Best Web Hosting in Canada — Go Global or Stay Local?
The next stop on our journey around the world takes us on a quest to find what web hosting solutions Canada has to offer. The Great White North has a lot quality opportunities for local businesses and their online projects.Web hosting in Canada represents a $6 billion industry which marks a steady 5.5% growth in the last five years. Click To Tweet
It’s a growing market full of fantastic opportunities, and we are here to find out how to best take advantage of them. This includes learning:
Which are the best local and global hosting providers?
What makes up a good host in Canada?
How can you test your potential candidates?
What are the benefits of choosing a Canadian hosting company?
The North-American region is (unsurprisingly) the densest when it comes to web service providers. There are about 4,000 data processing and hosting companies in Canada alone.
Imagine a pool full of piranhas, all fighting for the same piece of meat.
It’s a jungle out there, and only the toughest will survive.
Who is the most resilient? Let’s have a look.
Local Hosts – The Best Canadian Hosting Providers
Canadian providers benefit from their close proximity to the largest network of servers that is the US. But only a few manage to make the best of it.
+ Unlimited websites
+ Guaranteed resources
+ Affordable prices
Price: from CA$5.25/mo
HostUpon is a true-blue Canadian provider, based in Toronto. CEO Alfes Velji vouches to deliver “the fastest and most secure hosting at the lowest possible rate,” and over 10,000 customers from around the world are already testing that claim.
With services tailored to the small and medium business client, the future holds great prospects for this company.
As with other providers on this list, HostUpon has a strong focus on protecting the environment. The company utilizes energy-efficient hardware in “green” data centers, minimizes carbon emissions from its equipment, and even encourages telecommuting.
Someone give this Toronto web hosting provider a medal.
HostUpon offers three well-balanced shared plans which can serve websites of almost any scale.
- Starter — for new and small businesses
- Business — for SMBs
- Premium — for high-traffic websites
As you can see, “unlimited” is the keyword here.
HostUpon removes all bars when it comes to storage space, bandwidth, databases, email accounts.
You want to host unlimited websites on your hosting account as well? You got it!
Another noteworthy addition is the guaranteed resources you get with each shared plan. For example, with the Starter pack, you have 40% CPU allocation, 512MB RAM, 512KB/s I/O speed.
All for you and your needs only.
With HostUpon, you don’t get a lot of flashy extra features — just enough to get your project on the path to success.
Right now, you can start an account with HU for just US$3.95/mo, which is a 43% discount from the regular US$6.95 rate. The best thing is you can upgrade at any time and get a pro-rated refund of the unused months.
The best Canadian companies all have one thing in common — they like to provide across-the-board support assistance.
Live chat, emails, phone, ticketing, the works.
My first encounter with the online operators was more than promising. The host rep was very polite and patient with me and all of my questions. He didn’t take much time to reply either, which is a sure sign he knows his stuff.
My only disappointment was when I tried the live chat a couple more times and figured it is only available during business hours. That doesn’t match well with the 24/7 support promise on the website.
To be fair, I tried sending an email as well, and this time I got a reply within minutes.
HostUpon.ca is an all-round great Canadian hosting provider with a focus on protecting the environment. Businesses can scale as they grow and enjoy a seamless, uninterrupted experience.
The packages are quite affordable, even at the high-tier plans. While support is not available 24/7, it is always prompt and helpful.
+ Ultimate power plan
+ DDoS protection
+ Dedicated SSL per domain
We are taking a trip around the galaxy with PlanetHoster. The PH rocket first took off in 2007 from Laval, Quebec and has since discovered the worlds of web hosting, hybrid cloud, domain names, and VPN.PlanetHoster now has more than 60,000 inhabitants, who have expressed an overall 94% satisfaction rate. Click To Tweet
The company utilizes servers in two locations — Paris, France, and Montreal, Canada. They reside in high-end Tier III data centers with certified uptime of 99.98%.
You can always check that yourself, with the convenient Server Status option on the company website.
Here is a host that takes an unusual approach.
Instead of dispersing their services in different packages, PlanetHoster prefers to squeeze all goodies in a single, ultimate plan that should suffice for your entire hosting journey.
The account, aptly named The World, looks utterly impressive.
- Unlimited sites and 100% account isolation
- Anti-DDoS and Anycast DNS
- Malware protection
- Twice-daily backups to an offsite location
- One free domain name for life
…and that’s just scratching the surface.
