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Fast and Affordable Hosting – but Is There a Catch?
HostUpon is a Canadian company with its headquarters and data center located in Toronto, Ontario. It offers a range of different hosting options, including shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. You’ll see that it advertises WordPress hosting, too, but I’ll be discussing why I’ve not included that in this list later in the review.
I wanted to give you the most in-depth review of what it’s like to host your website with HostUpon, so I spent several months testing its features, evaluating its performance, and interacting with its technical support. My experience was mostly positive, but there are still some issues you need to know about before you decide to sign up.
Only having a single data center location puts HostUpon at a disadvantage compared to Canadian hosts with multiple data centers spread across the vast country, since the closer your visitors are to the server, the faster your website will load. However, my performance tests show that HostUpon’s optimized servers are powerful enough to overcome this disadvantage.
Everything in this review is based on my experience with HostUpon and all my tests have been conducted using a real website.
Most Essentials and Some Bonuses – but No SSL on Budget Plans
When a provider boasts of “unlimited” features, I tend to worry that there must be a catch… and with HostUpon, there definitely is. You can see an overview of HostUpon’s features in the screenshot above, and I’ll be highlighting some of my favourites in a moment, but first, let’s talk about what’s missing from this array of features on all plans but the (expensive) Premium plan: an SSL certificate.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that hosts that don’t include free SSL certificates frustrate me – because there is literally no reason why every host can’t provide free SSL certificates. It doesn’t have to cost them anything!
Free Let’s Encrypt and Comodo SSL certificates are readily available, but HostUpon has chosen not to support them. Yes, you can install them manually, but you shouldn’t have to go through the technicalities of doing that – not to mention the manual renewal you’ll have to do every 90 days.
What this means is you’ll have to buy an SSL certificate at checkout, or opt for HostUpon’s Premium plan, which will cost you more than three times as much as the Starter plan. Not cool, HostUpon – I’m afraid I’m going to be knocking some points off your score.
Unlimited Storage and Bandwidth
HostUpon is generous with its storage and bandwidth. You’ll just have to abide by a fair usage policy and terms of service, giving HostUpon the right to restrict your account if you’re using an “excessive” amount of storage.This is still a lot better than some Canadian hosts that limit your storage space to 2GB on entry-level plans.
Bandwidth is not subject to the same strict fair usage policy, although HostUpon can constrain your usage if it is badly impacting other websites on the same server. That’s only likely to happen if you suddenly go viral with thousands of visitors flocking to your website, however.
Free Website Transfer
If you already have a site hosted with another provider, you can take advantage of HostUpon’s free website transfer. This may not be possible if your current host uses a control panel that is incompatible with cPanel, but in most cases your website can easily be transferred with as little downtime as possible. There’s a form you can fill in to request this, and all you really need to provide are login details for your existing host.
Premium Backups on the Premium Plan
Like the SSL certificates, the Premium Backup Service is only available on the Premium plan. Your website is backed up nightly, and each backup is kept for seven days, after which it’s overwritten. If something goes wrong while you’re making changes to your website, you can roll your website back to any point in the last seven days. You can also restore single files or folders. These backups are stored off-site, too, so all is not lost even if disaster strikes the server.
The Imunify360 security feature is an advanced system that HostUpon uses on all of its shared servers. Imunify360 combines malware scanning, an advanced web application firewall, intrusion detection, and website reputation management. Your website is protected from all kinds of malicious traffic, 24/7.
Ease of use
Beginner-Friendly – but Check Carefully Before You Check Out
Signing up with HostUpon is pretty simple and I didn’t encounter any problems with the process, but there are some things I want to draw your attention to in this section.
Firstly, although HostUpon has a page for WordPress hosting with servers (allegedly) optimized for WordPress, the plans are identical to the ordinary hosting plans. It doesn’t matter which page you sign up from – you get the exact same hosting.
Secondly, HostUpon is guilty of a common trick: auto-selecting add-ons at checkout in the hope you will inadvertently pay for features you don’t really need. If you don’t notice, you will pay more for things you might not want. In this case, it’s for domain name privacy, which should already be included as a free option with all .ca domain names registered by Canadian individuals, as this information is not published in WHOIS directories.
There are a lot of add-ons available during checkout. Before you decide to buy an add-on, you should work out whether you really need it, or whether it would be more cost-effective to choose the Premium plan, which includes two of the five available addons.
Managing Your Account and Using cPanel
For managing your account (including billing, services, domains, and support), HostUpon uses the popular and user-friendly WHMCS dashboard. Some WHMCS features are disabled by HostUpon, so if you’ve used this dashboard before you may find that some of the features you’re used to are not available.
For managing your webspace, installing applications, and setting up email addresses, HostUpon provides cPanel. Aside from the overwhelming number of icons on display when you first log in, it’s fairly easy to use. Beginners may need to consult the knowledgebase, but a lot of icons in cPanel lead to tools I’ve never used in ten years of hosting websites, so don’t be intimidated by it.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
When you sign up with HostUpon your primary domain is already linked to your webspace, so to install WordPress all you need to do is select that domain in the installer. HostUpon offersSoftaculous’ Install Now button for rapid WordPress installation. You can configure your installation with advanced options, but in most cases the default settings are fine.
Excellent Page Loading Times – Plus Near-Perfect Uptime
I spend a lot of time testing web hosts’ performance, because it’s arguably the most important aspect when you’re choosing the best provider for your needs. Slow page loading speeds will drive visitors away and affect your SERP ranking. I use multiple tools and run dozens of tests at different times of the day and on different days of the week to get the most accurate results possible.
