I already wrote about cPanel price rise in 2019. Here I’ll write about the now officially announced new price rise – starting from the January 1st, 2021.
I already explained why I had considered cPanel price hike to be inevitable. And it did happen – announced in June 2019, starting at autumn of that year. For an average hosting company, the newly introduced pricing model, based on a price per crated account, brought a huge increase in costs for the control panel, and a bit more complicated accounting at the same time.
The above noted article explains the pricing policy in great detail. For clarity, I’ll now just give a very brief explanation:
- old pricing cost about 50 $ per month per server
- new 2019 pricing was 45 $ per month per server, plus 0.20 $ per every user account created on the server.
If we take some average server with around 1,000 user account, this results in the new price being 245 $ per month, compared to the old price of around 50 $!
2. cPanel 2019 price rise consequences
Now, at autumn of 2020, I could make an analysis of the cPanel price rise from the year before (autumn of 2019). Let’s see how the things have changed over the past 12 months.
It all started with a lot of crying, cursing, and drama. People saying how cPanel are evil, how they will switch to different hosing panels out of principle, not just because of the money… the irony of it all being that up to that price hike, practically no one on any hosting forum would recommend anything but cPanel.
Of the lucky ones, in addition to cPanel share holders, DirectAdmin control panel got a big boost in popularity, and total sales. They had almost immediately stopped selling lifetime packages and limited their offers to monthly/yearly subscriptions (DA website pricing page link). In my experience, DirectAdmin is still not as good as cPanel, but it is the most serious alternative to it. The other control panels are a lot worse, especially for use with shared and reseller hosing environments.
So many hosting providers, especially the cheaper ones, had to quickly transfer their clients to DirectAdmin servers, and learn the ropes of that (new to them) control panel.
Some hosting providers, like SiteGround, developed their own control panels (in my opinion and experience worse than cPanel, but not unusable).
In spite of all this, cPanel still has the best quality (in my opinion), and it kept the majority of the market share. Yes, sales have dropped, some old clients have switched to DirectAdmin, but the effective cPanel price rise was about 10 times ( 1,000 % ), and the drop in sales/client count was not that high, so the total profit did increase.
But, it appears they want more.
3. Announced prices for 2021
For the start of the year 2021 (1st of January), cPanel announced a drastic price rise for hosting providers with many users (accounts) on their servers. Price (since the 2019 price hike) used to be 0.2 $ per account ( 0.1 $ for “cPanel partners”, with preferential prices) will be risen to 0.3 $ ( 0.175 $ for cPanel partners). That’s a 50 % price increase!
To use a server with 1,000 accounts for an example:
- cPanel costs, before the 2019 price increase, was around 50 $ per month.
- After the first price increase (current prices), cPanel costs on such server are around 225 $ per month.
- Next year, 2021, this price goes up to about 320 $ per month!
The more accounts there are on a server, the greater the price increase is (approaching a 50 % increase). Here are some more numbers, for those interested:
|No of cPanel accounts||5||30||100 +|
|2021 Monthly price|
+ 0.3 $ for each additional
cPanel account over 100
(was + 0.2 $)
|2021 Monthly price per|
one cPanel account
|0.48 $ for 100 cPanel accounts|
(was 0.45 $)
0.31 $ for 2,500 cPanel accounts
(was 0.21 $)
4. Expected consequences of cPanel 2021 pricing
There will surely be a lot of noise and drama on hosting forums and groups. Some people will be surprised by this.
By the way: Plesk prices have also gone up (owned by the same company), as is shown on their official website (see Plesk pricing page). I wouldn’t be amazed if WHMCS prices followed soon, with a rise of their own – it’s all the same owner.
Hosting providers with lower prices (and lower profit margins) will have to rise prices, to avoid getting into financial problems – or switch suddenly (“finally”?) to DirectAdmin – regardless of whether they, or their customers, like that. We as Hostrina Kenya and all our customers we might fall in that trap.
Providers that rip customers more (higher profit margins) can stay as they are, just giving a bit more of the money earned to cPanel (about extra 100 $ per server, on average, based on my rough estimations).
