Are you really making the most of your cPanel web hosting? If you’re anything like most users, the answer is no, probably not.
Despite being vastly rich in features, products, and tools to help us create awesome, highly functional websites, many of us barely skim the surface of what cPanel is truly capable of.
Sure, we might log-in to take advantage of QuickInstall and launch a new WordPress or Joomla installation on our server, and we may even log back into our control panel from time to time to manage our sub-domains or create new email accounts, but let’s face it, with the basics taken care of, it’s a little too easy to ignore many of the platform’s useful features.
Doing so, however, means missing out on a great number of tools that can really enhance our web presence, adding greater functionality and security, all with minimal technical know-how.
To help you use your hosting plan to its full potential, here’s just five things you didn’t know you probably didn’t know you could do with cPanel.
Create Custom Error Pages
You already know that when a visitor attempts to access a page or file that doesn’t exist in your hosting account, they land on an error page. What you may not know is that you can customize these pages to better reflect your brand, help visitors to find what they were looking for, or redirect them to other content.
In most cases, 404, 401, and similar error pages are served up automatically by your hosting company, either with their own in-house branding or a simple text-based HTML file.
Let’s face it, these look pretty ugly and do little to convince visitors to stick around.
By using the Error Pages tab on your cPanel dashboard, you can upload your own pages, complete with search tools or links to keep visitors on your site by directing them to what they were looking for in the first place.
Backup and Restore Your Website
There’s any number of scenarios in which a complete backup copy of your website can prove invaluable, including -but by no means limited to- unexpected server failures or moving your site to a new hosting company.
There’s several different ways to create that essential backup copy, though perhaps the easiest is to use the Backup and Restore feature on cPanel.
Depending on what you choose, this tool creates a zip file of either your entire site (including databases, scripts, and files) or a single part of it, which you then download to your computer hard drive. Should the worst happen and you need to make use of that backup copy, the same tool allows you to upload it again and restore your website to its fully-working glory.
Stop Other Websites from Linking to Your Files
The term ‘hotlinking‘ describes the process of linking directly to files on another website and using them as if they belonged to that site.
The most common use of this is to display images from your website on another site or forum using the <img src> tag, a process which essentially steals much-needed bandwidth from your site.
Using cPanel’s Hotlink Protection tool, you can prevent this from happening across all sites on your hosting plan, choose to allow direct links on certain sites, and even redirect hotlinking attempts to a different web page or file.
Prevent Users from Sharing Passwords to Protected Areas of Your Website
Particularly useful if your business model involves charging for site membership, cPanel’s Leech Protection tool stops registered members from distributing passwords to a restricted area of your site, or posting those passwords online.
By using this tool, any accounts which have been compromised can be redirected to a different page on your website and, depending on the options you choose, even suspended from using your service.
Add New File Extensions That Your Server Doesn’t Currently Support
MIME Types may not be a feature you’ll have to use often, yet given the rapid growth of the web and the sheer volume of new technologies hitting the market, it could prove invaluable.
Using this tool, if a new technology emerges which isn’t currently supported by your server, you can add a new MIME Type to your system so that the web server can begin delivering the new file types to users’ web browsers.
Did I miss any valuable cPanel features from this post? Is there anything featured above that you’d like me to cover in a future blog? Let me know via the Web Design DIY Facebook page or on Twitter @WebDesignDIY.
Our team pride ourselves on providing the most accurate and informative advice on all things web hosting. We’ll do all we can to answer your questions and help you make the most of your cPanel hosting.