HostPapa is an independent (ie, not owned by a big holding corporation) web hosting company from Toronto, Canada. They offer a spectrum of hosting services from shared hosting to VPS servers with a focus on small business owners.
HostPapa started in 2006 and make a big deal about their 100% green energy initiative.
Like most shared hosting companies, HostPapa also provides email, a website builder, and various complementary services with 24 hour support and a 30 day money back guarantee.
I’ve had several readers email to ask my opinion about HostPapa, so I decided to give them a shot in my recent shopping tour of entry-level web hosts.
Here’s my HostPapa Hosting review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data is based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Pros of Using HostPapa Hosting
There are a lot of HostPapa reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. As I’ve said in other hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering HostPapa.
HostPapa’s primary advantage is their pricing and fairly straightforward plan structure.
Web hosting companies are all selling the same thing – a home for your website – but they all have different plans with different caps, different bonuses and different renewal prices. For most, figuring out their true value requires a breakdown into different parts.
To compare “apples to apples” among hosting companies, I break things down into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features.
Core hosting features are the “3 D’s” – domains, databases and disk space. The core purpose of a hosting server is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name.
- Domains are how many domain names you can point to your hosting account. If you want multiple websites, you’ll want to have multiple domains allowed. You’ll also need to look at email addresses per domain – sometimes those are capped as well.
- Databases are how many pieces of website software you can run on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. If you have any apps, Listservs, etc – you’ll need more.
- Disk space is how many files you can put on your server – images, text, PDFs, etc.
Other features could include anything from website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.
When you break it down, you can at least compare apples to apples and get a sense of value based on what you need.
HostPapa has three pricing tiers. Starter renews at $9.99/mo; Business renews at $14.99/mo; and Business Pro renews at $24.99/mo.
Starter limits you to 2 websites (Domains) and 100GB of space – plenty if you are running a small site with only a few images. Business has unlimited* allowance for both.
*aside – keep in mind that “unlimited” in all cases for all companies actually means “no specific limit, but still limited by the actual server space and abuse policy.”
The Business Pro plan has extra bonus features that bring it above the Business plan.
For both short-term and long-term pricing, all HostPapa’s plans are competitive for the shared hosting end of the market. In fact, the Starter and Business plans are about as cheap as you would want before they are a bit too good to be true.*
*aside – be sure to read the cons, because they might in “too good to be true” territory anyway.
HostPapa’s pricing is a solid advantage.
Transparency & Ownership
HostPapa is a privately-owned independent hosting company. That’s a rarity in a world where a handful of corporations own nearly all hosting brands.
Being private & independent is not necessarily a good thing, and being owned by a large corporation is not necessarily a bad thing.
Independent companies might not have the capital to make long-term improvements. They might not have the expertise to run a world-class service. However, they are usually “closer to the customer” – and willing to make changes for the better of everyone rather than the bottom line.
Big corporations have the capital and expertise to run a world-class service, but they may also view departments (like customer service) as a cost and customers as an entry on a spreadsheet.
Some people instinctively like local, independent companies. I don’t care either way most of the time.
However, the hosting industry is notoriously consolidated. Even on the enterprise end, it’s basically Amazon and… maybe Google. On the shared/small business end, Endurance and GoDaddy both own a shocking number of brands. Some are run well and some are run poorly.
Either way, I think that diversity and competition are a good thing to have in the hosting industry. So on that point, I like to see a growing, independent company like HostPapa.
I wouldn’t choose them solely on their independence, but I do think it’s a solid pro in their column.
Additionally, I like how they have small touches of transparency such as the Network Status page where you can get 24/7 updates on their service.
Customer support is notoriously hard to judge. It’s hard to know what is really going on behind the scenes, and whether a company will be helpful when *you* contact them.
So many user-supplied online reviews (of any company) are either naively positive or exaggerated negative experiences. Besides, with anecdotes, you never know if you are reading about a one-off or a true trend.
Instead, I argue that you should look for indicators of whether a company treats customer service as a cost or an investment. In other words, are they trying to keep costs down and maximize profit for the short term or are they trying to develop happy, long-term customers?
