If you have a website and use a hosting service, chances are you have already dealt with a control panel. In general, they offer the basic features for managing websites and emails hosted on the account. However, those who manage multiple sites on the same server need more robust control solutions. And one of them stands out management capacity and resources. We are talking about the WHM panel.
Also known as cPanel WHM, this hosting control panel is among the most robust on the market and receives new functions and updates frequently. Want to know more about the WHM panel? Keep reading!
What is WHM
WHM is software for Linux hosting servers and was created with the aim of facilitating - through a graphical interface - the execution of the various tasks that involve the maintenance of a hosting server. The acronym WHM comes from WebHost Manager, whose free translation could be web hosting manager.
Much more than a simple control panel, WHM allows the management of several aspects of the server, such as DNS server, SSL certificate issuers, resource packages, among many others. And a big difference between WHM is the ability to create and manage hosting subaccounts. This aspect makes it ideal for hosting resellers or companies that have several sites on the same server.
WHM and cPanel
To manage hosting accounts contained on the server, WHM makes the cPanel control panel available to the end customer.
It is common to find when looking for more robust hosting services, such as resale, VPS, and dedicated the cPanel / WHM control panel option. This means that this plan offers the WHM panel and, through it, you can create independent hosting accounts, with access to cPanel.
Therefore, WHM is the “mother” panel, the one that is used on a daily basis to manage the larger aspects of the hosting server. CPanel is the “child” panel, used to manage a specific hosting account within WHM. Within a single WHM installation, it is possible to have multiple instances of cPanel.
The user who has access to WHM can access and manage all existing cPanel accounts on WHM. The opposite does not happen: the user who has access to a cPanel account does not have access to the WHM panel. This operating logic allows access to a specific cPanel account to be distributed among clients or professionals whose scope is restricted to a specific website or hosting account.
Perhaps you are thinking that WHM, due to this operation, should be used only by resellers or hosting companies, right? Wrong! In fact, WHM is very interesting for any professional or company that wants to manage more robust servers and services, since it allows the management of advanced aspects of the server.
Depending on the case, WHM may have root access, which further extends its configuration capabilities. The fact that it is used to create cPanel subaccounts is really valuable for resellers and hosting companies, but it can be equally interesting for companies that have multiple sites on the same server. Furthermore, as we will see, this is just one aspect of the powerful WHM control panel.
WHM and WHMCS
In addition to cPanel, WHM also has another “child”. This is the WHMCS panel. The acronym WHMCS stands for WebHost Manager Complete Solution and this is a complement to WHM aimed mainly at website hosting companies and resellers.
WHMCS offers a panel for customer management, automatic billing, integration with domain registration services, support ticket system, among others. In addition, the end customer (reseller client) also has access to a financial panel, where he can control the hosting service he contracted with the reseller.
Unlike cPanel, which is present in all WHM installations, WHMCS needs to be installed separately and must be manually integrated with WHM. Many companies that offer reseller plans, VPS, and dedicated server with WHM offer a free license for WHMCS. If not, the license must be purchased separately.
General WHM Features
WHM is a powerful control panel for hosting servers. Below we will learn about some of its main resources. It is worth mentioning that the list of WHM features is extensive and would not fit in a single article. We will therefore focus on those that are most useful for the day to day of the hosting administrator.
WHM panel overview
The WHM home page, always accessed after logging in to the panel, displays an overview of the panel's functions. In the main area of the page, links are available for managing the hosting accounts on the panel and also for managing the server.
As we can see in the image below, you have easy access to the functions of creating new hosting accounts, listing accounts, creating hosting packages, reseller center, transfer tools, and backups. In the server management area, the process, service manager and disk usage (storage).
The standard view of WHM is mainly aimed at managing the hosting accounts contained on the server. If the user wants to have this initial access focused on aspects of server management, he can change the home page to the “classic” version. The link to this view is available in the upper right corner of the page and, once selected, changes the links on the home page. Among the functions displayed in the classic view, there are links to the server configuration, reboot, system status, DNS configuration, among many others.
It is important to mention that all the links on the home page are also available in the side menu. The homepage contains only a selection of useful and important links. In fact, for those who have never used WHM, the side menu is especially emblematic, as it has a myriad of options and features. You can get a sense of the power of WHM just by viewing the options in the side menu. The image below shows the options for the WHM side menu in version 84.
Each of the items on the menu has several sub-options. It is possible to view the sub-menus by clicking directly on the item or to open all the sub-items at once by clicking on the down arrow at the top of the side menu. The down arrow displays all of the sub-items, while the up arrow collects all of them.
Side menu items can also be filtered using the search box at the top of the menu.
Now that we have an overview of the WHM panel, let's take a look at some of the main functions of WHM. Recalling that it would be impractical to address here all the features of WHM, because, as we have seen, the options are numerous. However, I believe that it is still possible to have a good idea about how the WHM works in the following topics.
General server settings
The first item visible in the WHM side menu is the server settings section. Basic server configurations must be performed in this area, more specifically in the Basic WebHost Manager Setup option. Some of the fundamental resources of the server are defined here, for example, the IP (v4 or v6) and the server nameservers.
In the other items in the section, you can also find options to change the server's root password, configure usage statistics, Cron jobs (recurring tasks), among others. A terminal can also be used directly in the browser, without the need to configure SSH access on an external terminal, although this option is also possible.
