Best Web Hosting Canada
Reviews and Technical Comparisons
We examined the top 15 hosting providers for Canadians
to help you save time and money.
Best Web Hosting Canada in 2019
Reviews and Technical Comparisons
We examined the top 15 hosting providers for Canadians to help you save time and money.
We’ve checked out dozens of host providers and used over a decades’ worth of data to build the most up-to-date ranking of the top web hosts in Canada.
Since the summer of 2016, we’ve been purchasing and testing all the major hosting companies in Canada.
Most hosting review sites just take the hosts offering their favorite affiliate programs, and then put together positive reviews, which is the opposite of how it should be. We analyze the data to ensure that the hosts we choose as the best live up to that title.
Since we have a unique background, it gives us the tools and experience necessary to figure out which hosts are the best web hosts in Canada.
Earnings disclosure:Some of the products listed on Hosting Canada contain affiliate links. We use this revenue to pay for the upkeep of this website and our research. Thanks again for your support.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who We Are
Before we get into the technical breakdown of different hosting providers, I’ll introduce the team behind this guide. We’re a three-man group, and we have a digital marketing agency called Castle Media. 💪
I’m Ryan, the author of the guide. I’ve been working in web design since the early 2000s, which means before the time of Facebook and even Myspace (which may sound like the dark ages or the good old days, depending on your opinion of social media). I’ve hosted hundreds of websites across Canada and the United States, and during that time, I’ve seen plenty of hosts come and go.
As the data analyst, John runs the numbers for us. He spent two years managing pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns and social media marketing, and he has been with our team for over three years now.
Kim kept track of test results and used her graphic design experience to create the visuals you’ll see in this guide.
If you want to learn more, head over to our about page.
How We Collected the Data
Over the past decade, we’ve had an internal system that tracks our client websites.
This system covers our entire portfolio, which encompasses 1,110 sites as of January 20, 2018. We took our internal site tracker’s history, exported the data and used different types of cross comparative analyses.
In addition, we hired a data specialist to help with uptime and speed evaluations, both of which are hugely important metrics when trying to find the best web host. We simulated actual customer experience by opening accounts with a dozen of the top-rated hosts from the latest PC Mag survey. We bought URLs, purchased basic packages, and collected data by pinging each site every 15 seconds. Any time a site was down for more than a minute, it counted against them.
To check speed, which goes hand-in-hand when it comes to helping or hindering conversions, we conducted a daily test for each site across various browsers, devices, and locations, then watched for trends. Before long, there was an impressive mound of data which grows larger daily.
How to Use This Guide
We wanted to provide plenty of valuable information while keeping things simple to understand, which is why we ranked our top hosts in numerical order.
It’s a standard ranking system with our number-one recommendation at the top, followed by number two and so on. To avoid unnecessary information, we’ve only included our top four choices. Those include three that made our cut for providing the highest quality, and one that is popular, but lacking in a few key areas.
Before we jump into it, if you have any questions don’t be shy and hit that Contact Us button. 🥰
Best Web Hosts Reviews 2019
The Best Overall Choice with High Marks in Pricing, Speed, Support and Uptime
Starting at $3.95 per month
Average uptime of 99.95%
Average load time of 475ms
SiteGround is easily our favorite web host. We use it for just about every one of our personal sites, and most of our new client sites also use it. It’s a bit more expensive than some other options on this list, but it’s still very affordable and less expensive than many hosts.
This host excels when it comes to customer support, which it has available around the clock to answer just about any technical question. There’s a reason it has multiple customer support awards.
Since it has data centers all over the world, the speed and uptime is excellent. SiteGround offers one-click installation, allowing you to install WordPress with ease. It has free SSL, which you need if you’re doing any sort of e-commerce.
If you’re new at this, SiteGround is user-friendly. You can quickly launch a persona blog or website – just follow our guide for creating a website.
2. HostGator Cloud Hosting – Runner Up
Our Second Favorite with Fast Speed, Customer Support and Easy Setup
Starting at $2.99 per month
Average uptime of 99.4 %
Average load time of 657ms
Free features – Email, SSL, site transfers, site builder, daily site backups
Websites and gators may not seem like two things that just go together, but HostGator has been making it work for quite a while. It’s the web host of choice for thousands of online businesses and blogs of all sizes.
