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 (rather than bloggers or online-only operators).
HostPapa started in 2006 and has seen rapid growth in the past few years.
Like most 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.
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.
Value Pricing & Transparency
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 $7.99/mo; Business renews at $12.99/mo, and Business Pro renews at $19.99/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.
And that’s because every hosting company has a similar business model with similar costs, infrastructure, etc. It’s all in how they play with the variables, how they hire good people, and how they develop & maintain their processes.
HostPapa is fairly clear about the higher level of resources dedicated to their servers and the “higher-touch” level of service that they promise. To keep their end of the bargain – I’d expect prices to be right where they’re at.
HostPapa’s pricing is a solid advantage – especially when looking at overall value.
Now – not everyone wants overall value – sometimes you don’t need extra value for the extra price. I’ll cover that in the cons section.
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 of 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.
Comprehensive Services & Extras
HostPapa not only provides web hosting, they also provide a suite of high-quality complementary services. Most web hosts provide things like domains, email, design services, etc.
But HostPapa provides those services at a bit of a higher level.
For example, they not only sell domains – they are actually a domain registrar (rather than reseller) – so they have a bigger selection of domain TLDs and better pricing than other hosting companies.
The same goes with email and design services – and specialized hosting services. They offer VPS hosting for any resource-hungry business websites in addition to a better-than-most WordPress Hosting product.
When I first launched my small project with HostPapa, I had a ton of issues with their onboarding (ie, going from purchasing to using the service) process. It was really, really frustrating.
When I revisited the service, they hadn’t improved everything (see cons section) but critically, they had improved the flow, transparency, and software for their checkout and setup process.
They have lots of small touches that make the signup and setup process much easier. While it’s not the absolute best that I’ve seen (like SiteGround or InMotion has) – it’s rapidly trending in the right direction. You can tell that they have resources dedicated to the project, which is great because they’re able to implement the newest onboarding practices.
Additionally, they are pretty focused on their target market (despite some of their claims). Small businesses are their wheelhouse – so things like email hosting and transfers are integrated right into the checkout & setup process.
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.
A couple years ago, I measured HostPapa’s performance…and while fine, it wasn’t great.
This year, I tested a similar (though not apples to apples) website – and the TTFB was significantly better.
As you can see – not only is HostPapa doing fine – they’ve improved over the years. That’s a good trend to see, especially with solid growth over those same years.
Now, TTFB is best measured as a trend. That trend is good – but a ton depends on how you manage your website and how they continue to manage their servers & critical vendors.
Every hosting company has issues with downtime. In the past year, even YouTube and Amazon have experienced outages. The key is causes & consistency. HostPapa does well with infrastructure transparency and basic speed tests. I’d put them in the pro column for performance.
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.
As I mentioned in the pros section – HostPapa is competitive based on value pricing. But not everyone needs higher value for higher pricing. Sometimes, you need a website to fit within a budget. Or sometimes, you are looking to get the best price for a certain set of features.
I’ve had clients in the former bucket – and I have projects in the latter bucket. For example – I have had several microsites that needed a hosting plan that has enough databases and domains to host them all while providing just enough memory to handle predictable, consistent traffic – for a low price.
If you are in those two buckets – HostPapa might not be for you. Their mid and low tier plans are usually heavily discounted – but only for a 3-year commitment. Otherwise, at renewal, they are pretty pricey for plain shared hosting.
Additionally, some features like SiteLock and Automated Backups are not bundled in the price, which adds to the cost per feature.
Same goes if you start to look at number of websites, databases, etc per price. HostPapa isn’t super-expensive, but they also aren’t the best deal out there. If you have a limited budget or are not sure about the length of your project, then they will likely be more than you want to pay.
User-Friendliness & Branding
HostPapa has dramatically improved their onboarding and setup process since my initial project back in 2016.
However, their overall user-friendliness, design, and branding are decidedly lacking compared to their cutting-edge competitors.
For example, their Dashboard is not the worst I’ve seen (I’m looking at you, Web.com…) but it still has that 2010 feel to it.
Additionally, their branding doesn’t automatically inspire a ton of passion or trust. Part of it has to do with the fact that HostPapa is still fairly small. But, as a consultant, if a client had told me in 2015 (before I had researched HostPapa) that they used “HostPapa” as a host…I would have instantly thought to move them away.
HostPapa does seem to be improving their design, look, and branding. Until everything is finished though – it’ll be a small but present downside.
The core goal of marketing is to take the thing you are good at, decide what audience that it’s 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 is decidedly a good hosting company for North American small businesses.
But HostPapa does a lot of marketing to countries outside of North America. They also make a lot of overstated claims.
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 data centers around the world or hosts like InMotion who at least provide 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 a competing hosting company, not a hosting company for [insert country].
This same fact goes with a lot of their marketing – they do fine providing transparency to clarify a lot of claims…but they still make the claims over and over.
I put this as a disadvantage because, like customer service indicators, I think it says something about their internal culture. It’s better in my opinion to under-promise and over-deliver. I know that, as a marketer myself, that’s not always possible. But from the customer’s side – it’s still important to know.
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, they don’t 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, and 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. iPage
iPage is a sister brand of HostGator focused on budget web hosting. They are owned by Endurance International, and their main thing is extremely cheap short-term pricing. I’d generally avoid iPage, unless you are looking for a deal. Otherwise, I’d use HostPapa.
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 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 go with HostGator over HostPapa if you are looking for better feature pricing. You can see HostGator’s current pricing w/ 45% off discount here. If you want better customer support & performance, then I’d go with HostPapa – especially if you can commit for 3 years.
HostPapa vs. SiteGround
SiteGround is a rapidly growing independent hosting brand. They work at a higher price point than many brands but have incredible onboarding, good performance, good support, and a global network of data centers. I reviewed SiteGround here.
If your website visitors are outside of North America, or you have the budget to pay for better usability & features – then I’d go with SiteGround. If you want a more balanced small business host, then HostPapa would work better.
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 pricing than HostPapa.
I found InMotion’s services to be better & at a slightly better price than HostPapa. However, for better & for worse, InMotion is a bigger company than HostPapa. 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 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 a solid small business host. In an industry increasingly dominated by just a couple mega-corporations, it’s refreshing to find a great independent hosting company with a good product. You can check out HostPapa’s current promo 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…
HostPapa is good if you want an independently owned company with solid pricing and good customer service. HostPapa is not as good if you want maximum hosting features, a larger well-known brand, or international data centers.
No – HostPapa is a Canadian company based in Toronto. However, they do have a strong international focus with a globally distributed customer support and multiple currency acceptance.
Based on my GeoIP testing, HostPapa’s servers are all located in Ontario, Canada- including servers for international websites.
First, you need to purchase a Website Builder package which includes both hosting and access to HostPapa’s builder. Second, follow the prompts to open the Builder on your dashboard. Third, choose a layout and add any content. Then publish the site on the Internet. There is some learning curve to make your site just right – but on whole, it’s more accessible than installing a CMS like WordPress on your account.
HostPapa is an independent web hosting company founded in 2006 that provides a spectrum of hosting services for small businesses. Good value and customer support. A bit expensive, but a great small business host.
Application Category: Web Hosting