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DirectAdmin Is Raising Prices, Is It Still Worth It Over cPanel?

There was quite a roar in the hosting community when cPanel announced they’d be raising pricing and switching to a bill per account system.

Plenty of people frustrated saying they’ll never support cPanel again…

Which lead to a mass exodus of cPanel users (and businesses) that switched over to DirectAdmin.


Businesses like BuyVM even closed deals for a large amount of licenses to provide to their customers.

The transition happened pretty fast. A majority of providers switched to exclusively providing DirectAdmin instead of cPanel almost overnight.

Some stuck with cPanel, too, while some provided both options (always at a higher price with cPanel, which I personally paid for at BuyVM.)

But at the time I don’t think anyone truly thought DirectAdmin was the better product.

They switched because it was cheaper and still accomplished the job.

While DirectAdmin wasn’t small by any means before the cPanel price raise, it grew exponentially as a result of it for one main reason:

It was cheaper.

Time and time again people weren’t really talking about how much they loved DirectAdmin.

Instead, they talked about how much they hated cPanel.

Sure DirectAdmin got the job done, but it was a bit uglier and clunkier, especially at the time in 2019 when this all occurred.

CustomBuild, a very fundamental part of the panel for example was incredibly clunky when you considered how cPanel handled the same process.

A lot of small things added up to a worse experience, at least in my opinion.

Which, again, was fine because it was cheaper, and they were the good guys that weren’t going to increase pricing and they weren’t going to get rid of lifetime licenses.

Then things started changing, of course.

First the lifetime licenses were removed almost immediately after people started switching over to DirectAdmin in response.

Then some time went by, some improvements were made and it was almost starting to resemble a product that could compete.

In their words:

Introducing the DirectAdmin Pro Pack

We include Pro Pack by default with retail Personal Plus/Lite/Standard licenses, or licenses having support period extended.

This pack is not mandatory for shared or personal hosting, but will offer significant enhancements. We already have these features included:

  • Python/Java/Ruby/Perl/NodeJS support with the use of Nginx Unit
  • Per-User Redis manager
  • Additional features for Nginx (automatic CMS templates, WordPress+FastCGI cache support)
  • Ability to throttle resources per-user (CPU/RAM/IO etc.)
  • Admin SSL (SSL administration, ability to use cross-user wildcard certs, replace expired certs with Let’s Encrypt)
  • More advanced Email Track&Trace, Email Summary
  • Web Terminal
  • GIT manager
  • ClamAV scanner for filesystem scans
  • WordPress manager
  • IMAP sync for Email synchronization
  • Automatic email account settings detection for Thunderbird (and other compatible) mail clients
  • DB Monitor

And we plan to introduce these, among much more, in the future:

  • Advanced backup manager, allowing user-level per-file (and per-database) restores from the backups
  • DNS synchronization with external providers such as CloudFlare

Great, so now we finally have a product that can truly compete with cPanel at a competitive price.

Except they increased their pricing.

At first, pro pack was an option for more money.

I don’t really see that as an issue, but it would have definitely made the product more complete and they don’t seem like addon features to me, rather a mandatory feature that should ship with the product.

Until recently it was announced all pricing would be raised and pro pack would be bundled together (you no longer have a choice) as of August 1st, 2023.

As well as the datacenter licenses being dropped which made DirectAdmin so affordable, or even free for consumers from companies like BuyVM.

You’re now looking at:

  • $5 per month for 2 accounts, 20 domains, pro pack.
  • $15 per month for 10 accounts, 50 domains, pro pack.
  • $29 per month for unlimited accounts & domains, pro pack.

(Note they did actually partially implement the same pricing scheme everyone switched over to them because of.)

If you compare this to cPanel, you’re looking at:

  • $15.99 per month, 1 account, unlimited domains, all features (needs to be on virtualized server, such as KVM).
  • $27.99 per month, 5 accounts, unlimited domains, all features (needs to be on virtualized server, such as KVM).
  • $39.99 per month, 30 accounts, unlimited domains all features (needs to be on virtualized server, such as KVM).
  • $59.99 per month, up to 100 accounts and any over it’s $0.39 per account, unlimited domains all features (can work for bare metal).

When you compare this up to date pricing, they’re now not that much further apart from each other.

For the average webmaster either could get it done for $15.

If you wanted to, you could get it done with DirectAdmin for $5, but for $10 more I’d definitely still opt for the polished, premium cPanel feeling and ease of use.

For a massive web host I suppose on the high end it could get a bit more expensive, but that begs the question:

Why are you putting that many people on one server?

The majority of people that use a panel are relying on the one their web host provides.

The type of people that desire a panel likely also desire the ease a web host provides.

They just want to get their site up, quick. Easily.

They don’t want to spend a ton of time installing a panel, fixing bugs, and custom building PHP. They want something that just works.

That means they probably aren’t buying their own license.

It’s either a shared panel and server (and license) between many users, or a datacenter license to be used on a VPS like BuyVM.

So if the majority of the time the license is going to be provided by the host, how is $59.99 per month not affordable?

You could take a SYS-3-SSD-32 from SoYouStart/OVH for $38.93…


…and add a cPanel premier license with 100 accounts for $59.99 per month.

Let’s say you split this server equally with 100 accounts, about 4GB SSD per account (most shared hosts over sell where they might average 4GB per account, but sell 10GB, etc), a little bit over 256mb of ram per account, and a burstable CPU.

You sell those 100 accounts for $2 per month.

That’s a return of $100 per month with $2 per month for a shared hosting package being on the low, low, low end, too.

It seems like complaints from hosts really sparked the biggest outrage, but if you break it down like that?

cPanel isn’t unaffordable, providers are just more concerned about pinny pinching, rather than delivering the best experience.

But, hey, maybe I’m just being the devils advocate…

Personally, though, at this point?

I’m sticking with cPanel, and I’m probably not even giving you a chance if you don’t offer it.

I definitely view cPanel as the more premium product, and I think DirectAdmin’s true value was being the sysadmins cheap control panel.

It wasn’t designed to be sexiest, easiest, or best, but it got the job done for an affordable price.

All of the pricing changes just cancels out the value for me.

Anyways, what’s your opinion on it?

Love DirectAdmin? Hate it?

How do you feel about the pricing changes and the future of both companies?

Sir Foxy

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