This abundance will cost you CA$9.90/mo, which is quite reasonable considering all the added goods.
Our web hosting comparison showed that PlanetHoster offers 24/7 support via phone and email. I saw a mention of a live chat on one of the pages but never found such an option.
Regrettably, it took ages for my email to get a response, which leads me to believe support is not really a priority with PH.
The phone and ticketing assistance seem the only viable means of getting extra help.
PlanetHoster trusts its services so much that it’s not afraid to put all its eggs in one basket. The provider offers a single robust plan for shared clients and packs it with all kinds of security and optimization features. The lack of support is a little alarming, but if you know your way around hosting, you’ll see why it is ranked so high among the best web hosting providers in Canada here, on Hosting Tribunal.
+ Free CDN
Price: from CA$3.89/mo
Web Hosting Canada, as you can probably tell by the name, is one of Canada’s first and most prominent hosting providers.WHC has been in business for 16 years and hosts 30,000 clients and their 130,000+ websites. Click To Tweet
The company has accreditation by the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA) and ranked the #1 Canadian domain name provider by the .CA registry.
One of the best web hosts for small business owners uses 100% PIPEDA-compliant servers in local data centers.
Web Hosting Canada Features
Web Hosting Canada offers various types of web hosting services — from shared and reseller accounts to cloud and dedicated servers.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here.
Even though WHC supports three distinct packages, you can now get the Pro plan at almost the same rate as the Starter deal.
Feature-wise there is no point comparing the two.
With the Starter deal, you can host one web project, migrate your website for free, and get 40% CPU power.
The Pro plan includes a higher resource allocation plus a free domain, Anycast DNS, SSL certificate, SSH access, and an unlimited number of websites.
Which one sounds better?
I think we have a clear winner here.
It’s worth noting that those are initial discounts and only available for a 36-month billing period. Come renewal the gap between the two packages widens.
Web Hosting Canada Support
Before I contacted the WHC support, the company was probably going to be #1 or #2 on my list of Canadian website hosts.
But then I tried the live chat…
I wanted to learn more about the types of optimizations they can offer for WordPress, as the company page did mention that. What followed was a mess of a conversation in which I:
– was asked to supply a domain name three times
– was pushed two signup links
– got no clear or accurate response to my question
– was offered a completely different package that did not match my requirements
All in all, I’d be very wary if I need technical support from such a bunch. Better check the extensive tutorial archive first.
Web Hosting Canada is a company with long traditions and experience in the hosting industry. Their packages are environmentally-friendly and suitable for small and medium business. The prices are amazingly low, and you can book for a longer billing plan to take full advantage.
+ Free domain
+ Free SSL certificate
+ Advanced package customization
Price: from CA$3.00/mo
Another Toronto-based host worth noting is Cirrus Tech.
The company started operations in 1999 and is now one of the biggest local hosting providers.
But it’s actually much more than that.
Cirrus also offers IaaS and SaaS solutions, colocation services, remote backup plans, and more.
The provider employs three data centers in the Toronto area, just minutes from its headquarters. The servers are fully redundant and benefit from next-gen physical security and fire protection while being environmentally-friendly.
Behind the curtains of the shared hosting deals, we have four plans — Plan I, Plan II, Plan III, and…no, not Plan IV…the last one is called Dedicated.
Creativity at its best.
The entry-level deal is not particularly feature-rich. You get 50GB disk space and unlimited bandwidth to host a single website.
Cirrus might not be the best choice when it comes to email hosting in Canada. You have all kinds of limitations with the lower plans — from the number of mailboxes, to mail redirects and autoresponders.
Plan III is where things get interesting, with a free private SSL and dedicated IP. Still, you are now looking at over $CA10.00/mo, which is not very easy on the wallet if you are just starting out.
Cirrus mostly relies on phone support to assist their clients. There is a 24/7 toll-free line for the Sales, Support, and Billing teams, as well as an online contact form.
The option for live chat is sadly missing.
Similarly to PlanetHoster, Cirrus’s email replies were not very prompt and could’ve been more detailed after all that delay.
I took a virtual stroll around the company knowledge base, but it didn’t look very rich or well-maintained.
Customer care is definitely one thing Cirrus can improve in the future.
Cirrus Tech provides reliable website hosting in Canada and proves a favored choice of the local crowd. The company has a long experience with startup and enterprise projects and partners with technology giants like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, and Citrix. On the downside, client support is a bit limited and not available at all times.
