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After months of testing CanSpace, I’m still not convinced that it’s as great as it makes itself out to be. There are some definite positives and it has all the features I look for, but some aspects of its performance were a bit of a letdown.
CanSpace is one of a handful of web hosts exclusively dedicated to providing Canadian hosting. Unlike its competitors, CanSpace is deliberately vague about exactly where its data centers are located but does (frequently) insist that they’re in Canada. The secrecy does make me a little suspicious, but hey, I’m here to test CanSpace’s features, support, and performance, not to make judgments about its honesty!
The big question is whether CanSpace can compete with the giants of web hosting like Hostinger. Most international hosts have data centers in North America and should, in theory, be able to deliver decent performance for your Canadian website visitors.
CanSpace offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. Each hosting type has three tiers so you can start off small and upgrade as you need to. Unfortunately, there’s no option for managed WordPress hosting.
For this review, I signed up for the (lowest-priced) Starter shared hosting plan and used it to build a WordPress website. Over the course of three months, I ran performance tests galore, tried out features, and had conversations with the technical support team to bring you this hands-on overview of what to expect if you choose CanSpace as your web host.
I’ll tell you right now that my tests revealed some issues that you should know about before you choose CanSpace to host your website.
CanSpace has a decent selection of features – including those I regard as essential. There’s nothing that really stands out, though. Also, CanSpace doesn’t provide any WordPress optimization tools (which many of its competitors do), but that’s not a deal-breaker, as there are plenty of free WordPress plugins available.
All of CanSpace’s hosting plans include daily backups – and there’s no charge if you need to use a backup to restore your website. Backups are kept for a week, after which time old data is overwritten.
You should note that CanSpace’s Starter plan includes only 5GB of storage and 15GB of bandwidth per month. That’s fine if you’re running a small personal or business website, but it won’t really work for an e-commerce website.
Although the Medium and Professional plans also have storage limits (50GB and 200GB), bandwidth is unlimited on both plans.You can host unlimited websites on the Medium and Professional plans – with the Starter plan you can have a maximum of five.
Free SSL Certificates on All Plans
All CanSpace plans come with SSL certificates, so you won’t have to worry about your website being labelled as “not secure” in your visitors’ browsers. The Starter plan includes a free-forever Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, which is secure enough for websites without an e-commerce function. If you opt for the Medium or Professional plans, you get the benefit of the Enhanced Comodo SSL Certificate (one on Medium or an unlimited number on Professional).
Security Features (on Some Plans)
If you want security features, you’ll need to sign up for the Medium or Professional plan. The Medium plan has the Web Application Firewall (WAF) to block malicious attacks, while the Professional plan adds a monthly security audit to ensure your webspace is as secure as it can be. You can also pay extra for nightly malware scans when you sign up.
Instant Setup and Free Migration
No matter which CanSpace plan you choose, you can take advantage of the instant setup and free migration features. The instant setup service is perfect if you’re new to web hosting, as everything is taken care of and you don’t have to worry about learning any technical stuff.
The free migration service takes the stress out of moving to CanSpace from another hosting provider. The migration is handled by CanSpace’s team of experts who will ensure everything is working as it should be.
Free Domain Name
If you choose to pay annually (upfront) for your hosting plan, the cost of your domain name registration will automatically be deducted at checkout. If you already have a domain name registered elsewhere, you can transfer it to CanSpace. This is an either/or offer, of course – you can’t transfer your domain and get a new one for free! It’s also worth mentioning that only selected domain extensions (including .ca) are available with this offer.See full list of features
Ease of use
Beginner-Friendly, Hassle-Free Setup and Management
I didn’t have any problems setting up my account and website. CanSpace is easy to use, even if you’re a complete beginner to web hosting. The instant setup means you can get started quickly: simply pick your plan and check out. The whole process only takes around 15 minutes, and you won’t find any addons pre-selected at checkout, either.
Managing Your Account and Using cPanel
Like most hosts, CanSpace has a dashboard for managing your account (including support, billing, renewals, and buying new services) and includes cPanel for managing your webspace. If you’re new to web hosting, that does mean having to learn two different systems – but overall I think this setup is easier to navigate than an all-in-one panel.
