HostPapa is an independent (ie, not owned by a big holding corporation) web hosting provider 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 Review Takeaways
What is HostPapa Hosting?
Is HostPapa Legit?
HostPapa positions itself as one of the few growing, stable hosting companies that is not owned by one of the 3 large web services holding companies (ie, GoDaddy, Endurance, and Web.com) that also has the breadth, resources, and expertise to serve websites for businesses, organizations, and long-term projects.
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.
HostPapa is legit. They aren’t a fly-by-night hosting service.
What Is HostPapa Used for?
HostPapa is used to host websites and web applications. They have a specific marketing focus on businesses, organizations, and growing websites. They offer a full suite of website products ranging from domain names to hosting to email to even web design.
However, like I’ve stated in all my hosting reviews, finding a good web hosting service is about finding the right fit based on your goals & resources. Here are my pros & cons and an overview of HostPapa’s products as a HostPapa web hosting customer.
Here’s my HostPapa review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
Pros / Benefits of 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 $9.99/mo; Business renews at $14.99/mo, and Business Pro plan renews at $23.99/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. They all have unmetered bandwidth and SSD storage. They all include a free domain for a year and a free SSL certificate.
*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.” For example, instead of “unlimited bandwidth” – they use “unmetered bandwidth” – which is more accurate in all cases.
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 and short-term discounts.
Now – not everyone wants overall value (or a short-term discount) – sometimes you don’t need extra value for the extra price. I’ll cover that in the cons section.
Independence & 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 & 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 their support team 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 Hosting Services & Extras
HostPapa not only provides web hosting service, 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. They are a great place for domain registration.
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.
Improved Onboarding & Usability
When I first launched my small project with HostPapa years ago, I had a ton of issues with their onboarding (ie, going from purchasing to using the service) process. It was really, really frustrating.
However, when I revisited the service a few months ago, they hadn’t improved everything (see cons section) but critically, they had improved the flow, transparency, and software for their checkout and setup process. It’s the constant improvement that is always good to see at a hosting company.
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 or Bluehost 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.
Hosting 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.
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.
HostPapa’s uptime guarantee is solid with high rates of uptime and few incidents, according to their Network Status page.
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 / Complaints of HostPapa
Like any web host, HostPapa 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 shared 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 plan.
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.
Overstated Marketing & International Presence
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 has decidedly good hosting options 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 the best fit for customers in those countries.
In some ways, they are. HostPapa does multilingual customer support. They accept payment in different currencies. They are a great fit for many international customers.
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. Go right ahead and make claims – I do think they are great for global websites operated out of specific countries. Just make the caveat clear.
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.
Missing Bonuses & Features
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 Plans & Packages
HostPapa has a wide spectrum of hosting plans. Here’s a brief overview of each.
Web Hosting Plan
Web (i.e., Shared) hosting is the bread and butter of the website hosting world. They consist of individual accounts on a Linux server. They can run WordPress or any application on a LAMP Stack. It’s a cost-effective and reliable way to run most websites. Learn more about Shared Hosting in this guide. HostPapa’s shared hosting plan has three tiers.
WordPress Hosting Plan
Even though WordPress can run on shared hosting, many hosting companies have WordPress hosting plans due to customer demand and the hardware demands of WordPress. Many hosting companies offer “WordPress hosting” that is *exactly* the same as their shared hosting plans.
HostPapa is like this to a degree. Their WordPress plans are just Web hosting plans with WordPress auto-installed. However, they are also the same pricing as their Web hosting plans. No harm, no foul – and a decent deal.
VPS Hosting Plans
VPS hosting is a great way to get a specific allocation of server resources, without having to lease an entire server. Even though your website lives on the same server as other sites, you have total control over a set amount of resources. Learn more about VPS hosting in this guide. HostPapa has several very competitively priced VPS plans that offer managed and unmanaged options.
Reseller Hosting Plan
Reseller hosting is basically a shared, VPS, or dedicated server plan with 3rd party billing and management enabled. Reseller hosting allows anyone to basically start their own hosting company without actually starting a hosting company. Read more about Reseller hosting in this guide. It’s a great way for agencies to get recurring revenue and provide extra value for clients. HostPapa has a range of reseller hosting products.
Email Hosting Plan
HostPapa has a very interesting email hosting plan for businesses that don’t want to do Google or Microsoft’s productivity suite. It’s a great way to save money while maintaining an @company domain email address. See their plans here.
Website Builder Plan
HostPapa built their own template driven website builder. It comes bundled with the purchase of a hosting plan. The end result is many of the benefits of a hosted website builder (like Wix, Weebly, WordPress.com, or Jimdo), but on a server that you totally control. See their website builder here.
Is HostPapa Worth It?
Overall, I found HostPapa 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 have a bit more budget then I recommend checking out 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…