This article is about finding the best WordPress control panels, something that helps you host WordPress on your own cloud servers (VPS servers).
Have you heard about control panels? Control panels have been used by system administrators for years to manage their servers.
But in the last years, something interesting is happening. A couple of panels have appeared based on a Software as a Service model, Serverpilot being one of the first.
With these control panels, it has become much easier to manage servers. You’d subscribe at the service of a control panel, set-up a server somewhere else and connect them both. In many of these cases, these servers would be a so-called virtual private server (VPS).
And there you are! You can host websites on these servers, for a fraction of the effort that it usually took. A (managed) WordPress VPS for the fraction of the costs compared to traditional hosting.
The most interesting part? More and more, control panels are getting particularly good at hosting WordPress on your own VPS. It opens up countless ways to start a WordPress hosting business yourself or host your own websites for a fraction of the cost.
This is the equation of a control panel: Control Panel + Your Own Server = Fast WordPress with little administrative effort.
I’ve been testing many control panels aimed at WordPress (and many WordPress hosting providers in general, you can find the Best WordPress hosting here). In this article, I’ll explain what I think the best WordPress control panels are.
WordPress Control Panel FAQs
But before I do that, let’s cover a couple of the common questions you may have.
What is a WordPress control Panel?
A WordPress control panel is a type of online platform which you can use to easily manage and set-up new WordPress websites at a server or VPS of your liking. You connect it to a server at any cloud provider, such as Vultr and it does the job of setting up this server. Subsequently, it then can be used to add and manage WordPress websites to this server. In other words, it is used to host WordPress websites on your own cloud servers.
For whom is a control panel designed?
Control Panels are designed for people who do have technical skills and know their way around a server. While you could use a control panel with little technical skills, it helps a lot if you have technical and development experience (starting with the ability to understand the jargon).
What do I need for a control panel?
A subscription to a control panel service is not enough. There are a couple of other things that come in handy. Most important, you need to have a (VPS) server at a certain cloud provider. Many control panels provide easy ways to connect these using API keys. In addition, some knowledge on basic server administration comes in really useful, such as how to SSH into a server.
What is the best control panel for hosting WordPress?
What are the best cloud providers?
Do control panels handle domain registration?
Most control panels do not handle domain registration. You need an external domain registrar such as Namecheap or CloudFlare to register domains. Subsequently, these domains can be connected to the servers managed by your control panel. Some control panels offer integration with domain registrars, so DNS records are automatically updated.
Do control panels support email?
Most control panels don’t support email accounts, nor outgoing email from a server (such as form submissions). For this, you can use separate email services and transactional email services and integrate them with your domain.
What size of server should I pick?
The size of your server depends on your requirements. If you are just running a couple of simple ‘brochure’ style websites or blogs, a 1GB/1 Core VPS is even enough (but turn caching on!). If you are running an interactive site, such as a webshop or a site with courses, choose at least a 2GB/1 Core.
Here you go, an example of a control panel
I can image it’s hard to imagine a control panel without seeing. So, here you are:
The above video is a walk through of me going through the Runcloud control panel. Runcloud is a very popular control panel, suitable for different kind of applications.
Let the battle of the control panels commence
Before introducing the alternatives, I briefly want to talk about the testing procedure and how I came to this conclusion. I honestly don’t want you to miss out any important information regarding these panels.
I did use each of the panels, I even used some for months, and some I’m still using. For example, at the time of writing, this website runs on GridPane. For each for the panels, I have written a full review.
Reviewing control panels
For each control panel, I went through the process of creating a WordPress website with it and going through the whole package. I tested on five aspects:
- The features and security offered by the panel
- The performance (speed) of websites on the panel (using a bloated WordPress theme and multiple benchmarks such as loading-tests, uptime, time to the first byte and WordPress tests).
- The ease of use of a control panel
- The professionalism of support provided by the panel
- The price, or better value, of a panel
Each of these aspects was rated, resulting into the final rating for a panel. These are, in my opinion, important aspects you need to look for when selecting a WordPress hosting provider.
The 10 WordPress control panels
So, you may be curious which panels made the selection by now! The alternatives I am going to talk about are:
- WP Cloud Deploy
- Laraval Forge
Almost all of these panels have a wide array of features, provide great safety and much goodness for developers such as git deployments, ssh-access, staging environments and wp-cli support.
A couple of panels which are still under consideration are Cyperpanel, d2c.io and Laraval Forge. But without further ado, let’s jump to the best panel!
1. The best WordPress Control Panel: GridPane
In my opinion, the best control panel, developed solely for hosting WordPress, is GridPane.
Biggest pros of GridPane
- WordPress on GridPane is fast. In my testing, a single Vultr High Frequency server ($6 a month) can handle up to 1100 concurrent users with caching turned on, and 11 concurrent users with caching turned off.
