How to Navigate a Control Panel
Being able to quickly navigate a website's internal structure and intuitively access key functions is a must in today's site management. Today's site management offers a myriad of options compared to what was available ten years ago, and, as a result, things can seem quite overwhelming. This is especially true now that today's hosts offer self-managed sub-domains, multiple databases, unlimited email accounts, automated software installation, and much more.
There are so many management tools available, in fact, most people won't even find them all, let alone use them. Computer geeks find that entertaining. The rest of the world doesn't, making things like a web host control panel an absolute requirement. Here's how to maneuver around the back-end of a website without getting lost inside a bunch of server addresses, telnet commands, and other weird stuff.
Take the Time to Explore the Control Panel
You'll get a good idea of what a control panel offers and how it works if you take a little time to explore it. Familiarize yourself with the interface and note how things are organized. Then note why they're organized the way they are. This will help you make sense of what you see even if you don't understand every single thing.
You're sure to run into descriptions, numbers, links and even icons that point to things you've never heard of before. That's okay. Those items are typically used by advanced users, and you probably don't need them at this point. Having a general overview of things, however, will only make the rest of your tasks easier.
Try a Practice Control Panel
If you want to explore your control panel by interacting with it, but you're squeamish about changing critical settings, play around with a practice control panel first. There are several of these things linked around online, so a simple web search can set you on the right track. Try to locate one that hosts the same type of control panel that you're currently using.
The best thing about these "practice panels" is that they work the same way that web host control panels work. That means you can click and submit and modify things to your heart's content without having to worry about damaging anything. The idea here is to learn your host's control panel through a little innocent trial-and-error and perhaps even figure out what some of those advanced tools do.
Stick with a Control Panel's Defaults
How efficiently you go about making necessary adjustments will depend on your knowledge of host and server software. If you're new to it all, we highly suggest that you stick with the default settings. That is, until you learn a little more about what's available. Your site's current options may already be adjusted to their optimal settings, so explore out of this comfort zone only when you're confident about what you want to do.
You have to remember that every control panel is a front-end to the geeky stuff behind it. All the pretty stuff that you see covers up massive amounts of code that's pretty sensitive to misconfigurations. That's why we recommend that you practice on an external control panel first and stick with the default settings.
If you want to run a fast website without downtime, take the time to figure out how a control panel can work on your side. A control panel, no matter which brand, is extremely effective at taking a website to its maximum potential.
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