Looking for the best host for your Canadian website?
Perhaps you’re looking to launch a new site. Or, upgrade to a better host. Wherever this article has found you, we’re glad you’re here.
Behind every successful website is a fast and reliable hosting provider. Finding the right one for YOU, will set you up with the strongest foundation to build from.
Today, we’re specifically picking out the very best hosting options for Canadian websites. Let’s go.
Canada E-commerce Is Ripe For The Picking
One thing’s for sure – now’s an exciting time if you’re reaching out to a Canadian audience. Especially if you’re an online business.
Canadians are set to spend over $39 million online in 2019.
Almost half of Canadians say they shop online at least once a month. It’s not just little purchases either – in one study, three-quarters of respondents said they spend up to $200 a month online, and nearly 10% spend up to $500
Sure, e-commerce is still dominated by big international giants like Amazon, and you’ll need to deliver a top-notch customer experience. But there’s one big thing on your side – a love for local.
Canadians have continued to show a strong preference for Canadian brands. In one VL Omni survey, 62% of Canadians who shop internationally online said they would rather shop domestically. That means that if you leverage on your site being home-spun, you might have a real advantage.
This attitude and this sort of spending means huge opportunity.
Maybe you’re jumping on-board with a WordPress or Shopify store. Maybe an affiliate website. Whatever you pick – bear in mind the form of your website will also determine what your needs from your hosting provider will be.
Regardless of how you decide to ride this wave, the ‘right’ host will support your website’s growth, and give it its best chance to cash into Canada’s thriving e-comm scene.
Canadians Have High Expectations
Research has also suggested that Canadians are an especially tech-savvy population.
Meaning? Well, they have certain expectations that online businesses need to meet.
In one survey of Canadians, 52% said companies need to provide a cutting-edge digital experience if they expected to keep their business.
An even higher percentage said they would share a bad experience on social media or peer review sites – a business’s worst nightmare!
This all means you’ll need to do everything in your power to provide an excellent user experience for anyone who comes across your site. This includes making sure your site loads lightning-quick, stays online even during peak periods, and can protect itself against hackers and vulnerabilities. All things that a good host will support, and a bad host, can ruin.
Aside from being innovation-conscious, Canadians also have high ethical expectations from companies.
More so than many other countries, there is a ‘green’ expectation. According to a Leger’s OMNIWeb Canada survey, 43% of Canadian adults are more willing to purchase products that have a responsible environmental claim. In other words, being ‘green’ can factor in to whether or not a brand is picked over a competitor.
You may well be part of this statistic – and are looking for a hosting provider that can create a positive energy footprint. If so – you’ll be happy to know there are a couple on our host list today!
What Is PIPEDA And What You Should Know
Here’s another big thing every Canadian site owner should know about: PIPEDA.
Canada has some unique privacy laws. The big one is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) which applies to personal information that is collected during the course of commercial activities. It requires companies to request individuals’ consent to the collection of their data, and to help protect it from misuse.
We’ve summarised some of the key principles below:
- Consent for the collection of personal data
- Collection of data is limited to ‘reasonable purposes’
- Limited use, disclosure and access of personal information
- Stored personal information needs to be accurate and complete
- Policies and procedures in place in the case of any privacy breaches
PIPEDA a hefty topic that we’d recommend you do more research on outside this article. You can read a good introduction here.
PIPEDA can affect your host provider decision-making in a number of ways. However, the type of website you’re offering will determine how much precaution you will need to take.
For example, sites that need to collect a lot of personal data may want prefer to use a hosting provider that offers datacenters on Canadian soil, so as to be absolutely sure your host and your site are 100% compliant.
If your website is unlikely to deal with a lot of personal data, it may be more important for you to select a host that offers exceptional speed or support, even if its datacenters are outside Canada.
However, regardless of the amount of personal data you intend to process, a good host should absolutely help protect your site against security breaches by helping provide a solid line of defense.
What To Look For In A Good Host
To pick out the host for you, you’ll want exactly WHAT you should be looking for.
Different hosts market themselves on different strengths and specialties. However, there are some definite things to be aware of when comparing hosts for Canadian sites.
Let’s go over these quickly.
A good website host needs to be FAST. At Bitcatcha, we often argue that this is probably the most important mark of an excellent host.
