Please note that it has been several years since the experience with HostPapa that I describe below. I have no idea what service is like now with or (Updated Mar. 1, 2013)


The hosting market is a jungle. There are tons of hosts offering unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage space, unlimited email accounts. But when the rubber hit the road, all I wanted was small-scale service I could count on.

I've had great personal experience with 1&1; maybe I can write more about them another day. But I was helping a client migrate from an unreliable host, so I was very concerned about customer support as well as reliability. I've read horrific reports of 1&1 customers trying to get help over the phone from someone in India, which is nowhere close to the actual data centers. In spite of my good experience with 1&1, critical reviews made me nervous.

So I started searching for Canadian hosts, and HostPapa seemed to come highly recommended. They're a relatively new host but seem to have a very loyal and satisfied client base. Having run a successful business in the UK, they decided to open up a base in Ontario. Among other encouraging offerings, they promise 99.9% uptime, a state-of-the-art data center, and that they purchase "green energy" credits according to their energy consumption. Their technical support is also located in Ontario, which reassured me.

I was sold. I signed up for three years of service.

On day one I started transferring my client's Web site to the new Web space. Before all of it was transferred, I got an error about exceeding available disk space. I phoned customer support and quickly discovered that, truly, the server was out of disk space. Apparently another user had decided to take them up on their offer of unlimited disk space and filled up the whole server. So I had to wait for a day for them to sort that out.

The next day I was able to get the Web site up.

I was designing a Web app for this client that would not be hosted at HostPapa, so I needed access to the DNS records to set up a subdomain for the external app. I soon realized that the admin interface used by HostPapa would not give me this degree of control, so I contacted support to see if they could add a DNS record for me.  I gave them the address of my other host and they said that they could.

At least four days later, the subdomain was still not working. I asked support about it, and they said they were still working on it. Later I received an email saying that my ticket had been resolved, only to see that support had created a subdomain for a folder in the public_html directory of my HostPapa account. Definitely not what I had asked for.

(As an aside, 1&1 allows you do this easily using their admin interface; the new subdomain and DNS entries are sometimes functional within minutes.)

So I decided to transfer the domain away from HostPapa to a DNS server that I could control. During this wait, I had created all of the employees email accounts by uploading a CSV file with email addresses and passwords. I then I transferred all the mail from the old host to the new accounts using imapsync.

Web site and email were transferred, up, and working better for my client than they had in months. For a day or so. Suddenly email was down because of some certificate inconsistency on HostPapa's end. This problem persisted for most of a day, and I was becoming more and more nervous that this was a taste of the 99.9% uptime that I had signed my client up for.

To their credit, HostPapa's technical support was always very easy to contact and transparent in addressing problems. After the first two weeks of madness, my client settled into a very reliable experience with the host...

... until last week, when there was some massive hardware failure on HostPapa servers. Mail was recovered, as well as Web files, but the MySQL database that stored not only the content of my client's Web site but also all of the HTML and CSS templates was lost, leaving the home page a white screen with a database error message.

I'm trying to give an objective account of my experience with HostPapa. No host is perfect. Obviously I've had months of seamless service. However, migration and initial setup was brutal, and within one year of service, I've lost my database. There are tons of complaints online about big hosts like 1&1. I can say two things:

  1. I've been with 1&1 for at least five times as long as HostPapa and have never lost any data due to their fault.
  2. I'd rather have service that just works than great customer support to help me handle all the problems.


11 Responses to HostPapa: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. Nick wrote on August 30, 2009 at 06:16

    I am in the middle of a nightmare with Hostpappa right now.

    It seems like they have lost all my files afer one of their serves crashed, all I have left are my databases.

    Nobody in Hostpappa has given me a satisfactory answer to why my site has gone, all they have said is that they will reply to my support ticket asap, which they haven't done.

    I would avoid them like the plague.

  2. They work for me good

    If I need help with something I just ask

    I do agree they should widen their range for space.

    Making back ups of your work should be your responsibility back up and back up somewhere else because you never know that is how the world works.

    The ones that works good

    lunar pages
    Go Daddy

    I have friends that use all 3 of these
    all have different benefits in hosting

  3. I have used 1and1 for 5years now, and haven't run into any major problems with them at all. I have called support a few times now, and although the accents are sometimes hard to understand, any of my issues have been resolved quickly, and they have a rather well rounded FAQ pages that lets me answer my own questions before I call for support. The only thing that sucks is they don't support .ca so I have to get the domains elsewhere, but still can host the .ca's through 1and1...

