I have techdoze.net and other sites that I like to host on a powerful VPS from DigitalOcean (review here: DigitalOcean Review) for years and I didn’t have any problems till now choosing the free alternative of the cPanel as is offering me all I need. I using this configuration for most than 5 years now and I can say I am pleased with the performance and features that are offering. The cPanel license is quite expensive and I don’t see any reason to pay the money if I can have the same functionality and stability for free. In this article, I will make a top with the best free cPanel alternatives that currently exists, the top is made based on the functionalities that they are offering and personal preferences ( It has been years since using some of them and I have formed an opinion of how they are doing).
Some Important Aspects when You Choose the best free cPanel Alternative
Support for multiple web servers like Nginx and Apache
Preferably you don’t want to have support only for Apache web server. There are other web servers there that are faster and the open source cPanel alternative should have that. I am using NGINX on my sites and the sites are more responsive and fast + are using fewer resources.
Email System management
The tool should come with email management and server so you can use your VPS as a mail server too. Mail is needed so the tool should have it.
DNS management is also something that the cPanel alternative should have. You need to have your own DNS server in order to be able to customize records as you need and not depend on other providers. I am using also DNS management on the VPS I have and I didn’t have any issues with it for years.
In case you want to have different users for different domains then the tool should have these. This is useful in case you want to have other used the hosting ( maybe friends or sell accounts). You don’t want that a user to have full access but access only his domain.
For some time having your site secured by using SSL certificates has become a must. A well known free certificate authority exists for some time and your open source cPanel alternative should have an easy way to manage and use certificates.
Work With Latest Technologies
Technology is evolving very fast and the open source tool you decide to use as a cPanel alternative has to keep the pace with it. New OS versions are released, new PHP versions and others feature like HTTPS ( as was the case) on letsencrypt.org have to work with the tool. To have this it means that the tool needs to have constants updates to work with the last in tech.
Nice and easy interface
A clean interface is always nice and will help in having a pleasant experience + you will be able to find easier the things you need.
If there are problems with the tool and some of the features are not working or crashing your sites or even worse the server then you will be in trouble. The tool needs to be as stable as possible to not run into this issues.
Advanced UI Control
It is always nice when you can do more from the tool UI then add a site. Some of the tools are offering the possibility to administer your database or install different applications ( for emails, tickets or others). Another important thing is control over the configurations, is more easy to go into UI and change things from there with a couple of clicks then go on the server. Some of the tools are offering also the possibility to stop and start services from UI.
These are some of the most important aspects when it comes to choosing the best free cPanel alternative, next we will go in more details with a list of the tools and how they can help you.
Best FREE cPanel Alternatives for 2019
Nr.1 – Webmin & Virtualmin
Virtualmin remained the best from my point of view as it is offering all the important aspects. I am using it for years and I never had any issues with it. It is offering DNS, database, multiple web servers support and much more. I am using this tool since 2013 and I will never choose another one. I will not stay to go into details with the features that are offering but I will have a view so you can watch it and decide for yourself.
In case you need more details and maybe advanced tutorials for Virtualmin you can check the youtube channel.
In case you wan to see a complete tutorial with configuring Virtualmin then check:
Nr.2 CentOS Web Pane
I haven’t come across on CentOS till recently but I can say I am impressed with the functionalities. It has all the features you need wrapped into a very nice interface, as virtualmin you can control everything from DNS to the database, and you can choose to have Apache and NGINX is the same time. The only issue is that is only on cent OS. You can check the futures :
Nr.3 – Froxlor
It has a nice interface and is updated constantly. What I also like is that Let’s Encrypt certificates can be added directly from the interface. It can be used with NGINX as well which is a great plus. It is also compatible with PHP7 ( like most). If you want to see it more in detail you can check the demo.
Some articles and videos about Froxlor to help you:
- How to Install Froxlor Server Management Panel on CentOS 7
Ajenti is a Python-based web control panel system, which makes it stand out from all PHP-based panels. Its website claims there are more than 55,000 active users of Ajenti. The interface is very well-designed. Ajento runs on various Linux distributions and FreeBSD.
Below is also a video that will provide the installation steps and a UI presentation:
Very clean design with the possibility to add multiple domains and use NGINX as a web server. There is also a file manager with it and possibility to add emails and DNS. Below are some of the futures:
- Nginx out of the box
- Web Server
- EMAIL server
You can find more about VestaCP:
ISPconfig calaims that has more than 40,000 downloads per month, for me years ago when trying to install it didn’t go so well so that’s why I left it in the last position. ISPconfig all the features need to replace cPanel and also you can check the demo before.
Some articles and videos:
NR.7 – EasyEngine
This is a more hybrid cpanel alternative that can help in hosting your sites in Docker containers over NGINX. It is not having a GUI like the others or can create an email address on the server but is fast easy to use and comes configured with everything. It is installing everything you need to run websites with SSL and databases over NGINX. Below is an article with everything and a video of how you can use EasyEngine:
As you can see there are a lot off free cPanel alternatives out there that you can use to host your site safly and benefit from the most important features. As I have said my personal favorite one is Virtualmin, what is yours?