Official cPanel/WHM Newbie Guide


Official cPanel/WHM Newbie Guide

This guide assumes you already have Cpanel installed and we’ll walk you some of the very basics of using your new Cpanel server. We expect you have some knowledge of what cpanel actually is and know a bit about server administration.

You need to login to your box right well here are a few things to help you. SSL logins are highly recommended for security – please see our Force SSL logins in the Cpanel Tutorials for more details.

Edit Setup
Now login to your WHM as the root user.
This is the main section to your web server where you can set the options once and will probably never need to change them.

Main Shared Virtual Host IP:
This is your servers main IP address to be used be default with all shared hosting accounts.  This should be setup by default and you probably won’t need to change this unless you want to use a different IP.

Server Contact E-Mail Address:
You will get email alerts sent to this address and make sure you have a decent size inbox for them, something over 2 megs because you will often receive updates, log files and all kinds of other goodies.

Server Contact Pager Address:
Another contact method for receiving special alerts if your server goes down. We recommend leaving this empty and using a third party monitoring service like or because if your server is already down, how will it contact you :)

Default cPanel Theme:
The theme you want to be used be default with all new hosting accounts. There are a few to choose from and if you install a custom theme you can enter the name of it here. To see what themes you have installed on the server, scroll down to the left hand size and look for the title: Themes, click on List Installed cPanel Themes.

Alternate Main Ethernet Device:
Don’t touch this unless you’ve setup a custom ethernet configuration.

Default Home Directory:
We recommend setting this to: /home

Home Directory Prefix:
Leave this set to home

Many people get confused about what this is. Basically you make up the prefix in it and apply the main domain used to host your sites to it.
Example: If the main site for the server was  I could set the hostname to or The prefix helps you identify which server this is.  Make sure to set your hostname properly by using the Change Hostname link at the top left, this should match what you set there.

Apache Access Log Style:
Set this to: combined

Minimum Uid:
Leave blank

Primary Nameserver:
There are two options for these depending on what you’re doing.
Option 1) Shared Nameservers – Easiest
This is where you would use your datacentre’s default name servers such as and
No other configurations are required making this a snap. You would when set all your domain names nameservers, that you want to put on the server , to the same name servers that you entered here.

Option 2 Private Nameservers – Difficult
This can get very ugly if you don’t know what you’re doing. We recommend using shared nameservers.

First off is updates with Cpanel:
Login to WHM (Web Host Manager) and go to, Server Setup/Change Update Preferences:

Edge Release:
Right from a programmers hands, this is the first layer of Cpanel that is used for testing, patching etc. It has the latest fixes but isn’t as well tested as other releases.

This is upgraded from the edge release so it has been tested a bit more.

Again another layer of testing, it is older code and has been run on more systems but it takes longer for updates to get to it.

Very old but the most stable version around, it has been tested the longest.

We recommend you set to manual updates, Release option. I prefer manual over automatic because I like to keep a better eye on what has been changed.
If you select manual and you want to perform the update simply scroll down WHM and go to Cpanel  > Upgrade To Latest Version.

This will update Exim, scripts, themes, Perl and Cpanel if updates are available – it will only update to the Cpanel release type you selected previously.

To see if new updates are available go to
You can also click on the Change Log at the top of WHM to see their latest updates and releases.

Cpanel and the kernel – use up2date
Cpanel can update your system software – but won’t upgrade your kernel for you, you have to do that with up2date
Note: Don’t upgrade Perl with up2date it will break your Cpanel Perl!

Up2date information can be found here:…ghlight=up2date
Note: You need to use rhn_register before up2date will work!
“You can use the RedHat Network for free by registering from your system (/usr/sbin/rhn_register) and running up2date from there. Then up2date -l will show the list of available updates”

Tweak Settings:

Things to enable:

  • Webalizer Stats
  • Awstats Stats (Very nice stats program – recommended.
  • Spamassassin
  • Disk Space Usage Warnings
  • The number of times users are allowed to check their mail using pop3 per hour: (60)
  • The maximum each domain can send out per hour (0 is unlimited): (250) – This is SMTP only!
  • Email users when they have reached 80% of their bandwidth

Things you don’t or shouldn’t really enable:

  • Prevent the user ‘nobody’ from sending out mail to remote addresses (php and cgi scripts generally run as nobody if you are not using phpsuexec and suexec respectively.)
    (This won’t allow PHP scripts to send mail – EG formmail or anything else as they’re sent using nobody)
  • Keep log files at the end of the month (default is off as you can run out of disk space quickly)
  • Do not enabled email user their lost password option

Configure Backup under WHM:

  • Backup Status: Enabled
  • Backup Interval (Note: Selecting Daily Backup with give you monthly and weekly as well, Selecting Weekly backup will give you monthly as well.) Daily or weekly – up to you
  • Days to run backup (explanitory)
  • Remount/Unmount backup drive (requires a seperate drive/coda/nfs mount) – Disabled
  • Bail out if the backup drive cannot be mounted (recommended if you have selected the above option) – Enabled
  • Incremental backup (only backup what has changed. (**No Compression**) – Disabled
  • Backup Accounts – Enabled
  • Backup Config Files (not needed to restore specific accounts) – Enabled
  • Sql Databases (at least per accounts is needed to use the restore feature) – Per account
  • Backup Raw Access Logs – Enabled
  • Backup Destination (this should be a dir/nfs/coda mount with at least twice the space of all your /home* partitions. Setting this to /home is a VERY BAD IDEA.): – /backup
    (Note: you need a second hard drive and should have it set to /backup in your fstab file)

Service Status
System Health and running services – eg Apache, Exim etc.
Green = Good | Yellow = Warning | Red = Trouble
Clients can see the service status through their own Cpanel as well.

Things to pay attention to:
- Server Load 0.12 (1 cpu) – the lower the better!
- Memory Used

No one tells you where they are but it’s very important to know
All users have their own seperate log files – every domain has their own logs – eg:

  • Exim: – /var/log/exim_mainlog -/var/log/maillog -/var/log/exim_paniclog
  • Apache: -Error Log: /usr/local/apache/logs/error_log (404 not found errors, etc)
    - Access Log: /usr/local/apache/logs/access_log
    - Site Logs: /usr/local/apache/domlogs/
  • Logins: /var/log/secure /var/log/logins_log
  • Messages: /var/log/messages
  • Cpanel: /usr/local/cpanel/logs/access_log

Other things to know:
Restart Cpanel in SSH #:
/etc/rc.d/init.d/cpanel restart

Cpanel Manual Backup & Update – if backup doesn’t work through WHM – SSH  command #:
cd /scripts/ then do ./cpbackup
cd /scripts then do ./upcp

Apache Config Test in SSH: -test httpd.conf file for errors!
/usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl configtest

The configuration file is located in /usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf so you may need to edit it in Pico or your favourite editor and make changes.

Manual Stop – Start of services in SSH: (start | stop | restart) #
service httpd
service exim
service proftpd
service named
service mysql

That’s all I can think of for now! Overall Cpanel is easy to use and has some nice automated features but a control panel can only do so much, you need to get your hands dirty sometimes!