For HostUpon, the TL;DR is that this was the second-fastest Canadian host I tested, delivering an average page loading speed of 1.4 seconds. To put that in context, Google recommends a page loading time of not more than three seconds – so HostUpon beat that twice over. Its reliability was also close to perfect, with a score of 99.999% over the monitoring period.
Before I get to the actual results, I want to explain a bit about how we test web hosts at Website Planet. You can read the full article about our testing process if you want, but I’ll give you a quick(ish) summary here.
The process is the same for all hosts – the main difference is the plan I sign up for. In this case, I purchased HostUpon’s Starter plan and installed WordPress. I have a customized SimpleShift one-page website theme that I use to get proper performance results (unlike some reviewers who think it’s okay to test hosts using a nearly blank WordPress installation).
Essentially, it’s designed to look like an e-commerce landing page or a demo website as you can see in the screenshot below. It has text, buttons, forms, and non-optimized HD images, much like your website might have. I use non-optimized images to test whether technical support will give me optimization advice.
The website was available at autonomous-shoes-canada-m.ca and was online for over three months while I performed my tests.
GTmetrixGTmetrix is my favourite testing tool because of the wealth of information it gives, including page loading speeds and performance scores. As I mentioned earlier, HostUpon achieved a very decent average page loading time of 1.4 seconds, and on more than one occasion it achieved a page loading time of 0.9 seconds. The longest it took for the website to load was 1.9 seconds.
In terms of performance, I usually focus on the PageSpeed score as this is the metric designed by Google to measure website optimization. The average PageSpeed score is 75-76% and, as you can see in the screenshot above, HostUpon beat that by over 13%.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
I used the Sucuri Load Time Tester to measure how well HostUpon performs from within Canada and from other locations worldwide. These results are fantastic, and I can honestly say this is the best result I’ve seen in any recent Sucuri test.
The performance grade of A and the sub-second loading times mean that no matter where in the world your website visitors are, your website will load very quickly.
Performance, of course, is not only about speed. The reliability of a host plays a big role in my evaluation. Often, a host manages great speeds but not so great uptime – or vice versa – but in addition to fast page loading times, HostUpon demonstrates near-perfect uptime. You can see this in the screenshot above from UptimeRobot, which I use to monitor all the web hosts I test.
To put this score into perspective, the minimum uptime I expect a host to have is 99.9%, which allows for around 43 minutes of downtime over the course of a month. This 99.999% score is equal to less than one minute of monthly downtime.
Good Support, but Some Agents Are More Helpful Than Others
HostUpon offers 24/7 support with incredibly fast response times. Some hosts will keep you waiting for hours, but HostUpon’s response times can be measured in minutes.
Support is available via phone, ticket, and live chat. I contacted HostUpon’s technical support on three different occasions. There was some variation in the helpfulness of the agents I spoke with, but overall it was a positive experience each time.
When I asked for help installing WordPress, the response wasn’t particularly detailed, but it did give me the information that I needed – and it only took four minutes to get a response.
I did encounter some issues with installing my theme (due to the file size exceeding the upload limit in the PHP settings), but HostUpon resolved this issue for me in under an hour. This agent was even more helpful, telling me how to fix this issue should I encounter it again.
In my final encounter with HostUpon’s technical support, I asked about optimizing my WordPress website. I was really impressed with this agent, who accessed my WordPress dashboard to install and set up the LiteSpeed caching plugin included with HostUpon’s plans. Most other hosts merely jot down a few points of advice (or offer no help at all), so it was a refreshing change to have the necessary changes implemented for me.
Even though this “fix” involved making changes directly to my website, it still took under an hour for the agent to complete.
I only used the live chat feature for asking pre-sales questions, but the response time was excellent. The live chat button was always available, no matter what time of day or night I checked.
Budget-Friendly Starter Plans, but Watch Out For Additional Costs
HostUpon’s Starter plan is one of the cheapest hosting packages out of all the Canadian hosts I’ve tested. However, you’ll need to pay extra for an SSL certificate and site backups.
These two add-ons combined cost more than three times as much as the Starter plan by itself for one year. When you add it all together, it works out to be more cost-effective to choose the Premium plan, as it includes SSL and the Premium Backup service, plus a “4x performance boost.”
Overall, HostUpon isn’t as budget-friendly as it first appears – which is disappointing, since it really shines in other areas.
HostUpon still manages to offer more value than most of its Canadian competitors. That’s because of the free domain name, the website migration service, and generous storage and bandwidth allowances. Its excellent performance also makes it worth paying extra for.
HostUpon accepts PayPal and all major credit cards and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. The cost of the free domain name will be deducted from your refund if you cancel in the first 30 days, as domain registrations are not part of the money-back guarantee.
Cancelling Your Account
I mentioned earlier that HostUpon has disabled some functions in the WHMCS dashboard, and unfortunately one of these is the cancellation request feature that I’ve used many times with other hosts. That means cancelling with HostUpon takes longer than it would otherwise.
To cancel, you have to submit a support ticket explaining why you want to discontinue your hosting plan. Be sure to turn off auto-renewal for your domain name, as it isn’t automatically set to expire when you cancel. You should receive a confirmation within the hour.
HostUpon isn’t perfect (I’m still searching for that elusive perfect host, so if you find it, please do let me know!) but the question has to be whether its strong points outweigh those few flaws I’ve found.In most cases, I think that HostUpon’s performance, support, and features are strong enough to outweigh the lack of an SSL certificate and backups on lower-priced plans. Its page loading speeds are great in Canada and worldwide.There’s only one situation where I’d say you’d be better looking elsewhere, and that’s if you’re on a really tight budget.The costs of backups and SSL put HostUpon just outside of the realm of “budget-friendly.” I’d recommend looking at a provider like Hostinger, which offers perhaps the lowest prices for simple web hosting, and delivers great performance from servers close to 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.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!)