HostPapa is a Canadian web hosting company which is still independently owned, as opposed to being a part of some massive corporation you've never heard of before. The company presents itself as a little different to the hosting giants, too, highlighting features like its support for sustainable business practices and green hosting.
HostPapa's cPanel-based Starter account – from $3.95 a month over the first three years, $7.95 on renewal – is well specified with 100GB of web space, unmetered bandwidth, a free domain and free website migration, Let's Encrypt SSL, a basic website builder (three page limit), one click install of WordPress and hundreds of other apps, and support for hosting two domains.
HostPapa's Business account – also $3.95 a month on the three-year plan, $12.99 on renewal – is essentially the same package with twice the CPU and MySQL resources and ‘unlimited everything’ else: web space, bandwidth, databases, emails and domains. It's good value for the initial contract, but there could still be better long-term deals elsewhere. HostGator's Business Plan is $5.95 a month over three years, but that includes a dedicated IP and Positive SSL certificate, and it renews at $14.95 a month.
The Business Pro plan – $12.95 a month initially, $19.99 on renewal – extends the package further with more resources, 'rocket fast premium servers', a wildcard SSL certificate, automated website backup, SiteLock malware detection, domain privacy protection, and no page limits on the Site Builder.
While this is a fairly priced range, beware the small print. Shared hosting plans don't have a monthly billing option, for instance. The least you'll pay initially is $5.95 a month on the annual plan.
HostPapa's email support could be a problem for some. The Starter plan supports 100 email accounts and the others are advertised as 'unlimited', but in reality there are some major restrictions.
The Starter and Business plans only offer email accounts with 500MB storage, and there's an overall limit of 5GB. If you really do set up 100 accounts, they'll each have a tiny 50MB inbox.
The Business Pro plan doubles these limits to a maximum 1GB per account and 10GB overall, but that may still be an issue, particularly for business users. (HostGator's cheapest shared hosting has no fixed limits on email accounts or inbox size.)
If the service doesn't deliver what you expect, HostPapa advertises a '30-day money-back guarantee', but again, there's a catch. As well as the usual exclusions, HostPapa only gives you 30 days on plans with at least an annual billing frequency. Sign up for monthly billing and you only get 48 hours to change your mind.
HostPapa's WordPress hosting plans - priced from an initial $3.95 to $12.95 a month over three years, $8.99 to $21.99 on renewal - build on its shared range by pre-installing WordPress, throwing in some WordPress-optimized caching (WordPress Super Cache, Varnish), and bundling Jetpack Free with the basic plans, and Jetpack Premium with the top-of-the-range WP Business Pro.
It's a decent range of products which should manage better performance than the budget competition, and is fair value, especially if you'll use Jetpack Premium.
HostPapa doesn't have the power of the more advanced WordPress-hosting competition, though, and demanding users might be better off elsewhere.
SiteGround's GrowBig shared hosting plan (from $5.95 a month renewing at $19.95) limits storage to 20GB, but has its own speed-boosting Nginx and Memcached-based SuperCacher setup, and includes WordPress staging (a handy for which enables editing a copy of your project without affecting the staging site.)
DreamHost’s DreamPress Basic plan goes further with speed optimizations, staging, automated updates, daily backups and more. Storage and bandwidth are limited, but probably enough (30GB disk space, around 100,000 visits a month), and prices are very reasonable at $16.95 over the first year, $19.95 on renewal.
VPS and more
HostPapa has a decent drag-and-drop website builder which could allow you to create a simple site within a few minutes.
The shared hosting plans include a basic version of the builder (limited templates, maximum three pages per site), but the $9.99 Unlimited plan supports as many pages as you need, the $19.99 Premium plan includes one-click publishing to Facebook pages and the $39.99 Enterprise product is ecommerce-enabled.
HostPapa's online store plans start at just $19.99, great value for a store which allows unlimited products, offers integrated shipping, supports payment by card and PayPal and has 0% additional transaction fees.
HostPapa doesn't have a dedicated server range, but its VPS products start at $19.99 for the first month, $49.99 afterwards, for a fully managed, 4 core CPU, 1.5GB RAM, 50GB storage and 1TB transfer plan, with cPanel/ WHM and Softaculous thrown in.
