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BladeNode Review 1: DirectAdmin File Manager and mySQL
#1
@phoenixwolf recently advertised for beta tester volunteers to help test his shared hosting accounts with DirectAdmin Panel.  Due to the recent hike in cPanel prices, Bladenode.com is hoping to completely replace his over 1200 cPanel accounts worldwide with DirectAdmin.

Like Phoenix, I haven't used DirectAdmin in years, so was eager to see what changes, if any, there have been, and how DirectAdmin compares with not only cPanel, but CyberPanel - a recent alternative to cpanel I experienced and has me very enthusiastic. CyberPanel for me is the equivalent of cPanel without all of its messiness.  So this review will include a comparison with both cPanel and CyberPanel.

If you want to check out my hosting with BladeNode DirectAdmin then you can check it here - it will be a work in progress:
http://directadminlessons.6srv.net/

And with Cyberpanel you can check the WP Installation that was created here - also a work in progress:
http://deanhills.net/

I've decided to do a series of reviews giving different parts of the DirectAdmin Panel a workout.  This review will be of File Manager and mySQL.

First of all, the DirectAdmin Panel looks completely different to the one I remember of a few years ago.  It looks a bit more like cPanel, however I regret to say, it's not as neatly set out as cPanel nor as intuitive and brilliant as Cyberpanel.   Not sure whether this can be fixed with a different template.  From what I can remember from my previous use of DirectAdmin there were a number of templates available.  But at that time already some of the templates were buggy, meaning every one preferred the old template as the templates could have bugs in them.  Hopefully with the new look current DirectAdmin Panel there are options for BladeNode to develop its own brand of DirectAdmin and to organize the order and layout of the icons better.   With my first use of CyberPanel I didn't have to look for anything.  With my first use now of DirectAdmin I was looking and feeling my way around all of the time.  It felt both clumsy and time consuming compared with my first experience of using CyberPanel, the latter experience of which was completely intuitive and at finger tips.

WordPress Experience
The first test for DirectAdmin with my hosting with Phoenix was to give the File Manager a workout by installing my WordPress installation manually.  That means that I downloaded the script from WordPress, extracted it in my computer.  Then zipped the files and folders for uploading to the root folder of my new sub-domain.  I also needed to create a database, so that would give me the experience of using mySQL in DirectAdmin

File Manager
For File Manager user-friendliness, ease and speed of use I score CyberPanel highest - 10/10, cPanel 8/10 and DirectAdmin 6/10. I remember when I was previously learning how to use DirectAdmin my main criticism vs cpanel was that the links were not as intuitive.  One had to figure them out and learn how to use them.  This is the same with the current File Manager.  I'm used to getting all of the functions that are available for working with the file as logically and instinctively possible. I'm also used to a detailed menu of options on top of the File Manager Window - which is not directly available in DirectAdmin.  One has to look for them in the DirectAdmin File Manager with a scroll down tool here and there. If you click on a file in the File Manager of DirectAdmin, only some of the functions are available on right click.  One then has to learn to hover the mouse over the file instead to get a full list of file manager options.  

I prefer to use File Manager to FTP, as it usually is fastest for me, particularly when I want to do quick edits.  cPanel has always been excellent that way (as is CyberPanel), in that there is an option on top of the File Manager Menu with which to edit files.  Reason I prefer the File Manager for edits is that sometimes with FTP bugs can slip in after the file has been edited and saved.  When one does that in File Manager online there is less of a chance for that to happen.  It also speeds things up.  Unfortunately I was unable to get DirectAdmin file editor to work.  I assume it is the function that is available on rightclick that says "Edit in New Tab".  It wouldn't do it for me.  I'm sure it's probably possible and that one has to figure out something else that needs to happen before it can be edited, but with both cPanel and CyberPanel it's effortless.  Again with DirectAdmin it's clumsy in my experience.

These in summary were the lessons I learned with DirectAdmin tonight:

Lesson 1:  to find all of the options for managing a file, hover the mouse over the file and right-click over it.
Lesson 2:  to upload files you have to navigate to the top menu (next to BladeNode logo) and click on  "upload".
Lesson 3:  "Edit in New Tab" doesn't work for me - probably need to ask why - maybe there is something that needs to happen first?

