it's going to be interesting to see how the market responds - for example, whether they move to DirectAdmin or other cPanel alternatives.
However, cPanel's update on the pricing for Partner users shows the company's willingness to cooperate and make things right.
So for now, the ball is in cPanel's park. Whatever they decide, will almost certainly affect the world's hosting business landscape for years to come. We will make sure to update this article whenever there's new information.