Not sure about Helm 4 or Plesk since i never use them but i use Helm 3 and for the most part it will get the job done but you will find yourself opting to buy the 3rd party add on to make Helm 3 a more completed control panel.
i'm hoping Helm 4 fix all that need options provided by 3rd party for example, i once got into fight with many users on Helm forum because i request in the feature forum where i request WHA to add an option to disable a reseller and all his users if the reseller doesn't make the payment.
i got a huge shitstorm coming from others. they keep telling me how there already an solution from 3rd party vendor that offer that but i think this option is very important that it should be in the core control panel and i shouldn't force to buy an 3rd party software just for that. $60 isn't that much for that 3rd party software but it was the matter of principle to me since all the other control panel have this important feature why can't WHA add it.
i find that many core function are provied by 3rd party for Helm 3 so if you going with Helm 3. you might consider to purchase 3rd party add on otherwise Helm 3 is fine for what it is.
Here is something that I wrote about a month ago, thought I'd share it here as you (and others) might find it useful.
** Following text is based on personal experience and represents my own opinion**
Good portion of customers have no problem running Plesk on their systems. If look sells the product then I have to say Plesk really does it. A portion of customers choose it mainly because of its clean interface design, followed by few other things. These days, a lot of folks are running “hosting companies”, hosting couple of shared and reseller accounts. They want to be able to offer just about anything, with as less as hassle as possible. Plesk does the trick here, since it offers “all in one”, from a mailserver with integrated webmail, over SiteBuilder, AWStats and TomCat. All preconfigured and ready to roll. They love this. Another thing they like is being able to have all that for as little cost as possible. They want a good mail server with a webmail, website statistics, mysql, support for MSSQL (but only the free MSDE version) and so many other things – for free or for as little as possible.
Being able to add or remove components with few clicks is a major plus by some, but this too comes at a special price. Upgrading some of the components integrated into Plesk can become a major time-consuming issue. Even upgrading Plesk to a new version can cause your customer pain and SWsoft has one and only advice when doing these – backup the system. I don’t blame them for that one.
Things break from time to time when they push their boxes further than they should. Plesk doesn’t take resource limit hits well at all, quite normal are “misunderstandings” between one of the installed components and Plesk’s internal database causing downtime and what not. Things break from time to time even if you administer the box properly, but from my experience most customers don’t do that and just let the “stuff” to run. Most of the errors I have seen are directly related and caused by Plesk and not by a 3rd party application that is integrated into it.
Migrations from one to another box on Plesk sound nice, but can be a nightmare if customer did ANY custom changes on the system. Heh, even if no custom change was made, some things still don’t work – especially if the other system is not prepared in such way to meet the exact configuration of the system from which the content is being migrated off (passwords too – mysql/mssql).
Backup and Restore function has been very useful so far. It somewhat related to the Plesk internal backup system, which has been changed to use the Acronis True Imaging software – from my experience it really is a good one…
From the hosting company’s point of view – Plesk is the ultimate software – for some. You can fully automate its installation, licensing and configuration. Click, click, click – done (of course, first you would have to code out a system for that). It’s very simple from the customer’s perspective, again – click, click, click and the account is created, MySQL is configured and anything else.
Plesk for Windows is software that tends to be full of bugs, so sometimes even SWSoft gets confused with what they see in their new released versions. I believe Plesk is far from ultimate control panel software – a poorly re-coded Plesk Reloaded version. It’s nicely packed like a Christmas present but when you open it might come as a surprise.
Helm, on the other hand, is a good piece of software, it’s stable and at least it has a decent logging system so if something does break you can easily pin-point the problem. As for the errors, there really isn’t much to it. Most of these are because of the problem on the user-end, or license related. As I’ve said, Helm is a good piece of software.
Back in early 2005, when I logged in Helm 3.x for the first time in my life, I wanted to log out the very next second. As I have a bit of designer background, looking at Helm’s interface was pain for the eyes. I have seen customers canceling their newly order Helm packages because the environment of the control panel is poorly designed. Look sells the product for most (in my books).
After I somehow made piece with the looks, I came to find the configuration process way overwhelming. Enable here, enable there, create this, do that. Immediately I figured this had a potential of becoming a problem for the hosting company and the end user, especially if the company didn’t preconfigured at least certain elements of the control panel.
However… before anything, you first need to install all the software you wish to have configured in Helm. Easy enough, right? Not really. To setup a box that would be equivalent to a setup of what Plesk provides would take hours, and everything is done manually. Then when you get that part, you still need to configure it in Helm, that’s where the “do this here and that there, but don’t forget to enable that here and that there because otherwise it will error out”. Time is money, dear software developers.
Once you have that part sorted out, you can finally create a user and a domain. That’s, as everything else, complicated. You need to create plans, assign resources, create a reseller account and create plans within the reseller account – of course, assign the resources to these plans as well. Only then would you be able to create an account for a domain name.
Customers not familiar with Helm are destined to swamp your support ticketing system. How to do this, how to do that, why can’t I use this and where is that… It’s the fact caused by an overwhelming interface and their ability to understand certain elements of it.
This is all Helm version 3.x, I had an active relationship with it up until May 2006. I did test the beta 4 version and two things came to mind: design and somewhat less complexity of the setup/configuration, but the agony is still there. You may consider me narrow minded, but this caused a certain effect on me and I didn’t even test the current release of Helm 4 (even though I really enjoyed working with version 3.x).
I do believe once you configure Helm the way you want it (which, in my case, took about 3-4 hours) it can be a very very stable platform which you will learn to respect over time. Version 4 certainly comes with bunch of improvements, no doubt about it. I can’t give you a lot of input on it, because, as I’ve said above, I didn’t test it much.
I don’t have a personal flavor. If I was a typical customer, though, I think I would go for Plesk over Helm hundred times over. Even though it has its flaws, all-in-one Christmas package is something I could get used to, if I was a typical customer.
I have installed HELM 4 (release from december 15th), releases before, i had also problems installing the software.
I think the software is still beta and not usable for production environment. Although it looks very nice. The biggest problem is the lack of documentation. There are several API's for integration (Domain registration, Billing etc). But no documentation.
And no upgrade tool from version 3.x to 4.
Within a few weeks or months these things wille be solved i guess. And then HELM 4 is a good stable control panel.
But if you are a competitor i should recommend Plesk
I have not posted to WHA Forum for this specific cases. I have HELM 4 running on a server for evaluating. The main reason for upgrading for me are the API's and beteer integration possibilities. But there is no documentation or what so ever. You must agree with me that a released software product must also have a manual.
Second as you say: There is a beta of the upgrade tool ;-)
I will wait for the release of this tool before testing this.