HostPapa, one of the leading hosting providers in Canada, has been around since 2005. It currently has more than 200,000 customers, with reportedly thousands more being added each month. Granted, that’s still small fry when you compare it to some of the U.S.-based hosting giants, but in Canadian terms, it’s top dog.
The company’s website is available in American English and Spanish. It proudly displays tons of industry accreditations and awards, and makes the bold claim HostPapa is “America’s leading host.” As I can’t find any third-party sources to back that up, let’s take it with a grain of salt. Moving swiftly on…
The company offers a 99.9% uptime Service Level Agreement, a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, and 24/7 customer support, alongside affordably priced plans and masses of value-added features.
The packages are aimed at small and medium sized businesses, with a simple but effective range of shared hosting, WordPress hosting, and, if you’re ready to scale, there are VPS plans and reseller hosting.
It all sounds good, doesn’t it? But before you rush to the checkout page, take a few minutes to read this in-depth review. I’ll cover the ins and outs of HostPapa; the features, ease of use, pricing, and support.
We’ll delve deep into the data; the user reviews, performance, speed tests, to name a few. By the end of the review, you’ll know whether this is the right host for you. If it’s not, I’ll recommend alternatives.
A One-Stop Shop for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses
HostPapa is a full-service hosting provider, offering all the standard features you need to get your business (or personal) website off the ground. For instance, there’s SSL support, automatic backups, SPAM protection, a free Cloudflare CDN, and free website migrations. There’s even a website building tool to sweeten the deal.
Automatic WordPress Updates
If you’ve ever owned a WordPress website, you’ll know how often it needs to be updated. Oftentimes this is a quick job, but other times, it can take valuable time out of your day and suck the joy from your soul. OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but when you’re running your business the last thing you want to be worried about is manually updating your WordPress.
HostPapa’s WordPress automatic updates mean your website will automatically be updated to the latest version of WordPress, along with all of the security and performance updates.
Cloudflare Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Included in HostPapa’s plans and easily installed via the cPanel is a free Cloudflare CDN. Not only does Cloudflare protect your website from spam and DDoS attacks, but it also caches your static file (CSS, JS, Images) and serves it from the nearest location. Cloudflare CDN will increase your website performance by up to 50% and help your website load faster. Boom!
99.9% Uptime Guarantee
HostPapa has an industry average uptime guarantee of 99.9%. There are certainly companies with higher uptime Service Level Agreements, but in HostPapa’s case, it is important to know that compensation is paid (despite it not being explicit in the terms and conditions).
I chatted with a live chat agent who advised me that “at the end of the month, we check the server uptime and, based on those results, will or will not offer compensation.”
Sure, it’s ambiguous, but it’s something at least.
Starting out with website development can be daunting. Not only do you have to learn a new vocabulary full of acronyms and techy words, you’ve got a ton of features and applications to get to grips with. Any features that make your life easier are a win.
For instance, HostPapa offers a premium Softaculous one-click installer with more than 400 applications. It’s easy to access via the beginner-friendly cPanel and if you’re stuck, it’s simple to reach out to support throughout the process.
There’s also a website builder and optimized WordPress plans to make life even easier.
Ease of use
HostPapa is aimed at smaller and medium sized business owners.
If you are a developer, this is probably not the best host for you – there are plenty of other hosts which offer more advanced features like staging environments, git access, scalable resources, and so on.
However, if you want an easy-to-use, one-stop solution for all your business hosting needs, HostPapa is a great choice. From automatic backups to free website migrations, you’ll find a ton of user-friendly features.
Creating an Account
Creating an account with HostPapa was an easy – but not hiccup-free – process. When I created my account, I received an email stating my application had been flagged due to security reasons. This could have caused a huge delay, but the excellent customer service team helped me every step of the way and got me set up in less than an hour.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
Again, connecting a domain and installing WordPress was a simple process. It can be done entirely via cPanel with just a few clicks. When I encountered an issue with the CDN, it was easy to get help from an agent.
If you’re running an online store, you’ll be glad to know the plans come with a variety of ecommerce features and tools.