- The feature set of GridPane is impressive, which features such as automatic updating (updates are controlled visually, and rolled back if a website is visually changed after updating) and snapshot failovers (syncing your website over multiple servers, so it stays online).
- GridPane is very easy to use, while keeping advanced controls. You can add any new server or website in a moment and it’s easy to navigate through them.
- Next to speed, GridPane emphasized on safety, providing firewalls and malware scanners at server and application level and customized server hardening.
- GridPane supports Vultr, Digital Ocean, Linode, Upcloud and Amazon Lightsail out of the box. These providers can be connected through the panel, making it easy to add new servers. Moreover, it is possible to connect it to any other provider of your choice.
- Support is one of the most awesome, knowledgeable and friendly support you will encounter. Depending on the plan, they will help you to get the most out of your WordPress sites.
Biggest cons of GridPane
- It can take a while for some (important) new features to develop, such as a renewed back-up functionality that just came out of beta.
- GridPane may be expensive if you manage a handful of site, and higher-level plans have a steep jump in price.
- In very rare cases, I encountered 504 errors with some of my sites hosted on GridPane.
2. The best Multi-purpose Control Panel: Ploi.io
The best multi-purpose control panel is Ploi. I believe it’s also great for hosting WordPress.
The biggest pros of Ploi
- WordPress on Ploi runs fast. A single Vultr High Frequency server ($6 a month) combined with Ploi, can handle up to 800 concurrent users with caching turned on, and 11 concurrent users with caching turned off.
- Ploi has some really interesting advanced features such as load-balancing and git-deployments.
- Ploi is priced very reasonable, especially if you’re managing multiple sites and servers.
- Support is available on multiple channels, such as email and discord.
- Ploi has a great API, which makes it easy to integrate with other services (at least for developers)
- Ploi also supports other applications.
- Ploi’s interface just looks great, and is easy to use.
- Ploi has some great (and visual) server monitoring and uptime tools
The biggest cons of Ploi
- Ploi may be harder to understand for beginners. For example, things as setting up a SFTP user are less straight-forward.
- Ploi can’t restore file backups from the control panel.
- Ploi doesn’t support copying from production to staging.
- WP-CLI needs to be manually installed.
- Ploi is a multi-purpose platform, and not specifically geared towards WordPress. On specific WordPress related issues (such as multisite issues), support may not be able to help you out.
- Ploi is a bit thin on the safety side, not providing controls for application level firewalls and restrictive security directives for WordPress.
3. WordPress Control Panel as a Plugin: WP Cloud Deploy
The latest in the top 3 is an interesting provider, it’s WordPress hosting managed by a WordPress plugin.
Yep, you read it right. It’s a WordPress plugin that acts like a control panel. You need to install this plugin somewhere, then connect it to any cloud provider and it will be able to setup optimized servers, running WordPress.
The biggest pros of WP Cloud Deploy
- Because it’s a WordPress plugin, this offers a lot of possibilities of customisation and reselling. You have control over the code and can easily extend the functionalities.
- WP Cloud Deploy has many features, from managing and creating servers and sites, backups, to managing web application firewalls. It basically has everything you need.
- WP Cloud Deploy provides good safety by adding a web application firewall and hardening the server with some custom directives.
- WP Cloud Deploy has good performance, supporting up to 800 concurrent users on a $6 Vultr High-Frequency server.
And some cons of WP Cloud Deploy
- Because WP Cloud Deploy uses WordPress, the user interface is sometimes cluttered and a bit clumsy.
- In my experience, I find WP Cloud Deploy is a bit pricey if you don’t use Digital Ocean and only have a couple of sites.
- At the time of testing, you couldn’t have multiple domains at one application. That sucks if you’re having a multi-site or doing redirects.
- You may find it a bit wacky to use a WordPress plugin to manage servers. You need to keep the environment where you use the plugin safe.
WP Cloud Deploy also has a managed version of its service called FireupWP, which is conveniently priced for smaller packages.
Other WordPress control panels
Now while I think the above three are great, it doesn’t mean there are a couple of great other alternative WordPress control panels.
SpinupWP is a control panel specifically designed for running WordPress on a cloud server. It’s actually pretty good if you’re only doing WordPress.
What I really love about SpinupWP is how their platform look likes. Adding websites and connecting servers is just a joy. Their platform also gives helpful hints, which really enhances the user experience. In addition, SpinupWPs performance is very good, supporting up to 1800 concurrent users with a $6 Vultr High Frequency server. At last, safety is taken seriously and there are some nifty features for developers, such as git and wp-cli support.
