Using Features in cPanel

1.Introduction to cPanel

Your Web hosting account on Domain of One’s Own is managed through a control panel interface called cPanel. cPanel is an industry-standard tool for managing domains and hosting. Using this tool, you can do all kind of things with your domain, including:

  • install Web applications
  • create email accounts
  • view and manage files in your space
  • create subdomains
  • create and configure FTP accounts
  • review access logs for your site
  • manually manage and configure databases

To access cPanel, simply login to umwdomains.com with your UMW network ID/password, and your website’s cPanel will automatically be displayed upon login. If you visit umwdomains.com while already logged in, click Manage Your Account and then Dashboard in the menu at the top of the site.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll see your cPanel. It is divided into sections, making it easy to locate the different tools and services available to you.

2.What are Subdomains?

A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. You’re already familiar with the concept of subdomains, even if you don’t know it. Consider UMW’s public web site at http://www.umw.edu.
As you browse parts of that site, you’ll notice that the domain changes. When you’re looking at your department web site, the URL is no longer www.umw.edu. Now the prefix of the URL is “cas”, indicating that you’re on a subdomain dedicated to the College of Arts and Sciences.

College of Arts and Science webpage with arrow pointing to the subdomain "cas"

If you visit the Digital Knowledge Center at http://dkc.umw.edu, you’ll notice that the URL changes again, this time indicating that you’re in the Digital Knowledge Center’s site.

As you can see, the subdomains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective, but they also serve as indications to the users that they are in a new/different space. As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like, and in each subdomain you can actually create a distinct, individual web site.

 

3.Subdomains vs. Subfolders

There are two primary strategies for parceling up your Web space after you’ve built up your root domain (the domain you registered when signing up). You can use subdomains or subfolders to create additional sites. These function much like file folders on your computer. When you search for your site, your root domain will be privileged by a search engine (such as Google). In addition, subdomains are privileged by search engines over subfolders. The SEO hierarchy is as follows: root domain > subdomain > subfolder.

Aesthetically, here is the difference between subdomains and subfolders:

Subdomains: blog.yourdomain.com

Subfolders: yourdomain.com/blog

4.Setting Up Subdomains

  1. Go to the umwdomains.com and click Login / Signup on the right hand side of the screen to login to your Domain of One’s Own account.
  2. Log in with you UMW NetID and password.
  3. Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your cPanel. Locate the Domains section by scrolling down the page. Click on Subdomains.
    subdomain icon in cPanel
  4. Choose a name for your subdomain, and type it into the Subdomain box. Just like root domains (e.g. umwdomainsdemo.com), subdomains can only contain numbers, letters, and hyphens, and the best subdomains are simple, short, and descriptive.
    Create a subdomain in cPanel
  5. Once you’ve typed in a name, cPanel will automatically populate the Document Root field for you. This will create a folder to contain your subdomain’s files. You’ll usually want this folder to match the name of your subdomain, so it’s easy to identify where different files live in your account. You might want to change the document root if you already have a folder in your account that has the same name as the subdomain you are trying to create, although this should be rare.
  6. Once you’re done, click Create. If everything went well, you should see a message that your subdomain was created successfully. Your subdomain will now be available as an option for automatic installation of various software (wordpress, omeka etc). If you prefer to install web applications manually, you can do so in the document root you created in step 5.

5.File Structures and File Manager

Web hosting is, at it’s basic core, files and folders on a computer that is connected to the internet and setup to distribute them. When you signed up for your domain, a web hosting account was created. Although you typically will interact mostly with the web interface to create subdomains, install applications, and other common tasks, you might occasionally also need to work directly with the files in your account. The File Manager in your cPanel is one way to see these files.

Let’s take a look at the File Manager built into your cPanel to get a better understanding of the file structure that makes up your website(s).

