Getting Started with Plesk Control Panel
Plesk is the control panel that many web hosts use to provide their clients with both Linux based website hosting and Windows based website hosting. Plesk is complicated control panel, since it incorporates many different features that you are able to use to administer nearly any aspect of your website and website hosting package that you have purchased from your web host. In order for you to be able to make the most of your web hosting package, and to be able to administer your website with ease, you will need to be able to find your way around the Plesk control panel and must know how to use certain features in ways that will be able to benefit you and your website. If you are unable to use Plesk correctly to ensure that you can administer your website correctly, you might find that you are unable to get your website back online in the case that you have changed web hosts, and if you are uploading your website for the first time then you might find that you are unable to setup any aspect of your website such as email accounts and FTP accounts that are needed to allow you to upload your website into your web space. For those who are new to Plesk, this article shall help you setup the most important aspects of your website including FTP accounts to allow you to upload your website to your web space; screenshots have been included as well to make the learning process for Plesk as easy for you as possible, meaning that you should be able to have your website running on your new Plesk website hosting account in no time.
First Logging Into Plesk – The Desktop
When you first log into Plesk, you will be presented with the ‘desktop’ screen which was first introduced into the control panel in version 8, and is a place where you are able to place links to your most used parts of Plesk which means that you can access the sections that are most important to you with ease. The ‘desktop’ screen that you are presented with should look like this:
The ‘desktop’ feature of Plesk also provides you with counters that tell you how much space you have left for use in your web hosting account out of the space that was assigned to your account on sign up. The amount of bandwidth that you have left for use with your website or websites is also shown, which means that you are able to see how long your website will be online until you have to purchase more bandwidth. Other tools are provided so that you are able to manage your package without having to investigate each domain that you have hosted to ensure that you have enough space and bandwidth left for use with your account.
Viewing the Domains That You’re Hosting and Other Domain Features
Like anyone who has a Plesk website hosting account, you will want to be viewing the domains that you have hosted on your hosting account and will want to be able to access them for easy management. At some point, you might also consider adding new domains to your web hosting account so that you can make use of any spare web space or bandwidth that you might have, although you might want to reserve a small amount for other websites since you can easily find that your other websites are running out of bandwidth or space for a reason such as an increased visitor count. In order for you to view domains that you have hosted, and to create new domains, you will want to access the domain section of Plesk which can be found in the left panel of Plesk (circled red):
The domains page in Plesk should provide you with the following options for domains:
- add new domain – this option allows you to add more domains to your Plesk website hosting package so that you can host their email and websites, as well as other relevant services that might be provided by your web host
- domain templates – you can use domain templates as bases for hosting packages for domains which you want to host within your account, since multiple options are provided to allow you to create different templates with different specifications
- summary report – this will show you all the domains that you are hosting and will provide you with data on how much disk space they are using and how much bandwidth they have used for the current month, you will also be able to see data such as the amount of mailboxes each domain has setup
- traffic – this Plesk feature will provide you with a report showing you how much bandwidth each domain that you have hosted is using, as well as the bandwidth cap which has been placed on the domain – a graphical counter for each domain should be displayed as well.
Creating a Domain
You should already be in the domains section of Plesk, meaning that you are in the right place if you want to add your domain to your website hosting package so that you can host the email addresses and website that are related to it. When creating domains within Plesk, you have the option to create one using one of two formats – with the use of a domain template, and without the use of a domain template. If you choose to create a domain using a domain template, then you need to ensure that you have at least one domain template created within your web hosting account; with the use of a domain template, you are creating your domain based on a set of parameters that you specified when creating the template. If you are creating a domain without a template, then you will need to specify the necessary configuration settings in the process of setting up the domain concerned. To enter the domain creation wizard, you will need to select ‘add domain’ from the domains screen (circled red):
You will then be directed to a screen (below) where you will need to enter the following variables regarding your domain:
- domain name (circled red) – it is highly suggested that you check the box labeled ‘WWW’ which precedes the domain name box, since if people try and type in ‘www.yourdomain.com’, they will be unable to reach your website
- domain template (circled green) – if you have your own custom rules set out, then you should choose a template for use with the new domain.
You will then be asked to choose which type of hosting (below) you want your new domain to have, and the different types of hosting come in the following three forms:
- physical hosting (circled red) – this means that the website and domain for the domain will be hosted on the server hard drive physically, and that anything else relating to the domain such as the DNS will also be hosted off the server concerned
- standard forwarding (circled green) – this means that anyone who enters your domain name into their web browser will be automatically redirected to another website of your choice – the URL of the destination website will be displayed within the visitor’s browser address bar
- framed forwarding (circled blue) – this means that anyone who enters your domain will be redirected to another website of your choice, but unlike standard forwarding your domain, the one which is entered is retained within the visitor’s browser address bar.
