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Choosing Your Web Hosting Reseller Software

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As a web host reseller, one of your most important business decisions is your choice of web hosting control panel software. The web hosting software you use will save or cost you time, money, and frustration.

What reseller control panel features will reduce your workload? What hosting software programs are integrated with the reseller control panel or work with it? What website control panel features will your clients like?

In this article, we've compared four quality web hosting reseller software programs:

- Alabanza

- cPanel

- H-Sphere

- Plesk

All of these reseller control panels come with control panels for your clients. They all have numerous features -- advanced email management, web statistics, pre-installed scripts, multi-language support, and more. They all work on Linux platforms, while H-Sphere and Plesk also work with Windows. According to the cPanel website, a Windows version of cPanel is in development.

Other features that set these control panels apart are their degree of automation, the number of features and ease of use for the end user, and the features and ease of use for you, the reseller.

Alabanza

When you become an Alabanza reseller, you don't just have a reseller account -- you lease a dedicated server from Alabanza. Alabanza owns the control panel and the server, and you resell directly for Alabanza. If you lease a dedicated Alabanza server, you can create your own reseller accounts. However, only you can set up hosting plans; resellers below you will be limited to hosting plans that you create.

Alabanza offers resellers a high degree of automation with its Domain System Manager (DSM), which can significantly reduce overhead and time spent on routine tasks:

- Account creation

- Billing and invoice management

- Credit card processing

- Domain registration

- Email notifications

- Ordering fraud protection

Even novices can sell hosting with this level of automation.

DSM also integrates with bulkregister.com for domain name registration. It does not easily integrate with other domain registrars, though.

A key Alabanza feature that resellers can offer their clients is the Xpress Product Suite, which provides web development and email management tools. The Xpress Product Suite includes SiteXpress, a website-building program that features over 300 templates and requires no web design skills.

cPanel

For resellers and end users, cPanel is known for its ease of use and range of features. cPanel's collection of over 50 pre-installed scripts and Fantastico auto installer help clients set up their sites with little web development knowledge.

A basic cPanel reseller account comes with two separate programs for resellers to manage their business:

- WHM (Web Host Manager) is used to create accounts and packages, add and suspend sites, modify passwords, view bandwidth usage, park domains, install SSL certificates, and perform other administrative functions.

- From the reseller's cPanel control panel, a drop-down menu takes the reseller to the control panels for each of the sites on the reseller account, including the reseller's site.

With the addition of an optional program, WHM AutoPilot, you can automate account creation and suspension, email notifications, and other tasks. WHM AutoPilot also integrates with common payment gateways and has a helpdesk, an invoice module, and other tools.

H-Sphere

H-Sphere is designed for both Linux and Windows platforms. Moreover, resellers can set up plans for both Linux and Windows and administer sites on different servers from the same control panel. The control panel, actually a separate server, also provides administrative access to the integrated helpdesk.

The H-Sphere control panel server automates account configuration, credit card processing, domain registration, and email notifications. It also includes a built-in billing module and supports over 20 payment gateways.

From the reseller's point of view, H-Sphere has a higher learning curve than most other control panels because of its numerous features. For example, when setting up a new plan, the administrator has two pages of features to choose from, including setup and monthly pricing for optional services.

Beginning webmasters may find H-Sphere too complicated for their needs. More advanced users, however, appreciate the features and control that H-Sphere offers the end user. A key feature is the ability to have control over separate domains with multi-domain hosting.

H-Sphere comes with the website builder Site Studio, which guides users through a variety of style choices and stores content separately from the layout. No HTML or FTP knowledge is required.

Plesk

Plesk is known for its stability and security. Resellers and end users like its simple navigation, its clean interface, and its professional appearance. It comes in versions for both Linux and Windows platforms.

With Plesk, all users use the same control panel but with different levels of control:

- Server administrator

- Client / reseller

- Domain owner

- Mail user

Each level of the control panel gives the user control of that level and the level(s) below it. Email users, for example, can log into their mail user control panel to change their password, add autoresponders, and change other personal settings without having access to the domain owner control panel.

Plesk handles SpamAssassin at the mailbox level rather than at the domain level.

This feature enables users to whitelist or blacklist email for each email address, allowing each email user to have individual settings.

SWsoft, the company behind Plesk, also offers Site Builder, a five-step website builder using pre-built templates. SiteBuilder has over 300 templates in different categories to choose from, and users can publish their sites without any HTML or FTP knowledge.

If your Plesk reseller account is with a web host that offers HSPcomplete, you will have some automation available with your account, such as credit card charges and email notification.


About the Author

Lois S. is a Technical Executive Writer for http://www.websitesource.com and http://www.lowpricedomains.com with experience in the website hosting industry.

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