A guide to cPanel – What is it & what can I do with it?

A lot of web hosting packages come with cPanel. But what exactly is it? In this post I’ll explain what cPanel is and I will talk you through some of its most useful features.

If you’ve ever purchased hosting for your website then you may have heard of cPanel.

But what actually is cPanel? And what can it do?

Well, cPanel is a control panel that allows you to easily manage your website’s hosting services. It’s a web based graphical user interface (GUI) which means it’s user friendly for non technical people.

Many hosting providers, include a cPanel account as a part of their hosting packages, and your login details are usually included within your welcome emails after you purchasing hosting.

When you first log into cPanel, it might seem a little overwhelming as there are so many features, but don’t worry! You will soon become familiar with it, and I’m sure this post will help you to get started.

In this post I’m going to talk through some of the most useful features of cPanel.


Click on the links below to jump to the relevant section:

How to change the style of cPanel

cPanel has two different styles: basic and retro.

This is what basic looks like:

cPanel basic style | HollyPryce.com

And this is what retro looks like:

(Side note: remember that your cPanel account might look different to mine. I’m hosted with Krystal, so there are extra features within my cPanel account that I have because I’m hosted with Krystal).

To change your cPanel style, click on the person icon in the top right hand corner of cPanel. Then click Change Style.

This is what the Change Style link looks like on the basic cPanel style:

cPanel change style | HollyPryce.com

And this is what it looks like on the retro cPanel style:

You can use which ever style you like, but for the purpose of this post I’m going to be using screenshots from the basic style, just because I think I think most people will be using this version. It also looks a lot cleaner!

How to change your password

Normally when you purchase hosting, your host will send you an email containing your log in details for your cPanel account. The password is randomly generated, so you might want to change it something more memorable (but that’s also complex!).

To change your password, click on the person icon in the top right hand corner of cPanel and click Password & Security.

cPanel password and security | HollyPryce.com

You will then see a page that looks like this:

Simply enter your current password and then your new one. Try to make your password as strong as possible!

How to access your website files

Your cPanel account provides an easy way to access the files of your website without having to set up an FTP client.

To access your files, look for the File Manager icon in cPanel. It’s usually under the heading of Files and it looks like this:

cPanel file manager | HollyPryce.com

Clicking on this icon will take you to your file manager where you have access to all of your website files.

When you are working on your website you will want to work within the public_html directory (folder) as this is the web root for your primary domain. Double click on public_html to enter the directory.

cPanel file manager | HollyPryce.com

When you are in this directory, you can create a new file or folder by clicking on the + File and + Folder buttons at the top of the screen.

cPanel file manager | HollyPryce.com

When you create a new file or folder, you will be prompted to name them. You should avoid using space in between words and use – or _ instead.

If you are creating a new file, make sure you add the correct file type on the end. So if it’s a HTML file add .html on the end of the name, or if it’s a CSS stylesheet add .css.

You can also upload files and folders here by clicking the Upload button and then select a file from your computer.

cPanel file manager | HollyPryce.com

To edit the contents of a specific file, you just need to right click on it and select Edit.

cPanel text editor | HollyPryce.com

This will open the file in cPanels built in code editor.

cPanel text editor | HollyPryce.com

When you right click on a file you will see all the other actions available such as download, copy, rename, delete, change permissions, etc.

And that covers the basics of the file manager.

How to install scripts such as WordPress

cPanel accounts often come with something called Softaculous.

Softaculous is a script library, and it allows users to easily install various apps and scripts, like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Magento.

If you want to install WordPress on your website then I highly recommend using Softaculous instead of installing it manually. It’s quicker, easier and it doesn’t require any coding what so ever.

So, to install WordPress, look for the WordPress icon under the Softaculous Apps Installer heading. It looks a little something like:

Click on this icon and then begin filling in your website details. I cover this whole process in much more detail in my WordPress self-hosted blog post.

How to set up email accounts

Within cPanel you can set up email accounts using your domain name. So, for example, I have the email address holly[at]hollypryce.com.

To set up an email account, look for the Email Accounts icon under the Email heading, which looks like this:

cPanel email accounts | HollyPryce.com

Click on this icon to be taken to the Email Accounts page. Once there, you will see some tabs at the top of the page. Click on the Add Email Account to create a new email account. All you need to do is fill in the form with your desired email address and password.

cPanel add an email account | HollyPryce.com

Once you have set up an email account, click on the Email Accounts tab and you will be able to see the details for the account you have just created.

To access your email account click Access Webmail.

cPanel access webmail | HollyPryce.com

You will then be prompted to pick a webmail client. I have to admit, the email clients provided by cPanel are pretty horrific! But the good news is you can connect your cPanel email account to other email clients. For example, I have my account connected to Gmail so I can send and receive emails via Gmail. If you want to know how to set this up, check out this post.

Anyway, if you click on one of the webmail clients (I’m going to pick Roundcube) you will be taken to your email inbox where you can receive and send emails using your new email address.

How to set up new FTP accounts

The last feature I’m going to talk about in this post is FTP accounts.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and it’s a way of transmitting files between computers on a network. FTP is often used to upload and access files on a website.

To access your website files using FTP, you can use a FTP client (a piece of software), such as FileZilla, but in order to connect your website to your FTP client you need to set up an FTP account.

To set up an FTP account, look for the FTP Accounts icon in cPanel under the Files header:

cPanel FTP accounts | HollyPryce.com

When you click on this icon you will be taken to a page where you can set up an FTP account. All you need to do is fill in your details:

Once you have created an FTP account, you’ll be able to see a list of your accounts underneath the form you just filled in. To view your FTP details click Configure FTP Client.

This will then reveal the details you will need to connect your website to your FTP client:

If you scroll to the bottom of this FTP Accounts page you might see a section called Special FTP Accounts. Here you will find FTP accounts that cannot be deleted because they are linked to administrative aspects of your hosting.

There is normally an account set up for your website and hosting package, so be sure to check here before creating a new FTP account.

Is there anything else you would like to know about cPanel? Let me know in the comments! I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

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