HostGator is excellent in terms of uptime for a low price. It has helpful customer support agents, and it’s easily scalable, allowing your site to accommodate any level of traffic.
3. A2 Hosting – Another Favorite
High Speed and Low Load Times
Starting at $3.92 per month
Average uptime of 99.1 %
Average load time of 601ms
A2 is a solid web host all around, with high uptime, excellent speed and good customer support. We’ve chosen A2 for many of the hosting packages we offer, and we’ve found that it performs quite well throughout Canada.
4. Bluehost – Almost But Nope…
Doesn’t Make Our Cut
Average uptime of 99.74%
Average load time of 1.765ms
We aren’t going to link to Bluehost and we wouldn’t recommend you venture to its site yourself, unless you want to see its ads for the rest of your life because of its sophisticated retargeting.
Bluehost isn’t a terrible choice and it used to be great, but its performance has dipped noticeably over the years. Page speeds have gotten much worse and load times have gotten higher. The host also charges you for just about everything, and it’s certainly not a good choice for business sites.
You may have heard good things about Bluehost. Its ads talk about how Bluehost is the best, and there are many positive reviews of Bluehost online. Here’s what you should know about that – Bluehost has an affiliate program that pays a substantial amount for referrals. Many of those review sites touting Bluehost as the best web host but are doing so because they can make a tidy sum for it.
What Type of Businesses Can Use These Web Hosts?
Any of the hosting companies listed can handle heavy traffic. If your site gets up to about 500,000 views per month, you’ll be fine.
Keep in mind that every web host offers scalable service plans, and you can scale up as necessary. The best web hosts in Canada all use wordpress based shared hosting plans to save customers cost and provide top tier service.
Our Selection Criteria for Top Canadian Web Hosts
Reliability (Uptime and Downtime)
Website uptime and downtime determine how reliable a host is. This is obviously a key consideration for any business, as downtime can be a major issue. It looks unprofessional and can be highly detrimental to your brand.
Good web hosts have very little downtime, and on those rare occasions when they do go down, it’s typically planned to fix something.
This means that you get advance notice, and a quality host will also try to have this downtime at the most convenient time of day.
Site speed is another factor that is important for your professionalism, as well as your search engine optimization (SEO). We’re used to fast loading speeds, and most people aren’t going to wait longer than a couple seconds.
Our metrics from the previous decade gave us plenty of data to compare the average loading times across all the largest cities in Canada, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. We then checked these results next to the average U.S. speeds. The top recorded load times we found were just 226ms, whereas the slowest were over 2,850ms.
Customer support gets overlooked sometimes with all the attention paid to the features web hosts offer, but it’s an important item to consider, because there can be a big difference in support quality from one host to the next. When trying to find the best web host, you’ll need to seriously consider customer support as part of your evaluation.
One may answer your questions in less than a minute, and others may keep you waiting for a day or more.
Fortunately, the three web hosts we recommend all provide prompt support and have representatives who are so polite that they could be from Canada.
Our top choice even has some customer service awards to its name. Yay!
We were able to rate customer support without any tests since we’ve used these hosts for years. Here are the signs of topnotch customer support:
- Support available 24/7
- Live chat service
- Agents who are native speakers of your language, friendly and can solve technical issues
- A fast response time without any outdated ticket systems
Luckily for you guys we have actual footage of some of the leading hosting companies customer service. Watch and behold…
Best Web Host or WORST Hosting?
When it comes to web hosts, never go with the cheapest option.
You definitely get what you pay for with web hosting.
There are all kinds of scams in the web hosting industry, as people offer cheap service to score customers who don’t know any better.
These hosts often make millions while using very low-quality servers, which leaves them vulnerable to security breaches.
