Web hosting: what I like about cPanel

There are a variety of web hotel solutions out there, or web hosting management systems. The majority ranges from decent to good and gives both site owner as well as site developer most of what you need. But one platform sticks out and, I think, takes practical service provisioning to another level. Or in fact, gives you so much functionality and self control to play with that if something is wrong, the answer most likely is that you can fix it quickly. With no need to contact provider.

This platform is called cPanel, widely used by lots of hosting companies worldwide.

Today I had a problem that, as it turned out, was a quick fix.

Over the past months I've been working on and with rather complex web project using Drupal. Which by the way is far far more than a simple Content Management System. The project and inherent design involves a whole pack of add-on components that enables extreme granular control over, among other things, responsive design.

Add-ons such as Panopoly and the design layer Radix are definitely worth mentioning. I keep returning to these modules and functions when working with more advanced design. And keep learning more about how to best make use of all the features these applications offer. However, as always there are things to look out for, things to tune, adjust and consider. One such aspect is PHP version and version compatibility.

Working with and on a design solution I kept getting errors on a mirror site, that did not surface on an original install. Going over the code and looking at changes gave no immediate answer. I could not find anything that would explain why I kept getting errors, all while functions seemed to be correct. Then, must have been after coffee mug #2, it dawned on me. The PHP Version, could that be it? So, I compared the two web hotels and their respective settings. Eureka!

When you work with cPanel based setups you have complete control over almost any setting that only defaults to your "hotel room". A good analogy would be to have a hotel room where you not only can move furniture and paint walls and floors, but also move windows, light fixtures and bathroom/plumbing!

So in the cPanel I simply switched to PHP version 5.3 and hey presto! Problem gone. This might have reduced performance somewhat, PHP 5.4 is tested faster but not so much it would be a tremendous degradation, at least not for smaller scale projects. The next thing now is to find out exactly what in the code needs to be changed. PHP version 5.3 is commonly and widely accepted as a solid, stable version. So the morale to the story here is, if you get inexplicable errors, try changing the PHP version. in cPanel you have access to all the latest, plus granular settings, a change takes mere seconds!