For account management, CanSpace uses a modified version of the beginner-friendly WHMCS control panel. The dashboard (see the screenshot below) offers easy access to the most commonly-used tools with simple navigation across the top of the screen.
For webspace management, CanSpace includes cPanel. It’s not my favourite control panel but it’s definitely one of the easier ones to use. CanSpace makes it really simple to log in, as there’s a button in the services section of the dashboard that logs you directly (and securely) into cPanel. There are no complicated or auto-generated usernames or passwords to remember.
If you’re new to web hosting, cPanel’s vast array of icons (most of which you’ll never need to use) can be overwhelming. Once you find your way around it becomes a little more intuitive.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
With CanSpace, your domain is automatically linked to your webspace if you take advantage of the free domain name offer when you sign up. If you’re using a domain you’ve purchased elsewhere, that should be linked to your webspace when you complete checkout (if not, submit a ticket to have CanSpace quickly resolve the issue).
Installing WordPress is a simple matter of locating the Softaculous installer in cPanel (towards the bottom) and using the setup wizard to get up and running in minutes. With Softaculous, you can use the Install Now button or choose a customized installation – I recommend the Install Now option for the quickest and easiest setup.See if CanSpace Solutions is Right for You
Great Reliability but Only Average Speed
Performance is the most important category when I’m evaluating any web host, because a slow-loading website will drive your visitors away. It doesn’t matter what cool features a host has – if its speed is poor, I’m not likely to recommend it!
I’ve tested ten Canadian hosts and CanSpace ranks seventh for its speed. Its page loading speeds aren’t the worst, but they are disappointing. CanSpace achieved an average page loading speed of 2.2 seconds. While that is within Google’s recommended three-second maximum page loading time, it’s definitely slower than some of its rivals.
CanSpace did better on reliability, achieving an uptime score of 99.986% over the testing period. With only a few minutes of downtime in a month, you can at least depend on CanSpace for website availability.
Still here? Okay, so first a little about how I tested CanSpace. I always test using WordPress, so I signed up for the Starter plan, installed WordPress, and enabled the theme I use for testing performance. Unlike some review sites, I don’t believe in testing a blank WordPress installation. Your website won’t be blank, so why would you be interested in how an empty website performs?
I use a customized SimpleShift one-page website theme that’s been set up to look like an e-commerce website or landing page. The theme has text, non-optimized HD images, buttons, and forms, just like a proper website. Why non-optimized images? That’s to see whether the host will offer advice on optimization when I contact support for help. If you want the full (even more detailed) lowdown on how we test web hosts at Website Planet, you can check out this article.
The test website was online for over three months at autonomous-shoes-canada-l.com so that I could repeat the tests at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
GTmetrixI use GTmetrix for the range of performance tests it offers, but the first result I look at is the fully loaded time. As I mentioned earlier, CanSpace’s average fully loaded time was 2.2 seconds. Only three other Canadian hosts had slower average page loading times than CanSpace.
The slowest page loading time was 3.5 seconds, putting it out of the range of Google’s recommended maximum. Unfortunately, results of over three seconds weren’t a fluke – this occurred multiple times over the course of the testing period.
The fastest fully loaded time was 1.6 seconds, but that test (and others where the page loaded in under two seconds) was performed in the early hours of the morning, indicating that CanSpace can only achieve sub-two second speeds when internet traffic is much lighter.
GTmetrix also provides performance scores by PageSpeed and YSlow. I tend to ignore YSlow and focus on PageSpeed since it is Google’s website optimization test.
The lack of server optimization shows in the PageSpeed score of 67%. The average PageSpeed score globally is around 75-76%, so CanSpace is definitely falling short. Some of these issues could be remedied by an optimization plugin, but it would likely be difficult to achieve a score of 90%+ with CanSpace.