It would be easy to say this, and then move on without mentioning who to avoid. But we’ll tell you two of the worst offenders:
GoDaddy – Don’t let the marketing fool you. GoDaddy has low-quality service but doesn’t mind charging you a premium for add-ons that would be free with other hosts. Often touted as the best web host in Canada, we may as well call them ScamDaddy.
Network Solutions – Poor service and low-quality servers combine to make Network Solutions a terrible choice in web host.
If you go with a cheap web host, you may save money initially, but you’ll either have far fewer features or you’ll need to purchase all kinds of upgrades and end up paying more anyway.
When you decide to switch to a better provider, it will be a hassle and you’ll wish you had gone with a quality provider from the beginning.
Don’t Make These Mistakes When Finding the Best Web Host
I know keeping business spending to a minimum is important, but saving a few bucks on web hosting isn’t worth the issues you’ll experience later.
Here are the significant problems you’ll have with a cheap web host:
- Potential Security Breaches – One cheap web host called 000Webhost had 13-million user names and passwords leaked.
- Everything Costs Extra – A typical discount host could charge $80 for SSL, $30 for your domain registration and $30 for basic privacy protection, which comes out to $140 per year.
- Poor IP Neighbourhood – This makes your SEO more difficult.
What Is The Most Popular Web Hosting Service
It can be tough to judge different hosts because of all the different options and prices available. Some are very cheap, only costing $1 or $2 per month, and there are even some free web hosts available. As we mentioned, you don’t want to go too cheap on your web hosting, but it’s a waste to get a powerful hosting package you don’t need.
We advise keeping it simple to start and upgrading as necessary. The most popular web hosting service is by far shared hosting, a topic which we will cover below.
Top Hosting Types for Canadians
Most hosting plans fall under one of five categories, which are shared, virtual private server (VPS), cloud, dedicated and reseller.
Shared hosting is undoubtedly the cheapest option, and with this type of hosting, you’re essentially renting space that you share with other sites. The cost of getting such inexpensive hosting is that this is the least powerful hosting option. Shared hosting works because most sites get small amounts of traffic, which means they can share server resources without facing performance problems. Setup is simple when you get a shared hosting plan.
The next step up from shared hosting is a VPS, which costs a bit more but also has more power. Even though you don’t need to pay for your own server, a VPS functions similarly to one, and you have full control over it. This does make the setup and management process more involved.
One option that has been growing in popular in recent years is cloud hosting. It has some similarities with a VPS, but the key difference is that the server gets distributed over a large number of computers instead of having its own dedicated physical address.
For the user, that means loading times are very fast and this is easy to scale. If you need more speed or disk space, you can instantly upgrade through your hosting company. Overall, this is an excellent option for business sites.
If you want the best of the best, then dedicated hosting is the way to go. As the name suggests, you get an entire server to call your own, and its only job is keeping your site performing smoothly. This is the most powerful option, but it also can be difficult to set up and manage, and it will also cost you the most.
Reseller-based hosting is a bit of an offshoot instead of a completely different type of web hosting. How it works is one party controls the server, and another party sells hosting as if they owned the server. It’s compatible with any of the types of hosting mentioned above. For example, you could choose a reseller that offers a dedicated server or cloud hosting.
It’s common for resellers to buy in bulk and get many high-capacity servers. After that, they provide parts to individual sites. If you’re planning to go with this option, you’ll need plenty of technical knowledge.
What is the Fastest Web Hosting?
The fastest web host is one that uses a dedicated IP or a super high latency datacenter.
It’s important to understand that datacenters are like the heart of a hosting solution, the faster the heart can pump out blood (in this case bandwidth) the faster your site goes.
Sorry for the graphic analogy.
Web Hosting Comparison – Which CMS?
Your content management system (CMS) is what you use to handle all the content on your site, including making modifications to published content and uploading new content. Each CMS has its own interface, with certain CMS working with specific hosting options or being ideal for specific types of websites.
If you only knew about one CMS, it was probably WordPress, as it’s easily the most popular choice. Although it came out way back in 2003, the last few years have seen it rapidly increase in popularity, and it’s now the CMS of choice for blogs and small business sites.
