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Most of our Linux servers use the cPanel control panel. You can use the control panel for a wide range of tasks, including creating email accounts and making backups. This article gives an overview of the control panel and help you get started with cPanel. Other articles in the cPanel section look at how you can use the control panel to do specific tasks.

The cPanel tools page

When you log into cPanel you see the control panel’s home page, which is named Tools.

A screenshot of the main cPanel page. From here, you can access all cPanel features. There are lots and lots of options!
The main cPanel page.

The interface has four panes:

  • The left-hand pane lists menu items cPanel wants to promote. Some of the features are great – we really like WordPress Toolkit, for instance. However, other features are not so great and just add clutter.
  • At the top of the page you can search for features. Any notifications also show up here.
  • The large pane in the middle lists various feature sections, including Files, Email and Databases. You can collapse and expand individual sections and re-order them. What features are available depends on the hosting package you have. For instance, most of the sections shown in the above image are not available on our email-only plans.
  • In the right-hand pane you can see general information and statistics about your hosting package. You can use this to for instance quickly get the IP address for your website or to check the resource usage.

Getting started

If you just logged in to your cPanel account for the first time then there a few things we recommend you check. You can quickly find the pages discussed below via cPanel’s search field.

  • The Contact Information page lists the contact email address for your account, as well as your contact preferences. It is important that the email address linked to your account works. When there is an issue with your account, such as a disk space issue, then an email is sent to the address(es) listed here. We recommend that one of the addresses is not hosted by your cPanel account, so that you can still receive notifications if there is an issue with your email account (for instance because your cPanel account has run out of disk space).
  • The SSL/TLS Status page shows which of your domains have an SSL certificate. cPanel should automatically install a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for any domains that resolve to the server. Please contact us if any of your domains doesn’t have an SSL certificate.
  • On cPanel servers you can change the PHP version for individual domains. If you are going to use PHP then you want to make sure your domains use a supported PHP version. You can check and change PHP versions via the MultiPHP Manager interface.

File structure

Your cPanel account has a specific location on the server. You can see the location of your account under Home Directory, in the right-hand pane. In my case the home directory is /home/example.

You can view the directory via cPanel’s File Manager.

A screenshot of the File Manager in cPanel. The file manager shows all files and folders in your home directory. There are also options to work with the files. Among others, you can create, upload, edit and delete files.
cPanel’s file manager.

There are quite a few subdirectories in your home directory. Luckily, you can ignore most of them – many of the directories are used in the background by cPanel. For most users the following directories are the most important:

  • All website files are stored in the public_html directory. Any addon domains have their own directory inside the folder.
  • Email are stored in the mail directory. Exactly how emails are stored depends on the mailbox storage format. Traditionally, each email was stored as a file, which made it possible to for instance delete emails via the file manager. However, most cPanel servers nowadays lump lots of emails together in just a few files (which saves disk space).
  • Access logs for you domains are kept in the logs directory.

Overwhelmed?

If you are new to cPanel and you find the control panel a little overwhelming, we are happy to talk you through how to use the control panel. Please either call us on 0800 107 7979 or submit a ticket and we will arrange a session at a time that suits you.