Sucuri Load Time TesterIn addition to GTmetrix, I use Sucuri Load Time Tester to see how well hosts perform when accessed from multiple global locations. The sea of orange and red in the screenshot below tells you the results were not great. Overall, CanSpace got a performance score of E.
The test website loaded faster when accessed from Germany than it did when accessed from Montreal, which is the opposite of what should be happening. Normally, you’d expect faster page loading speeds when accessing the website from places nearer to the data center – not from thousands of miles away!
UptimeRobotAlthough CanSpace has some (pretty serious) speed issues, there’s little to complain about with reliability. Its uptime record is quite close to perfect for the testing period and, as you can see in the screenshot below, it is capable of achieving long stretches (30 days or more) of 100% uptime. Even at the average of 99.986%, you’d only get around six minutes of downtime in a month.
One thing to note about CanSpace is that it doesn’t have an uptime guarantee, so if you were to experience uptime of less than 99.9% during a single month, you wouldn’t get any kind of refund or compensation. Given CanSpace’s reliability score, it’s not likely to be an issue, but it’s worth knowing all the same.Check Out CanSpace Solutions Performance
24/7 Support with Fast Responses
CanSpace offers 24/7 support via ticket, and there are other channels available during business hours. Live chat is mainly for answers to basic questions, but telephone support for more complex issues is available Monday to Friday (no hours specified, unfortunately). CanSpace does specify that opening a support ticket is the best way of getting help.
I contacted CanSpace’s technical support via tickets on several occasions to evaluate the quality of the help and the attitude of the support agent. CanSpace aims to reply to tickets within five minutes, but only on one occasion did it actually achieve that. The longest I had to wait for a response was under 30 minutes. This is quite fast for ticket support, with some hosts taking over eight hours (or longer) to respond to tickets!
I found CanSpace’s agents to be helpful in providing me with instructions on how to do things like installing WordPress. As you can see in the screenshot below, the support agent didn’t assume I had any technical knowledge regarding WordPress and gave step-by-step instructions. I’ve had a lot of encounters with technical support from various web hosting providers recently, and this is one of the most beginner-friendly responses I’ve received.
The third time I contacted CanSpace, the response was both honest and helpful. The agent was quick to assert that he was not an expert in web development, but still managed to provide me with some basic optimization advice. I appreciated the fact that he did that rather than just pointing me to an article online somewhere (which an annoyingly high number of support agents from other hosts love to do!).
In addition to the ticket support I tried the 24/7 live chat feature. In most cases, I was advised to submit a ticket as my questions were beyond what could be resolved with live chat, and because CanSpace likes to validate your identity via support tickets. I did find live chat to be helpful in answering basic questions, however.
A Budget-Friendly Starter Plan – but Other Plans Are Pricey
CanSpace’s prices start off looking very similar to its Canadian rivals, but there are a couple of things I want to draw your attention to.
Firstly, the advertised price on the sales page only applies if you pay upfront for a year (and you only get your free domain when you pay annually). Monthly prices will add around 50% extra to the cost of your hosting.Since monthly payments are the default selection at checkout, if you want to take advantage of the free domain and lower prices, make sure to change the billing cycle to “annual” before you check out.
The Starter plan doesn’t include things like the Enhanced Comodo SSL Certificate (though you still get Let’s Encrypt SSL) and the bandwidth and storage are strictly limited. If you choose the Starter plan, you may soon find that you need to upgrade to the Medium plan unless your website is small and you’re not expecting a lot of traffic!
A positive thing about CanSpace is that it doesn’t, unlike some hosts, sneakily add additional products at checkout. There are add-ons available, such as nightly malware scans, but these are not pre-selected.
There are limited payment options with CanSpace. You can pay via Visa and Mastercard, as well as Interac e-Transfer. PayPal and other credit cards (such as American Express) are not accepted unless in exceptional circumstances and by prior arrangement.
If you change your mind about CanSpace during the first 30 days, you can cancel your account and request a refund. The cost of your domain name and any add-ons will be deducted from your refund. You’ll need to submit a support ticket to organize a cancellation with a refund.