Global Hosts – The Best Hosting Providers for Canada
Here are the contenders that don’t focus on the Great White North, but still maintain a data center location there.
+ SSD storage
+ Free SSL certificate
Price: from CA$5.25/moIn an industry where major corporations regularly buy out the smaller players, HostPapa is one of the few big privately-owned companies for web hosting in Canada. Click To Tweet
HostPapa was founded in 2006 by local entrepreneur Jamie Opalchuk. By 2015 the company had already won several awards for fastest growing business in Canada.
The main reason why I put it in the global section of my reviews of the best web hosting in Canada is the fact that HostPapa is quickly becoming a global brand. There are plenty of reasons behind its growing popularity, as you will shortly see.
HostPapa was also one of the first local hosts to “go green.” It did that by introducing sustainable business practices that help protect the environment. This includes utilizing wind and solar power, as well as putting equivalent renewable energy back in the grid and reducing the carbon footprint.
Nature comes first — I love that idea!
HostPapa likes to keep a wide variety of services so you can find a solution for practically any type of project. You have shared hosting, VPS servers, email provision, domain names…the whole shebang.
But what is that?
Am I dreaming?
The Starter and Business plans are at the same monthly rate?
(Image credit: Icanhascheezburger)
It looks like with the current promotion, the Business plan is the most cost-effective deal. It packs plenty — from unlimited addon domains and mailboxes to an enhanced CPU/RAM allocation.
Come renewal you get the standard monthly rates — US$7.99/mo for the Starter and US$12.99/mo for the Business package.
HostPapa does not shy away when a client needs an extra helping hand. Apart from giving you the tools to build your website, this provider can do it for you.
In fact, that’s exactly what the web-building service is called — Do-It-For-Me.
This one can save you a lot of time and headaches if you have zero experience in website development.
On top of this, HostPapa performs impressively well, as our detailed metrics indicate.
Finding help with HostPapa is quite easy.
You have indications all over the website, prompting you to try the 24/7 support services via chat, phone, tickets, text, and video tutorials.
I never spent a lot of time in the HostPapa chat for one simple reason — I didn’t need to. My operators were always very prompt, and chatting with them felt like speaking to a real person instead of a bot.
Our billing policies? You can find them here and here.
Options for an upgrade? You betcha.
What green initiatives we are involved in? Boy, do you have the time…
The best thing is, they didn’t let me lead the conversation with endless questions. The operator stepped in and started asking me some things himself, so he could better understand my needs and offer only suitable solutions.
Kudos, HostPapa, great job!
When it comes to the best web hosting in Canada, you cannot overlook HostPapa. The provider has a long experience in the industry and is ready to accommodate businesses of any nature or size. Novice users will find the support team very helpful and start their first website with as little hassle as possible.
+ Lightning-fast speeds
+ One-of-a-kind support
+ Proprietary monitoring system
Price: from CA$3.90/mo
FastComet is a privately-owned host with headquarters in Bulgaria. Molded by a team of experienced professionals, the provider managed to grow to 50,000+ clients and 140,000+ domain names in just five years.
Security and performance are two of the key pillars of FastComet’s success, and the company heavily modifies its hardware to serve those purposes.
Speaking of the server machines, they reside in as many as ten locations around the world. You can take your pick between:
- Chicago, US
- Dallas, US
- Newark, US
- Frankfurt, DE
- Amsterdam, NL
- London, UK
- Singapore, SG
- Tokyo, JP
- Mumbai, IN
Something still seems missing, though…
What is that? Canada, you say?
FastComet hears you.
The provider was delighted to introduce a new data server location in Toronto just recently, so all Canadian businesses can enjoy a flawless website performance.
Prepare your web project for blast-off, as FastComet has developed SSD-powered shared plans that give you much more than the ordinary.
Any of the three offers come with a ton of essentials that help your website get faster, more secure, and easier to operate. Right off the bat, you can find a free CDN, no-cost SSL certificates, daily backups, even a free domain transfer.
Growing bigger, you get more storage space, more server resources, and advanced customization options.
FastComet can easily apply for the title of “most secure web hosting in Canada” as well. The provider understands the importance of the hands-on approach, so it developed a proprietary monitoring system to ensure everything is working as it should 24/7/365.
Now might be the best time to get a FastComet account.
The current deals go as low as US$2.95/mo, which can beat most of the offers from local providers.
It gets trickier come renewal as this rate grows to the much steeper US$9.95/mo, but by then you would have a clear idea if this host is worth the money.
Instant client happiness is a promise that FastComet seems very keen to keep. The FC employees undergo frequent courses and training sessions, and you can really see the results.
Go ahead, try the live chat right now.
When I did, I got a smiling face and a very polite person behind it. The operator took his time to understand exactly what I needed and gave me more than detailed answers.
I was feeling mischievous, so I snuck in a couple of technical questions, even though this was a sales chat. Much to my dismay, the rep did not mind, and he was quick to help me with the technicalities.
I get annoyed with the FastComet team sometimes. I can’t seem to corner them even once.
Canada, the US, Australia — FastComet is one of the best hosting and server providers in many of the major and emerging world markets. The company combines optimized hardware with flawless support to ensure each and every customer gets the perfect treatment they deserve. Their performance is nothing to frown upon either.
+ Experienced and reliable
+ Scalable resources
Price: from CA$3.90/mo
Here is another environmentally responsible host for you.GreenGeeks started operating in 2006 with the health of our planet as a top priority. This is one of the few hosting companies that offsets 300% of its emissions into energy-renewable credits. Click To Tweet
They sure picked a suitable name.
Canadian clients can utilize a data center in the heart of Montreal, while international fans can choose between Chicago, Phoenix, and Amsterdam.
GreenGeeks aims to provide some of the best web hosting for beginners and SMBs, and you can easily tell by their offerings.
The GG shared hosting plans vary mostly in performance and not that much in terms of features.
The Lite plan, currently marked as the best valued one, gives you the chance to host one website and get unlimited space and monthly bandwidth for it.
The package also includes a drag-and-drop site builder, free SSL certificates, and CDN integration.
You can also get a no-fee domain name, but that is valid only for the first year.
As with FastComet, the GreenGeeks plans are super affordable but only for the initial billing period. From there on, you are looking at prices of at least CA$13.20/mo.
Unlike many other hosting companies where live chat is a tool for basic sales assistance only, GreenGeeks actually encourages this form of communication.
You can easily find the chat popup on the company website and get a feel of their level of knowledge.
My personal impressions were excellent.
Apart from the few delays here and there, I always got clear and detailed answers plus a friendly attitude.
If chatting is not your thing, you can always try the email or phone support (only available Mon-Sun 9 am-12 am EST).
GreenGeeks’s knowledge base is not particularly extensive, but it contains all the essentials for a complete newbie.
If you are a small local business looking for web hosting in Canada, then GreenGeeks might be a perfect match for you. The company has a data center location in the Great White North, offers well-balanced accounts, and tries to be as green-friendly as possible. Our detailed review has additional info, if you are keen to learn more about the Green.
So many great hosting contenders on this list, it’s not easy to pick just one.
Truth be told, it’s not so hard to spot a good hosting provider — you just have to know what to look for.
Sure, every project comes with its own specific needs and requirements, but if you think about it, in the end, it all boils down to a few key factors:
- Speed — this should be numéro un on your priority list, and both your website developer and web host have to be up to the challenge. Every second of load time matters to the visitor so be very careful to pick a company that understands the need for speed.
Third-party test tools are never 100% accurate, so I cross-tested all candidates through three different platforms — GTMetrix, Pingdom, and WebPageTest. For maximum accuracy, I ran the checks through a Canada-based server where available, or through the closest possible location.
- Uptime — there should be no excuses when it comes to uptime. Any good host should have clear backup and redundancy plans in cases of emergency. Keeping everything up and running at all times is a must.
I created accounts and installed a default WordPress page with all Canadian web hosting companies on this list. I then attached them to the StatusCake monitoring tool and let them sit out for a while for more accurate results. Uptime stats encompass a minimum period of one month.
- Features — what features you might need strongly depends on your personal needs. But the more you have in your hosting package — the less you will need to purchase or upgrade at a later stage. It’s better to have it and not use it than not have it at all.
Figuring out what each host can give you is not a hard task. Most of the time, you can see the contents of each hosting package on the company website, and the sales support can shed some light on whatever is unclear.
- Support — this is a factor often neglected by web hosts. Providers rarely put much effort into training and improving their staff, and it definitely shows. Still, intelligent and caring support is not that hard to find if you know what you are looking for.
