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WHMCS alternatives – and why you should look for one

What is WHMCS?

OK if you are in the reseller hosting business you might know what WHMCS is and it is highly like that you use it. Why else would you look for an alternative?

But just in case, a short explanation.

WHMCS stands for Web Host Manager Complete Solution. It is a tool for web hosting providers to automate their billing procedure to their clients.

You can set up automated billing, send invoices, and close accounts when your customers don’t pay their bill.

Why you should consider a WHMCS alternative?

There is always a reason to look around if anything better and cheaper is on the market. But the there are some changes that really should make you look for an alternative to WHMCS.

The Pricing

Unlike some other options in the market, there was always a license fee to pay for WHMCS. After WebPros (which owns also cPanel and Plesk) has bought WHMCS, the pricing has increased and lifetime licenses are not supported anymore and discounts for bigger web hosting providers have been scrapped. As a hosting reseller this effects your bottom line. So either you increase your pricing, have less profit or look for another option.

Restrictions

You need to configure WHMCS for every single server. Like cPanel having more than one server under the same configuration is not possible (that means truly unlimited reseller hosting is not possible). If you run a serious web hosting business, it is more than likely that your customers will not have their website spread over more than one server. This leads to additional effort and cost.

Ease of use

Not only the restriction to one server, also the set up and matching customers to services can be a right faff.  There is a good documentation for WHMCS, but is still can be confusing and needs time. You will also need multiple log-ins (WHMCS, cPanel, VPS) which, again, is time consuming.

Industry leader – but…

WHMCS prides itself with being the industry leader for web hosting automation. But so was Nokia for mobile phones, and we all know what happened.

With cPanel and Plesk owned by the same parent company, WHMCS is tightening the grip on the industry and maximize profits. There are other and better options out there.

Don’t get stuck with the Nokia of web hosting automation.

There are a few alternatives to WHMCS

There are free and paid alternatives for WHMCS. I will mention a few before I unveil the one which is the best in my opinion.

  • Box Billing – A free open source alternative to WHMCS which get a lot of recommendations. But it has had a time where there was no update for nearly 5 years – and who says this will not happen again?
  • Blesta – not free but open source (all but 1% of the code). Other than WMHCS they still offer a lifetime license ($ 750)
  • HostBill – Premium Billing and automation service. Starting at $599 with limited support cases and updates for the 1 year. After the first year you have to pay for updates, the same if you need additional support tickets.
  • Clientexec – another challenger for WHMCS. Starting at $11.95 per month (for the branded services and self-hosted), unbranded is a tick more.

But now, drumroll, my favorite one:

What is the best WHMCS alternative?

OK I might be a bit biased here. But still I am very convinced that this is the best solution available.

There are a few alternatives to WHMCS but only one that is really outstanding and free.

I am talking about HostShop by 20i. It is forever free with 20i reseller hosting, like the control panel  My20i (which by the way is more powerful than cPanel).

Let’s have a quick look why I think that HostShop is the best alternative to WHMCS and what features comes with it:

  • Free forever: there are no limits or charges per customer, unlike WHMCS
  • Integrates seamlessly with the StackCP client area
  • Has an attractive, mobile-friendly and modern design
  • Includes ready-made, stylish hosting website templates
  • Has free fraud checking and no transaction charges
  • Automatic import of customers from WHMCS
  • Doesn’t require any installs or updates
  • Includes guideline pricing to sell over 300 discounted domain extensions
  • Lets you increase revenue by selling registry-level premium domains in a single click
  • It’s being actively improved through feedback from 20i’s Reseller hosting clients
  • Free technical support from 20i’s top-rated team of experts
20i HostShop alternative to WHMCS

So this is my opinion on that matter. I am sure there are a lot of people happy with WHMCS and that is why we offer licenses with a discount for Reseller Hosting.

What do you think? Have I missed an alternative that you think should really be mentioned?

Let me know in the comments.

4 comments

  • I’m in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to using HostShop or WHMCS. HostShop does a lot of what I need it to, but the affiliate side lets it down. Only paying out into the affiliates balance then having to manually pay out affiliates and reduce their balance accordingly is a costly process. Even if there was an easy way to integrate ClickBank, Awin or something similar into HostShop it’d make life a lot simpler. It could be done easily by allowing code to be added to specific pages with tags/variables for price, customer ID, transaction ID etc. I don’t really want to use WHMCS but my business is going to use affiliates to help it grow and I don’t have the time to manually sort out paying affiliates.

    HostShop is also a little slow and feels a bit clunky. There’s not much in the way of flexibility, digital journey is set out by 20i and I have no control over it where I’d like to be able to control a bit more, which WHMCS would give me the flexibility to do. It’s really difficult to decide on what to use at this point, I do think that I’ll end up getting a license for WHMCS even if it’s for a short time until HostShop becomes even better than it already is.

    That said, I do really like HostShop I’ve seen recently some updates to HostShop and they’re really good. It would be awesome if 20i had a timeline of planned updates and included their Resellers in some sort of focus group.

    Awesome services from 20i overall and can’t wait to see what upgrades come next.

    • Hi Dan – thanks for the feedback, we really appreciate it. In regards to the affiliate system, we have plans to change that in the near future. We’re also planning on many more changes which should address most of your other issues too – watch this space 🙂

  • I would have preferred to use HostShop, but have not found it as easy to configure as WHMCS. The designs I’ve felt, have been limited, and in some cases dated.

    I would love to see some real working examples of HostShop, to persuade me otherwise. It makes more sense. That said, it is nice to have the option of selling custom products too, with a good marketplace to integrate 3rd party modules.

    • Thanks Bret. If you have any issues setting up HostShop our support team is always there to help you. We are always working on improving the design and functionality to make it easier for you to use HostShop and save money you would have to spend on a WHMCS license. I like the idea of including real examples in the documentation and will put this forward to the development team.

Ruediger Dalchow

Ruediger Dalchow is the SEO manager at 20i. A big fan of Semantic SEO (or good content is king, as we said in the old days), he takes a professional approach on getting the best out of every website to be recognized by the search engine and deliver a benefit for the user.