If you have decided to set up your own website, and it is your first time at that, you will definitely have a need of cPanel, at least at some point. cPanel is a very popular tool, and over 90% of hosts use it anyway. The only issue here is that is can be challenging to find your way around if it is your first time using it.
Of course, there are many guides out there that you can use for navigating cPanel, but even there, you will probably encounter issues. They tend to be extremely technical and complicated. This goes for terminology, as well as for the level of understanding of what cPanel actually does, and what it looks like, or even what are its possibilities and limits.
Writers of such guides are professional users of cPanel, but they often forget that new users can’t follow such complex instructions. They even skip some crucial parts because it is so common to them that they assume that everyone is aware of them.
If you wish to take it slow and to go step by step on a journey of exploring the cPanel, you have come to the right place. This guide is specially made for beginners, it is up to date, and it is easy to navigate. In it, we will discuss a series of questions that you can easily find by pressing CTRL + F and typing in the question that interests you. Here is a list of topics that we will cover:
- The basics of cPanel
- Quick introduction to cPanel interface
- How to update your preferences
- How to manage domain names
- Settings and email accounts
- How to manage your files
- How to do a website backup
Of course, many helpful tricks and tips will follow these explanations, so make sure to read the entire guide if you have the time. It might help you out, and prepare you for using cPanel even better. Now, let us start.
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#1 – The basics of cPanel
Note: if you are familiar with what cPanel is, and you are already logged in, you can proceed to the next topic.
What is cPanel?
Let us start off from the very beginning, and see what cPanel actually is.
cPanel is a control panel, which allows you to manage your hosting account’s every element. Basically, it is a graphical dashboard, which is simple to use, and it receives regular updates, which keeps it maintained and functional. The updates focus on security and improvements of the panel itself.
Because of this, many web hosts use cPanel, which also helps their customers when it comes to website managing.
What can you do via cPanel?
cPanel allows you quite a lot, actually. While using it, you can connect your domain names with your hosting, install WordPress, or upload files. You can use it to set up emails, do a backup, install plugins, and check your bandwidth. Of course, even that is just the tip of the iceberg, and it allows even more control. That also includes checking security settings, tracking website analytics, and alike.
How to log into it?
Before you make your first login attempt, you must get login credentials from your host. They should have already given them to you, but if not, feel free to ask for them.
Most of these providers will offer links to cPanel right after you sign into your account.
If you wish to log into cPanel fast, you can type your web address into the search bar. When you do, include “:2082” or “:2083” for unsecured and secured access.
That is when you will have to provide your login credentials.
Need more help?
In this tutorial, we will cover the basics concerning cPanel, and give instructions on how to perform some of the most common tasks. For more help, you can use cPanel’s video tutorials. Also, you can use documentation that every internal page of cPanel will provide you with.
#2 – Quick introduction to cPanel interface
After you log into your cPanel, you should see a page with various options. It will give you means to manage files, databases, domains, emails, and alike.
If you wish to change your cPanel’s style, you can change it in the section that says ‘Preferences’. It is at the bottom of your Home page. When you locate it, you will find ‘Change style’ option within. Your choices are ‘Retro’ and ‘Basic’. Simply click on ‘Basic’, and then hit Apply button, and your cPanel will take a more modern look.
What does cPanel offer?
Let us now talk about what you can find as a part of your cPanel.
Search bar – You will find it on top of your cPanel, right underneath the navigation bar. You can use it for quickly getting around and finding different functions. Type in what you need, and the panel will deliver it to you.
Navigation bar – you can see it on the top right corner of your screen. It offers Search features, Account management, Notifications, and the option to Logout.
- Search Features is pretty much the same thing as a search bar, and you can use this from any cPanel page.
- Account management offers you different options, like changing password, style, language, or contact info. It is handy for resetting your page if you encounter issues.
- Notifications will allow you to receive updates from your cPanel. This refers to security warnings, outdated apps, and alike.
