What Is cPanel? A Complete Beginner’s Guide


Fiona O’Connell


2020 January 20th

what is cpanel

cPanel is the most popular Linux hosting panel in the world. Nearly all web hosting providers use it - it's an industry standard, used and replicated by a large majority of the world's hosting providers.

cPanel a very simple graphical dashboard that is frequently maintained with updates, including enhancements and extra security measures.  

However, if you've never used cPanel, or even used hosting, it can be a little bit intimidating. So, in this article, I will aim to explain to you what is cPanel and how you can use some basic functions of it without confusing you with a lot of technical details.

What Can I Do With cPanel?

The short answer is a lot! cPanel is designed to be your one-stop shop for anything you need to do with your web hosting account. These features include (but are not limited to):

  •         Checking your monthly bandwidth usage
  •         Uploading files
  •         Backing up your website
  •         Installing WordPress or other website scripts
  •         Setting up email accounts
  •         Connecting domain names to your web hosting account

You can also install helpful apps, check out your website’s analytics, change security settings, and a whole lot more!

How To Access cPanel?

If you have a hosting account that supports cPanel, there are a few things you can do to get in there.

If you are logging in for the first time, your web hosting provider should have provided a username and password for you to use, as well as the URL to login to cPanel. A lot of times your URL to login into cPanel will be located somewhere in your user account after you log in to your web hosting provider’s website.

If you can't find it, you can either contact your hosting provider and ask for details, or try to access cPanel by typing in your website URL followed by :2082 for an unsecured connection and :2083 for a secured connection. For example:




If you need more help than what is provided in this article, you can find a lot of cPanel video tutorials. cPanel also has a lot of documentation available through its internal pages, which you can access by clicking on a link that says, “For more information, read the documentation.”

Navigating Through cPanel

Once you finally access cPanel, you'll be greeted with its dashboard - which will look something like this:

what is cpanel cpanel dashboard

In order to understand it better, let's have a deeper look at some of the key parts of the panel.

Search Bar

There’s a search bar in cPanel right above the navigation bar that can be used to quickly find functions. Just type in the function you’re searching for and it will pop up!

what is cpanel

Examples of the things you can find includes "Subdomains" for managing and editing subdomains, or "Email" for managing and editing email accounts.

Navigation Bar

There’s a navigation bar in the top right-hand corner of the screen with the functions Logout, Notifications, Account Management, and Search Features.

what is cpanel

Logout - This allows you to log out of cPanel every time you’re finished using it.

Notifications - This is where you will get important notifications about cPanel such as out-of-date apps, security concerns, and other need-to-know information.

Account Management - This is where you can go to change your contact information, language, style, or password. There’s also a one-click reset function that allows you to reset your cPanel page if anything gets messed up.

Search Features - This is exactly the same as the search bar.


There is a sidebar with four icons on the left-hand side of your screen. From the bottom up, these stand for User Management, Dashboard, Statistics, and Home.

what is cpanelUser Management is the place where you can remove or add users from your account. You can see the users that have access to FTP as well as the email accounts you’ve created.

Dashboard is a page you can use to reference your most commonly used links on the site, as well as get a look at your disk space usage, bandwidth usage, mail statistics, and more.

Statistics shows you various statistics about your account like how much disk space and bandwidth you’re using as well as how many domain names, email accounts and FTP accounts you have.

Home is the main landing page for cPanel and where you access most of its functions.

What Can You Do With cPanel?

Loads of stuff, really! But just to show you how what is cPanel and what are its capabilities, here's how you can do several most important tasks with it:

How To Install WordPress/other CMS in cPanel

Most web hosting providers give you access to an auto installer in cPanel that can be used to install various web scripts and content management systems. This auto installer lets you install WordPress as well as other web software in several clicks.

Your auto installer will be one of the sections in cPanel. The most popular one to use is Softaculous - but there could be a different one.

To install WordPress, all you must do is find your auto installer's section and click the WordPress icon. Next, follow the steps in the simple setup wizard to get WordPress installed.

what is cpanel

If you can't find it, use the cPanel search bar to search either for "Installer", or the name of the product you wish to install.

How To Add A New User in cPanel

If you have another person that is helping you with your website, you may want to create a new user for them so they can have their own cPanel access.

To do this, start in the Preferences section and click “User Manager”, which will take you to the following screen:

what is cpanel

You can see all the user accounts set up in cPanel on this screen. The mail icon indicates if they have an email account set up, the truck icon indicates if they have access to FTP, and the disk icon shows whether they have access to the web disk.

You can also edit user information, change their password, or delete users using the links listed below each user account.

Adding a new user is as simple as clicking the “Add User” button in the top right-hand corner:

what is cpanel

The next screen will allow you to set up the user’s real name, their username, the domain they’re associated with, and also an email address if you would like them to be reached at an alternative email address separate from the domain. You also can set up a password for the new user.

what is cpanel

Below all of this, you will see a field called “Services” that has some important settings to look at:

what is cpanel

Email - This allows you to enable an email account for the new user, and also allows you to specify how large their email account can be.

FTP - This allows you to specify if the new user should have FTP access, what directory they have access to, and how much space they can use in that directory.

Web Disk - This should be reserved for only high-level administrators. It specifies what kind of access the new user can have to the web disk space. If they have read-write access, they can modify or even delete any files they choose, while read-only access gives them the ability to read files only.

When you’re done, you can click “Create” at the bottom to create the new account, or click “Create and Add Another” to create the new account and add another new account.

How To Create A New Email Account With cPanel

It’s easy to create a custom email address with your domain name in cPanel. First, look for the “Email Accounts” icon in the Email section. Next, input the desired handle for your email address, enter a password for the new email address, and click “Create Account”.

From here you can access your email account via the “Webmail” option under “Default Email Account” and, if you want, set it up to work with a 3rd party email client.

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How To Manage Files With cPanel

Even though you can upload and manage files via an FTP client, cPanel has arguably a much convenient way for you to upload and manage files. First, find the File Manager icon under the Files section.

what is cpanel

Once you click on it, you will open a file manager window that allows you to:

  •         Edit and upload files via the top bar
  •         Manage individual files in the middle of the window
  •         Browse to different directories using the system file tree on the left-hand side of the window
what is cpanel

How to Backup Your Website With cPanel

cPanel is also good for creating manual backups for your website, as long as your website is not too large (some web hosting providers impose a limit). In the Files section, you will find the “Backup” and “Backup Wizard” icons. The Backup Wizard is a little more user-friendly than the Backup option. Just click on it and follow the wizard’s instructions.

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What Is cPanel - And Where Can You Try It?

Overall, cPanel is a great tool, allowing you to perform the major hosting management tasks. It's intuitive, easy to use, and if you get stuck - there are plenty of cPanel tutorials for you to use.

If you wish to try it, there are loads of great cPanel hosting providers for you to choose from. And if you're still not sure, you may check out their cPanel virtual tour. This page has a full-featured, fully working demo of cPanel that you are free to play around with. It’s only missing the auto-installer for installing WordPress and other web scripts.

And from here on now - you're good to go. Hopefully, this guide has helped you to get a grasp on what cPanel is, and how to use it.

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