WordPress has many benefits, with perhaps the most significant being its range of customization options and tools. It’s very secure, installation is a breeze and it’s easy to find support when you need it. If this is your first time creating a site, I’d highly recommend you choose WordPress when looking for the best web host.
There is a bit of a learning period, but that’s true of any CMS, and the popularity of WordPress means it’s wise to know how to use it.
PHP has been around a long time, and it originally stood for personal home page. It uses server-side scripting, and many popular CMS, including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, use this PHP script.
Although you don’t need to understand PHP to set up a site in your CMS of choice, you will need a PHP developer if you have some very specific apps you’d like your site to run.
You may know Java as that thing you need to update every now and then. Its main function is web apps, and if you’re on a site with impressive graphics, you can bet that it’s using Java. Java used to be much more popular on smaller sites.
Even though its popularity has declined a bit, it’s still all over some major e-commerce sites, including Amazon and eBay. If you want the most high-end visuals and features on your site, then Java is just the ticket.
When it comes to CMS options, Joomla is likely the second biggest behind WordPress, although there’s still a large gap between the two. One reason Joomla isn’t nearly as popular is because it’s not particularly user-friendly. Unless you love Joomla, I’d advise going with WordPress, which is also what I tell all our clients. You’ll get up and running faster and I think it’s also a better choice from an SEO perspective.
Choosing Between Windows-Based Hosts or Linux-Based Hosts
You may remember a section about dedicated servers. Hopefully you do, as it wasn’t that long ago. Well, every server needs an operating system (OS), and the two options here are Windows-based hosts or Linux-based hosts.
Here’s what makes them unique. The best web hosts out there all generally opt to use Windows based servers. For cPanel goodness, check out our battle of Plesk vs cPanel.
Windows has been Microsoft’s OS for decades, and if you go with a Windows-based host, that means you can use Window’s databases and apps, along with ASP.Net and other complicated scripts. PHP and MySQL are also options. You’ll typically pay a bit more for Windows-based hosts than Linux-based hosts, and even though crashes don’t happen often with either, they tend to occur a bit more when you choose Windows.
Microsoft may be a giant in the computer industry, but Linux is what most servers use, because it’s the industry standard. You can run almost any application on Linux, the servers are super reliable, and you’re good to go with most of the modern programming scripts. You may see the term “LAMP” when researching Linux-based hosts, and that stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.
How Does Unlimited Hosting Work?
It’s common to see providers offering unlimited plans, with the word “unlimited” possibly referring to storage, bandwidth or email. Make sure you check the fine print on these, as that offer can be a bit deceiving.
What it usually means is the provider hasn’t set resource limits, and that unlimited offer applies to reasonable situations. It’s not intended if you’re getting a million pageviews per month. The offer is basically a way to bring in customers. Just check the speed and don’t get drawn in by an ad. Unlimited bandwidth doesn’t mean much if you need to deal with slow speeds.
Wrapping It Up – Finding the Top Best Web in Canada
That’s a lot of information to process. The best way to use this guide is to reference it as you evaluate web hosts, keeping your specific needs in mind. Most importantly, don’t shop entirely based on prices. Quality is always most important, especially with something as important as your website.
That does it for our reviews. If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I’d be happy to answer anything that comes up.
Best Domain Hosting in Canada
You want a website, right?
Everybody does, but if the thought of trying to understand how to actually get one out of your head and onto the internet for others to see sends you to the ground in a quivering fetal position, take heart. We’re here to help.
Things like domain hosting, registrars, name records, and hosting packages are not as complicated as you might think, even if you have a vivid imagination. Stay calm. Keep reading.
Even the most clueless among us probably realize that it all starts with a domain. Before anything else, if you want a website, you need one. An example of a domain would be BestWidgets.com (written out completely as http://www.bestwidgets.com). It makes no difference whether you type or write in capital or small letters.
By the way, a quick check revealed this domain is currently for sale, so…if you sell widgets and they’re the best. Just saying – you might want to get your offer in.
Back to the idea of a domain. Once you have a domain registered (stay tuned, we’ll talk about this process in a minute) and under your control, you can add as many pages and subdomains as you like. Want to blog about widgets? Create a subdomain at ww.blog.BestWidget.com.
