Now that you’ve got hosting, its good to know how to use it. The hosting companies send you info about your cpanel, but not how to use it.
So, What is Cpanel?
A Cpanel is simply the dashboard of your hosting account where you can do all the stuff you need to in order to really use your hosting account.
As you can see from the two images below, there are a lot of icons… as a matter of fact… there are too many icons. Most of them you won’t really need to use.
I realize at this point, blogging purists and hard core programmers are going to go balistic!
They think that unless you know absolutely everything there is to know about the subject, you’re going to be a lightweight.
But my approach is different.
You need to know how to do certain tasks in order to accomplish what you need to, but your goal is NOT to become a cpanel expert / system administrator or programmer.
Your goal is to start a blog and become successful at it.
You won’t do that if you spend all your time becoming an expert at the ‘tools’ you need. Learn them well enough, and get back to the original goal of making your blog successful.
So, what do you need to know about the Cpanel?
The cpanel is divided into sections with icons all related to that task.
No hosting company will have the same order to them… in other words, some start with the email section, others start with the domains section, etc… It doesn’t matter. Just know which icon you need and then scroll until you find it.
So what icons on the Cpanel are important to you? (These are shown in no particular order)
The red arrows indicate which icons are the ones you’ll use most frequently. Keep in mind, depending on your needs, you may not need some of the ones I’ve indicated. If they aren’t important to you, forget them.
In the DOMAINS section you will definitely need to know about addon domains.
1. What is an addon domain?
If you only have one domain in your hosting account and thats all you want, then you won’t need to mess with addon domains.
BUT… if you ever want a second (or more sites) and then host them in your hosting account, you will do that by means of creating an addon domain.
See how to create an addon domain here.
2. What is a subdomain?
The Subdomain icon works similarly to the Addon Domain with a few major differences. With an addon domain, you must buy a domain name (with your domain registrar, like namecheap) and then set it up in your cpanel as an additional domain. With a subdomain, you do not need to buy an additional domain.
You already have one domain in your account, you can simply create a ‘second’ site by creating a subdomain which uses the main domain, but has a prefix before it. For example, your main domain is www.example.com.
If you create a subdomain, you will be adding a prefix to example.com, like this: mynewname.example.com
Using this icon, you specify the prefix (mynewname), and the server will create a new site for you with its own folder structure on the server called mynewname.example.com
For all intents and purposes, its a new site for you… BUT, it looks to your audience like its part of your existing site.
Subdomains are best used when you want to have a site that is very related to your existing site, but you want to have a different site structure or them for it.
So you could have a main site called horses.com, and a subdomain called calendar.horses.com, where you schedule events with horses.
If you want two very separate sites, like horses and trees, then buy two separate domains and have each as horses.com and trees.com
But if they are closely related, you can use a subdomain and save yourself the expense of a second domain.
1. What is phpMyAdmin?
It is a weird name for an application that allows you to access the database(s) for your site or sites.
Each site you have using WordPress will have its own unique database that you create using MySql Databases.
Once you access your database, you can update, insert, delete or create objects or data. In order to use it effectively, you need to know a bit about databases and the SQL language used to manipulate the data. I would suggest if you do not know, then learn a bit about it first and then it might be helpful to you. Almost all of the changes to your data and site you can do through WordPress anyway.
2. What is MySQL Databases?
This is where you can create a database for your WordPress site. Its very simple to use. There are four steps involved.
- Create the database
- Create the database user
- Add the user to the database
- Assign privileges to the user
1. The File Manager – This is where you can come in the Cpanel to see the actual files on the server. You can see the same thing with your FTP Client, but if you don’t want to use FTP, then this is where you can upload, delete, download and see all the files on the server.
2. Disk Usage – This is where you can come to see how much space your files are occupying on the server. If you have unlimited space in your hosting account, you will probably never need to know or care about this. But if you ever do need to know, this is where you can find out if you are exceeding space limits.
3. FTP Accounts – Here is where you can create FTP accounts (FTP Users) to use for your FTP Clients. See how to create FTP Users here.
- The most important thing in the Email section is Email Accounts, where you can create a new email account using your domain. See How to Create Email Accounts in Cpanel for more info.
- The Forwarders icon is where you can tell the server to automatically forward any email you receive in your new email account to another email address of your choosing. So, if you have a personal gmail address that you’re used to checking, you can set up a forwarder so that you’ll receive it in your gmail account.
- The Global Email Filters icon and the Email Filters icon do exactly the same thing, with the exception that Email Filters is for any SPECIFIC email address. Global Email Filters then, applies to ALL emails you set up in your hosting account.
What do the Filters do?
They allow you to set up rules for eliminating spam emails from going to your inbox. You can filter by keywords, email address, email prefix, email suffix. Its easy enough to create a filter or filters, but it can be a bit time consuming entering all the possible ways spammers can send you email. Its well worth it though, once you eliminate the spam.
In the preferences section (below) you’ll find the icon called ‘Password & Security’. This is where you can change the password to your cpanel account.
Metrics are an important gauge for you to judge how you’re doing in terms of traffic. My advice is to check out all the icons, but the one I’ve found to be the most helpful is Awstats.
You might have to contact the support for your hosting company and tell them to activate Awstats for your domain. Some hosting companies do it automatically, others don’t. Once it’s been activated though, you can see the amount of traffic/visits you get, from what ip addresses your vistors come, which countries, and how you were found (by which keyword). Also helpful is Awstat’s list of your most visited pages.
Finally, in the Advanced section, the only icon I’ve ever used here is the Cron Jobs icon. It allows you to set up server ‘jobs’ or programs that run in the background that do things for your site. Most likely you will not need to use it, but a few times I’ve had to shut down the cron engine in wordpress for performance reasons, and schedule a cron job on the server to run every 15 minutes to do the same thing. If you ever need it, you’ll know you need it and now you know where to find it.
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For a long, tedious, in-depth explanation of cpanel, read this. 🙂