cPanel has announced a new 10% price hike starting January 2022. That’s the whole news. But is it the whole story?
1. A repeated offender
Over the past decades, cPanel has enthroned itself as the best control panel in the hosting industry – especially for shared and reseller hosting. To show just how much it was cemented, I will refer to this WebHostingTalk discussion (starting from my linked post #37). See how some (many?) providers were eager to stick with the paid, non-open-source cPanel solution?
Just a few months later… BOOM! cPanel effectively raises their prices by tenfold!
They started charging for licenses, not per a hosting server, put per each customer account created on each server. Ouch! I wrote in great detail on this in the article “Sudden cPanel price rise – 2019.” That article discusses the price rise consequences and possible alternatives.
It’s been over two years since then, but at the time of writing this, there is no real high-quality alternative on the market (in my opinion and experience – yes, I know, DirectAdmin did step up their game… hope they get there, and soon!).
That’s not all. In January 2021, cPanel raises its prices by 50%! Now providers had to pay $ 0.3 for every customer (every created cPanel account), every month!
Did the customers flee to a lot more affordable alternatives? In spite of the loud praising of the DirectAdmin control panel (which started in 2019, after the 10-fold cPanel price hike), customers aren’t really rushing towards it. The other alternatives are not worth mentioning.
cPanel owner saw that… and now you have it:
2. cPanel price hike of January 2022
As it’s been announced in the cPanel price guide for 2022, the prices are going up by another 10%. Providers will have to pay $ 0.34 for each client, every month.
That may not sound like much. But hosting market is tightly competitive and many providers are working with rather low margins.
The hosting package I’m currently using to host all my websites and other projects cost $ 650 for three years. I got it at a discount price so it cost me even less (and the provider earned even less). I currently host around 30 websites on that account. And the allowed limit is 50 websites.
Let’s do some math:
30 * 36 months * $0.34 = $ 367.2
If I create a whole 50 accounts, cPanel will literally take all the income from my hosting provider!
My hosting provider is no longer among the cheapest (they too hiked their prices after the cPanel’s “swindle”).
That’s not all! cPanel now announces annual price changes (probably not towards any reductions). The cPanel pricing announcement (see under “How long are these prices valid for?”). That was to be expected anyway, but now “it’s official.”
3. Solutions and alternatives
On paper, cPanel has competitors, and it’s all a nice, open, market competition.
In truth, cPanel practically holds a monopoly.
As a customer, user, I’m still paying for the very high cPanel prices, because the alternatives are just not good enough. A few providers use DirectAdmin (also privately owned and can hike the prices if they gain a larger market share), and a handful use their “in-house” (usually rather poor) solutions.
Update: I have switched to DirectAdmin hosting after some more testing. At this moment, cPanel is still better, but DirectAdmin does all I need it to do (if with a bit more hassle at times). If DirectAdmin does a similar price hike, I’ll se where to go next.
If DirectAdmin ever gets really good, we’ll end up with a duopoly – a monopoly of two companies in the whole world. I’m not an optimist. DirectAdmin owners are surely great people, but it’s a private company, it can be bought, leveraged, whatever – by huge corporations, as is the case with cPanel now.
The only way out I see is the open-source community. In solidarity. But there lies a big problem:
Managing a hosting server with hundreds of customers is a serious matter. A server control panel must be secure, well written, and with a great user interface. While open-source means that a lot of people must work on it with great discipline, great organization, and for free!
There’s also a lack of trust between many mid-sized and small hosting providers. Otherwise, together they could have financed an open-source control panel long ago (“why should we pay, for everyone to use it later for free?!”).
It’s capitalism. According to Marx, capital has the tendency for concentration and centralization in the hands of the richest capitalists.
Competition is fierce, the small ones will be “eaten” by the bigger ones. Customers, especially the working class, will have to pay the price, one way or the other.
This article covers hosting billing platforms (with a focus on the WHMCS) – with practically the same conclusion (it’s very good and I agree with the author):