Expensive renewal prices
- Business plan supports unlimited websites for a cheap price
- 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 — with some generous features on its cheapest plans, HostPapa is by no means a bad solution, but it does come bottom of our rankings. With an overall score of 3.2 out of 5, 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.
HostPapa offers a ton in the name of maintenance and security features. For that very specific need, HostPapa is superb. As one of the few independent web hosting providers left in the business, HostPapa is a bit of an underdog and simply doesn’t have the resources of its competitors.
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 popular shared and virtual private server (VPS) hosting, as well as offering a reseller service.
Top Web Hosting Providers – our comparative review of HostGator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy Hosting
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 industry standards plus a few nice surprises. The “Essential Features”, which is included in all the plans, offers:
- Free website transfer
- Cloudflare CDN
- One-on-one training
- Free SSL via Let’s Encrypt
- cPanel Control Panel
- Starter Website Builder
- 24/7 support
- 30-day money back guarantee
The Business Plan, for the same price as the $3.95/month Starter plan, also offers unlimited websites, unlimited SSD storage, and unmetered bandwidth. This alone is a fantastic deal and makes HostPapa worth its price already.
HostPapa also offers a free domain when you pay for a full year of web hosting. Not all web hosts offer a free domain, so this is a great perk to see from HostPapa – what’s more, 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 SSD 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 unmetered 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.
When it comes to HostPapa’s basic checkout process, it’s 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 four high-priced add-ons labeled as “website essentials”:
- Protection Power Website Security – $19.95/year
- Automated Website Backup – $29.95/year
- Paid SSL Certificate – $24.95/year
- PapaCare+ – $49.95/year
All are optional, but HostPapa doesn’t make this obvious since there are no check boxes, and the first two are automatically added to your basket when you select your plan. 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 24/7 Customer Care Centre. Here you can find links to the Knowledge Base, Video Tutorials, LiveChat with customer support and Network Status. Scroll down, and you’ll see a number of guides for adding features to your site (most of these will require a purchase of some kind.)
If you have a specific query in mind, the Knowledge Base is the best place to start with a series of support articles organized by topic. There are 2940 articles, so you should find the answer you’re looking for!
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 main web hosting platform is separated into three plans:
- Starter: $3.95 a month
- Business: $3.95 a month
- Business Pro: $12.95 a month
However, these prices are equivalent as HostPapa only lets you pay annually, with the default plan locking you in for 36 months (That’s three years!) This is pretty common amongst hosting providers, but it’s still worth knowing in advance before signing up to any web host.
HostPapa also offers plans for one and two years but with the price per month increasing (2 years – $4.95/month, 1 year – $5.95/month)
If you opt for the dedicated Optimized WordPress Hosting plan that offers better performance and specialized support for WordPress blogs, you can pay the same $3.95 per month with a three-year commitment to $12.95 per month for the Pro level.
HostPapa additionally operates a Managed WordPress Hosting service, that comes with a range of better features plus has your very own dedicated maintenance and stronger security for your site. These plans are more expensive, however, with the Launch plan beginning at $19.95 and the Pro level reaching to $69.95!
If you’re interested in VPS hosting, there are five different pricing tiers ranging from $19.99 to $249.99 per month (for 36 months) all named after the planets in our solar system. There’s no apparent reason behind this, we just think it’s neat, and leads us onto our next section – HostPapa’s place in the hosting universe…
WordPress Review – where we discuss the ins and outs of building a website with WordPress
HostPapa’s prices are good, but to get the best price you have to commit for the same length as an old-school cell contract. While this isn’t uncommon amongst hosting providers, it’s not a very pleasant user-experience seeing a price tag wherever you look.
That said, if you’re willing to make the full commitment, then HostPapa sets you up with all the help and maintenance your website could possibly need.
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. We would recommend the Business Plan, since it’s the same price as the Standard yet offers more. But with providers like HostGator and BlueHost, you have more choice and more features. Though if you want to support one of the only independent hosting companies out there, HostPapa could be worth a shot.
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