A Note on Webhosting

The “Cpanel / Web Hosting Manager ” software suite is one of the more common, and supposedly more popular, control panels available for commercial webhosting. It’s the software being run by Joe Lieberman’s hosting provider, and is used by thousands of other “hosting companies”.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Cpanel / WHM should be considered the largest, biggest, most serious red flag when considering buying web hosting. Simply put, don’t host with a company that uses CPanel, and you’ll be a lot happier.

Why? Because Cpanel and WHM are administrative tools for drooling idiots. They are the choice of the teenagers, the technologically illiterate, the lazy, the get-rich-quick “entrepreneurs”, and other clueless people. Untrained monkeys can (and do!) handle ninety-nine percent of the administration of a server with Cpanel, just by clicking on little buttons. The remaining one percent of the time, though, they’re generally clueless. Don’t believe me? Just look at all the posts on Web Hosting Talk where the clueless are complaining about broken things on their Cpanel servers. They’re not panicking about rocket science, either, but simple stuff, like setting up DNS, doing backups, and so on.

WHM is also the “reseller” software of choice. For a few bucks a month, you can get a chunk of (oversold) space on somebody else’s (oversold) dedicated server, and turn around and (over-)sell that space at a hefty markup. Heck, often you can turn around and sell someone else a reseller account. Why is this bad? Because, firstly, WHM and Cpanel allow absolutely ridiculous degrees of overselling, which is simply a bad business practice, and secondly, because you can all too easily wind up in a situation where you’re five people removed from anyone with root or physical access to the actual server. In the reselling world, you support only your direct customers, not your customers’ customers. Say you have a problem with, oh, email on a Cpanel box. You email your “host” for help. Shoot, there’s nothing he can, do, because he doesn’t have any real administrative access to the server. he has to submit a ticket with his (or her) host, who may or may not need to turn around and submit another ticket to a third party to get the issue resolved. That’s ludicrous. Even if everyone’s really on the ball (which would be extremely rare), a simple problem that requires root access to fix could take hours to resolve.

More relevant to current affairs is this situation: Your (oversold) account goes over it’s bandwidth limit big-time, and is automatically suspended by Cpanel. Sure, you cry and beg and plead and give your “host” more money… but if they’re grieviously overselling their allocated transfer, they might not be able to give you any more without talking with their provider, lest all your host’s sites get suspended when the host’s cumulative transfer is exceeded. Even under the best of circumstances, this can take a day or two, leaving you high and dry. Had you been dealing directly with the server operator, or running your own dedicated server, it would be far, far less of an issue.

Ensim is a little bit better than Cpanel in some respects, but the user interface sucks big time and it’s overall almost as bad. If you want a control panel (and who doesn’t, really?), either look for hosts with DirectAdmin, or hosts using Webmin. Why? Because both require far, far more technical ability and aptitude to administer. Yes, DirectAdmin permits reselling, but it’s far less common than Cpanel, and you’re likely to pay more for what you get, because you’re not the final ring in a chain of false promises (overselling, natch). Sure, there are some competent, trustworthy companies using Cpanel… but they’re the minority, by far.

Do you think the “Friends of Joe Lieberman” have taken this lesson to heart? Or are they going to continue to bet the farm on oversold machines, mediocre software, and a bushel of headaches just waiting to happen?

Published in: Geekiness, General | on August 8th, 2006| Comments Off on A Note on Webhosting

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