So for me DirectAdmin File Manager compared with both cPanel and CyberPanel failed at being intuitive or user-friendly. It's a learned experience.  Possibly one can "Edit in New Tab", but again that would be a learned experience too, whereas with cPanel and CyberPanel there is nothing to think about - most of everything is instinctive and intuitive.  Particularly CyberPanel has everything just in the right spot intuitively and also sparsely.  With cPanel there are so many tools that are never used, taking up space that distract the mind from the tools that are regularly used.  With CyberPanel the focus is to have as few tools as possible to speed up and declutter the panel.  Now maybe most of the cPanel users aren't really using File Manager and prefer to use FTP.  So then possibly one doesn't have to worry about this deficiency as much.  Also, once one is used to how the File Manager works in DirectAdmin, maybe it won't be a problem after a few times of use.  One will get used to it ..... until the next time of use.


mySQL experience
For mySQL I score cPanel highest - 10/10, CyberPanel 9/10 and DirectAdmin 6/10.

When I created my WP installation manually, first thing I did was to create a database using the DirectAdmin Panel.  There is one link and icon to "MySQL Management" in DirectAdmin but very little to "manage" in it. Just two tools to create and delete database/database user. First thing that struck and puzzled me was the absence of phpmyAdmin.  I'm still wondering whether I missed it somewhere as I searched through the panel, wondering whether phpmyadmin was in a different section of the panel, but could not find it.

I really like mysql of cpanel, but cyberpanel is excellent too with less tools.  I only score CyberPanel one point less as I like the added details for mySQL in cpanel although one doesn't really need all of them.  CyberPanel also has phpmyadmin.  DirectAdmin doesn't have phpmyadmin.  Possibly it can still be added?  If I missed it and it is there, apologies in advance.
Terminal
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my awesome VPS 9!  
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#2
(01-03-2021, 08:50 PM)deanhills Wrote:  @phoenixwolf recently advertised for beta tester volunteers to help test his shared hosting accounts with DirectAdmin Panel.  Due to the recent hike in cPanel prices, Bladenode.com is hoping to completely replace his over 1200 cPanel accounts worldwide with DirectAdmin.

Like Phoenix, I haven't used DirectAdmin in years, so was eager to see what changes, if any, there have been, and how DirectAdmin compares with not only cPanel, but CyberPanel - a recent alternative to cpanel I experienced and has me very enthusiastic. CyberPanel for me is the equivalent of cPanel without all of its messiness.  So this review will include a comparison with both cPanel and CyberPanel.

If you want to check out my hosting with BladeNode DirectAdmin then you can check it here - it will be a work in progress:
http://directadminlessons.6srv.net/

And with Cyberpanel you can check the WP Installation that was created here - also a work in progress:
http://deanhills.net/

I've decided to do a series of reviews giving different parts of the DirectAdmin Panel a workout.  This review will be of File Manager and mySQL.

First of all, the DirectAdmin Panel looks completely different to the one I remember of a few years ago.  It looks a bit more like cPanel, however I regret to say, it's not as neatly set out as cPanel nor as intuitive and brilliant as Cyberpanel.   Not sure whether this can be fixed with a different template.  From what I can remember from my previous use of DirectAdmin there were a number of templates available.  But at that time already some of the templates were buggy, meaning every one preferred the old template as the templates could have bugs in them.  Hopefully with the new look current DirectAdmin Panel there are options for BladeNode to develop its own brand of DirectAdmin and to organize the order and layout of the icons better.   With my first use of CyberPanel I didn't have to look for anything.  With my first use now of DirectAdmin I was looking and feeling my way around all of the time.  It felt both clumsy and time consuming compared with my first experience of using CyberPanel, the latter experience of which was completely intuitive and at finger tips.

WordPress Experience
The first test for DirectAdmin with my hosting with Phoenix was to give the File Manager a workout by installing my WordPress installation manually.  That means that I downloaded the script from WordPress, extracted it in my computer.  Then zipped the files and folders for uploading to the root folder of my new sub-domain.  I also needed to create a database, so that would give me the experience of using mySQL in DirectAdmin

File Manager
For File Manager user-friendliness, ease and speed of use I score CyberPanel highest - 10/10, cPanel 8/10 and DirectAdmin 6/10. I remember when I was previously learning how to use DirectAdmin my main criticism vs cpanel was that the links were not as intuitive.  One had to figure them out and learn how to use them.  This is the same with the current File Manager.  I'm used to getting all of the functions that are available for working with the file as logically and instinctively possible. I'm also used to a detailed menu of options on top of the File Manager Window - which is not directly available in DirectAdmin.  One has to look for them in the DirectAdmin File Manager with a scroll down tool here and there. If you click on a file in the File Manager of DirectAdmin, only some of the functions are available on right click.  One then has to learn to hover the mouse over the file instead to get a full list of file manager options.  