Eager to wax rhapsodic about yourself and your love of widgets? Add a page like www.BestWidget.com/about.
The basic idea is that securing a domain creates the foundation of the entire website to come.
Registers and Registrars
At the risk of making your eyes glaze over, you should understand how domains are sold and accounted for. Don’t worry. There won’t be a test. Just like when your parents made you eat carrots, this is for your own good. 🥕🥕
A register is an organization designated to maintain a list or registry of those who own a Top Level Domain (TLD) like .com, .net, and .org. Obviously, with more than 644 million active website online, it takes more than a haphazard note scribbled on the back of an envelope to keep everything straight.
Originally, there were only a handful official registers that kept track of everything but, along the way, a few enterprising entrepreneurs figured out they could contract with these registers to sell domains, turning it into what is today a thriving industry. The bottom line is that registrars sell domains and registers keep track of them.
What is a Domain Name Record?
Another term you might run across is domain name record. This is reference to the way the internet works. The domain you just bought is not actually how the internet servers find and display your website. Instead, they take a user’s request and match up the domain to a sequence of numbers in the registry, called an IP address, and send over the associated files – which just happens to be your website.
Web Hosting Explained for Beginners
Now we’re getting down to the good stuff and the reason we’re all here in the first place, web hosting. Once you have a domain and are ready to build a website, how do you actually get it online for servers to find and display? Good question. You need a web host.
Since you can’t just throw your website’s files on the kitchen table and expect them to magically end up on the internet, another industry has grown up selling online storage space where your website will live. Some of these companies you’ve likely heard of thanks to a ridiculous level of advertising — somebody’s making serious money in this game — but we digress. We’re talking about names like GoDaddy, HostGator, and BlueHost.
So you have three choices when it comes to choosing a web host:
- Visit Namecheap.com, buy a domain, and hope you set the nameservers to point correctly to your web host, OR…
- Setup an account with SiteGround, get a free domain in the process, and let them do the hard work for essentially the same price.
- Or use on of our recommended best website builders. These guys take care of all the registration and hosting for you.
How Do I Choose a Good Web Host? Common Mistakes
There are a lot of ways to screw up the process of choosing a good web host but here are the four most common we see. Hey, don’t blame yourself. They don’t teach this stuff in school. Or maybe they do but you were snoozing in the back row.
#1. Going With the Absolute Cheapest Host You Can Find
We’re not going to be the bad guys to tell you that cheap is always bad but by the time you’ve lived a certain number of years on this planet you should probably realize on your own that the tradeoff for going with the lowest cost is often a crappy product, bad service, limited features, and a dedicated “we don’t care” approach to customer service.
When it comes to bottom-feeding web hosts (some of which are literally free), you can add another item to the litany of repugnance. They will upsell you like crazy. True, you technically receive storage space at no cost but you will receive little else unless you pay extra. Need more space or bandwidth? Gotta upgrade. Want backups and a control panel? Gonna have to upgrade. Don’t know what you’re doing and need to talk to someone? It costs extra for tech support.
You get the idea. The basic point is that the free package you get is almost non-functional. For function, you have to pay more. Sometimes a LOT more.
#2. Choosing Any Platform Besides WordPress
The WordPress content management system (CMS) powers more than 25 percent of all websites. That in itself should be enough to sway your decision. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what kind of website you want to build — ecommerce, blogging, online newspaper — WordPress is the easiest to use and comes with a built-in thriving community of developers and mentors.
Before the advent of CMS platforms like WordPress (other popular ones are Joomla and Drupal), web design was restricted to those who could wrap their head and fingers around HTML code. Building and designing a site of any substance was not something you could knock out over a long weekend. Things changed in a hurry when the first version rolled out in 2003, and it’s been getting more powerful and user-friendly ever since.