- Logout is pretty self-explanatory, and we recommend using it each time when you are done with your cPanel
- Sidebar – You can find a sidebar on the left part of your cPanel. It has four icons, that include Home, Statistics, Dashboard, and finally, User Management.
- Home is your cPanel’s primary page. From there, you get to access the majority of its functions
- Statistics will show you the numbers. That includes the number of domain names, FTP accounts, emails, bandwidth, or disk space.
- The dashboard is the next icon, and it will provide you with links to some parts of the site that you use most commonly. It will also offer a brief look at statistics, disk space, and bandwidth that you are using.
- User Management is the last icon, and you can use it for adding or removing users from the account. Also, you can see email accounts, or who can access FTP or web disk. This is useful if you share the site with several admins.
Reorganizing the Home page
If you take a closer look at different sections on your Homepage, you will see a “-” at the right end. If you click it, they will collapse, and make your Home page easier to navigate. It is a useful feature to remove the parts that you don’t currently need.
Also, if you so desire, you can reorganize the sections in a specific order via drag-and-drop method. It will also help with easy navigation if you put the sections that you use the most on top.
#3 – How to update your preferences
Preferences are the important part of setting up your cPanel and organizing it properly. You should visit them as soon as you first log into it. There, you can do several things, including change your password, and also update your contact info.
Change the password
Changing the password is one of the best ways to prevent your site from hackers. You should do it on regular basis, which is to say at least four times per year.
Do so by clicking on Password & Security. You will get to a next screen where you have to type in the current password, and then type in a new one, and also repeat it. For your safety and convenience, you may want to use one of many password generators, or password managers. This is the best way to make a strong password that you won’t have to remember.
You should still write it down, just to stay safe. And don’t do it in a Word file, since your computer is not the safest place for openly storing important data.
Update contact info
Updating your contact info and keeping it fresh and relevant is very important for your site. Especially if it is a business site that you are trying to make. That way, potential clients can contact you, which can lead to advancing your business further.
Go to Contact information, and you will get to a screen on which you can enter your email addresses. You can also receive updates on how your hosting’s resources are doing. On this screen, there are many options that already have their boxes checked by default.
We recommend leaving them all as they are, so that the site can alert you of strange activities, or if there is a problem concerning the hosting.
Add new user
If you decide that your website is too much to handle and that you need help, you might want to hire a manager. Also, if you work with a partner, you would want to give them access to the site too.
You can do this by going to the User Manager icon that you will find in the Preferences. You will once again get to a new screen, where you can see the accounts of your cPanel.
At the end of each account, there are three icons – the envelope, a delivery truck, and a disc drive.
The envelope means that the account in question has its own email within cPanel. The truck means that the account can use file transfer protocol (FTP). And finally, the disc drive says that the account can use the services of the web disc.
Editing each of these accounts is both possible and rather easy. You can change their passwords, or even delete them by using the options beneath the account in question.
Now, if you wish to add another account, click on the blue button that says Add User. You will find it on top, in the right corner of the screen. You will get to another screen where you have to fill out a form, and enter the account’s information. That includes the name of the user, as well as their username. You will also have to associate the user with a specific domain, and also add an alternative email, if you wish.
Next thing that you will have to do is add a password for the account. Make it strong and unique, and don’t put the same one that other accounts have.
Under these fields, there is another section that says ‘Services’. It also contains some important settings which you should check out as well.
There are three of them, and they include:
- Email – allows you to enable, or possibly disable users’ email accounts. You can also set the space limit for each account. And, since emails also take up your hosting plan’s space, you may not want to give everyone the same permissions. However, that is for you to decide.
- FTP – you can allow accounts to access File Transfer Protocol. If other users have access to this feature, that means that they can upload files on the site. You can go into details here, and set a space limit, or choose a specific directory to which they will have access to.
- Web Disk – the last group of settings. You should only give these permissions to admins with top-level accounts. If you choose Read Only option, they will get permission to read, list, and download files. Read-Write option, however, gives them full access to files, documents, and everything else within a specific directory. It is because of this that you must only give the permission to someone you trust completely, like a business partner. Site managers that you may want to hire to help you out probably shouldn’t have this permission.