What I don’t like is their pricing model, which is somewhat higher than the other panels and also sets limits on sites. Furthermore, support provided by SpinupWP is very limited. I also miss a couple of features such as a staging functionality and easily restoring backups.
Cyberpanel is a powerful control panel quite similar to some classical panels such as cPanel. The unique aspect is that it uses LiteSpeed as a webserver, contrary to all other panels which use Nginx.
I actually think Cyberpanel is pretty good. It’s very useful to set up your own hosting business as it allows anyone to define custom plans (with certain limits on disk space, bandwidth and even CPU usage) and client logins. It has all features you’d expect from a control panel, including staging environments, GIT integration and support for email accounts.
Furthermore, the performance is also pretty good because of the good integration with LiteSpeedCache. The best part? It’s free!
Now support is very limited, but there is a community with a lot of helpful people around. Obviously, like all control panels, you will be responsible for managing the server.
Runcloud is one of the most popular control panels with good support for hosting WordPress.
What I like particularly about Runcloud is the experience of their panel and how easy it is to connect it to a server and add any WordPress website. Also, their support is helpful and the platform has a lot of nifty features, such as server monitoring, staging functionalities, git deployments, incremental off-site backups and WP-CLI.
But Runcloud has a couple of disadvantages. Their performance is mediocre, only supporting up to 200 concurrent users with caching enabled for a $6 a month Vultr High Frequency server. Moreover, I find backups rather expensive (at least $1 per WordPress website monthly) when compared to the alternatives. At last, I encountered some errors, such as poor support for multisite.
What I experienced is that their platform is very easy to use, and the interface is very clear. This is in my opinion one of the biggest strengths of the platform. Their more expensive plans also excel in monitoring applications and they have some good developer features. I also find their support knowledgeable, albeit they only provide email support. At last, their performance is also okay, support up to 500 concurrent users with a $6 Vultr High Frequency server.
Now in my opinion, Serverpilot has a couple of drawbacks. First, functionalities for cloning and creating staging websites are absent. Furthermore,
8. Vepp Panel
Vepp panel is an interesting newcomer focused on WordPress solely.
I had the pleasure to test them presently, and I must say the platform is very straightforward to use. Just plugin the IP and password of your server and it will install. And that’s also one of the biggest strengths of the platform – it’s very easy to use and manage WordPress websites with. From all the control panels in this list, this platform seems to be aimed at starting professionals most. It also supports email accounts and some of the features you’d expect, such as backups and staging. And the best thing? The platform is free!
Now Vepp has a couple of drawbacks. I encountered an error trying to install a website, and it just didn’t work for some unknown reason. It can also be connected to only one server, and thus supports a limited number of sites. And if you delete this server, you’re screwed and need to create a new account. Moreover, the performance is poor, only supporting 125 concurrent users with a $6 a month Vultr High Frequency server. At last, they do not provide support.
9. Laravel Forge
Laravel Forge is a control panel for hosting Laravel and PHP applications, but it can also host WordPress.
Laravel Forge is a great platform for running PHP apps, but is less suited for WordPress if you compare it though some of the other control panels in this list.
I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s really good. The usability is great and there are many great features for developers such as the way Git is integrated. But by default, it lacks some features which come in really handy. Think of file backups, staging and cloning applications.
Their support roughly answers within 3 hours, but don’t expect elaborate answers or help on WordPress problems (even if it has to do with their platform). Also, the performance is not so good, only supporting 150 cached concurrent users per second.
Cloudron is a control panel that you install on your own server and allows you to easily install various apps on this server.
Cloudron is great if you’re the kind of a geek like me and want to host all kinds of applications on your server. It’s very versatile, offers many apps that you can host on your own server (the most of any control panel in this list) and uses containers to separate apps.
Moreover, it supports email and inboxes and, like I said, many different It applications. If you are an open-source minded organization, Cloudron will enable you to cover many IT-needs of your organization from CRMs, to WIKIs and Docs.
What I did find however, is that it’s not totally optimized for WordPress. Don’t expect the same loading performance (at least, out of the box) as most other control panels. Moreover, support is mainly happening from within the community and fora provided by Cloudron, unless you have one of the more expensive paid plans.
11. If you don’t want to manage servers, try Cloudways.
Cloudways looks eerie similar to some of the best WordPress control panels compared here and it is very comparable to them. The major difference – servers are managed by Cloudways with their selection of cloud providers (which are Digital Ocean, Vultr, Linode, Google and Amazon). Thus, you don’t need to provide or connect your own cloud provider. Cloudways basically doubles the cost of what a server would cost at the given cloud provider.
I think Cloudways has a strong offering. There are the last step before using an actual control panel, and come in very useful if you’re not ready to use a control panel and provide servers of your own.
Biggest pros of using Cloudways
- Servers are managed by Cloudways, which can give peace of mind.