The bottom line. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Pick WordPress, especially if you aren’t a coder. 🤓
#3. Ignoring the Fine Print in Your Hosting Package
The first time a new domain name owner heads online to pick a web host, the first thing he or she looks for are the usual suspects for comparison shopping — disk space and bandwidth. Left unsaid is the reality that these constraints last mattered about two decades ago. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but you should know that a monumental shift in the nature of websites is underway and the factors that hosts use to reel in unsuspecting rookies aren’t the ones that really matter.
Here’s the lowdown. As the design shift continues from static to dynamically generated pages, the chances are that you’ll run up against a trio of limits which have nothing to do with storage space or bandwidth long before you push those boundaries of your plan. We’re talking about CPU usage, RAM usage, and database connections. Many web hosts, even some of the good ones and definitely all the cheap ones have limits on these factors that are detailed in the fine print under the term “resources.”
Our advice. Check out the storage space and bandwidth allotments but locate and consider what kind of resource limits might be at play as well.
#4. Paying for SSL
This one is short and sweet. If you’re thinking about paying for a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate — don’t. Legitimate hosts will give it to you for free. You definitely need it, though, because Google has already started the process of degrading search engine rankings for those that don’t, but no need to pay to get one. More on SSL here.
Why We Don’t Recommend Canadian Hosting Companies
Here’s the problem with most Canadian hosting companies. The majority are simply resellers who don’t own their servers or have an actual physical presence within our borders. Don’t think we’re not proud Canadians who support God and country because, by gosh, we are, but your national loyalty is somewhat misplaced if you think you’re directly helping a “local” business when you’re not.
Since there is no patriotism card to be played, you might as well find the best web host you can, geographical location be damned. There are a few other reasons we don’t suggest you do business with these clowns.
How Reselling Works
Don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing inherently wrong or unethical about being a reseller. It just doesn’t make much sense for the consumer when you can just as easily go directly to the seller and skip the middleman markup charges. Here’s how it works…
That “Canadian” web hosting company has gone into business by essentially subletting an entire business from a larger — much MUCH larger – hosting operation. The parent company provides all the equipment and maybe even customer and technical support. “But wait,” you say. “How can they make any money doing this? Don’t they have to charge more than the original company for the same service?”
Well, you’re a bright one, aren’t you? They absolutely do.
Economy of Scale
Since your “local” Canadian company piggybacks his or her entire business on the resources of a larger, more distant company, they obviously won’t have anywhere near the same number of customers. Let’s think about that. Fewer customers but providing the same service. Won’t they have to charge more? They absolutely will. Welcome, my friend, to the economy of scale.
It’s like when your local mom and pop grocery store goes to Walmart for their products. They have to mark them up in order to make a profit, so the customer is better off to just go to Walmart and get the same product cheaper. So it is with you and choosing a web host package.
Bad or Nonexistent Support
Let’s say you have made the pitiable decision to go with a “local” web host and, horror of horrors, something goes wrong and you can’t find your website on the entire internet. What are you going to do? You could contact the parent company’s support line either by chat, email, or phone — that might actually be best — but what if you really really really want to communicate with the person whom you actually pay for web hosting?
Good luck with that. Most don’t maintain a chat services of their own and you might even have trouble finding a phone number, email address, or physical location in order to speak to a live human. And even if you do figure out how to contact them, they likely have neither the knowledge or the access to the actual servers to help with your problem. It’s not sounding promising, is it?
It gets worse.
Introducing the Wild World of Upselling
In case you need another reason to avoid these reselling rascals, here’s one. We’re talking about an annoying little sales habit called upselling or upcharging. Whichever way you look at it, the result is the same. It goes something like this:
- Customer ignores our advice and signs up for three years with the cheapest host around, El Cheapo.
- After the website is online, he quickly realizes that storage space, bandwidth, and dedicated resources (CPU, RAM, database connections) are entirely inadequate. Unfortunately, he didn’t read the fine print and it costs more for additional resources. A LOT more.
- Customer angrily demands his money back and threatens to take his business elsewhere.
- El Cheapo says fine. No refunds. See you later, hombre.
- Customer begins the search for a different web host, lesson hopefully learned but out of luck for three years of hosting already paid for.
That, friends, is upcharging. Don’t let it happen to you. That’s it an all, sorry for the final rant.