The two best indicators I’ve found are availability across a range of support channels and investment in DIY customer support.
HostPapa is solid on both.
For availability, they have phone, chat, email and social support. My chat wait time was only a couple minutes. HostPapa also does multilingual support, which is rare to see.
As far as DIY customer support resources, they have a good knowledgebase with an auto-translate feature to serve different languages. Though you can do that with Google Translate, I think that indicates a level of investment and thought.
They also have a good selection of video tutorials, which again, I think show a level of investment in their customer support infrastructure.
Cons of Using HostPapa Hosting
Like any web host, HostPapa Hosting has disadvantages. There are plenty of HostPapa complaints around the Internet. Some are valid and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the bigger picture cons / disadvantages that I found while using HostPapa for hosting.
Just like any new product – signing up for a new web host can be both daunting and exciting.
The process of getting a new customer up and running is a critical part of removing the the daunting part – and adding to the excitement. In business jargon, the process is called “onboarding.” And there’s nothing that will create regret like a confusing onboarding process.
Ideally, after signing up for a hosting plan, you’d immediately get your sign in credentials and be able to either go to a guided tutorial or be able to log in directly to your new dashboard.
To start, HostPapa promised my credentials immediately after sign up. It took more than 2 and a half hours.
In that time, I got an invoice and guided tutorial email before my credentials with no mention of any delay. That was mildly confusing.
Once I got my credentials, the email said they were for everywhere – my account dashboard, cPanel (the backend of my actual server), FTP, billing, etc.
That was fine, but it turned out to only be partially true. I logged into my dashboard, but got redirected when clicking to cPanel where it asked to reset my password within cPanel.
I reset my password. But then to login again, I had to go back to my dashboard and click back to cPanel.
On that screen, I had a field to enter my password with a button to “Update”.
Neither my old or new password worked. I also couldn’t find a link anywhere to get to cPanel directly (the server information wasn’t in the credentials email).
Eventually, I hit “Forgot Password” – but instead of redirecting me to a Forgot Password page – I was sent to a direct login to cPanel.
My new password worked on that screen. This setup stayed the same even after I got everything setup.
Once I got into cPanel, everything was fairly straightforward. I was able to install WordPress with the same methods that I outline in my WordPress install tutorial.
The point of this story isn’t to say that HostPapa is a horrible company or should be ruled out because I had trouble. The point is that of all the dozens of hosting companies that I’ve used – they are one of only a few that have totally confused me going from purchase to set up.
I got everything working, but for a beginner or DIYer – HostPapa’s onboarding would not get you started on the right note.
Speed & Performance
Like I mentioned before, the core job of a web host is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name – but most agree that there’s a missing adverb. It should be “to serve website files quickly.”
To say website speed is important is cliche, especially in the age of mobile. While server speed is not the only factor in overall website speed, it is an important factor.
And critically, it’s also a “bottleneck” factor. In other words, no matter how fast you compress or speed up your website, you can only go as fast as your server can respond.
Measuring server speed and response time is a complicated issue. Only the network engineers at HostPapa can definitively say what’s going on with server speed. But, anyone can measure a ballpark metric of server performance.
It’s called Time To First Byte (TTFB) – and shows how quickly a server delivers the first byte of information after it receives a request.
Here’s how HostPapa performed the day I measured it with my website –
Here’s the test a few hours later with a different tool –
And here’s HostPapa a year after kicking off my website –
Ok – we’re not exactly improving here.
Here’s how Web Hosting Hub (a direct entry-level competitor) has done for me –
As you can see – HostPapa is not so good.
Now, TTFB is best measured as a trend. Yet, simply looking at HostPapa’s server information makes it look like they don’t invest in resources as much as direct competitors.
I would not buy HostPapa hosting for their performance.
Misleading Global Marketing
The core goal of marketing is to take the thing you are good at, decide what audience that is a good for, and then figure out a way to reach them.
All 3 parts have to be true for everyone to be happy – especially the “thing you are good at” part.
HostPapa does a lot of marketing to countries outside of North America.
That’s fine if they were truly a good fit for customers in those countries.
