cPanel vs. Plesk - Side by Side Functionality Comparison

WHM / cPanel versus Plesk

WHM/cPanel and Plesk are both feature rich control panels with similar functionality.  They are, however, organized completely differently, have a different security model and use slightly different terminology.

For many people who are used to one control panel, switching to another can be a confusing and/or frustrating experience, because the functionality you expect is not in the same place it was in the control panel you used previously.

If you are familiar with one control panel, and find yourself using the other, this set of tables will help you find the features you are looking for. 

We have several tables comparing each side by side:


 

Functionality & Common Tasks

Items listed on the same line are functional equivalents of each other.

A functional equivalent is something that accomplishes the same thing without necessarily being the same thing. Although most items in the table below are exact equivalents.
Note: Some of the features listed are available only on select plans. For example, WHM functionality is only available on reseller plans, VPS and Linux dedicated servers, but not on shared accounts. And Microsoft SQL (MS SQL) is available on Windows packages, but not VPS Linux based accounts.

 

cPanel
The "Client" side
of WHM/cPanel.
Plesk
"Admin" & "Client" side

WHM
The "Admin" side
of WHM/cPanel.

Available on
Shared Hosting
Reseller Hosting
VPS / cPanel
Linux Dedicated
Available on
Windows Shared
Windows Dedicated

Available on
Reseller Hosting
VPS / cPanel
Linux Dedicated

Basics
cPanel Plesk WHM
How to Login How to Login How to Login
Change Password Change Password  
Administrative Functions
cPanel Plesk WHM
  User Accounts  
  User Roles Feature Manager
  Service Plan Create a Package
  Subscriptions Assign a Package
  Create an Account
*User accounts in Plesk and Accounts in WHM operate under a completely different security model, which is why they are not listed on the same line above (items on the same line are equivalents).  See the table below for more details.
Email
cPanel Plesk WHM
Create Email Accounts Create Email Accounts  
Access Webmail Access Webmail  
Forwarders (Email) Email Alias  
Email Forwarder
Autoresponder Auto-Reply  
Spam Assassin Spam Assassin  
MX Entry DNS Settings DNS Zone Editor
Files
cPanel Plesk WHM
File Manager File Manager  
FTP Accounts FTP Access  
Backups Backup Manager  
Permissions Permissions - Windows   
   
Domains
cPanel Plesk WHM
Add an Addon Domain Add a Domain Name  
Add a Subdomain Add a Subdomain  
Park a Domain Name Create a Domain Alias Park a Domain Name
Redirects Forwarding (Domains)  
DNS Zone Editor DNS Settings DNS Zone Editor
Databases
cPanel Plesk WHM
MySQL Databases Databases  
phpMyAdmin (MySQL) Webadmin (MySQL)  
Remote MySQL SQL Whitelist  
Logs and Statistics
cPanel Plesk WHM
Access Statistics Access Statistics  
Software / Services
cPanel Plesk WHM
QuickInstall Install Applications  
Advanced  
cPanel Plesk WHM
Cron Jobs Scheduled Tasks  

 


Account Setup & Security Model

Plesk and WHM/cPanel use very different security models.  This is probably the biggest difference between WHM/cPanel and Plesk.

  WHMPlesk
(No equivalent in WHM/cPanel. Instead, there is one login for the entire cPanel Account, created at the same time you create the account.)

User Accounts

You can create individual user accounts with their own login credentials.  What a user can access depends on what User Roles and what Subscriptions have been assigned to that User.

Feature Manager

You can enable and disable functionality & icons within a cPanel by using Feature Lists.  The Feature Lists are attached to Packages, which then are attached to cPanel Accounts.

User Roles

You can enable and disable functionality & icons for individual Users.  These settings apply to the User and not to the Subscription (Account), so it is possible to give different levels of access to different users, for the same Subscription (Account).

Packages

This is how you assign resources and services to an Account.  Packages are attached to Accounts in WHM.

Service Plans

This is how you assign resources and services to a Subscription.  Service Plans are attached to Subscriptions in Plesk.

Account / cPanel

In WHM, you create an Account which creates a cPanel with the properties defined by the Package assigned to the Account and the Feature List assigned to the Package.  One login is created for the entire account, which has access to everything.

Subscriptions

In Plesk, you create an account by creating a Subscription, which attaches a Service Plan to a User Account.  The Subscription has the resources and services defined in the associated Service Plan, and the User has access as defined by the User Role assigned to them.

cPanel Plesk

FTP Accounts

Individual FTP accounts can be created, and access can be limited to specific folders.

FTP Access

Individual FTP accounts can be created, and access can be limited to specific folders.

MySQL Databases

In cPanel, you create a database, then create a database user.  Then you add the database user to the database and give him permissions.

Databases

In Plesk, you create a database (MySQL or MS SQL) and create a database user for that database.

 

Remote MySQL

By default, only scripts on the server can access MySQL databases.  Individual IP addresses would have to be white listed to have access.

SQL Whitelist or Firewall Rules

By default, only scripts on the server can access the MySQL or MS SQL databases.  Individual IP addresses would have to be white listed to have access.

On Shared Windows Hosting, HostGator has developed a SQL Whitelist tool to whitelist IP addresses you want to have access to the databases.

On Windows dedicated, this can be accomplished by added a firewall rule allowing remote access to specific IPs.

Note: Other versions of Plesk, such as Plesk 9 and Plesk 8 use very different security models than Plesk 10 and higher.

At the time of this writing all new Windows shared accounts have Plesk 11.5 installed. All new Windows Dedicated Servers have Plesk 12.5 installed. Some existing Dedicated Servers may have previous versions however.


Terminology

Another thing that is different is the terminology that is used.  Items on the same line are equivalents of each other.  Note that some items have no exact equivalent, due to the different security models used in each control panel.

cPanelPleskWHM
cPanel   Account
  Service Plan Package
    Feature Manager
  Subscription  
Webmail Webmail  
  Users  
Parked Domains Domain Alias Parked Domains
Addon Domains Domains  
Cron Job Scheduled Task  
Autoresponder Auto-Reply  
Forwarder (Email) Email Alias or
Email Forwarder
 
Redirect Forwarding (Domain)  

This table is a little more strict in interpreting equivalents than the other tables, since it deals with terminology, rather than functional equivalents (i.e. an item can be functionally equivalent without being the same thing with a different name).  The other tables list functional equivalents together even if they accomplish the same thing in a different way.