I prefer to use File Manager to FTP, as it usually is fastest for me, particularly when I want to do quick edits.  cPanel has always been excellent that way (as is CyberPanel), in that there is an option on top of the File Manager Menu with which to edit files.  Reason I prefer the File Manager for edits is that sometimes with FTP bugs can slip in after the file has been edited and saved.  When one does that in File Manager online there is less of a chance for that to happen.  It also speeds things up.  Unfortunately I was unable to get DirectAdmin file editor to work.  I assume it is the function that is available on rightclick that says "Edit in New Tab".  It wouldn't do it for me.  I'm sure it's probably possible and that one has to figure out something else that needs to happen before it can be edited, but with both cPanel and CyberPanel it's effortless.  Again with DirectAdmin it's clumsy in my experience.

These in summary were the lessons I learned with DirectAdmin tonight:

Lesson 1:  to find all of the options for managing a file, hover the mouse over the file and right-click over it.
Lesson 2:  to upload files you have to navigate to the top menu (next to BladeNode logo) and click on  "upload".
Lesson 3:  "Edit in New Tab" doesn't work for me - probably need to ask why - maybe there is something that needs to happen first?

So for me DirectAdmin File Manager compared with both cPanel and CyberPanel failed at being intuitive or user-friendly. It's a learned experience.  Possibly one can "Edit in New Tab", but again that would be a learned experience too, whereas with cPanel and CyberPanel there is nothing to think about - most of everything is instinctive and intuitive.  Particularly CyberPanel has everything just in the right spot intuitively and also sparsely.  With cPanel there are so many tools that are never used, taking up space that distract the mind from the tools that are regularly used.  With CyberPanel the focus is to have as few tools as possible to speed up and declutter the panel.  Now maybe most of the cPanel users aren't really using File Manager and prefer to use FTP.  So then possibly one doesn't have to worry about this deficiency as much.  Also, once one is used to how the File Manager works in DirectAdmin, maybe it won't be a problem after a few times of use.  One will get used to it ..... until the next time of use.


mySQL experience
For mySQL I score cPanel highest - 10/10, CyberPanel 9/10 and DirectAdmin 6/10.

When I created my WP installation manually, first thing I did was to create a database using the DirectAdmin Panel.  There is one link and icon to "MySQL Management" in DirectAdmin but very little to "manage" in it. Just two tools to create and delete database/database user. First thing that struck and puzzled me was the absence of phpmyAdmin.  I'm still wondering whether I missed it somewhere as I searched through the panel, wondering whether phpmyadmin was in a different section of the panel, but could not find it.

I really like mysql of cpanel, but cyberpanel is excellent too with less tools.  I only score CyberPanel one point less as I like the added details for mySQL in cpanel although one doesn't really need all of them.  CyberPanel also has phpmyadmin.  DirectAdmin doesn't have phpmyadmin.  Possibly it can still be added?  If I missed it and it is there, apologies in advance.
Wow-what an amazing review. There are a few things that you have said that I am going to change to make better. I am also going to try this cyberpanel out on a test VPS. I might take a few pointers from it. Also, the PHPMyAdmin is under extra features in the DA panel under System Info & Files. Please see the screenshot below.  I am looking forward to seeing more reviews like this.

[Image: phpmyadmim.png]
Vladimir S. - BladeNode Hosting
Direct Admin Shared Hosting | KVM VPS Hosting | Dedicated Hosting
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#3
Aha!  Viola!  I was almost sure that had to be the case.  phpmyadmin was playing hide and seek, and it is there.  Now I know.

@phoenixwolf  I had such fun with this tonight.  And I learned a lot too.  For CyberPanel you should really check in with @fitkoh.  He did a brilliant setup with having mySQL on one VPS that is on the same node as another VPS on which he put the CyberPanel Hosting accounts.  You have to open an account with him in order to experience the speed of it.  It's lightning fast with how he set it up.  Also, he did everything for free.  He got gifted two free VPSs that were on the same node.  He also got a free dot.design domain from Porkbun during a special promotion.  He's a minimalist and minimalist in my view is already a great start for efficiency and speed of anything. Tongue

You can sign up a user account with him by sending him a PM:  @fitkoh  That is where I started to develop my user experience of cyberpanel.  @ikk157 during some of our discussions about cyberpanel earlier during 2020 tried to get me interested too, and I just didn't have the time then. But when Gigarocket went down because of cpanel cost increases for 2021, and fitkoh mentioned his setup and also invited members to try it out, I signed up with him and the experience just totally took my breath away.  It's not only the efficiency of cyberpanel, but the way fitkoh separated the database setup from the hosting accounts on the same node.  First time ever I'm not using localhost with WP.
Terminal
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my awesome VPS 9!  
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#4
This is a very good detailed review. It's really good to see the personal views on this kind of stuff. I have already installed WordPress in my account and checking the DirectAdmin. It's been a years since I have used it for last time and lot has changed it seems.


