cPanel vs DirectAdmin

8 min read

A Detailed Comparison of cPanel vs DirectAdmin

cPanel vs DirectAdmin

Whether you are new to web hosting or experienced, choosing the right control panel for your website is a daunting task because choosing the wrong one will make your hosting a mess. So far, cPanel is the most talked about, but the sudden changes in price and features once again raise the question of which one is better for users, cPanel or DirectAdmin. In general, most of them say that DirectAdmin is best for beginners and advanced users with low server configurations, while cPanel is for larger sites.

Are you still confused? Don’t worry, in this guide, we will go through the comparison of cPanel and DirectAdmin, and at the end of this article, we will share our thoughts based on a review that will help you choose the wisest one for your website and give you a great web hosting journey.

Let’s get started!

What is a control panel?

A control panel is a web hosting tool that allows users to manage their website and server using a graphical user interface, or web interface. Why do you need a control panel? The answer is simple: the control panel helps you manage server tasks more easily, such as managing website files, databases, and monitoring, and you can also check the disk space of your website or the application you are using. Apart from that, it also helps you keep your data safe. Overall, the control panel will be a great tool to help you simplify and speed up your work without any prior technical knowledge.


In the world of web hosting, cPanel is one of the most recognized control panels that is paired with Web Host Manager (WHM) and stands out as unique due to its user-friendly interface that allows you to manage your website and servers. The success story of cPanel began in 1997, when Nick developed it in his home in Scranton, Pennsylvania when he was a teenager at the time. In 2017, they celebrated 20 years of cPanel, which was a huge success, and it’s still going strong.

Some of the features of cPanel are: adding domain names and subdomains to your hosting account; uploading files directly to your server; hassle-free installation of WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others; Management of FTP accounts; managing or creating new databases, etc.

cPanel comes with Apache server configuration; this configuration is provided by CloudLinux OS, which gives you an excellent hosting environment. Apache Server is an open-source web server. The primary purpose of this server is to serve up static content such as HTML, images, audio, and text.


DirectAdmin is another type of control panel that helps you manage your cheap Linux hosting and dedicated servers. A Canadian company called JBMC Software founded DirectAdmin on March 1, 2003, which is built on LAMP stack technology. It runs on Linux and FreeBSD operating systems, which include CloudLinux, Red Hat, CentOS, and Ubuntu. Compared to cPanel, according to research, DirectAdmin is lightweight and easier to use. Looking at the statistics, since 2023, more than 297 companies have started using DirectAdmin as their control panel, and the majority of customers are from the Netherlands (62).

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DirectAdmin features include phpMyAdmin, MySQL, web and email server configuration, and SSH. Plus, it gives you full control over access to your servers. This simple and user-friendly interface makes it easy to use for both administrators and users.

If you choose this as your web hosting control panel, you will get DirectAdmin on the NGINX server. The NGINX acts as an open-source web server, and it can be used as a load balancer, mail proxy, and HTTP cache. Most of them prefer this DirectAdmin with NGINX server because it is most suitable for static websites.

Differences between cPanel and DirectAdmin

Both cPanel and DirectAdmin have similar features and are also unique in their way, so deciding which one is the best is tough, but we will explore and compare the features of both control panels and decide which one will win in the end.

The user Interface

A user-friendly and intuitive interface is key to making our website and servers easier to manage. Both cPanel and DirectAdmin provide a smooth and uninterrupted hosting experience with their seamless interfaces. Most of their features were similar; however, they have some significant differences in their design and navigation that put one cPanel ahead of the other. Cpanel provides a modern interface with a clear layout that includes icons and texts that guide users to explore various features and settings. Overall, it was amazing that everyone could easily grasp and navigate the section.