When you are done with setting up these accounts, you can click ‘Create’, or ‘Create and Add Another’ if you wish to add more accounts.
#4 – How to manage domain names
Whenever you purchase a new domain name and you wish to add it to your hosting, you will do it easily by going to cPanel’s ‘Domains’ section. You can even redirect other domains, or manage subdomains as well.
How to add new domain name?
If you are ready to add a new domain name, you should start by clicking ‘Addon Domains’, which you can find in the Domains section. When you add a new domain, you can use it for making a brand-new website. This also means that you can add as many domain names as you like to your cPanel. There is basically no limit to the number of domains that you can add, only make sure that your hosting plan can deal with them.
When you get to the ‘Addon Domains’ screen, you will have to add its name, a subdomain, as well as a document root.
- New domain name is the name of your domain. The same one that you have registered during the purchase. The only difference is that you should not put the “www.” part before it.
- Subdomain will allow you to make a subdomain for your domain. The process is automatic, and your customers and visitors to your website won’t know that they are actually redirected to a subdomain.Document root is the place on the server where the files of your new domain will be stored.
Upon entering your domain name, cPanel will try to help you out and fill in the other boxes automatically. These are settings that you should keep unless you are sure of what you are doing. Finally, finish by clicking ‘Add domain’.
How to edit or remove domain name
Removing domain names or only editing them is quite simple as well, and you can o it on Addon Domain screen. When you get there by following previous instructions, get to the section by the name of Modify Addon Domain. This is the same place where you can edit the document root. Once again, we do not recommend doing so.
You can also manage possible redirections if you have any, or even completely remove the domain if you wish to do that.
#5 – Settings and email account
After you are done with setting up your domain name, it is time to add an email address as well.
Do this by going to the section of your cPanel that says ‘Email’. In it, you will find a large number of different tools that can help you manage your email. You can do pretty much anything, from adding accounts, through dealing with spam, to creating entire mailing lists, and even auto responders that will save you from sending emails by hand.
How to set up an email address
If you wish to add a new email, you should find Email Accounts in your Email section of cPanel’s home page.
The process is easy for everyone, and it includes no more than 5 steps, which are as follows:
- Enter the email address in the first field. This is an address where you want to be reached at. Example: “[email protected]”.
- Choose a domain that you wish to connect the email to from a dropdown. Naturally, that means that you already have to have that domain added.
- Set up a strong password
- Set this account’s Mailbox Quota. Also remember to set some limits on certain emails, since they will take up your space.
- Hit Create Account, and you are done.
After you finish all that, you will see your new email on the list of email accounts. You can manage the accounts on this same list, and change the email client, password, or quota.
How to access your webmail
Now that your account has been set, all that you have to do is get to it. Now, despite the fact that we can’t exactly explain setting up an email client, we can tell you how to access it in a very easy and simple way.
After setting up an account, all you need to do is go to your browser, and type in this link:
Of course, instead of “yourdomain”, you will enter the name of your actual domain. Press enter, and you will get to a login screen for your webmail. Simply enter your email and password, and that’s it, you are in.
How to forward an email to another address
Some users prefer for their emails to arrive at their personal address. However, they are not comfortable with leaving it wide open on their website. If you have a similar problem, then we can help you out. What we are going to explain now is how to forward emails that arrive at your domain address. Here is what you need to do.
Start by clicking on Forwarders, and you will arrive at a new screen. On that screen, you can enter an email address that you have made for your domain. After that, add another one to which you want your emails to arrive at.
However, you must remember that, if you decide to answer the emails that arrive that your private email, they will go from that very email. The fact that you are forwarding emails that are coming to you doesn’t mean that the emails that are going away will follow the same route.
We recommend that you answer those emails from your domain account. That is the one that the emails are originally sent to.
How to set up spam filters
Spam is a regular annoyance for pretty much every email address ever used. However, through the use of cPanel, you can manage them more easily, and make them go to the spam folder, instead to your inbox.
