Expensive renewal prices
- Basic plan supports up to two websites instead of one
- Free domain with no hidden costs
- High-priced add-ons at checkout
- No free backups
Choosing a website host is never easy, especially when you’re just starting out. There are so many companies to choose from! Should you go with a well-known name such as GoDaddy or HostGator, or with a lesser-known company like today’s subject, HostPapa?
Based in Canada, HostPapa bills itself as a web host for small businesses. The reality, however, is that its shared hosting prices are low enough that they are open to anyone who needs to build a website.
The big question, however, is whether HostPapa is the right choice for you. To help to decide, we’ve assessed it on its features, value for money, and performance.
Spoiler alert for those short on time — HostPapa is by no means a bad solution, but it does come bottom of our rankings. With an overall score of 60%, it doesn’t quite compete against the big guns. If you want to pick from the best, read our review of the top hosting providers.
The two-domain basic plan is the real eye-catcher. For that very specific need, HostPapa is superb value. Otherwise, it struggles to match up. HostPapa is one of the few independent web hosting providers left in the business, but that independence means they simply don’t have the resources of its competitors.
HostPapa officially started life in 2006, and since then has grown to host more than 500,000 websites, though the site builtwith says the number of sites is closer to 200,000.
HostPapa is a full service company offering domain purchases, site building, and web hosting. Interestingly, it doesn’t offer dedicated server hosting, where customers have control over their own hardware. Instead, the company offers the more common shared and virtual private server hosting, as well as offering a reseller service.
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HostPapa’s uptime is fairly standard at 99.97 percent. That’s a good number. It’s impossible to expect a company to have 100 percent uptime, because problems (as well as maintenance) happen, especially on the internet.
Nevertheless, you do want a company that offers uptime as close to perfect as possible. A 99.97 percent uptime amounts to less than three hours of downtime per year. That’s a great number and offers a high level of reliability whether you’re planning to run a blog or a shop front.
HostPapa’s basic web hosting plan, Starter, uses a mix of standard features you’ll find anywhere, as well as a few surprises. First off, its lowest tier price allows you to host up to two websites on your account. That is unusual since most web hosts only allow a single website on its most basic plan.
The Starter package also has what the company calls “Essential Features”, which include free website transfer, Cloudflare CDN, one-on-one training, free SSL via Let’s Encrypt, cPanel Control Panel, Starter Website Builder, 24/7 support, and a 30-day money back guarantee.
HostPapa also offers a free domain when you pay for a full year of web hosting. This feature is often hit or miss. Some web hosts offer it, and some don’t. What’s key is that HostPapa does, and there don’t seem to be any hidden fees for that free domain as there are with other hosts.
The Starter package allows for 100GB of disk space for your websites, which is a good amount of storage. It’s not the unlimited amounts that InMotion offers, but it’s as good or better than some of the bigger hosting companies.
HostPapa also offers unlimited bandwidth, though you can be penalized for excessive use, which is also not uncommon. As HostPapa describes it, the company’s policy is to deliver all the hardware resources a typical website needs, even at times of increased traffic, without costing you extra. Seems reasonable.
If your site does get insanely large, HostPapa will eventually put constraints on your site performance so as not to impact other customers. Still, you’d have to get pretty big before worrying about that.
HostPapa does not offer month-to-month billing, and the company declined to provide us with a trial account to check out its interface. We can quickly talk about the service’s basic checkout process, which is fairly simple.
For the Starter plan, you begin by choosing your plan and time commitment, which makes clear the cost you’ll be paying. Below that, however, are two high-priced add-ons labeled as “website essentials”, both priced at $20 per year. The first is the the SiteLock Security Seal, which is just another way of saying SiteLock protection plus a nice icon for you site. The second is automated backup.
Both are optional, but HostPapa doesn’t make this obvious since there are no check boxes. Instead, it uses check mark icons, which transform to red cancel “X” icons when you hover over them with your mouse. There’s also a sidebar on the right-hand side that shows your order total where you can also cancel these add-ons.
Next, you get to the domain name sign-up section where you can pay for domain privacy, which shields your personal information from WHOIS domain databases.
After that you have to supply our personal and payment information. Overall, a relatively easy process, but it could be a little more obvious about how you cancel the initial high-priced add-ons.
HostPapa’s support starts with its Knowledge Base, which is a series of support articles organized by topic. This is the best place to start when you have some basic questions about how to get started with a new product or add-on you’ve purchased.
If you search for HostPapa forums, you’ll find a page that is supposed to host a community forum where fellow customers answer each others’ questions. However, there is currently little to no content at all on the forum page.
When you need advanced help, HostPapa offers live chat and 24/7 phone support. If you’re just wondering if there’s a problem with your server, however, HostPapa has a network status page to highlight any problems. This page also lists any planned maintenance that’s coming up.
HostPapa’s pricing for shared web hosting ranges from $3.95 per month with a three-year commitment up to $20 per month for the Pro plan without a special offer price.
If you opt for the dedicated WordPress Hosting plan that offers better performance and specialized support for WordPress blogs, you can pay the same $3.95 per month with a 3-year commitment to $22 per month for the Pro level.
If you’re interested in VPS hosting, there are 5 different pricing tiers ranging from $50 to $300 per month.
WordPress Review – where we discuss the ins and outs of building a website with WordPress
HostPapa’s prices are good, but to get them you have to commit for the same length as an old-school cell contract. If you look around, you can find other hosting companies that require 2 or sometimes even single-year commitments.
That said, if you’re willing to make the full commitment then HostPapa’s Starter package is very good value for those looking to put together two websites.
HostPapa offers pretty good packages and value for its price, especially at the lower ends. The drawback is that you have to commit to three years to get the best price, though that is not uncommon in the hosting world.
It doesn’t have the most comprehensive package either. With providers like HostGator and BlueHost, you have more choice and more features. However, if you want to support one of the only independent hosting companies out there, HostPapa could be worth a shot.
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