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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.
All the Essential Features, Plus More
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.
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.
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.
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.
Secondly, while the Starter plan is budget-friendly (at the annual rate, at least), there’s a big jump in prices with other plans. Medium is double the price of Starter, and Professional is far from being budget-friendly. Honestly, you could get cloud hosting from Hostinger for less than the Professional plan!
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!
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.
Which web hosting service is the cheapest?If you’re looking for inexpensive web hosting, you don’t want to miss Hostinger’s shared hosting plans. The prices start at . But Hostinger isn’t just cheap – it also scored incredibly well on our global performance tests, meaning you get excellent value for your money.It’s always a good idea to visit our web hosting coupon page to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.Which type of hosting is best?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.If you’re not sure what you need, you might want to go with InterServer, which has only one shared hosting plan that conveniently comes with unlimited resources.
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!)
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Good host for those just getting started
I run a small at-home repair shop for furniture, so building a web site is way beyond anything I thought I was capable of. I chose CanSpace because of all the great reviews and I can say that they definitely live up to their reputation. I probably needed more hand holding than 99% of their clients, but with their help, I was able to have a simple site up and running the same day that I signed up. It's basic, but has everything I need, and I look forward to playing around with it more going forward. They seem to have lots of options for those with no preexisting knowledge of websites, and they were great at helping me even with super basic requests.
CanSpace is amazing. Their VPS prices seemed almost too good to be true, especially compared to my last VPS provider, but now that everything has been up and running smoothly for a few weeks, I can say that I am extremely happy with their service. They migrated everything over flawlessly, no downtime whatsoever, and things are running faster than before!
I have the same experience as all the other reviews you read about CanSpace. Great support, great speeds, and very reasonable prices. My site is just a very small Wordpress photography blog. To be honest I only get a few dozen visits per week - it's more of a hobby than anything else - but the guys at CanSpace treat me like I'm their most important customer. All of my questions are always answered quickly and thoroughly, and their staff are also very friendly.
We use our website to take reservations for a few small hotels, so you can imagine how important uptime and reliability is for us. After a nightmare with our previous host we switched to CanSpace and everything has been awesome. We started with a VPS but recently moved up to a Dedicated Server. Their support staff actually take the time to understand our website and the way it works, and have provided us with a great upgrade path for the future. They never sell us anything we don't need - in fact they have often talked us out of upgrading when it wasn't necessary, which is rare for a company these days. You can't go wrong with these guys.
Our law firm has been hosting our website and email with CanSpace for the last 5 years and they have always been there as our firm has grown. We started off with 2 lawyers and their smallest hosting plan. Years later we're now a firm with over 25 staff and our requirements have changed, and we've moved on to a dedicated server with them. Whenever we've needed to grow our services, CanSpace was always there to provide us with options and ensure that the migrations were done smoothly. We look forward to continuing to grow with you guys!
We've been with CanSpace since the day we started our company, and they have always been there to help us with our growth. We started with a shared hosting plan, upgraded to a VPS a few years later, and just a few days ago upgraded yet again to a Dedicated Server. Every migration was done smoothly and there was always someone there to help us discuss options for our future growth. We're very happy to have CanSpace as a partner with our business and we know we'll be with them for many years to come.
I just have a very small WordPress based website that I use for my beauty business in BC. I am VERY basic with web-based stuff, but I managed to build my site entirely myself with the help of CanSpace and their hand holding. I couldn't possibly have done it without them, I am extremely grateful to CanSpace for helping me get started with my new business!
I've lost count of how many servers we have with CanSpace now - well over a dozen. We've actually been able to scale down our own administrator team because the CanSpace guys do such a great job of maintaining and updating our servers. Even in the middle of the night there is always someone around, and always someone who is extremely knowledgeable. The CanSpace guys have saved us on more than one occasion and are always there when we need them, and are extremely deserving of this good review. We would not get our servers anywhere else.