It looks like 2021 will be 2019. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to skip 2020. A little history is required. Before we dive into the pricing discussion, for those that aren’t in the know, cPanel is a web hosting control panel. You sign up with a host to build your next amazoogleface.com, but how do you manage everything from paying your bill to installing software like WordPress to managing email and SFTP accounts, as well as a million other things? In many cases, your host has made their life easier by installing cPanel for end-users to use. Got it? Good.

Back in 2019

Let’s start way back in 2019 with this article from The Register, cPanel unleashes price hikes on its most dense customers: “The company, which specializes in interfaces aimed at simplifying website and server management, announced the increases (PDF) without warning, with licenses purchased or renewed from now hit immediately, with monthly licenses sticking with the old structure until 1 September.

More from 2019, WebScoot breaks down who this affects most, cPanel Price Rise: How Will this Massive Increase Impact You?: “The new pricing will not make a huge difference to people under 5 Accounts. However, as the accounts increase, cPanel will cost more than the server itself.” Oh, don’t worry, there is more from 2019.

This is from Steadfast, which does actually offer some solutions, Your Options with the cPanel Price Increase: “We have been a cPanel Partner for well over a decade, but when cPanel was acquired by Oakley Capital last year, we knew changes were coming. A price increase was expected, but I don’t think anyone suspected the bombshell that came today.” But the post goes on to list several alternatives as well as this useful tidbit, “In the example I gave initially, the pricing was based on getting the licensing directly from cPanel, but there are other ways to purchase cPanel licenses. Steadfast has been a Partner NOC of cPanel for nearly a decade; thus, we don’t just have a lot of expertise on cPanel, but we also get special partner pricing. Even better yet, if you are buying dedicated servers or cloud hosting from us, we will provide you with the licensing at close to our cost.”

Less than two weeks after the initial announcement, cPanel adjusted, Hosting Journalist, quoting benny Vasquez, cPanel’s Manager of Community Engagement, cPanel Says Sorry, Announces Adjustments to Its New Licensing Model: “This was a miss on our part, and we are sorry for any concern we have caused as a result. Your (cPanel customers, ed.) feedback has been taken to heart, and we are making adjustments.”

There was a ton of Sturm und Drang during the entire summer of 2019, culminating in an exciting WebPros Summit in September of 2019. Most of the “hallway track” discussions were completely focused on pricing. I’m sure that’s not how the summit organizers envisioned the conference going – which is a shame since there was a ton of great material and networking. And I’d never been to Atlanta before, but I digress.

The Redux

It looks like what’s old is new, kind of. So pricing is increasing, but now it will be annual, straight from cPanel, “Our annual pricing update takes effect on January 1st, 2021.” Note the annual pricing update. Now I’m not sure of any annual pricing update being announced in 2019 – there was a lot of noise about the initial price hike. Still, I think we can assume that what’s been said should be a pretty declarative detail that hosting companies will have to absorb or pass on to their customers.

The new pricing was announced on October 1. There is a bit of the angst but really comparing 2019 to 2021 is apples and oranges. The great outrage of 2019 is mostly long gone. Really this is going to keep squeezing low-end hosts, but is that a bad thing? I know it’s not the most generous thing to say, but the internet needs better infrastructure all around.

The web is as strong as its weakest link (pun intended) – end-users may have to pay marginally more, but the security and performance benefits are well worth it and help make the internet a safer place. Hosts that are run well and consider all these factors will make our lives better.

(Update: October 15, 2020) So there is some reaction to the news, but I have to say nothing along the lines of 2019. Tony Holloway, COO at madRooster.com, in an open letter to cPanel on WebHosting Talk: “As I have stated in the past, we view all software licenses, no matter the vendor, not as a profit center, but as a way to make it easier on our clientele to pay one invoice. Because of this we put little to no markup on the software we partner with. Basically our idea is to cover our expenses in credit card fees, etc, while creating an amazing partnership with our end users.”