HostPapa: Unlimited*, Cheap*, Easy* Web Hosting
Another day, another web host to review. Last week it was the turn of HostGator, today I’m going to talk about HostPapa.
What is it with web hosts and stupid names? Last week our host was alligator themed, this week we have a web host run by an old dude with a mustache.
Brand design is clearly not one of the skills you need to be a web host. Fair enough: I prefer my websites to be run by geeks and not hipsters. But really, HostPapa’s branding is pretty unforgivable.
But anyway, I went on about this last week, when we were talking about HostGator, because they have a similarly stupid mascot.
That, though, is where the similarity ends.
HostGator, as I hope you read, are pretty good. HostPapa are not. 🙁
I’ll explain why in a minute, but our legal boffins have asked me to say this first: all the opinions in this article are mine, and all similarities to any real Papas, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
That said, my opinion is the correct one, as it always is. HostPapa is a slow web host with terrible customer service, an annoying habit of making misleading statements, and are (maybe) run by a weird old man.
If you’re wondering about a better alternative we recommended Siteground for a few reasons. Fastest datacenters. Most free upgrades that can save you $300/year over other hosts. The best 24/7 suppport hands down. Free transfer/backup/SSL/hacking protection.
What We’re Looking At
- 1 What We’re Looking At
- 2 Why Should I Trust You Guys, Anyway?
- 3 The Numbers
- 4 Uptime/Downtime
- 5 Speed
- 6 HostPapa’s Stats
- 7 Pricing – How Expensive is HostPapa? Expensive…
- 8 Extras – What Free Services Does HostPapa Provide?
- 9 HostPapa’s Customer Service Sucks
- 10 The Alternatives
- 11 Our Recommendations
- 12 The Papa’s Final Thoughts
There are several things about HostPapa’s customer service and general approach that make them absolutely infuriating, and I’ll get to those in a minute.
Most importantly, though, we’ll be looking at data. Lovely data. 🙂
The truth is that if your web host is fast a reliable, you don’t really need a good customer service department, because you’re not going to need to call them. Our approach here at Aussie Hosting has always been, therefore, to look at performance metrics first.
So here is what I’ll do in this review:
- Have a look at HostPapa’s uptime, speed, and reliability. This section is pretty fun, because all of their metrics are rubbish.
- Then more numbers! Yay! But this time, we’ll look at HostPapa’s pricing. Which is absurd, to put it mildly.
- At the end, I’ll compare HostPapa to some good web hosts, so you can make the right choice and go somewhere else.
But first …
Why Should I Trust You Guys, Anyway?
We know loads about web hosting. Here at Aussie Hosting, we’ve been working with web hosts, and collecting data on them, for almost 10 years now.
In that time, we’ve built up what we like to think is the best (it’s certainly the biggest) database on web hosts in Australia. You might think it’s weird to be proud of that (my database is bigger than yours!), but we are.
We’ve currently got 418 of our client’s sites wired up into a bespoke system that assesses the performance of their web host. Web hosts hate us doing this, and we’ve seen some creative ways of trying to get around it, but we’ve still collected a huge amount of information on a huge number of hosts. You can read more about it in our review of Australia’s top 10 web hosts.
For this review, all I had to do was to look at the database. We base all our reviews on this data, so if you want to see some truly shocking stats take a look at the reviews of VentraIP and Digital Pacific. Those guys suck.
With all that out of the way, let’s look at how HostPapa performs against the competition. We’re going to have a look at two things, both of which are incredibly important to your experience of a web host: speed, and uptime.
Both of these terms are pretty self-explanatory, but in case you need some help, here are some definitions.
“Uptime” is self-explanatory. This is the percentage of the time that a web host is “up”.
As in, the amount of time that their servers are turned on, running, and providing web pages to your customers. As in the amount of time your site is available.
Makes sense? 🙂
A good web hosting provider will have an uptime of more than 98%. A bad one will offer less than 97%. When it comes to web hosting, even a .1 difference can create a huge change in the amount of sales you generate through your website.
People hate sites being down, and if your site is offline the first time they try and visit, they ain’t coming back.
Um … well … you know what speed is, right? If a page takes ages to load, then it is slow. If it loads quickly, then it is … quick.
I’m not sure I can give you a better explanation than that.
It’s also a huge ranking factor for Google too, so if you have a slow site good luck ranking in Google’s results.
So, now that everybody is on the same page, how does HostPapa compare to other web hosts in Australia?
- Uptime – 97.6%
- Average Loadtime – 2,312Ms
- Uptime – 97.9%
- Average Loadtime – 2,412Ms
- Uptime – 97.5% (ouch!)
- Average Loadtime – 2,982Ms
- Uptime – 98.09%
- Average Loadtime – 2,658Ms
Badly, in short. It’s one thing to be slow in Adelaide (they probably don’t notice, anyway), but for a web host to be this slow across the whole country is shocking. I’m really not sure how HostPapa have managed this. Perhaps their servers aren’t plugged in.
