5 Best Web Hosting Services in 2020

September 1, 2020

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Canada Web HostWe’ve checked out dozens of host providers and used over a decade’s worth of data to build the most up-to-date ranking of the best web hosts in Canada. (Click to see the rankings.)

Since the summer of 2016, we’ve bought and tested every top hosting company in Canada.

…Including many household names like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator.

In this guide, we look at a host of factors to help you make a data-informed decision to find the best hosting company for your website.

We’ve spent decades working online, and have been burnt more than a few times by choosing a bad hosting provider. After much trial, error, and tribulation, we’ve conclusively found the best overall web hosting services in Canada.

Show FAQ Contents

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Gary, the author of the guide and the guy who publishes most of the hosting reviews on this site. I’ve been a web designer as far back as I can remember, before Facebook and even MySpace.

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.

Hosting Reviews – Our Tracking & Research Process

image of our live tracking via pingdomMaking informed decisions requires getting accurate data, and the only way to do that is to measure results, which is exactly what we’ve done for the last few years.

We track uptime, downtime, and latency on all our sites. If you take a look at the graph to the right, you can see we’ve added our 10 hosts. We use advanced tracking software that pings each site 50X times per day from multiple locations.

We’re notified of any outages or interruptions in the service immediately.

We only added our top recommended services and hid the URLs as they’re active client websites, but a quick look at the data will help you see which ones have gone down in the past and for how long.

You can see the live tracking here. Read more about our 4-step research process here.

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. 🥰

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 best WordPress hosting plans to save customers cost and provide top tier service.

wordpresshosting canadaWebsite uptime and downtime determine how reliable a host is. These are some of the most important things to consider for any business, as downtime can be a major issue. It looks unprofessional and can be highly detrimental when it comes to your brand.

When you’re looking for Canadian web hosting reviews, make sure to consider only services with very little downtime, and on those rare occasions when they go down, it’s typically so they can fix something.

This means that you get advance notice, and a quality host will also try to have that kind of downtime at the most convenient time of the day.

Site speed is another factor that is important for your professionalism, as well as your search engine optimization (SEO). We’re used to as fast as possible loading speeds, and most people aren’t going to wait longer than a couple of seconds.

loading speed of hosts compared

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 huge difference when it comes to customer support quality. When trying to find the best web host, you’ll need to consider customer support seriously 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, we have actual footage of some of the leading hosting companies’ customer service. Watch and behold…

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 companies offer low rates to get 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:

slimy salesman selling hosting

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. Regardless of whatever Canadian web hosting review, you do read, Network Solutions is a bad pick.

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.

 

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 low-cost web host:

  1. Potential Security Breaches – One self-proclaimed “free” web host called 000Webhost had 13-million user names and passwords leaked.
  2. 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.
  3. Poor IP Neighbourhood – This makes your SEO more difficult.

Best Domain Hosting in Canada

You want a website, right?

Everybody does, but if the thought of trying to understand how to 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.

what is domain

By the way, a quick check revealed this domain is currently for sale, so…if you sell widgets, and they’re the best, 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  blog. bestwidgets. com.

Eager to wax rhapsodic about yourself and your love of widgets? Add a page like www. bestwidgets. com/about.

The basic idea is that securing a domain creates the foundation of the entire website to come.

To learn more about this, read our guide to the best domain 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. 🥕🥕

TLD stats registrations per TLD type

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 websites 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.

Popular registrars include GoDaddy, NameCheap, and many others. Note, however, that most good hosting companies (like the ones we recommended) will provide you with a free domain when you sign up for a new hosting plan.

A free domain is a great way to save a few bucks at the beginning of your website building journey and one of the key things we included in our Canadian web hosting reviews.

Another term you might run across is the domain name record. This is a reference to the way that 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.

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.

how web hosting works

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 for your website.

Some of these companies that you’ve probably heard of thanks to the 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:

  1. Visit Namecheap.com, buy a domain, and hope you set the nameservers to point correctly to your web host, OR…
  2. Set up an account with SiteGround, get a free domain in the process, and let them do the hard work for essentially the same price.
  3. Or use one of the recommended best website builders, such as Wix and Squarespace. These guys take care of all the registration and hosting for you.

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

pros and cons of free web hosting

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 the 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.

Good thing you’re reading our web hosting reviews

#2. Choosing Any Platform Besides WordPress

cms distribution chart

The WordPress content management system (CMS) powers more than 33 percent of all websites. That 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 — e-commerce, 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 from there, it just got more powerful and user-friendly.

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.

storage vs bandwidth

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 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

how ssl works

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. Make sure you read reviews or detailed info from your hosting company before signing up.

️🇫🇷 Read this guide in French: Meilleur Hébergement Web.

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