That’s because a website’s loading speed can make or break your user experience. Faster host speed will mean quicker load times and higher retention. These days, online users have sky-high expectations, expecting a page to load in under 2 seconds.
Slow loading pages lead to dissatisfied customers. And where do dissatisfied customers go?
A good host will be optimised for speed in both its hardware and software – for example through CDN or caching technology.
To compare each of our hosts’ speed, we’ll be using our trusty Bitcatcha server speed test tool (excuse the shameless plug).
We have 10x testing nodes installed in different locations to simulate people around the globe visiting your site.
And – you guessed it – we’ll be using it to measure how quickly a server responds to a request from Canada.
Fun fact – a whopping 77% of Canadians are concerned about cyberattacks against organizations that may have access to their personal information.
Whilst you, the site owner, are accountable for keeping their data safe to PIPEDA standards, a good host will partner with you to help you meet these regulations.
How? By offering a strong line of defense from hackers and malware.
HOW? Think firewalls, SSL certifications and a proactive monitoring system to help catch vulnerabilities before they become bigger problems.
Downtime is the enemy of traffic, reputation and opportunity. A good host will do everything in its power to prevent it.
Look out for hosts with an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. Even better, have a look at third-party tools like UptimeRobot and reviews to verify their claim.
One thing that can really help you avoid downtime is an excellent customer support team. A good host should offer around-the-clock support from a team of experts. This could be through live chat, phone, a ticketing system, or all of the above.
As we’ve mentioned, this is an important factor for many Canadians. Hosting datacenters use a tremendous amount of energy to keep their facilities running. Luckily, some hosts have made active efforts to try and offset their carbon footprint.
Environmentally-friendly hosting can occur through some sort of exchange of green power credits for power used. Alternatively, a host might simply use renewable forms of power. Or, make a conscious effort to reduce waste. We reckon it’s definitely a worthy consideration, and your audience may very well agree.
5. Value for money
Lastly, a good host should offer good value for money. You should have all the functions that you need, at a price that won’t break the bank.
Take a close look at what inclusions you’re getting. Hosts tend to vary on whether or not they throw in the following for free:
- Email registration
- Domain registration
- Additional storage or bandwidth
- Amount of free CDN allowance, if any
Now we’ve discussed that, let’s get into the hosts!
Ranked: The Best Web Hosting for Canadian Websites
- All pricing listed are based on 12-month contract introductory price.
- The forex rate being used is 1 USD to 1.32 Canadian Dollar.
- 20GB SSD storage
- Cloudflare CDN integration
- 24/7 techn. support
- Free daily backup
"A well-rounded host with very high-quality offerings of speed, security and support."
We’re starting this list off with SiteGround – our all-around favourite host.
It’s a host that’s as solid as they come. Impressive features, excellent performance and consistently fast speeds that continue to best the competition.
Formed in 2004, SiteGround has now grown to 4 datacenters worldwide. The closest one to Canada is Chicago, so we hosted a site from there to suss it out.
Our test site data scored a VERY solid A+.
It’s average response time of 138.1 ms makes SiteGround officially the fastest host on this list. More importantly, it pinged a blisteringly fast 12 ms from Canada! This can probably be attested to SiteGround’s speed-enhancing SSD disks – said to deliver data up to 30% faster than regular HDDs.
SiteGround also offers a slew of add-ons to enhance speed. All plans come with free Cloudflare CDN integration, plus premium SuperCacher to boost load times up to 4x. All that means slick & smooth content delivery.
And aside from speed?
SiteGround is super reliable. We can attest to their 99.9% uptime guarantee by our own uptime checker. It’s registered as 100% since 2016!
They’ve backed this up with a state-of-the-art security suite with an AI solution that fights off millions of brute-force attacks every day, plus a 24/7 support team. Did we mention they’re a feel-good company that seems to prioritise happy employees? (as evidenced by their rave reviews on Glassdoor).
Their ‘recommended’ GrowBig plan starts at $5.95/mo. Bear in mind this will jump up to $19.95/mo upon renewal. So sure, SiteGround isn’t the cheapest option, but it does deliver solid offerings on all fronts.
SiteGround in action
- Host unlimited site
- 1 free domain name
- SSH access included
- Localised support
"Extremely cheap, excellent uptime & security, an intuitive interface & localised customer support."
