If you are about to purchase web hosting, it is very likely that you will be using cPanel to manage your hosting. To get the most from your web hosting, you need to learn the workings of cPanel.
What Can Be Done with cPanel?
If your web hosting doesn't offer shell access, cPanel will be the only way to manage your web hosting, cPanel is a web based server control software that allows you to do the following operations and a whole lot more. Common operations such as adding FTP users, creating databases, creating mail accounts and a multitude of other hosting operations can all be performed with cPanel.
Creating Mail Addresses
If you have the domain xyz.com and you would like to create a mail address called email@example.com, you can perform the following. Firstly click on the Mail tab from the front page. There you will see options to create, modify or delete mail accounts. If you to forward mail to an existing account here you can set an addres to forward to the account of your choosing. To read emails access the Webmail tab from the front page
Managing your domains
You may want more than a single address directed towards one web site, for example if you owned xyz.com and xyz.net, this can be achieved by using the Parked Domains tab, here you can type any address that you own to point to one of your web sites. If you hosting provider allows you to have more than one web site on your account, you can add domains via the Addon Domains tab. If you hosting provider supports the creation of sub domains you can create these via the Sub Domain tab.
You can create additional FTP users, set their access levels and other FTP related tasks using the FTP tab.
To create a new database, or modify existing databases use the Database tab. Here you can perform all allowed database tasks, to perform more advanced database operations you will need to use phpMyAdmin, this can also be accessed from the Database tab.
Analyze The Logs
When running a web site you need to know what your visitors like, where they are coming from, which search engines are bringing the most visitors and all other data about them. Normally you will have access to the raw log files, but these are hard to analyze, to see data that is formatted about your visitors in an easy to read way go to Web/FTP Stats, here you will have the option to review your sites statistics using a variety of software such as Webalizer or AWStats.
Most if not all cPanel installations these days come with Fantastico which is an auto installer for many php based scripts. Fantastico can be used to install popular php scripts such as WordPress, Mambo, phpbb and many other php products. Using Fantastico is the easiest way to setup these php based scripts and will save you having to manually upload the scripts, and more often than not Fantastico will do all the configuration of the script for you which is a real time saver.
cPanel is a very advanced application for configuring your hosting and learning all the tricks can take some time, but hopefully with this guide you will have the basics down and you can progress from here as your experience with web hosting increases.