There is also the possibility to change the default server settings, such as the maximum number of emails sent per hour, PHP options, among many others.
Automatic WHM updates
WHM has the ability to perform version updates automatically, which makes the server administrator's day-to-day life a lot easier. In the Update Preferences section, you can choose which launch layer will be installed automatically. The latest stable version is configured by default.
Updates are configured to be done automatically, but this can be changed if necessary. Even with automatic updates, it may be necessary to restart the server eventually to complete a particular installation. This reboot is manual and, when necessary, a warning is displayed at the top right of the panel pages.
Rebooting the server is a procedure that usually takes a few minutes.
Control and creation of hosting accounts (cPanel)
As mentioned earlier, WHM manages several aspects of the server. However, in order to effectively host websites, it is necessary to create one or more hosting accounts. These accounts each receive their own cPanel panel. The login of this cPanel account can be sent to any customers or account administrators. The login to access the cPanel does not allow access to the WHM panel.
However, the user who administers WHM has access to all cPanel accounts created on the panel. When accessing the Account Information area, in the side menu, you have access to several functions related to hosting accounts present on the server. The first sub-option ( List Accounts ) displays all existing cPanel accounts on the server and also allows the creation of new ones.
To access an account's cPanel, just click on the “cP” icon in the cPanel column. Accessing cPanel eliminates the need for passwords for the WHM user. Therefore, just click on the icon to access any of the cPanel accounts on the server.
To create a new hosting account, simply select the option Create a New Account, at the top of the list of accounts. It is worth remembering that, in order to create a new account, it is necessary to have a defined hosting package. A hosting package limits the use of disk space, monthly transfers, the maximum number of e-mail accounts, among other aspects. This is an especially interesting feature for resellers or agencies that have many customer accounts on the same server.
To create a new hosting package, simply access the Packages: Add a Package area. If no hosting package has been created, WHM creates the new account under the standard package, which has unlimited features.
Customizing the cPanel interface
The interface is the standard WHM / cPanel layout. However, it is possible to deliver a cPanel panel completely personalized with the company name, logo, and even with a different style. Customization options are available under the cPanel area, in the side menu.
In addition, other basic themes for cPanel are available on the panel, also under the cPanel area.
Issuing and managing SSL certificates
The WHM panel allows complete management of SSL certificates for all domains on the server, which includes those present in all cPanel hosting accounts. Through the tool, it is possible to install SSL certificates issued and/or acquired by third parties and also generate new ones automatically. The SSL certificate providers available by default are Let's Encrypt and cPanel.
In the Manage SSL Hosts tab, you can view all the domains and subdomains on the server, as well as the status of the SSL certificate for each one.
Backups on WHM
WHM has a very complete backup section with numerous configuration possibilities. It is possible to create an automatic backup routine at any desired frequency, choose to include all or just some cPanel accounts, define the treatment of SQL databases, among other functions. These options are available under the Backup Configuration tab, in the side menu.
Another interesting and fundamental point for professional backups is the ability to send backups to external servers. That way, if there is a physical failure on the server or disk, the backups are safe in another location. In fact, sending backups to an external server is highly recommended.
After performing a backup, you can send the backup file to another server using different protocols. Rsync, FTP, and SFTP are some of them. You can also use Google Drive or an Amazon S3 instance to do this. Once configured, this process is done automatically, after each backup.
WHM has a wide server monitoring capacity, making it possible to define specific services to be monitored. The status of these services is visible on the panel, under the option Service Status. To facilitate the identification of problems, the WHM administrator can configure alerts - by email, SMS, and other channels - to be notified whenever a specific service is not active. Other notification options can also be configured, such as the expiration of an SSL certificate, suspension of a cPanel account, email sending limit exceeded.
Also available on the panel is the status of the Apache web server and a daily log of processes and CPU usage. This log is stored and it is possible to browse the history, which can be especially interesting to identify any anomalies in CPU usage and its cause.
In the System Health area, the health of the system can be monitored, making it possible to view all the processes in progress on the server, as well as send them directly from the panel, without having to access the terminal.
How to obtain WHM
WHM is paid software, so you cannot simply install it on a server. It can be obtained in two ways: by purchasing a license or through a hosting company.
The license for a single installation of WHM costs $ 15 per month, and the price per installation is gradually reduced for hosting companies, according to the number of installations used. Purchasing licenses is the best option for hosting companies. If you have hired a server (VPS, Cloud, or Dedicated), with unmanaged root access, this is also the only way to obtain WHM.
For resellers, agencies, internet professionals, or for other types of use, the best option is to hire a hosting plan that includes the WHM panel in the package. Thus, the company providing the service is responsible for paying the license. Companies that have thousands of customers, such as the largest companies in the industry, pay a much lower price for an individual license.
It is common to find shared hosting plans that make cPanel available as a control panel. In this modality, however, WHM is not available, as it is a plan with limited resources.
To find hosting plans that use WHM, one must look for more robust services, such as Reseller, VPS, Cloud, and Dedicated Server. It is also worth mentioning that the WHM's level of permissions may vary, depending on the chosen plan. Only WHM with root access allows full configuration of all server resources. This mode (root), is generally not available in shared reseller plans, but only in more robust VPS and Dedicated plans.
As we have seen, WHM is a powerful control panel for managing hosting servers. Highly recommended for those who want to resell hosting services, the system also serves very well those who need to manage more robust hosting services, such as VPS and dedicated servers.