On the other hand, DirectAdmin has a minimalistic design compared to the cPanel design, which has minimal icons and menus. Most of them find this minimalistic design very useful and not overwhelming compared to the cPanel interface. At the same time, some say that it is visually less attractive. Looking at navigation, cPanel offers a comprehensive sidebar menu that acts as the primary navigation tool. The sidebar is organized with various features and settings in distinct categories that enhance its functionality. Finally, another unique feature of the cPanel interface is the search bar, so the user can type in the desired tool and find it easily. While DirectAdmin has top menu navigation with a horizontal menu bar across the top screen, the menu consists of several drop-down menus. Compared to cPanel navigation, DirectAdmin is less intuitive.

If you prefer a more visual interface, then cPanel is the best choice for you. If this visual interface is overwhelming, you can opt for DirectAdmin.

Features and Functionality

cPanel is widely known for its user-friendly interface that has a wide range of features. With cPanel, you can easily create and manage email accounts, set up forwarding and auto-replies, and filter spam. Another feature is the file management capabilities that allow you to easily use File Manager to upload, download, and manipulate files without the need for additional software. For website management, cPanel offers a wide range of tools to simplify your workflow, from creating FTP accounts and managing databases to configuring domains and subdomains. It offers exceptional solutions. Its phenomenal domain management system allows you to add, remove, and redirect domains effortlessly, making it suitable for users who have multiple websites.

As we mentioned above, DirectAdmin has a lightweight, resource-friendly design where its interfaces are completely focused on simplicity and ease of use, making it easy for beginners to use without any issues. Even though DirectAdmin is simple, it never compromises its functionality. It offers you an intuitive cPanel-like email management system that allows you to efficiently create and manage email accounts. It also offers reliable file management that lets you upload, download, and organize files effortlessly. In addition to website management, DirectAdmin provides a user-friendly interface for domain management, database operations, and other tasks.

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cPanel, like DirectAdmin, provides a wide range of features and excellent opportunities, while cPanel offers a wide range of advanced features, and the lightweight design of DirectAdmin favors ease of use without sacrificing basic functionality.

Pricing and Licensing

cPanel offers you different pricing tiers that are based on the number of accounts hosted on the server. It has two license models: the cPanel and WHM VPS License and the cPanel and WHM Metal License. The first VPS license is suitable for virtual private servers with less than five accounts, and the metal license is suitable for large servers with more than five accounts. While DirectAdmin has a single license level, unlike cPanel, DirectAdmin does not charge per account but has a fixed fee for an unlimited account. This pricing structure can be beneficial for website owners and hosting providers who have multiple domains and require scalable hosting solutions. The DirectAdmin license allows more flexibility and cost efficiency and is the right choice for people looking for a favorable budget.

Panel fees per account are based on the number of accounts you plan to host and the additional costs incurred with each new account. This pricing structure is great if you manage a large number of accounts. However, DirectAdmin Unlimited account pricing can provide hosting providers with a more cost-effective solution. This allows them to scale traffic without worrying about additional account fees. As a result, DirectAdmin’s licensing model allows hosting providers to offer competitive pricing packages to their customers, potentially attracting more business.

Performance and Reliability

The most important factor to consider when choosing a web hosting control panel is performance and reliability. It will determine how your website will work efficiently. The panel has a high level of optimization that allows the site to efficiently handle high traffic and demanding tasks. With its state-of-the-art technology, it enables websites to deliver content quickly and reliably. While DirectAdmin offers the same level of optimization as cPanel, it still maintains decent performance for most websites in terms of stability. cPanel has slightly higher system requirements compared to DirectAdmin. It requires a server with at least 1GB of RAM and a 64-bit CentOS-based operating system.

This can be a disadvantage for smaller sites or those with limited resources. In contrast, DirectAdmin has lower system requirements, making it more suitable for smaller hosting setups. It can run on servers with lower RAM and a wider range of operating systems, including CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian. Ultimately, choosing between cPanel and DirectAdmin depends on the specific needs and scale of your site.


When considering the several features of cPanel and DirectAdmin, both have unique features that are suitable for selective types of websites, but we think that even though cPanel is widely popular, the simple and elegant DirectAdmin would be the best. But the choice is yours. Based on the factors of your website, you can choose a web hosting control panel. If you want to know more about Linux Web hosting plans and pricing, you can check out eWallHost.

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