cPanel is a web hosting control panel that is provided by many hosting providers, and the first thing you need to do when purchasing hosting is to be able to log in to the admin area. You can read more about cPanel here.
Essentially, though, it is one of the easiest to use and recognizable control panels being used within the web hosting industry, and where you can manage things such as addon, parked and subdomains, access your files via file manager, manage your databases, setup email account as well as things such as configure CloudFlare (if your host has partnered with CloudFlare for this).
Step 1- Find Your cPanel Login URL
In your welcome email, you will most likely be given the URL to log in. These are several ways to log in, and your web host may not advise you of all of them.
Option 1 - URL based on Server name
Option 2 - URL based on IP address
Option 3 - URL based on your site's website address
Many servers are configured to allow you to access the control panel by appending "cPanel" to the end of your website address, or in some circumstances as a sub-domain prefix. Note, however, this does not always work, and if you use something like CloudFlare to manage your DNS, you may need to add an A record for "cPanel" pointing to your server's IP.
The site's security certificate is not trusted!
You may see a warning message when you try to access your cPanel login, and will vary slightly depending on which browser you are using.
This is pretty standard for all but Option 1. It occurs because the SSL certificate does not match the domain of your server's SSL. There is nothing to worry about, and we have written a guide to getting around this here (coming soon).
For Option 1, there may not be a warning as the SSL may match the domain of your server. However, some hosting providers do not purchase a third-party certificate, but instead, self-sign it. Again, because you know the identity of your host, and you can verify that the connection is encrypted by click on the padlock in the Address Bar, it doesn't matter. It is worth using Option 1 if it works.
Step 2 - Enter your cPanel Username and Password
Your cPanel Username and Password will have been sent to you once you sign up with your hosting provider. If you do not see it, be sure to check your spam folder, or contact your host to resend you the welcome email.
Enter your Username and Password in the boxes indicated below, and then select log in:
You will then be logged in and should see something like:
How to log out of cPanel
Once you have finished working with the control panel, you should log out so that you notify the server that you have finished your session. While the server will log you out after a set period, there is a possibility that an attacker could exploit the open connection before it does so.
To log out just click the "Logout" icon in the top corner of the dashboard: