Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links.
We’ve done all the legwork for you. We’ve looked into which are the best Canadian web hosts. To qualify, web hosts needed to offer these must-have features in their shared hosting plans. These are necessary for any software you plan to run: in other words you’ll need these whether you’re planning on WordPress, Concrete5, PrestaShop, OpenCart, Joomla, Drupal, etc. I only use hosting plans that have all of the below features bundled in. Anything less will quickly become a hassle to use.
- cPanel – a point-and-click way of managing all your back-end stuff, from your email addresses to files, backups and more. With so many web tutorials written and illustrated for cPanel, it’s a must-have.
- Softaculous – more than just a one-click installer. You can back up with Softaculous as well, and I can attest that restoring from Softaculous is the fastest way to get a site back up and running (even faster than via cPanel). Not only that, Softaculous allows you to create backups on an automated schedule. Whenever you make major changes to your site, you’ll be glad of this.
- Either a) unlimited storage and bandwidth, or b) generous limitations that you won’t bump up against for a long time. Many Canadian web hosts didn’t make the cut for this reason alone.
- Affordable options for SSL. Even if you’re not planning on starting out on https, at some point you might decide to switch. And if you’re running 10 sites, SSL costs can add up fast.
- Email – sounds obvious, but a few web hosts out there don’t include email in their shared hosting plans. Shame on you!
- Fast response times to live chat. I tested live chat on all our candidates. I was very impressed; live chat from Canadian web hosts, on average, far outperformed that from US web hosts.
- Cheap price point. If you’re just starting out, you don’t want enterprise-level pricing. Start out low, don’t spend your hard-earned cash. You can always upgrade much later down the track if and when you start outgrowing your plan. We were looking for hosts whose cheapest shared hosting was safely under $10 a month.
Top two recommendations
HostUpon is a Canadian-based company. It has data centers in Toronto, although also offers data centers in other countries also.
What we liked is that HostUpon is truly a Canadian company.Their support center is also based in Toronto. They’re privately owned and managed, and they’re not too big to care. They can handle everything from beginners to enterprise-level needs.
In terms of features, HostUpon absolutely stands out by allowing unlimited domains on their lowest level of shared hosting; something that very few other hosts ever offer – anywhere. This will be of particular interest to you if you plan on developing multiple sites.
The only downside is that while you have SSL options, they’re limited. HostUpon doesn’t fully support free Let’s Encrypt SSL certs yet. The good news is that they will install a third party certificate that you’ve purchased (and that’s the route I would recommend – I prefer it over Let’s Encrypt anyway). I wouldn’t purchase SSL certs through HostUpon itself because they’re pricey that way; however if you want to spend the money it’s definitely an available option.
HostUpon is a good reliable legitimate Canadian web host with stellar performance. You’ll want to save your hard-earned cash and start out with the lowest level of shared hosting: their Starter Unlimited plan. It has all the features you require, including hosting multiple domains, and you can always upgrade to the next level of plan at any time if you wish.
HostPapa.ca is quite a bit different to HostUpon – HostPapa is part of a larger network of web hosts that operates in several different countries. Its Canadian data centers are in Toronto.
They offer environmentally friendly hosting: it’s 100% powered by certified green renewable energy sources. So besides getting your websites hosted, you can feel satisfied that you’re helping stop CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases.
HostPapa handles SSL particularly well, offering many options: You can:
- buy SSL from them at a reasonable price point, or
- they can set you up with a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt, or
- if you know what you’re doing they allow you to install your own SSL cert that you’ve purchased from a third party.
Their features and pricing are great. They’re a reliable and legitimate web host. You’ll want to begin with either their Starter plan for hosting a max of 2 domains, or their Business plan for unlimited domains. You can always upgrade your plan at any time, so if in doubt just start with the lowest (i.e. Starter) plan.
OK, next I’ll briefly cover net neutrality issues. Lastly if you can’t decide between both hosts, I’ll sum up when you might prefer HostUpon and when you might want HostPapa.
Important: are you doing this for net neutrality reasons?
At first a Canadian web host sounds like the perfect solution to an uncertain net neutrality climate in the US: avoid a US-based web host by hosting in Canada, yet still be located close enough to minimize latency to the US sector of your visitors. I looked into switching to a Canadian web host for exactly those reasons. There is one catch though, and that is that with any host at all, you don’t have an absolute guarantee that there is no routing through the US. Even if the host’s offices are in Canada and all of the data centers are in Canada, you don’t have a guarantee that your web traffic or your mail is never going to be routed through the US, even if the browsing visitor is in Germany, for example.
If net neutrality is of concern to you, you should ask the web host whether non-US traffic ever gets routed through the US. However, most web hosts don’t like to give out this type of information. Also, it’s entirely normal for emails to be routed through multiple different servers in different locations. Most reputable web hosts like the two here have multiple redundancy at most levels, in order that you don’t wind up with any outages. This very redundancy also means you can’t realistically avoid having your web traffic being routed through a specific country.
Of course, a Canadian web host is subject to Canadian law, so if that is an advantage to you for any reason then you might still like to get a web host in Canada. Naturally this does not render you or your website immune to the laws of your country of residence. For any questions on legal topics, you should consult an attorney well-versed in internet law (and ideally also in international law, particularly that of copyright and trademark).
HostUpon vs HostPapa – which one you might prefer and why
It will come down to your needs as to which host you prefer. Pricing-wise, they are both competitive.
You may prefer HostUpon if:
- You want a home-grown Canadian company
- You don’t need a bunch of SSL options and/or you’re happy to purchase a third-party SSL cert for your site
You may prefer HostPapa.ca if:
- You want free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt
- You want to use environmentally friendly hosting with 100% renewable energy sources
Unless you have one of the specific needs above, you’ll be fine with either host. Both are legitimate and reliable web hosts. They both come with all the must-have features that you need to ensure you can work with your websites quickly and smoothly.