  1. Go the UMW Domains homepage and click Login in the top righthand corner.
  2. After logging in, you will see your cPanel. access cPanel. If you were already logged in to Domain of One’s Own, click Manage Your Account and then Dashboard in the menu at the top of the site.
  3. On the homepage of your cPanel, click on File Manager.
    cPanel File Manager with "File Manager" highlighted
  4. You are now sent to the File Manager and can navigate the folder structure there.

You’ll notice when the File Manager opens up that this looks very much like a folder on your computer. By default you have a variety of folders at the root of your web space (the first screen you see when you open up the file manager). Some of them are created automatically to store information about the panel and setup of certain sites.

Your root domain, (mydomain.com), corresponds with a folder called public_html. Whatever files and folders are inside of this folder are available at that domain. If you installed WordPress here you’ll likely see a lot of WordPress-related files within it. Let’s say we uploaded an image called mypicture.jpg into the public_html folder. That image would now be available at mydomain.com/mypicture.jpg. The slash after your domain implies “this file is inside this folder.”

What about subdomains? Folders for subdomains are located inside the public_html folder. So when you go to the File Manager and navigate to public_html you’ll see folders listed for all of your subdomains and once you navigate inside one of those folders you’ll see files and folders specifically for that subdomain that appear on the web at that subdomain’s address.

The File Manager in your cPanel is great to view these files and folders, but it can be limiting if you want to upload many files to folder at once. If you find yourself wanting to do more with the files and folders on your web space you can download an FTP program like Filezilla and connect to your website by creating an FTP account in your cPanel. An FTP program will allow you to upload and download an unlimited number of files and folders quickly.

6.Setting Up FTP

What exactly is FTP?

File Transfer Protocol is a method that allows you to move files to a Web server from another location – usually your local/personal computer. Using a pre-defined FTP account (with a username and password), you can configure an FTP client (a program you run on your computer that allows you to transfer files via FTP.

There are lots of FTP clients that you can use; some are free and some are not. A few free ones you might consider:

Why you would use FTP

There may be times when you need to place files onto your space on your Web server. There are a number of scenarios when this might be necessary:

  • You’re working with an application that allows you to install plugins/extensions, but the files need to be manually moved to the server in order to add them. (e.g. Omeka) (Note: This is NOT required with WordPress which allows you to install plugins through the WordPress Dashboard)
  • You’ve developed a custom site/pages using a Web design program, and you need to upload the files you created to the server.
  • You want to upload many files to folder in File Manager quickly.
  • You’re installing an application that isn’t part of the applications in Installatron.
  • You’re working with a Web space where you’re not the owner (so you don’t have access to the File Manager in cPanel) or if you need to provide file access to someone else to your space on the Web server.

Get Information about Your FTP Account

If you’re FTPing to your own space on the Web server, or if you’re setting up an FTP account for someone else to use to FTP to your space, you’ll need to start by getting information about the FTP credentials from cPanel:

  1. Log in on umwdomains.com, which will direct you to cPanel.
  2. Go to the Files Section and click on FTP Accounts.
    FTP Accounts button in cPanel
  3. You’ll have the option to create a new FTP account, or you can scroll down the page to find the credentials for the default FTP account. If you want to create an account, fill out the Add FTP Account form with a username and password. By default, the new FTP account will be limited to a directory with the same name as the account you’re creating. You can change this to a different directory, if you want to grant this account access to a different location. NOTE: Make sure you know/remember the password you enter. When you’re done, click Create FTP Account.
  4. Once you’ve created the new account, you’ll see it appear in the list at the bottom of the FTP Accounts page. In addition to any accounts you’ve created, in the Special FTP Accounts section, you’ll see the default FTP Account. You’ll know this account because the username corresponds to your cPanel username. This FTP account has full privileges to access any space on your Web server.
  5. For whichever account you need credentials for, click the Configure FTP Client link.
  6. Write down the “username,” “server,” and “port information” that appears. You will need to use this (or you will need to provide this to the person you are giving FTP access) along with the password you created in order to configure your FTP client.

Configure FTP in Your FTP Client

Below are links to tutorials for setting up both FileZilla and CyberDuck to connect to you FTP account.

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