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HostPapa is hard to recommend. It’s based on old technology, it has no special features, and its performance is quite slow. Its support is outsourced and the agents are non-professionals. Its competitors are often cheaper and usually superior in many aspects.
Serviceable, Affordable Hosting – But Is That Good Enough?
HostPapa is a Canadian hosting company with a surprisingly strong, if distant, fan-base in Australia and New Zealand. The company aims itself squarely at small businesses, touting the benefits of starting your business site on its data centers in Toronto, Los Angeles, or Amsterdam.
Again, that makes me wonder about Australia and New Zealand. Anyway, HostPapa offers shared hosting, managed shared hosting, VPS hosting, reseller hosting, and even website builder plans.
HostPapa is a name designed to give you that nostalgic feeling of safety and family. Well, how that’ll actually make you feel depends on your family dynamic, but the message is clear: HostPapa wants you to know it cares.
But does the company actually care? And if it does, does that caring actually make for a good web host? I wanted to know the answers, so I ran a test site on HostPapa for a couple of months, as part of Website Planet’s huge web host comparison project. Here’s what I discovered.
Since our hosting reviews focus on WordPress a fair bit, it’s worth noting that HostPapa has some WordPress-specific hosting plans. However, as with many other companies, that doesn’t mean much at all. It’s just the same shared hosting plans, but with WordPress preinstalled.
That said, all of these plans come with free site migration, if you have an existing site, and unlimited bandwidth. As long as you’re just running a regular website, and not storing your personal music collection, you can use as much bandwidth as you need.
There’s also a free site builder included with every plan, but the Starter and Business plans limit you to a maximum of 2 pages. That’s actually fine if all your site needs is a one-page portfolio sort of thing, and it can work for a temporary site. Otherwise, it’s just not enough pages.
I signed up for the basic WordPress hosting plan, WP Starter, just for kicks. This plan nets you 100GB of SSD storage, which is actually quite a lot. It’s much more than the usual 10-15GB that most hosts offer on their basic plans. (More expensive plans give you unlimited storage, though.)
Free SSL certificates are included in every plan, and installed automatically. This ensures your site is reasonably safe from hackers, especially if you have forms where users input their personal information.
And now we come to the – and I say this with just a hint of sarcasm – stand-out features:
WordPress Comes Preinstalled
Well, it’s a WordPress plan, right? Thus, WordPress comes preinstalled, together with a free version of the Jetpack performance enhancement plugin. That saves you a few minutes of clicking and no money whatsoever, so while I can’t complain about it, I won’t say it’s amazing either.
Honestly, you could just as easily install WordPress through cPanel, which is included. On the other hand, having it preinstalled is far easier if you’re a beginner.
Backups on Demand
Unfortunately, there are no automated backups, at least not for the Starter plan. While HostPapa does apparently have a separate backup service, that’ll cost you extra. However, you can download backups through the cPanel whenever you need to, so that’s… good.
It’s not nearly as good as the automatic backups offered by Liquid Web or SiteGround , but it’s something.
The Real Premium Features are in the Advanced Plan
The situation gets a bit more interesting with the most advanced plan. It includes premium licenses for Jetpack and comes with a premium Wildcard SSL certificate. That’s all good stuff that costs quite a bit of money otherwise.
The user area is a minimalist, not-very-modern-looking interface that seems to have been developed by HostPapa. It’s easy enough to work with, and includes the expected management options for domains, services, billing, and support.
There is nothing here to make your user experience any harder or easier than the average. cPanel is cPanel, and it’s pretty easy to use as long you can navigate between the 70% of options that you’ll never open.
Connecting a Domain Could Potentially Be a Hassle
My domain was included with the hosting (it’s a one-year minimum commitment on all plans, so they all come with a free domain). However, had I needed to connect a domain registered elsewhere, the necessary data (nameservers/A record) is unavailable, which is annoying. My only option would have been to ask support for help.
The preinstalled WordPress was a nice touch, but as I said before, not much more than that. Softaculous would’ve been just as good, and it’s there. You can install any of the major CMS in minutes.See if HostPapa is Right for You
So, as mentioned, I set up a test website to check out HostPapa’s server performance over a few months. The standard test website is built on WordPress, has some high-quality images, some animation, and other things you’d expect to find on even the most generic, free-WordPress-theme-based website. It’s pretty standard, in other words.