While you're not getting much RAM or bandwidth for your money, this isn't a bad deal, especially for a fully managed VPS (that is, a plan where HostPapa takes care of server upgrades, network issues, firewall setup and all the other low-level technical stuff.)
But if you need more choice, check out Hostwinds and you'll budget unmanaged VPS plans starting at just $5, as well as managed products, and there's full support for both Linux and Windows VPS hosting.
Creating a site
HostPapa's website includes detailed comparison tables covering every aspect of its shared hosting, making it easy to find the best plan for you.
Signing up is straightforward, and only five minutes after handing over our money (PayPal and cards supported) a HostPapa email arrived with all the usernames, passwords and login links we needed to get started.
HostPapa's web dashboard features a large animated ad for domain registration. We expect advertising on the main site, but paying customers shouldn't have to scroll past HostPapa's upselling attempts to reach the features they need.
The dashboard does have one plus: a 'My cPanel' tab which gets you instant access to all the usual cPanel website building and management tools.
One-click installs are handled by Softaculous, one of the best installation frameworks around. We set up WordPress in a few minutes with no hassles at all, and the service also supports popular web forums, wikis, image galleries, shopping carts and more.
The drag-and-drop Site Builder is reasonably capable, with 120 responsive templates and easy integration of videos, maps, forms and more. The free edition has a maximum of three pages, so your options are seriously limited, but it's still a likeable tool and we're happy it's included with the package.
CPanel's File Manager is on hand for easy drag-and-drop uploading of an existing static site, FTP support is available if you need it, and you're able to set up domains and subdomains, create email accounts, manage databases and more.
HostPapa support begins on its website, where a Customer Care Center page has well-chosen links to all the key areas you might need: Network Status, a knowledgebase, video tutorials, your dashboard, and options to raise a support ticket or open live chat.
The knowledgebase features an impressive 2600 articles across 76 categories. Some of these are a couple of years old, but HostPapa has mostly done a good job of keeping them fresh. Okay, its Outlook articles all relate to 2016, but that's near enough to 2019 to get by, and we regularly see other web hosts with articles on Outlook 2013, 2011, even 2003.
The knowledgebase search engine is a relative weak spot. Enter a keyword like WordPress and you get results across all categories, sorted in apparently random order. The first three matches cover WordPress widgets, taxonomy and the dashboard, for instance. Match #7 is a video tutorial on Softaculous and WordPress, and the match you're mostly likely to need, a general WordPress setup article, is down in eighth place.
Searching for phrases ('change PHP version') delivers much better results, though. Chances are you'll find the content you need, and most articles are above average quality, clearly pointing you in the right direction.
There's an apparent website issue in a 'Live Chat/ Phone/ Email' button which simply opened the support site in a new browser tab, every time we clicked it, forcing us to log in again.
A Live Chat icon is also available at the bottom of the screen, though, and one click and 60 seconds later we were talking to a helpful agent who answered our email account question immediately.
There's 24/7 telephone support, too. Not just by one or two numbers: HostPapa covers 17 countries around the world, usually with toll free numbers, and has a couple of general numbers for Europe. Expand the Phone section on the Contact page to find the details for your country.
Uptime is important, even for simple personal sites. If your website is down, visitors won't be able to find you, and there's a chance they'll never try again.
We use Uptime.com to measure website availability over seven days. Every five minutes, Uptime.com accesses the main page of our simple test site, also recording the time our server takes to respond.
The results found no outages across more than 2,000 checks during the test period, which of course means a perfect 100% uptime. That's unlikely to last over months, but it's a good start, and better than some hosts achieve.
The average response time was an excellent 213ms. The best providers manage 150-200ms, but most are somewhere in the 200-300ms range, so HostPapa outperforms many competitors.
Response times spiked upwards occasionally to 300, 400, approaching 600ms, but these were short-lived, and most responses were within 20ms of the average.
That's good news, especially as these were the response times for HostPapa's most basic shared hosting. It's likely that the VPS products will do even better.
HostPapa's product range is limited and missing some advanced options and features, but its plans are also fair value, with all the key features you need (cPanel, Let's Encrypt SSL, Softaculous) and 24/7 telephone support. If your hosting needs are simple, it's well worth a look.
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