All in all, I’d say that cPanel, with their newest pricing policy, especially the significantly increased price per server account, can position themselves as a premium control panel. Relatively high price per each additional server account might discourage providers from stacking (too) many users on one (shared) hosting server. However, because of other fixed costs per server (including other software, like CloudLinux to name one), and servers being more powerful, I’m afraid the main effects of this pricing change will be higher price for the customers, or lower profits for the providers (one not excluding the other, of course) – and perhaps more total profit for cPanel, unless everyone leaves them (which is not very likely because there’s no really good quality alternative).
So I expect most people to just end up paying 10 cents more per cPanel account, and continuing with the business as usual. Rich getting richer and that stuff…
5. My personal thoughts – conclusion?
From what I could test and see, cPanel is closest to a well rounded, properly working product, especially for reseller hosting environment
By the time DirectAadmin, as the “main contender” makes their product more well rounded (if ever), it is only logical for them to increase the prices. It’s capitalism. There’s no point in building a brand unless it means increased profits. For some products, higher sales help achieve that – but rising prices is also often used.
Me: I’m all for no money, no borders – global communism. But I see people who run profitable (hosting) companies crying and complaining about one of their providers (cPanel), a good quality one (best I would say), rising prices!? We’re talking about 10 cents per user account. It does add up – 30 or so accounts go to almost 40 $ per year increase. It’s not too little.
Anyway, in my opinion – free, open source is the only “guarantee” that a scenario similar to cPanel’s won’t happen again. Linux has worked fine for server operating systems. Why not make a similar control panel? From what I could gather, making a good quality hosting control panel requires a lot of time, knowledge, experience, resources, testing – using a team of developers. No hosting company is solidary enough to fund that, only for everyone to reap the rewards later. Especially since the widespread use and support for that product is not guaranteed (so any maintenance costs would end up being paid by the “developing company”). Free open source takes enthusiasm and trust (faith). Maybe that’s lacking in the hosting industry? :/
That (open source) solution aside, open market competition, without strict regulation, naturally results in one company taking it all. What cPanel did with their pricing policy is perhaps even good in those terms – they have caused a lot of anger, resentment, and provided a huge boost to the competition. DirectAdmin, that practically no one had considered even for free before the (initial) cPanel price rise, had to end their lifetime licence sales days after the huge customer influx caused by cPanel’s announcement of the new pricing.
New, extra cost per account is still not high enough to discourage piling up many accounts on a server (in order to squeeze a bit more profits, reducing the price per account). But it’s pretty close. Maybe this new move will position cPanel as a “Mercedes” in the hosting industry – for premium priced hosting providers? Or maybe the cPanel owners just want a nicer profit outlook in their books, before selling on their product? Who knows?
What I do know – it’s been just over a year since the first cPanel price hike, and new per-account pricing policy (that’s the real problem I’d say). After a lot of cries, cPanel still seems to hold the largest market share. When considering products, or services, I often think: “what would I use if money was not an issue?” I think the answer to cPanel’s widely spread use and ability to keep rising prices lies in that answer. Finishing this with a quote from a WebHostingTalk forum post, that nicely sums up the current DirectAdmin vs cPanel comparison:
People are getting stuck on the “sysadmin stuff” – It’s not the point I’m making though, the point is that the support is slow, regardless or any issue.
It could be control panel issue where the control panel is broken, the support will still be slow. I’m not pitching it as a justification for a price increase. A 75% increase is not something to just brush off, especially when running 100’s or 1000’s of servers. We been looking at moving to directadmin, however I am more pointing out that it one of our concerns is that the support quality and speed is not on par with cPanel.
We would gladly pay $80 for a directadmin a license instead of $29 if it meant:
– We got same level of support as cpanel.
– Decent well structured documentation rather than it being scattered all over the place,
For Example: like automating the installation of a purchased SSL certificate is still not even in their API documentation, despite the fact that after hunting around through the forums and google, I eventually came across a feature post of some of these SSL calls that were added in May 2005… 15 years later and their API documentation is still not up to date… That is completely B-grade at best.