Testing the technical knowledge of the company reps is often impossible if you’re not a client. But any sales conversation can give you a good idea of the overall level of support you should expect. I contacted the first-line assistance of each host on several occasions and bombarded them with both basic and trickier questions.
- Price — businesses pursue different goals with their online projects, so their hosting budgets can vary greatly. It’s never been about being the cheapest website host in Canada — it’s about being the most cost-effective.
The hosting industry often follows a business model where new clients get amazing discounts, and hosts make most profits from the higher renewal price. So I have compared providers by both their promo rates and their standard pricing afterward.
With some of these factors, like features and support, there will always be an element of subjective opinion.
So you can take matters into your own hands and do a little personal investigation.
Five Things to Check before Choosing a Canadian Hosting Provider
Even though it is very similar to web hosting in the USA, the Canadian market has its specifics. The best thing is that you don’t need to know anything about it beforehand. Just don’t rush into a decision without checking out the following:
- Connectivity speed
Your server connectivity speed will determine how fast the host’s machine can handle web requests. This, in turn, translates to faster (or slower) page load and operational speed.
So how can you know your connectivity speed before becoming a client?
Luckily, most hosts keep a test file on each of their server locations for that exact purpose. Just ask them for access and see how fast you can download/upload the file through an FTP client like FileZilla.
- Sales assistance
The sales team is often a client’s first impression of a potential host. If they cannot wow you with extensive knowledge and quick answers, then they most probably will fail in times of real trouble.
Check if the provider supports enough communication channels.
Try them out.
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.
See if they try to understand your case or just shoo you away with a bunch of templated responses.
Choose someone that makes you feel safe and comfortable.
- Pricing structure
Stumbling upon hosting offers with an amazingly low monthly rate is not that uncommon.
They are everywhere!
And many people are quick to take the bait.
But before you also run after the next “one-in-a-million” deal, make sure to read the fine print.
How long should you sign up for to get the deal?
Are there any hidden strings attached?
What would your renewal rate be?
If any of this is not clear enough on the company website — ask the sales team for some clarification.
- Data center locations
By a rule of thumb, a Canadian-based server will always provide optimal speeds for Canadian customers. And, if it’s not clear by now — we love fast websites.
Not all of the best website hosts in Canada physically operate in the Great White North, though. Sometimes a more powerful server can compensate for the bigger distance and still deliver lightning-fast results.
- Online reviews
Canadian web hosting reviews can tell a lot about a potential candidate. If you read enough of them, you can easily spot a pattern. It could be heaps of praise for support efficiency or loads of complaints about slow servers.
The point is — make the best use of the available information.
There are a few good review sites out there, like TrustPilot or even Reddit, but I advise you to check at least a few and compare the overall impressions.
Importance of a Good Canadian Host
If Canadians make up most of your target audience, it makes the most sense to first look for web hosting in Canada.
The local service providers offer a number of sweet advantages:
- servers in a close proximity
- tailored services
- local support
- optimal speed results
Those are some crucial factors that are often more than enough to lure a potential customer.
In this environment, global providers have to compensate with low prices and a more abundant feature set to make their venture in Canadian web hosting worthwhile.
What to make of all this information?
Whether you are a small business owner or a growing enterprise — there is a suitable solution here.
The Canadian hosting industry is expanding, especially as new technologies like cloud computing penetrate the market. A lot of providers fight for the attention of potential clients, constantly trying to outmatch one another.
That’s excellent news for the average client, as they should best benefit from that rivalry.
What does the future hold for the Great White North?
One can only guess…
Q: What is Linux web hosting?
A: Linux is by far the most popular platform for hosting websites online. Its server configuration contains the necessary features to host popular platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
As Linux is an open-source system, it is free from any licensing fees. That’s why this type of service is often cheaper than Windows hosting.
Q: What is the best host for a website?
A: There is no such thing as a universally best host. The perfect host is defined by each client, according to their own needs. Some need blazing-fast speeds. Others strongly rely on extra assistance or maximized security.
At the end of the day, what works for one may not work for another. Always choose a host with your particular needs in mind, not just based on outside opinions.
Q: Where are the HostPapa servers located?
A: HostPapa is one of the biggest web hosting names from Canada. The company was founded in 2006 and now hosts over 180,000 websites, making it, by virtue of size, the best web hosting in Canada to date.
Although it has points of presence (POPs) in over 50 countries around the world, all of HostPapa’s servers reside in their data center in Ontario, Canada.