Alongside prerequisite security features such as a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate and enhanced SSL certificates, the hosting comes with various integrated checkout tools like osCommerce, OpenCart, Prestashop, and many more.
Disaster Recovery Plans
Included free in the upper-tier plan and paid in the lower-tier packages is an automated website backup and restore service. As it’s not always included free of charge, be sure to check whether it’s included in your plan to avoid disappointment – not to mention, the loss of data in the event of a disaster.
Also, the backup quota is limited at 1GB, so depending on your needs, it could be too restrictive. Check the small print!
User-Friendly Control Panel
All the plans come with cPanel, a popular control panel you may already be familiar with. It’s known for its ease of use, which is great if you’re just getting started.
Not a Perfect Score, but More Than Enough for Most Small Businesses
Although HostPapa is clearly aimed at smaller businesses and not enterprises, website performance is still a high priority. It’s good to see that HostPapa comes with a selection of performance-enhancing features and tools to optimize page load speeds.
For instance, the plans use SSD drives, which mean disk read/write speeds are up to ten times faster than traditional HDD. HostPapa uses robust Intel server equipment and a fully featured Cisco powered network.
It’s hard to find any negative reviews online relating to HostPapa’s performance. In fact, anecdotal evidence is nearly all positive (a rarity in the world of web hosting!), citing uptime close to 100% and no documented speed issues.
I decided to test the performance for myself by running a Sucuri page load test (after installing the free Cloudflare CDN via the control panel). The results were positive and the website got an overall grade of A.
Granted, plenty of hosts I’ve reviewed scored A+ overall, but with HostPapa, most locations scored less than half a second which is well below the cutoff point for a website visitor. None of the locations scored particularly badly and none even close to the dreaded two-second mark.
Friendly, Efficient, and Available 24/7
HostPapa offers a solid range of customer service. Available 24/7, you can contact the team by phone (at the rate of an international call), email, live chat, ticket, mail, or fax – although, as you can imagine, I am not sure about the popularity of the latter two.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to research on their own, there’s a knowledge base with a whopping 2500 documents covering topics ranging from hosting to email to administration.
I contacted HostPapa via live chat to ask whether the plans supported Windows operating systems. Unfortunately, the live chat agent was unable to answer the question. However, he quickly created a support ticket for me.
Within a couple of hours, I received a reply via email, answering my question in full. The whole interaction was seamless and refreshingly easy.
It is really easy to contact HostPapa via live chat, which is readily available wherever you are on the website (both the main site and the admin dashboard).
When I was setting up my account, my account was flagged as a security risk. I quickly hopped on live chat to ask some questions. The operator was helpful and passed my concern on to the correct member of staff so that the issue was resolved quickly.
While I was setting up my account, I received a series of emails explaining that my account had been flagged for security reasons. I was asked to provide some follow-up information to confirm my identity. I did so, via email, and within a couple of hours, the whole situation had been fixed.
The customer service agent was always polite and respectful in our interactions.
There are three shared hosting plans which, on first glance, considering the level of resources and the value-added features, appear to be affordably priced. In addition, all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is excellent.
However, I do have a couple of gripes. First, it’s not possible to purchase hosting on a month-to-month plan (why, oh why, is this not possible?). You have to choose from a one, two, or three-year term. Despite the money-back guarantee, this seems like a big commitment.
Second, the advertised price is heavily discounted and this reduced rate does not apply upon renewal. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with the “real” price, as you’ll be stuck with it when your contract renews.
Finally, there are several add-ons which are automatically added to your cart. You can remove them, but they are included by default. These include features which I think should be included free of charge, for example, automatic backups and domain privacy. I seriously dislike paying for backups.
When you’re ready to pay, you can purchase the hosting with major credit cards and PayPal.
Cancellation & Refunds
Canceling an account with HostPapa was a slow, frustrating, and soul-destroying process, which surprised me considering my good experience with customer service up until that point. It took several emails and conversations on live chat in order to receive a partial refund.
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I've had a great overall experience with this host and their customer service team. Although they don't offer 24/7 telephone support, they do offer 24/7 support online and through live chat which is great! Their services and uptime are superb and meet the needs of my business, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.