Hostinger is another international company, one that hailed from Lithuania and has eyes set on global domination.
Well, sort of – we’re just impressed it’s already spread across 39 countries, with 6 datacenters worldwide! The closest to Canada is their South Carolina datacenter.
Our test site results didn’t disappoint:
It scored another A+ rating with an average speed of 143.1 ms. The response time for Canada was 38 ms – meaning very quick loading speeds for Canadian audiences.
Though, we have to admit. Our favourite thing about Hostinger is how crazy affordable it is!
Starting from $0.80/mo (for a 2 year commitment) Hostinger is consistently one of the cheapest hosts on the market. And we’re not talking cheap and nasty – remember, these are A+ speeds.
Hostinger takes uptime very seriously and protects users with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and their Bitninja security suite.
Sure, here are some functions missing, like CDN and daily backups. However they do offer a Cache Manager to help speed things up, and an excellent support interface, where good help is only a few seconds away. You’ll manage everything from their custom, user-friendly hPanel interface that’s a modern twist on the popular cPanel.
Hostinger definitely gives you great value for what you’re getting, and is a fantastic option for beginners and those on a budget.
Hostinger in action
- Turbo server
- Unlimited bandwidth
- A2 optimised WP
- Free site migration
- Anytime money back
"Affordable and feature-rich hosting with plenty of ‘unlimited’ offerings."
Coming in at number three is A2 – another international company. They offer a huge range of hosting options across servers that span Europe, Asia and the USA.
Their closest datacenter to Canada is in Michigan. We messed around and set up a test site to see what the numbers might say:
As can be seen, A2 also scored itself a proud A+ with an average speed of 149.8 ms.
The Canada datacenter pinged in at 13 ms – very quick indeed!
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised – our test site is hosted on their Turbo plan, which is geared for speed in every way. It runs on Turbo web hosting servers (said to load sites up to 20x quicker) and has the option of three levels of caching.
In fact, all shared hosting plans come with speed-enhancing SSD storage, Cloudflare CDN, Hackscan protection, and apps that are all customized to run more effectively (which all adds up to reduce loading time).
However, what’s also really great about A2 is it throws in a ton of value. Anything above their Swift plan will come with an attractive list of ‘unlimiteds’.
This includes unlimited websites, email addresses, total databases, storage, transfers and more! You won’t even need to pay for SSL.
All this, at a reasonable price, makes A2 a very feature-rich solution.
They’ve also partnered with Carbonfund.org to offset their servers’ CO2 emissions. They uphold green practices such as such as employee telecommuting, recycling older servers to stop them going into landfills, and running nifty little promotions, like planting 3-trees for every host package sold during a given month.
Just bear in mind ‘Unlimited’ can never be taken literally. Sites that breach their allocated resource share, do run the chance of having their resources restricted by the host. We did also read some complaints about slow support.
A2 Hosting in action
- 300% green!
- Unlimited SSD
- Let’s Encrypt wildcard SSL
- cPanel & Softaculous
- 24/7 technical support
"300x energy efficient, extremely fast host with datacenters on Canadian soil that should ensure PIPEDA compliancy. "
Next is the mean, green, California-born machine that is GreenGeeks.
They’re an independently-owned company with 5 datacenters worldwide. Good news is, there’s one right in Canada!
With an average speed of 178.6 ms, GreenGeeks is fast. You can definitely see the difference made by the datacenter being in Canada – the server response time from Canada is a crazy 9 ms!
That means loading times for Canadian audiences that are pretty hard to beat.
What else do they offer on top of speed?
Here’s what we found most impressive: GreenGeeks has the biggest green commitment out of all the hosts on this list.
They’ve gone beyond the waste-minimising and energy efficient work practices. Hosting with GreenGeeks means you will not be simply carbon-neutral, but “carbon-reducing”.
‘How?’ you ask. Well, GreenGeeks actually puts three times the energy they consume back into the grid by purchasing wind energy credits. In short, it’s 300x energy efficient!
Not only is this a feel-good and responsible option, you may reap other benefits too.
GreenGeeks has a number of badges you can use on your website to let visitors know that your online business is earth-friendly. But green and speed aside, GreenGeeks’ benefits don’t stop there.
