Why I dropped cPanel

I've been playing with webservers for years - probably a lot longer than I'd really like to admit if I'm being completely honest.

I've had my experiences with everything from Webmin to Centos Web Panel (CWP) and with all of this testing/deployment under my belt I've come to realize that cPanel is miles ahead of the competition but it always left me wanting more. I always felt as if I didn't learn as much as I should from using cPanel to host websites and run my applications. To be quite honest, it felt as if I was cheating, taking the extremely easy and entirely less complex way out.

"Well if it's so advanced... why did you drop it?"

The answer to that is a bit of two things - on one side it was an extremely simple decision to make, on the other... it's a rough one because you give up the simplicity of deploying multiple accounts on a server in the snap of your fingers.

"Why are you using cPanel if you're only managing a few websites?"

Well, I'm a generous person. I happen to have a handful of friends that manage and maintain websites either as a hobby or because they rely on them for a living - I like to take care of those people, or at least I did - and I'll keep my instances dedicated to those people around until my licensing is up.

However, since I dropped Wordpress and transitioned into using Ghost I've started on a higher learning path involving Node.js. I attempted to setup my Ghost blog on my former cPanel instance and discovered there were just a few too many issues for me to really say it was worth the time and effort.

"What are you using now?"

Well, it turns out Caddy is pretty excellent when it comes to being incredibly lightweight, adaptable and simple to configure. I like to make the comparison to Nginx for proxy work.

As an example, here is a Caddyfile.

mysite.com {
    root /www/mysite.com

sub.mysite.com {
    root /www/sub.mysite.com
    log ../access.log

As you can see, this is incredibly simplistic and shockingly works very well.

Never the less, I've experienced most of the web panels out there and I'm finally realizing, while they offer the ability to take the guess work out of virtually every server task, it's pretty refreshing to drop them and just do it all manually!

Do you recommend I drop cPanel and try out Caddy?

I only recommend dropping cPanel if you feel as if you are genuinely ready for it. You can always setup a testing environment using something like Caddy to see how well it works for you or if you really enjoy it.

Coming from the more lazy side of web hosting I can honestly say giving up cPanel was a very difficult decision, as I stated previously. But my desire to learn more and be entirely more self-reliant and confident with my own skills has surely encouraged me to really break out of my comfort zone and push the boundaries of my abilities. I'm sure that all sounds pretty crazy, but when you really consider the amount of times you stick with something as a compromise because it, "works" or is just, "easy"... That's why I dropped cPanel and that's why I fully intend to stay away from cPanel for some time.

Do you have any tips for breaking free from cPanel?

I do, actually. Ask yourself if you want to learn more, if you want to know exactly how things work - if you do... do it.