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Aug 3, 2016 | Reading time: 3 Minutes

Do I Need a Control Panel Installed to Manage My Server?

Laura Vietmeyer, Managing Editor

One common question we get is whether or not it’s necessary to have a control panel installed in order to manage a server. The short answer is no, it’s not necessary. Many servers are successfully managed without a control panel, and if you’re more familiar with the server functions then you should be fine without one.

Generally, a control panel is useful for a more automated configuration. The panel takes care of the many everyday tasks that a server handles. The process of setting up email addresses, for instance, is an activity that a control panel will simplify for you. However, the panel ensures that these procedures are performed a very specific way, and depending on what you’d like to do, you may have a better way of doing things without the control panel.

Freedom to customize

If you choose not to use a control panel, you’ll have more opportunities for customization. As control panels are built to perform tasks in a very specific way, they may overrule some changes you make that don’t fit into their specific protocols. So if you’re looking to tweak some of your server’s processes, working without one lets you manage the equipment and its functions to your specific needs.

There are a number of tools that you can use to remotely manage services without installing a control panel. Which tools you use depends on the system your dedicated server is running on.

Windows

If you’re running Windows, you can use the graphical desktop environment of the Remote Desktop. Use Internet Information Services Manager, or IIS, to manage web hosting in Windows. IIS is an extendable web management console created by Microsoft and integrates FTP, website publishing, permissions management, even security certificate tools and inventory in a single console.

Linux

For a Linux system, you can use Secure Socket Shell, or SSH. SSH is a network protocol that allows you to securely log into remote systems with a text-based terminal interface. Using SSH, two computers can share secure, encrypted data over a network that’s not necessarily secure. SSH is available on most operating systems outside of Windows, and it’s widely used by administrators who manage systems in remote networks.
To manage web hosting in Linux, you can use Apache as an introductory web server package. You can get SSH or remote desktop protocol access credentials from INAP’s customer portal. Putty or Microsoft Remote Desktop Client will allow you to get an RDP or SSH access session started.

That’s nice, but I still want a control panel, please!

If you are looking for the automation-centric benefits of a control panel and are current or soon-to-be a INAP dedicated server customer, here’s how to get started:

  • Reach out to our 24/7/365 support staff or your account manager to see what options are available for your operating system.
  • Ensure you have a backup of any important data, since installing a control panel will overwrite all of the settings, configuration, and files on an existing server. Installing a control panel is like getting a fresh start with a brand new service, so make sure you don’t leave anything behind!
  • Consider the costs. Control panels are sophisticated and will significantly reduce the time you spend on server administration tasks, so the developers require a licensing fee to install and run them. The automation and added functionality are time saving and keep you from having to rely on and remember expert-level text commands and configuration syntax rules. The advantages outweigh the small costs in many cases.

INAP’s partnerships with popular control panel vendors — Plesk and cPanel — ensure that you can license your control panel without any large, up-front licensing fees. Your account manager can adjust your invoice to add the license to your existing monthly bill.

Updated: January 2019

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