It’s also standard practice to ask every host’s tech support if they can offer some website optimization tips before we run our tests. That gives hosting companies the opportunity to start off the review strong, even if they don’t know it. Unfortunately, HostPapa’s tech support only suggested upgrading to a more expensive plan, which is just tacky.
Once I ran my tests, this is what I was looking at: complete page loading time reached a 2.08-second average, average global loading speeds were at 3.223s, and the site’s uptime was at 99.973% over four months. These aren’t the worst results I’ve gotten, but they’re far from the best.
I used GTmetrix to test my site’s complete loading times. Sucuri only tests how long it takes a site to really start loading, but it runs those tests from a number of servers all over the world. Then I use UptimeRobot to see how much of the time the site stays, well… up.
That 2.08 second average complete loading time is brought to you by a fastest speed of 1.6s, and a slowest of 2.9s.
Speeds were tested in Dallas, TX, to compare Hostpapa to other hosts, but the data centers I used are actually closer to Vancouver, Canada. Still, results in both testing locations were very similar, so expect these middling speeds wherever you or your visitors are in North America.
Actually, if your visitors get the slowest speed of 2.9s, just expect to lose them. Here’s a look at one of the better tests:
We see a lot more variation in page load times here. And remember, these aren’t complete paid loads… but the fastest average is 0.535 seconds, and the slowest is a glacial 4.846s.
The fastest locations (mostly in North America) are pretty fast, but still considerably slower than many of the top hosts. Even InterServer, for example, which wasn’t a performance beast of any kind, was twice as fast.
The slow speeds are horribly slow, and the average of 3.223 seconds really takes HostPapa out of the running. No Cloudflare CDN can change the fact that Hostpapa simply can’t support Australian and New Zealander visitors. Or, you know, visitors in a whole lot of other places, either.
99.973% over four months. It’s very good – not excellent – but definitely what I’d consider reliable.
The weird thing is that HostPapa advertises a 99.9% uptime guarantee, but the SLA (Service Level Agreement) doesn’t have a word about that. I chatted with an agent and asked him to elaborate on what exactly is guaranteed, and what happens when that guarantee isn’t met. He told me it means that if I don’t like the service, or if it’s less than 99.9%, I’m free to quit.
No kidding. Many other hosts, just for reference, pay you back the hosting cost if they can’t live up to their promise.
Good news first: there’s a fairly useful knowledge base, with tutorials to help teach you to use your hosting and build your website. If you have questions, you really might want to start here, because this is just about as good as it gets.
There’s supposed to be 24/7 support through chat, email, tickets, and phone. However, the people I interacted with were not the liveliest or most helpful, and not super fast to respond. Well, some agents were reasonably helpful, while some seemed like ignorant and/or sneaky salesmen. Still, at least their English was good.
My presales experience was nothing special, and it took up to 2 minutes between replies. The agent was pretty knowledgeable, and actually asked intelligent questions about my website before recommending a plan. Then he recommended the more expensive plan for no good reason, making me doubt his good intentions.
The agent also didn’t understand the concept of an uptime guarantee, as I mentioned before.
I started asking more and more questions, and to his credit, the agent suggested that maybe he should set me up with an expert, so we could talk on the phone and go over everything. I really appreciated that, even though I didn’t plan on having phone calls with strangers.
The agent did say that HostPapa runs its own CDN network, but I couldn’t find any evidence to prove it. All you get is integration with Cloudflare CDN’s free plan, which isn’t the greatest.
After signing up, I asked a different agent to help me make the SSL-protected HTTPS the default option for visitors, and he did it himself pretty quickly. That was good stuff.
Then again, when I randomly quizzed another agent on the web server technology running in the background (Apache 2.4), he replied that it’s Linux. No, no, no. Very bad. I corrected him and explained the difference between an operating system and a web server. Only after that did he manage to find the correct answer himself.