In some ways, they are. HostPapa does multilingual customer support. They accept payment in different currencies.
However, from everything that I can find (including running geolocation on Singapore websites), they still serve all customers out of their Toronto, Canada data center.
I think it’s misleading to advertise “best hosting for [country]” if your closest data center is 10,000 miles away from your target customers.
Compared to other providers like SiteGround who offer datacenters around the world or hosts like InMotion who at least provider bi-coastal data centers – I think it says something about HostPapa’s internal culture that they are specifically targeting markets that they simply aren’t a good fit for.
If someone from the UK, India or Australia or elsewhere is looking for a web host, they might really like HostPapa, and the datacenter distance might be less of a factor than customer service (they might have a global audience or low traffic), but in that case, HostPapa is competing a hosting company, not a hosting company for [insert country].
I put this as a disadvantage because, like customer service indicators, I think it says something about their internal culture.
While HostPapa has a fairly complete feature set for each plan, they do exclude some bonus features.
First, their money-back guarantee is a bit short. HostPapa does 30 days. But corporate competitors like HostGator do 45 days. And independent competitors like DreamHost, InMotion and Web Hosting Hub all do at least 90 day money back guarantees.
Second, does not include any automated backups in the Starter or Business plans. It’s a $19/yr upsell. Most hosting companies have some sort of automatic backup included – even if it’s a setup like HostGator’s where they do automated weekly backups, then you pay for a restore.
No matter who you use, you should always do backups yourself. But, it’s good to have your hosting company do a backup of your backup just in case. With HostPapa, paying more for backups is something else to add on and make sure you take care of.
HostPapa Hosting Comparisons
Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how HostPapa compares directly to each. Or skip to the conclusion.
HostPapa vs. GoDaddy
GoDaddy has one of the most recognized brands in the industry due to their TV, offline and everywhere advertising. Though they’ve improved in the past couple years, GoDaddy has a reputation for upsells, confusing backend and poor performance. I reviewed GoDaddy here.
HostPapa vs. eHost
eHost is one of Endurance International’s newest brands focused on beginners and small businesses. I reviewed eHost here. They have good pricing, good onboarding and active investment from Endurance International. Unless you are generally suspicious of large corporations, I’d recommend going with eHost over HostPapa. You can see eHost’s current deal here.
HostPapa vs. iPage
iPage is a sister brand of eHost focused on budget web hosting. They are owned by Endurance International, but unlike eHost, they don’t seem to be receiving active investment. Their main thing is extremely cheap short-term pricing. I’d generally avoid iPage, but head to head against HostPapa, I’d use them.
HostPapa vs. HostGator
HostGator is a very well-known brand in the hosting industry. They are also owned by Endurance International, which makes them another sister brand to eHost/iPage. They are one of Endurance International’s main brands and have a solid balance between cheap long-term pricing, good support and good performance.
I’d definitely go with HostGator over HostPapa. You can see HostGator’s current pricing w/ 45% off discount here.
HostPapa vs. InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing independent (ie, owned by employees not a large corporate holding company) hosting companies. This site uses a VPS server with InMotion. I reviewed InMotion here. They have all-around much better customer support and better performance than HostPapa.
InMotion’s cheapest plan is not that much more expensive than HostPapa – and it’d be well worth it. Check out InMotion here…
Side note about InMotion – they also own a starter hosting brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers even better unlimited pricing than InMotion with great performance. They compete head to head with HostPapa. They are a bit more expensive, but also make an excellent starter hosting company if you want an independent hosting company. I reviewed Web Hosting Hub here. You can check out Web Hosting Hub here…
Conclusion & Next Steps
Overall, I found HostPapa hosting to be not horrible. They’ll work as a web host, and don’t have too much seriously wrong. But compared to competitors, customers could really do much better. You can check them out here.
If you are looking for an independent shared hosting company with almost as good pricing, better performance, and customer support, and don’t mind paying annually then I recommend checking out Web Hosting Hub here or InMotion Hosting here…
If you are looking for a very affordable option with the option to pay monthly, then I’d check out HostGator w/ 45% off here…