If you choose the physical hosting option (below), then you will be asked to select and enter a range of parameters related to the domain that you want to host within your Plesk website hosting account. The main parameters which you should set out for your domain include:
- FTP/Microsoft Frontpage password
- amount of disk space to be assigned
- which scripting languages will be supported within the domain’s hosting environment.
If you choose the standard forwarding option (below), then you will be asked to enter the domain (destination URL) which you want your website’s visitors to be sent to; the same is applicable for the framed forwarding option.
After Domain Creation
Once you have completed the necessary steps to create your domain in Plesk, and have assigned it to have either physical hosting, or some type of forwarding (either standard or framed) you will be redirected to the management panel where you will be able to start configuring other aspects of your domain’s hosting if you have chosen for it to have physical hosting, and where you will be able to change the destination URL if you have chosen to use some type of forwarding to forward your website’s visitors to another website of your choice. The management panel for a domain with physical hosting should look like this:
As you can see from the above picture, the management panel allows you to take control of the following main features related to your domains hosting:
- mail – this includes the management of email accounts as well as the link to the webmail panel
- DNS settings – this area allows you to manage the DNS settings that are hosted for your domain
- databases – you can manage the databases for your domain through Plesk, and access the necessary web administration panel (PHPMyAdmin for MySQL databases and ASP.NET enterprise manager for MSSQL databases) to enable you to remotely manage your website’s databases
- certificates – you are given the ability to install SSL certificates within your web space without the need for any intervention from your web host, just as long as you have a dedicated IP address that you are able to use for the certificate
- ODBC data sources – in the case of Windows based Plesk hosting, you are given the option to create DSN connections to databases that you can then integrate into your classic ASP and ASP.NET based web pages and scripts.
Other features provided allow you to control and configure certain settings to enable you to customize your hosting environment; for example you are able to customize certain settings related to the running of the ASP.NET scripting language through the section labeled ‘ASP.NET’. If you want to view the website that you have uploaded for your new domain, but the necessary DNS has still not taken effect then you can use the site preview function to fully interact with the content that you have uploaded into your web space.
Uploading Your Website Into Your Web Space
There are two ways in which you can put the files related to your web space, these are via a simple FTP session and via the file manager that is built into Plesk to allow you to manage the files that you have hosted within your web space.
In order to upload your website via FTP, you will need to an FTP account so that you are able to login to your web space through your chosen FTP program; to create an FTP account, you will need to go to the FTP account manager which is reachable through the hosting management panel (circled in red):
If you have no FTP accounts created for your web space, then you will need to select ‘add new FTP account’ (circled green):
Once you have reached the page where you are able to create new FTP accounts, you will be asked to enter the following data to ensure that an FTP account can be created successfully:
- FTP account name (circled red) – the chosen FTP account name will be the name which is used to login to your FTP space along with the chosen password
- home directory (circled green) – this is the highest level directory that the account being created will have access to, for example if you enter ‘httpdocs’ then the account will only be able to access any folder under the directory ‘httpdocs’
- disk space (circled blue) – you are able to set the amount of disk space that one FTP account is able to use up
- read and write permissions (circled purple) – if you give an account read permissions, then it is able to view the contents of all directories to which it is allowed access, and if you give it write permissions then it is able to paste and upload files into any directories to which it has access.
Once you have create an FTP account for use with your website, you can proceed to accessing your web space via FTP using your chosen FTP explorer with the login details that you provided when creating the FTP account that you are going to use.
You can also upload your websites files using the built in Plesk file manager if you feel that you don’t want to use FTP to transfer the files from your computer to your web space so that they are viewable by your website’s visitors. In order to do this, you will need to select the file manager option from the hosting management screen:
Once you have done that, you should then navigate your way to the directory in which you want to upload the file – one thing to note is that you are unable to upload files into your ‘home’ directory, since this is where all the important directories related to your website reside. Once you have reached your chosen directory, you should choose the ‘add new file’ button located near the top of the screen:
Once you have reached this screen, you will be presented with three upload boxes in which you can click the ‘browse’ button (circled red) to navigate to a file on your computer that you want to upload to your web space. You should ensure that you have the upload radio button checked near the top of the screen (circled green):
Once you have clicked the ‘ok’ button near the bottom of the screen, the chosen file should then proceed to be uploaded.
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