Even their lowest shared plan gets you unlimited space, bandwidth, domains, emails and databases. But most unique of all – you’ll also snag a free domain registration for the life of your GreenGeeks account!
One final big advantage to GreenGeeks that not all the hosts on this list have – the datacenter is hosted in Canada.
Remember how we mentioned that PIPEDA laws leave you responsible for protecting any personal info collected from Canadian individuals? Hosting in a datacenter within Canada means this data will be protected by the Canadian constitution, which can lend you some extra peace of mind.
All of the above, for a very reasonable introductory price of $3.95 a month (for a 3 year commitment).
In all, GreenGeeks has a feel-good factor all around. You’ll be helping to make a difference, whilst reaping the benefits of an excellent hosting provider on Canadian soil.
GreenGeeks in action
- Host 6 websites
- Unlimited SSD
- Unlimited email
- Free website transfer
- 90-day money back guarantee
"Feature-rich and environmentally-conscious. Do expect higher latency from its LA server. "
Inmotion is a top-rated, award winning CNET web hosting company. Sound good so far?
They’re actually Bitcatcha’s ex host, and we have a lot of respect for them, given they’ve been in the industry for 16+ years,
They also offer an impressive server stack, with a combo of SSD, NGINX set-up and advanced server caching.
We set up a test site to see how it fares for our Canadian friends:
It scored another A+ on average speed.
However, whilst the response time of 67 ms from the Canada node is respectable, it is the slowest of this list.
That said, Inmotion offers a ton of other functions and freebies that might let you overlook a few seconds difference.
This includes unlimited storage space, bandwidth and disk space, a free domain name, free themes and even free marketing content & photos. First-time website owners may enjoy the ‘QuickStarter’ offer that puts an SEO-optimised site online in two days, from scratch.
Another thing we liked about InMotion is that they’ve made efforts to be environmentally conscious. Their LA datacenter is actually the first ‘green datacenter’ in the area. It uses outside air cooling technology and is said to reduce their carbon output by more than 2,000 tons per year. Pretty cool stuff!
You’ll be able to enjoy their starter plan for the fair introductory price of CAD 9.32 (for 1 year commitment). It also has a 90-day money back guarantee (most hosts offer 30 days).
We’d recommend it to small to medium-sized sites.
Inmotion Hosting in action
- Free domain name
- Unlimited SSD
- Unmetered transfer
- Starter site builder
- Free one-on-one training
"Canadian-host that’s value-packed, lightning-quick in the region and 100% green. "
We’re ending our list with a bonus addition – HostPapa.
HostPapa is an independently-owned Canadian company based in Toronto.
With an average speed of 201.4ms, this is officially the slowest host of this list, raking in an A.
HOWEVER. Check out that server response time for Canada – 1 ms!
So whilst this may not be a great choice for websites who have audiences outside Canada or the United States… things should load blazing fast if your audience is within the region.
It’s cheapest Starter plan costs $3.95 per month (for a 3 year commitment), although this jumps up considerably on renewal. The good news is you get a lot of value – two websites, free domain registration, 100GB of disk space, ‘unlimited’ bandwidth, Cloudflare CDN and SSL… the list goes on.
You’ll also have access to some unique forms of support. They offer a large library of self-help videos, and 24/7 support failing that. You can even schedule a one-on-one video/telephone session with ‘Papa Squad Experts’!
Another impressive aspect is that HostPapa purchases 100% green renewable energy to power their datacenters and office spaces. Similar to GreenGeeks, you’ll even get some banners to show your audience your site is powered by 100% green energy!
However, on further research we did come across some frustrated reviews of customers who were unhappy with the support received.
There have also been reports of sneaky add ons at the checkout and a rumoured cancellation fee if you try and use their ‘30-Day return policy’. We personally haven’t had any negative experiences, but it’s perhaps worth reading up further to see what you make of it.
Remember the things we said were worth looking out for in a host?
- Excellent speed
Optimised to deliver blazing quick loading times in the region of your audience.
Effectively helps defend your site from hackers and malware.
Provides 24/7, effective support and an uptime guarantee of 99%.
Makes an effort to offset their carbon footprint
- Value for money
Balances the features you need with a fair price.
However, at the end of the day, the ‘best’ host is the one that best suits your needs and priorities as a user.
Let’s recap our top 3 host picks for Canadian websites:
SPEED IN CANADA