You can do this by clicking on “Apache SpamAssassin” icon that you can find in the same Email section. You will get to a new screen once more, and on it, you will find several options. Here, you can enable a spam filter by clicking on “Enable Apache SpamAssassin”.
You can also enable the option to auto-delete spam, as well as adjust the sensitivity of the filter from 1 to 10. Finally, you can either enable the Spam Box or completely clear it out.
You can even create more advanced settings by yourself. Do it by clicking on “Configure Apache SpamAssassin”. Here, you can blacklist some addresses that you want to ban or protect emails that you don’t want to be deleted. However, it is best to stick to the basics and not go there for now.
#6 – How to manage your files
Next, we have the ‘Files’ section. You can find it on your cPanel’s home page, and it is the main place for uploading files. It can also serve for making a backup, or simply managing FTP accounts. And while we are on the subject of FTP, it is a method for managing files on your website. That includes reading them, uploading them, and even retrieving them.
How to use File manager
The File manager is the first place you should check out and familiarize yourself with. It basically lets you manage the files on your site directly. That means that you will do it with HTTP, and not use FTP or some other app or tool.
Clicking on File manager will transport you to another new screen. Here, you can see all of the site’s files. It goes without saying that this is an extremely important area, and you must handle it carefully.
On the left side of the screen, you will find a root folder, as well as its subfolders. In the middle, you will find the content of the folder you currently have selected.
Now, let’s take a look at what you can do here.
Create new folder
Through the use of folders, you can keep your files in order. And, if your files are properly organized, that will make managing and maintaining your website that much easier.
Creating a folder is pretty simple, and all you need to do is to click on “+ Folder” button. You can find it on top of the menu. After that, you have to name your folder and decide where do you wish to put it. When you are done, click “Create new folder”, and that is it.
How to upload files via File Manager
you wish to add a certain file to your website, you have to choose which folder you want to upload it to. You When you find a folder, you have to select it, and then click on the Upload option that is on top of the screen.
Now, you simply have to drag-and-drop the file that you wish to add to your website.
How to add an FTP account
Adding an FTP account can allow someone else to upload the files from their computer as well. If you have already set up your cPanel, you can use the same login credentials to log into FTP right now.
However, you probably don’t wish to share such important info like your login credentials with others, which is why you have to add new account – one that they will be able to use. To do that, you must first click the FTP Accounts icon. That will take you to a whole new screen, and from now on, follow these steps:
Make a login
This is the first step of making a new account, and you must start by entering the login info. That includes the other user’s online name. Also, you should select which domain you want to create an FTP account for. This is an important step, especially if you own multiple domain names. Next, the password. As usual, a password has to be complex and strong in order to be safe.
Define ‘home directory’
When you add a directory in a ‘Directory’ box, you are basically giving the new FTP account its maximum access level. Depending on which directory you choose, that is the limit to where the new account can reach. So, make sure to move up all those files that you do not wish to allow access to.
Define the quota
The last step is choosing how much space can the new account use. You can post a limit, but you do not have to. The choice is yours, only remember that this is the space that you yourself use as well.
At the bottom of the page, you will now have all FTP accounts that exist on your site, and you can manage them all here.
#7 – How to do a website backup
Not having a proper backup for your site is the same as not having one for your computer or phone. If something happens, you can lose everything that you worked so hard for. Because of that, you should backup your files on regular basis.
Thanks to your cPanel, this is now an incredibly simple procedure that will keep you safe from any accident. If anything ever happens to your site, you can simply restore it from your backup completely, and no one will know the difference.
So, how can you do this? Start by going to Backup Wizard icon. You can find it in your cPanel’s Files section. You can successfully do a backup even by clicking on the “Backup” here. However, Backup Wizard makes the entire process even easier, so we will go with that option.
On the next screen, hit the Backup button, and you will get to choose whether you want to do a partial backup or full backup. The partial backup will take care of your Home directory, databases, Filters, MySQL, and Email forwarders. However, if you choose full backup, the system will automatically backup all of your files.