  4. HP Sucks wrote on March 10, 2010 at 14:19

    Hostpapa is a joke. Here's why:

    They don't perform backups on customer data, sometimes don't even RAID their servers. Data loss is not uncommon. They also have VERY FEW servers and stuff tons of oversold accounts on, hence its pretty slow and full.

    About their servers, heres the funny/sad part. They're dedicated servers. They have no idea what kind of power they draw. The fact that they claim to buy green power for them is a joke. If they do its likely some token amount. Pathetic. They host your shit on one of the most ghetto datacenters in existence: Scratch Telecom in Mississauga. Nope not in 151 Front St Toronto, Nope. Not in any big redundant telecom hub. In a commercial district colo, probably he cheapest and worst outside of 3z, MoxieColo and similar fly-by-nighters.

    In short, don't buy the HostPapa hype. They notoriously post their own good reviews on sites, their oakville IPs are easy as hell to trace. I've done it before. Oakville is a white suburb outside of Mississauga BTW. Nice place to visit. Hostpapa stole their town logo (the leaf) and wrote 'Green Tags' over top of it on their homepage. Cracks me up.

    The guys who run HP are also pathetic and inept.

  5. John Sebastian wrote on October 24, 2010 at 12:10

    WTF is this guy talking about above. He makes absolutely no sense. Ping Hostpapa servers and you will see that they are located at Peer 1 at 151 Front.

    Sounds like a disgrunted ex-employee to me considering he is making comments on management.

    I have been hosting with Hostpapa for 3 years and had ZERO issues. I am surprised as hell to see all this B.S.

  6. Rickmeister wrote on December 24, 2010 at 17:58

    Their servers were at Scratch Telecomm, but had to move them after Scratch bellied-up.

  7. Host Papa is a big joke. DONT BUY HOST PAPA THATS ALL. If you want cheap hosting setup your hosting yourself.

  8. Sheldon wrote on September 11, 2011 at 06:17

    No web site yet; I'm on a learning curve.

    Most of these reviews are from 2010, the most current from Feb.2011. Considering that they are 8 - 12 months or more old, and how quickly things change in the IT world, my question is: Has Host Papa not addressed these? Are they still lagging in the service they provide? If any of you could please comment I would be grateful?


  9. Just trasnferred a few domains to this company with more to follow. They promptly downed the server one was on, no warning, no backup in place. Still down.

    This company has no business hosting commercial websites of any kind. Their support is horrid, obviously they have no clue what they're doing and are just scamming people. We've since referred this to our lawyer to obtain refunds. This place needs to be shut down.

  10. Andrew wrote on October 1, 2011 at 21:57

    I've had endless trouble with Hostpapa. They frequently don't reply to tickets AT ALL, their support staff is rude and they make frequent mistakes.

    For example, it took me 3 weeks to get an EPP code out of them! When they did actually bother replying to tickets, they kept resupplying the same EPP code, which I kept having to tell them was invalid. They resupplied the same, invalid, code 4 times over 2 weeks!

    Eventually I had to Google the error the transfer request was sending back and send the results of my search to the Hostpapa support! Madness!

    On another occasion, I requested an update be made to our DNS records (as it was not permitted for us to make these changes ourselves?!) and I had to repeat the request 24 hours later when I still hadn't received a reply to the ticket.

    Only a further 24 hours later when I chatting to their online support staff and queried why my ticket hadn't even been acknowledged a full 48 hours after submission was any effort made to update the DNS records.

    I've had their support staff refuse to answer straightforward questions and even hang up on me. It's like the Wild West out there. I'm honestly surprised Hostpapa is even still in business.

    When you read the glowing reviews of them, it's clear they're all written in the same "voice", so I could totally believe that Hostpapa are behind their own good reviews.

  11. I was working for Hostpapa in 2007-08 to 2011. I can assume that there are lack of problems with this company. We had to compensate for the small number of employees (10) for about 20 000 customers. So i was working in the sales department and i had to work also on billing and tech support. That's not normal to do the job of 3 department.

    Also the tech support is not reachable via mail. You can contact them only by their phone extension that is hidden from all customer (Example: 1-888-959-7272 ext 777 (management)

    We were doing more then 50 hours / week. There were no backup or RAID on the servers. The servers crashed 2 times between 2009-2011 and all data were lost and there was no way to recovered them. So we were told to explained the customers that we were checking the problem and get back to them after.

    So this company is a real joke also for the employees as the customers.

    I'm working now for Godaddy and the service is super !!!

    Thank you