Most hosting environments use an intuitive interface to help users manage their web spaces. Two very famous panels are cPanel and Plesk, widely used and offered in the SaaS formula. Without these graphical interfaces, it would be difficult to manage a hosting space and set up a site. A lot of time is usually spent managing a web space through a control panel, consequently, the choice of a provider should also be made based on the panel it offers, how user friendly it is and what features are immediately available.
Let’s see what are the generic advantages of a web panel and try to understand why the use of a product like Plesk is to be preferred.
Why use a web panel?
A web panel is essentially a hosting management tool. It allows you to do things like organize site files, manage installed applications, email and much more. Providers offer a panel to help their customers effectively manage their sites. Without such a dashboard, managing a web portal and server would be much more complicated and would require a lot of additional skills.
The great advantage of control panels is that they allow users to set up and manage complicated processes with the click of a button.
Some things that can be done simply with a click: install a CMS, generate a subdomain, install software on the server and much more. All this is just the tip of the iceberg of what a panel like cPanel or Plesk can do.
Common features of web panels
Regardless of which web panel you end up using, you will likely have access to a similar set of functions. Below we take a look at what these features are.
DNS is the acronym for domain name management system. Most web panels provide the tools you need to manage domains, connect them to an existing site, redirect domains, and much more.
File and database management
These features allow you to manage the files of your web space through the cPanel and Plesk panels. With the management via FTP it will be possible to access the single files of the site, in some cases directly from the panel, and to modify them as desired. The database management offers the same editing function for the tables and the data contained within it. It may not be necessary to use these features often, but they are essential to have full control of your site.
Having an email address associated with the domain name helps the site look professional. With the e-mail management functions you are able to set a specific e-mail address for the domain, send and receive e-mails and other operations related to messaging.
The backup of the web portal is incredibly important for the security of your data. it is a great way to help mitigate risks in case the site is hacked, or if there is a problem blocking the site. With a regular backup system, it is easy to restore a previous version of the site in case of need.
Installation of applications and software
Most control panels have various software and applications that can be installed with just one click. One of the most common uses is to allow you to install popular software like Joomla !, or WordPress, with the click of a button.
Why choose cPanel or Plesk
If it is true that web panels often offer similar functionalities, the solutions to offer a user interface to their customers are different and can be divided into two broad categories: providers who rely on services such as cPanel or Plesk, and those who instead use a customized panel with all the resulting risks.
The choice of a control panel developed by companies specialized in the service is a safety in terms of stability, support and potential. Products like the ones we are about to describe have years of experience behind them, large communities and many users who can guarantee that every problem is identified and solved in the shortest possible time.
These obvious benefits are not available on custom web panels or developed directly by service providers to save money. When it comes to the security and stability of your site, don’t take any chances.
it is one of the most popular panels and one of the most used, although only available for Linux servers. Its features include both an interface for the end user and one for managing the server via WHM. It is also possible to expand its functionality with additional packages.
cPanel is one of the most popular web panels available today. With its wide variety of features, intuitive interface and extensive customization options it has been designed to meet a broad spectrum of hosting needs.
Plesk is available for both Linux and Windows environments. it is one of the easiest to use control panels available for the Windows hosting environment. It offers a very clean user interface and multiple product options to suit different hosting environments. It also allows the management of access by the end user.
Its intuitive graphical interface is designed to eliminate the hard work of managing the host. It offers a suite of tools to improve the security of your site and the development environment in general. A variety of different automation tools are also available, so you can focus on your own websites and not on infrastructure maintenance.
PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages on the web today. According to W3Techs, PHP is used by over 82% of all websites that use a server-side programming language. This means that 8 out of 10 sites use PHP in one form or another. Being a scripting language, it is essential to update PHP to the latest version available, unless you have special needs.
Today we try to understand the importance of updating to the latest PHP versions, not only for security reasons, but also to improve performance and support. The precise procedure will also be shown via a simple how-to.
When to update PHP?
As with any software, PHP has a lifecycle that it must adhere to in order to continue making improvements and moving forward in development. Each major PHP release is generally fully supported for two years. During this time, bugs and security issues are regularly fixed and fixed. a third year of support is guaranteed, only for what concerns language security and not performance.
PHP versions supported
As of today (summer 2020), anyone running a version of PHP 7.1 or lower no longer benefits from security support and is exposed to vulnerabilities that will not be fixed. According to the official WordPress Stats page, at the time of writing this article, over 41% of WordPress users are still using PHP 7.1 or lower. This is not only a security issue, but it is also a hindrance as there are still many sites that do not take advantage of the further performance improvements introduced with PHP 7.2 and later.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the danger and since updating PHP is an operation that must be done on the server and not from the site itself, a good portion of users do not even know how to proceed.
As can be seen from this image, the currently supported versions of PHP are 3: 7.2, whose security support will end on November 30, 2020; 7.3, supported until December 2021 and 7.4 supported until November 2022. Warning: in the last 12 months of the version’s life, the only guaranteed support is the security one.
There are many factors that could affect a slow adoption of recent versions of the language, here are some of them:
1. The owners of the sites, not being technicians, do not know the language and do not know they have to update PHP in order to have a safe and up-to-date site.
2. Those who use custom themes or plugins on their site want to be sure that the new PHP versions do not have backwards compatibility problems. These developers are waiting for the new guidelines to be released for the most recent versions, and only after checking their plugins and themes do they fully adopt the new version.
3. Some hosts are afraid to update the language on the server as it could lead to a wave of support tickets. Luckily, providers increasingly make the choice of version available to the end user, as we will see shortly.
Honestly, I don’t understand all this fear of updating PHP and keeping your systems running well and safe. I think the wait is quite useless and risky.
How to update PHP on SOD hosting panel
First, log into your control panel and from the main dashboard, scroll down to the section of the site concerned. At the bottom, click on the “Show More” button to view hosting options.
Among the options, look for the one called “PHP Settings”. Note that the version currently in use by the server is already shown next to the name. Click on the option to land on the PHP settings page.
Within the PHP section, it is possible, through a drop-down menu, to change the version in use. Versions that are no longer updated are marked as “outdated”, but still selectable.
On the page, in addition to the version active on the server, it is possible to modify many other PHP options relating to performance and security. For example the limit of the dedicated memory, the maximum execution time of the scripts, the location of the scripting folders and so on.
These are all features that the average user does not need on a daily basis, but the fact that such in-depth control of PHP options is available is a plus for the flexibility of the control panel and service.
Make sure your host is using the latest versions of PHP
As we have seen, updating PHP to the supported version is a simple operation to be performed through the appropriate panel of the hosting plan.
A few years ago, a great article titled “Whipping Your Host Into Shape” by Joost de Valk went into detail about how the real problem is that providers don’t adopt recent versions faster and, even if they do, they don’t encourage users to update themselves. Years have passed since that article and I hope that the trend will improve, and that more and more people think about the security of their portals also through the updating of the infrastructure that hosts them.
Through the control panel of SOD hosting plans, keeping the service updated and secure is simple, and updating PHP is just an example of the potential of the panel itself. Check for yourself by accessing a demo of the service.
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