Choose the easier option, which is also the safest one, and go for the full backup. Also, you should save it to a secure location, like an external hard drive.
The Wizard will ask you for the backup destination, and you can choose Home Directory, that should already be set by default. You can choose on which email address should the site notify you of the completion of the process and simply hit Generate Backup.
Check the disk space
First of all, you must always keep in mind that you have a limit when it comes to disc space. The limit is always present, and the only thing that might vary is how much space you have. Also, to stay aware of how much space you use, and how much is left at pretty much any given moment.
Check the amount of space that you have left on regular basis, since there is nothing worse than finding out that too late that you are out of space. That will usually happen when you need it the most, so don’t let it surprise you like that.
Select Disk Usage icon that you can find on your cPanel, and it will lead you to a new screen. On that new page, you will see the different parts of your file manager, and you will also see how much space each thing on your website is taking.
The limit is also presented here, and you can see it at the bottom of the table.
#8 – One-click-installs
Finally, we have come to our last topic for this article, which is the one-click-installs. This includes multiple apps, and even the WordPress itself, and you can do it all from your cPanel. Not to mention that the installation of WordPress via this method is way faster than anything else that you might try.
Start by finding a Software section on cPanel, and then select ‘Softaculous Apps Installer’. Despite its name, this tool installs much more than just apps – it also allows you to set up content management systems.
Your new screen will show multiple apps, with a menu on the left side of it. You will most likely take quite some time in here, with all that apps just waiting for you to install them. Only remember not to install too many, and to always research them before installation.
However, that is something that can wait. For now, your priority is to find WordPress and click Install. Another screen will appear, and that means that it is time for some configuring.
How to configure your domain and site name
Here are some tips on how you can do this.
- Select a protocol that you wish to use. The only option that you should settle for is SSL, and if it is not already a part of your site, then don’t enter anything here.
- Pick a domain that you wish to add your WordPress too. There is a dropdown list that will allow you to make your choice. Only remember not to start installing it on a domain that already has WordPress on it.
- Locate the ‘In Directory’ section. Now, here we have to pay even more attention to what we are about to do. If you are trying to add WordPress to an already existing and functional site, you should set this directory to “WP”, or perhaps “blog”. On the other hand, if you want to use WordPress for the whole website, leave the field blank. Once again, this is very important, so do it carefully.
- Now, for the part that says Site Name, simply choose a name that will reflect the name of your site in some way. You can even re-enter your domain name, only don’t add the “www.” and “.com” parts.
Set up the Admin account
This is probably the most important step in this guide, and you should take it VERY seriously. When it comes to choosing the admin name, it is fine even if you decide to leave it as ‘admin’. If you want to change it, that is fine too.
Now, when it comes to password, you have to make sure that it is the strongest password you ever thought of. That means going all out. Throw in letters, numbers, symbols, capital characters, low characters, and anything else that you can think of. If someone gets access to your site because of a weak password, it is all over, and you will definitely get hacked.
After that, all that has left for you to do is to select the language, and also to enable the Limit Login Attempts. This will prevent someone from cracking your password by taking a series of guesses for an entire night. There are some more advanced options here as well, but don’t bother with them at the moment.
Choose a theme
When you install your WordPress, you are entitled to one free theme, and you can find it through the search function. Simply enter the kind of theme that you would like to add to your site, and then select it and hit the install option.
Changing your theme at the later date is also possible, but you should try to find something that you will like. If possible, do it before adding too much content, so that you would know that you didn’t lose anything during the transfer.
When you hit the Install button, everything else will happen automatically. All that is left for you to do now is to log into your website and start arranging it in any way you see fit. Congratulations.
In this tutorial, our goal was to cover how to use cPanel, and also to demonstrate what options it provides you with. Even though it was quite lengthy, we have still only covered the basics, and there is a lot more for you to do.
However, the options and features that we were discussing today should be enough information for beginners. Hopefully, it was clear enough for you, and it will help you set everything up from your cPanel. Simply follow the instructions, and soon enough, you can start arranging and enjoying your new website.
Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications like Best10VPN. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.