- Cloudways has good performance, supporting 500 concurrent users for the smallest Vultr High Frequency server (costing $13 monthly at their platform)
- Cloudways offers many features, such as support for email addresses and transactional emails, monitoring the file and cpu usage per application, easy integration of elastic search and manual git deployments.
- Cloudways has a lot of documentation and a large community, providing many ways to sort things out yourself.
- Cloudways has an agency program with interesting benefits for agencies, such as additional support and custom optimization services freely included.
Biggest cons of using Cloudways
- The support of Cloudways is not always knowledgeable, and in the worst cases even rude or slow to respond.
- Cloudways gets more expensive than other control panels if you use bigger servers, or have many servers.
- Sometimes, applications have 503 errors for some strange reason.
- Cloudways is not as fast as a couple of the control panels here, and uses an older server stack.
- You won’t have root access to the server.
Comparing all control panels
Now it may be hard to pick the right control panel after reading this list. After all, this is a broad selection of the best WordPress control panels.
With these two tools, you can compare control panels on features and specs.
Compare WordPress control panels on features
Use the list below to pick 2 or 3 control panels and compare them on features.
Compare WordPress control panels on certain metrics
Use the drop-down menu below to select a specific metric. This will render a bar chart, displaying the values for each control panel. Some values can be weighted as well. This is particularly useful for comparing performance.
The best cloud providers for a control panel
If you picked one of these 8 best WordPress control panels, you still need to make a decision for the best cloud provider that goes along the panel. With all the panels I tested, these three scored the best in my opinion:
Vultr is a well-known cloud provider focused on performance. Especially their High-Frequency packages are a blast, and they provide 17 datacenters in 4 continents.
In the 3 years that I’m using Vultr, I only experienced downtime once.
Through their referrral program, Vultr will offer you $100 worth of Vultr credits for the first month. Sign up here.
Upcloud is one of the fastest cloud providers, only beaten by the High Frequency packages from Vultr (which are slightly more expensive too). Moreover, Upcloud is very stable, providing a stellar 100% uptime.
They have datacenters in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Do you like Upcloud? Get $25 of starting credits when signing up here.
If you’re only having customers in Europe, Hetzner is a great provider (yes, the geographical location of your servers does matter). They only have two datacenters in Germany and one in Finland, I believe. However, they are very affordable, and provide one of the bests price/performance ratios.
For example, the $3.50 a month CPX11 package can handle up to 1900 concurrent users with caching enabled, and 14 without caching.
During the few months that I’m using Hetzner, I did not experience any downtime.
If you like Hetzner, you can get $20 of starting credits if you sign up through here.
Comparing Cloud Providers
The following table displays the bench-marking scores from my load-tests, using GridPane as a control panel.
|Maximum Simultaneous Visitors Under 2 seconds||800 / 14.55 (weighted) - GridPane + Vultr 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)1100 / 19.64 (weighted) - GridPane + Vultr HF 1C/1GB ($56 Monthly)1000 / 18.18 (weighted) - GridPane + Digital Ocean 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)900 / 16.36 (weighted) - GridPane + Linode 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)1900 / 35.52 (weighted) - GridPane + Hetzner 2C/2GB ($53.49 Monthly)1300 / 23.64 (weighted) - GridPane + Upcloud 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)|
|Maximum Simultaneous Visitors Under 2 Seconds (Uncached)||6 / 0.11 (weighted) - GridPane + Vultr 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)11 / 0.2 (weighted) - GridPane + Vultr HF 1C/1GB ($56 Monthly)5 / 0.09 (weighted) - GridPane + Digital Ocean 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)5 / 0.09 (weighted) - GridPane + Linode 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)14 / 0.26 (weighted) - GridPane + Hetzner 2C/2GB ($53.49 Monthly)8 / 0.15 (weighted) - GridPane + Upcloud 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)|
|WP Performance Test Queries per Second (higher is better)||309 - GridPane + Vultr 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)787 - GridPane + Vultr HF 1C/1GB ($56 Monthly)262 - GridPane + Digital Ocean 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)258 - GridPane + Linode 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)484 - GridPane + Hetzner 2C/2GB ($53.49 Monthly)403 - GridPane + Upcloud 1C/1GB ($55 Monthly)|
You can also use the drop-down menu below to compare the scores using a bar chart, instead of using a table. It will again display the scores for various cloud providers in combination with GridPane.
As you can see, the top 3 that was mentioned earlier performs very well.
Conclusion: The best WordPress control panels
There is an increasing number of control panels suitable for hosting WordPress, and some of these do very well. Control panels are great if you’re managing multiple websites, you’re technically minded and you want to have performance for low cost.
Do you have experience with any of these control panels? Or any questions regarding these panels? Leave a comment below!