Worse is the uptime. While an uptime 1% below the average doesn’t sound too bad, you have to remember what your website is designed to do: sell stuff.
If your business, once all your overheads and staff parties are included, runs at a 3% margin, a web host that is down 3% of the time is going to wipe out your profits.
You don’t want your visitors first impress to your small business be a broken page or 404 error. It won’t be funny like this…
Pricing – How Expensive is HostPapa? Expensive…
All this wouldn’t matter so much, of course, if HostPapa were really, really cheap. Actually, it would, but that’s beside the point because they’re not.
It might take you a while to notice this, though, because there is a pretty major problem with the way that HostPapa price their services. See if you can spot it:
Let me give you a hint: you see these little numbers above the various benefits?
What do you think they link to?
That’s right, some very small text at the bottom of the page that says the exact opposite of the statements here.
So if you follow the little numbers from “Unlimited disk space & bandwith”, which involves finding your way through a little maze, you eventually get to a page called “what unlimited means”, which is pretty funny.
It explains that “unlimited”, in this context, means “limited”.
And the problems don’t stop there. HostPapa’s main list of prices looks like this:
This list, you will notice, has a similar problem. At $1.95 a month for the “business” plan, HostPapa is one of the cheapest web hosts in Australia. But the full price – $10,49 a month – makes it one of the most expensive.
So which price will you end up paying?
Well, you see that little star above each price?
It leads to a page, which leads to a page, which leads to a disclaimer, that says that you’ll pay the lower price.
Good, right? I guess so.
The problem is that the plan will automatically renew, and then you’ll be stuck paying $11 a month for 36 months. As in 3 years. So that’s almost $400.
It might be, of course, that your friendly Italian Grandpapa sends you a couple of emails around the time of your renewal, clearly explaining how to cancel your subscription.
I don’t know about this, in truth: it probably says* this if you follow enough asterisks*, but I haven’t found it.
Extras – What Free Services Does HostPapa Provide?
So far, so bad. Depending on your mood, though, I might have some good news for you: not everything about HostPapa is bad. In terms of the extras they offer on their overpriced web hosting, they are pretty good.
Take a look:
In general, this is pretty good. You get SSL as standard, which saves me from having to go on my usual rant about how important SSL is, and how much web hosts in Australia think they can charge for what should be a standard service.
The control panel is also pretty good, as is there CDN. I just hope that visitors using the CDN get better download speeds than those of us in Australia.
There are a couple of good jokes even in this list, though: HostPapa are the accidental comedians of the Australian web hosting world. You see that “99.9% Uptime” stat? As our data has shown that isn’t true from Australia.
And whilst you get “24/7 Support”, the problem with this is that …
HostPapa’s Customer Service Sucks
Normally, I don’t go on about customer service departments, but in this case I’m going to make an exception. The problem with HostPapa is the opposite of what I said about HostGator last week: it seems that they are caught in a vicious circle:
- They don’t really know how to run servers, so
- these go wrong and
- lots of people phone them.
- So now they’ve got lots of angry customers, so
- They don’t have time to listen to them, because
- They are busy trying to fix servers, but they can’t because /loop
This should be obvious, really, from the way they describe their customer service team:
I know. “PapaSquad”.
And maybe I have a diseased mind, but … “Let Papa take care of you”? Creepy, much?
Ok, so HostPapa isn’t that great. Does this matter? Yes.
I don’t want to labor the point, but getting a good web host can really improve your sales rate, your profit margin, your happiness, and your sexual potency (citation needed).
It will also give you these things:
- An increase in client’s time spent browsing the site (people like fast websites)
- A better Google ranking (Google also likes fast websites)
- Better Uptime, and
- Faster load times
And even if you’re stuck in a year long contract with a sucky host, you should consider moving your site anyway. Web hosting in Australia has come a long way in recent years, and if you signed up to your web host a few years back, you can probably get a lot more for your money nowadays.
Some people say that the right web host for you is a matter of opinion, but these people are wrong. If you’re looking for the best web host in Australia, look no further than the one we use:
Average Uptime: 99.95%
Average Load Time: 475Ms
Well, where to start? SiteGround represent the future of Australian web hosting, and the other companies have got a long way to go before they catch up.
For those of you interested in the numbers, SiteGround offer the best stats of any web host in the country. They are not that much better than HostGators, but they are close.
SiteGround also offer free SSL, and a whole host of extra features that are useful if you are running an unusual site. They are also really knowledgeable, and spending an hour talking to them about your particular requirements is really worth while.
In short, Siteground costs a third of the price of HostPapa, and is infinitely better.
The Papa’s Final Thoughts
There’s no other way of putting it: HostPapa isn’t that great. They offer a slow, unreliable web hosting service. They hide lots of important details away in the small print, and will charge you a fortune for basic web hosting once your trial period expires. They have free SSL though. Whoopee.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Maintaining servers is hard, and shouldn’t be entrusted to people who think that a bald Italian Grandpa is a good logo for a tech company.