As I mentioned above, I asked support for help with optimizations. This resulted in the most outrageous reply of all hosts I’ve tested. The agent countered my plea for help with a long list of upgrade options and paid add-on services that would’ve easily doubled or tripled my monthly cost.
Shocked, I chose not to answer.
Then, he had the nerve to send me a follow up “Did you have some time to consider my offer?” message. This did not impress me. At all.
Well, I think at this point it’s pretty obvious that HostPapa doesn’t deliver the kind of value it could. It’s a below-average experience in features, performance, and support. The only thing that can save it is a super low and competitive price, like Hostinger’s $0.99 a month (but Hostinger gives you much better performance).
But alas, the price is $3.95 if you sign up to the longest possible period, which is 3 years. If you sign up for a shorter term, you’ll pay up to double.
You do get a free domain with all plans, but that’s just because yearly payments are the minimum. Most other hosts give you a free domain on the yearly plan, and no domain on the monthly plans. Just beware of the domain renewal prices for your second year.
Payment options include credit cards and PayPal, and all purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, you know, at least you can get out if you have to.
First time the sequel was better than the original!
I was a Lunarpages customer for nearly 20 years when I caught wind that they were bought by HostPapa, a company I never heard of. I dreaded the idea at first. But when I thought it over, the quality and service I was getting with Lunarpages were waning over the years. As time went on, I wasn't able to get tech support on the weekends, which is the only real-time I can work on websites. I couldn't get tech support at night. Things like 24-hour service when I first signed up for Lunarpages had disappeared or fell into a price range I couldn't afford. So I gave HostPapa a chance. And guess what? They have been a pleasure to work with! Tech support is a chat window away, and there is always someone there that is ready to answer any questions I might have. If their front lines can't solve the problem, they are prompt to escalate the issue to their 2nd tier support. Starlin over in tier 2 has been an invaluable contact! All of their tech support has. I never get the feeling I will be blown off, or that my issue is MY issue. They are there to help, and I am paying a rock bottom price. I've been with Hostpapa for a couple of years now and their service is outstanding. My sites are always up and running. I get questions answered. 5/5 stars!
Happy to user HostPapa services for more than 10 years
I have several sites hosted through HostPapa for more than 10 years, never had trouble, and their customer support is excellent; I never had to wait for a response, just click on the chat and anytime is someone there to help you. The cost is ok, really don't want to risk the quality I am receiving for a few bucks per year. I strongly recommend HostPapa
I am no expert when it comes to the technical aspects of websites but I do know about people and I have to say that HOSTPAPA Customer Service people are quite simply superb. Helpful and courteous and accessible. Their response times to my inquiries have been truly impressive. I heartily recommend HOSTPAPA .
I have used Hostpapa for some years now and have strayed to the opposition stupidly twice on a couple of projects only to learn that it is good to stick with consistent support and services. I find their pricing fair, response to support well.
Hostpapa is one of the most popular domain and hosting service provider. It's service is affordable. I highly request evryone to take IT support from HostPapa. HostPapa's instant chatting support is really admirable. I hope HostPapa will succeed in future.
I've been with Hostpapa for several years now. I joined because of their green commitments and found their commitment to their customers above the norm. I started with 3 simple sites before Wordpress came along. I found that I could host all 3 sites on the same subscription. I converted to Wordpress a year ago for the main site but I still have one other conventional site running on the side. They switched my development site to the running site when I asked them to, which saved me a lot of time, and I have requested assistance many times since, with prompt service every time. These folks are on the ball and I don't mind telling everyone about it.
HostPapa is hard to recommend. It’s based on old technology, it has no special features, and its performance is quite slow. Its support is outsourced and the agents are non-professionals. This is why it didn’t make our list of the best web hosting services in 2021.
I guess the only reason to choose HostPapa would be if you want to support a Canadian company (that outsources its support), and you’re willing to make a few compromises.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly hosting that doesn’t make you compromise on features or performance, you should check out Hostinger or InterServer.
Brent is a freelance web developer who loves experimenting with new technology and sharing his experiences with others. While his career life can get hectic sometimes, he always makes time for the important things in life: good coffee, good wine, and quality time with his twin boys, Aiden and Sean.