So your searching for web hosting and have seen the term cPanel what is it and what does it do? Simply put cPanel is a graphical user interface for use on Unix/Linux Servers. The development company cPanel Inc. also claims to be working on a version for Windows based servers.
Short for control panel and designed for the end user cPanel is a web-based graphical management tool used to make administration of web sites as easy as possible. Insulating the end user from a Unix command line the typical web site owner controls aspects of there web site management from within this simple, easy to use graphical interface.
Your hosting company chooses from a variety of themes for the cPanel interface that suits their branding and clients. The end user interacts with cPanel to control such things as web-based email, email account setup, mailing lists, FTP accounts and Cron Jobs. The graphical user interface also makes the task of site management easier by providing quick access to sub-domains, Web site stats, CGI scripts, custom error pages and redirects.
To make things even easier for newcomers to cPanel the vast majority of hosting companies also provide online Flash based tutorials. These tutorials demonstrate user interaction with the various management functions of cPanel.
So now when you come across hosting companies that offer cPanel you have a pretty good idea of what they are describing.