~ Be yourself everybody else is taken ~




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#5
(01-05-2021, 04:35 AM)xdude Wrote:  This is a very good detailed review. It's really good to see the personal views on this kind of stuff. I have already installed WordPress in my account and checking the DirectAdmin. It's been a years since I have used it for last time and lot has changed it seems.
Hi @xdude. I'm curious. How did you install WordPress? Did you use the Softaculous installer? How fast was it?

Have you used any of the other tools yet, i.e. SSL? What has the experience been like compared with cPanel where it is automatic when you sign up?
Terminal
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my awesome VPS 9!  
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#6
Wow ... I must say this is a cluster of minute details put together as a review. I honestly like the way in which the information is presented, simple and fluid. Smile

Coming to substance, I'm already getting a feel of what DA would be like. Prolly much better than my expectations till now. I'm excited to get my account too and start testing! Big Grin
Sayan Bhattacharyya,

Heartiest thanks to Post4VPS and Virmach for my wonderful VPS 9!
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#7
Very well-written review for DirectAdmin. From what I have read DirectAdmin should be good enough for normal uses. But you just gave it a 6/10 score, which is quite low I think.

But it seems the review has not been finished yet? As you stated it was just a "Review 1".

I would wonder and look forward to seeing what you will explore in your next "Review 2" and so on. Smile


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#8
(01-13-2021, 09:24 AM)tryp4vps Wrote:  Very well-written review for DirectAdmin. From what I have read DirectAdmin should be good enough for normal uses. But you just gave it a 6/10 score, which is quite low I think.

But it seems the review has not been finished yet? As you stated it was just a "Review 1".

I would wonder and look forward to seeing what you will explore in your next "Review 2" and so on.  Smile

You're right @tryp4vps I haven't completed my reviews yet. I'm otherwise occupied right now, but will work on it during the next weekend.

I would change my score if the owner of the DirectAdmin License has the capability of changing the panel to be more focused for users, more simple and more user-friendly. For me the way it is laid out presently compared with other panels, DirectAdmin Panel is slightly messy. It may also increase tickets and result in a greater need for support, compared with cPanel. The simpler and more focused the panel is, the less questions will need to be answered.

SSL will be an issue. Wonder whether it would be possible to automatically create SSL when a domain is submitted or added on - without needing to do it manually. As that is one of the services of cPanel that makes it very efficient and valuable, as it automatically takes care of many other potential problems that can crop up when the domain doesn't have SSL.
Terminal
Thank you to Post4VPS and VirMach for my awesome VPS 9!  
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#9
(01-13-2021, 12:03 PM)deanhills Wrote:  You're right @tryp4vps I haven't completed my reviews yet.  I'm otherwise occupied right now, but will work on it during the next weekend.

I would change my score if the owner of the DirectAdmin License has the capability of changing the panel to be more focused for users, more simple and more user-friendly.   For me the way it is laid out presently compared with other panels, DirectAdmin Panel is slightly messy.  It may also increase tickets and result in a greater need for support, compared with cPanel.  The simpler and more focused the panel is, the less questions will need to be answered.

SSL will be an issue.  Wonder whether it would be possible to automatically create SSL when a domain is submitted or added on - without needing to do it manually.  As that is one of the services of cPanel that makes it very efficient and valuable, as it automatically takes care of many other potential problems that can crop up when the domain doesn't have SSL.

Yes, I noticed that with SSL too and I forgot to mention it in my review. I was fortunately able to get it done, but I know there will be non-power users using this service so that like you said would be a support ticket adding more to the scope of this service on the administrative side.
Thank you to CubeData and Posts4VPS for the services of VPS 8.
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#10
(01-13-2021, 12:03 PM)deanhills Wrote:  SSL will be an issue.  Wonder whether it would be possible to automatically create SSL when a domain is submitted or added on - without needing to do it manually.  As that is one of the services of cPanel that makes it very efficient and valuable, as it automatically takes care of many other potential problems that can crop up when the domain doesn't have SSL.

Certbot might be worth a look. Certbot is a free open source CLI tool for getting SSL certificates from LetsEncrpyt. There is an active community to ask questions and trade ideas.

I found a few relevant links regarding certbot with DirectAdmin:

This one's a bit dated: https://help.directadmin.com/item.php?id=648 (Feb '17)
More recent: https://help.directadmin.com/item.php?id=629
It's listed here as a BETA feature: https://www.directadmin.com/features.php?id=1828
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for my free VPS

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