Cancelling Your Account
Outside of the first 30 days of your plan, you can use the cancellation request form in your account dashboard to ask for your account to be cancelled. The form is simple and only takes a couple of minutes to complete. Remember to turn off auto-renewal for your domain name as well, as these are two separate products!
Over the years I've referred at least 10 of my friends/family to CanSpace and they never disappoint. I recently helped move my employer's website over to their services - and this was by far the biggest client I have ever referred to them, and my reputation was on the line here. My company relies on its web hosting plan for its email services as well, so reliable email is also key. This was all communicated to CanSpace in advance and of course, they said they would handle it without any hiccups. It's been about a week now since the migration and everything went off without a hitch - over 50 email accounts migrated, in addition to our website itself, and everything is working perfectly. Thanks for never disappointing guys!
We were very unsatisfied with our previous reseller hosting provider but we had over 30 accounts and the idea of moving them all seemed overwhelming. We finally decided to reach out to CanSpace and they literally had all 30+ of our accounts migrated on to their services the very same day we signed up with them. They handled the entire process and were extremely communicative and professional. We're paying about half of what we were before, and all of our sites are loading dramatically faster. In addition CanSpace handles all backups for us (even for our sub-accounts), so this is another expense off our hands. Overall we are extremely satisfied and highly recommend CanSpace as a reseller hosting provider.
We have over 10 VPS servers with CanSpace and they were all on CentOS 6 as we've had them for several years. We were nervous about the upgrade process to CentOS 7 and had planned for a whole weekend to work out the kinks and get it all done. They literally had each server done in less than an hour and all content restored. We are incredibly impressed and so happy that we pay for a managed service - it's worth literally every penny! Thanks CanSpace!
To not "keep our eggs in one basket", we decided to set up servers with multiple providers in Canada for our web app. Our dedicated server with CanSpace has by far been the best experience. We have logged zero hours and zero minutes of downtime (the only provider we can say this for), and the value for the dollar is the best with them as well. I have cumulatively spent hours with them on the phone just for general advice, and they are always happy to help. I can say from experience now that they are the best dedicated server we have used personally, and we plan to deploy all of our new servers with them going forward. Keep it up, guys!
Our VPS with our old provider was running CentOS 6 and was coming up to its end of life date, so we reached out to our supposed 'managed' provider to upgrade us to CentOS 7 and told us we were out of luck. I decided to move over to CanSpace and they had our VPS fully migrated and running (over 20 sites) within 5 hours of me signing up. Not only are we paying WAY less, but we are running the latest version of everything now, and all of our sites are running at least twice as fast as before. Even when I had the smallest of issues with one of the sites on the VPS the CanSpace team had things solved within minutes. I am extremely impressed so far and they definitely deserve this positive review.
We just migrated our accounting firm's hosting and email services to CanSpace and would like to send our sincerest thank you to their staff for making the migration so straightforward. There was no downtime at all during the migration process, and they helped ensure that the switchover for our staff was as painless as possible. We're also paying less than half of what we were before when you factor in that we're paying in Canadian dollars now.
I’ve got to admit, I have some reservations about recommending CanSpace. Although it has some great features (like the Enhanced Comodo SSL Certificate on the Medium and Professional plans) and is one of the most reliable hosts I’ve tested, its performance was a letdown, and it doesn’t offer any optimization features. If you’re building with WordPress, some kind of server optimization really makes a difference.
What’s more, its pricing is a problem. There are cheaper hosts available, like Hostinger and InterServer, that offer optimized hosting and deliver better Canadian performance, even with data centers outside of Canada.
There is a wide range of hosting services available, from budget-friendly shared hosting to fancy dedicated servers. The best hosting for your website will depend on your specific needs. If shared hosting isn’t enough for you, there are several cheap and reliable VPS hosting services available.
How do I choose a hosting plan?
Try to estimate the size of your website, and how many visitors you think you’ll be getting each month. Since most web hosting providers will let you easily scale up your plan, it’s always the most cost-effective to start small and upgrade later.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying (in vain) to train his three beagles (who are better at training him than he is them!)