Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business  ©

I’ve been doing a lot of research into website hosting lately, as I prepare to move to a more robust, reliable host. In doing so, I have come up with a list of considerations involved with reviewing each hosting option. I’ve expanded upon that here in the hopes of helping more Canadian companies find hosting that will provide a solid foundation to build their internet business on.

Website Hosting Checklist

____ Canadian compatibility – Does the shopping cart include shipping via Canada Post? Can your prices be in Canadian dollars? Do they offer a .ca domain? If you require more info about .ca domains, check out our post, Should you Register a .ca Domain for your Canadian Business?

____ Type of website – Are you using a CMS, such as WordPress? Will you need a store/shopping cart? Will you be drop shipping? Will you need auction or seller market integration? Does the host have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate for safe shopping?

____ Type of hosting plan – Will shared hosting be sufficient for at least a year? Will you require unlimited disk space and bandwidth? Will you be able to upgrade easily if necessary and will those upgrade options work for you? Does the host offer dedicated servers? If you know you’ll be growing quickly, it’s easier to go with a dedicated server now so you don’t have the hassle of upgrading or even moving later.

____ Security – Make sure the website host uses up-to-date equipment and software, virus/hacker scanning, back-ups and so on. You may also want to consider where the website servers are located because local laws apply.  For example, you are protected by the Canadian constitution if your hosting server is in Canada (either physically or on “the cloud”). If the server or cloud service is outside of Canada, you may be open to mass surveillance by international security agencies.

____ eMail – How many eMail addresses do they allow? Do they offer spam filters?

____ Guaranteed “uptime” – Make sure you get a guaranteed “uptime” (the amount of time your website will be available without going down) in writing. It should be 99%+.

____ Load time – Some shared hosting plans can be painfully slow. It pays to ask about speed policies. Ask if they can provide links to websites they host for you to test at different times throughout the day.

____ Tech Support – The best way to test tech support is to reach out to them. Ask questions about their hosting via eMail and phone to see how their process works and if it meets your needs.

____ Consider your technical expertise – Will you need an easy site builder, help with updates, automated back-ups and recovery? Or will you need more of a total online business solution than just hosting, like the services available through Canada’s Shopify?

____ Website builder – Even if you know some HTML, using a website builder makes it easier and faster to get online. Many also provide a mobile website builder, which has become critical in view of Google’s recent changes that rank mobile-friendly websites higher on mobile devices.

____ Website migrations – If you have a website already and are changing hosts, you’ll want to know if the new host will do the move for you and how much it will cost. If you have cPanel hosting and are moving to another website provider with cPanel, they may move you free of charge or it may be easy enough for you to do it yourself.

____ Eco-friendly – Some hosts boast eco-friendly service, such as wind-powered servers. GreenGeeks, for example, puts three times the energy they consume back into the grid through wind energy.

____ Are they REALLY Canadian? Many “local” and other hosting providers are actually resellers.  Usually the actual host is an outside company that could be located anywhere.  To ensure your data is protected by Canadian law against intrusive provisions from USA’s Patriot act, your website must be hosted on Canadian soil.

After researching all of my options to a point of exhaustion, I’ve decided to give GreenGeeks a try. They had all the right answers (for my specific needs) and they’ll move my site to their service free of charge. With offices in both Canada and the US, they offer the choice of hosting my website on either American or Canadian servers. They’re also independently owned, which makes them one of the few website hosts that isn’t owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).

UPDATE: I’ve been very pleased with GreenGeeks. The move had some challenges but they kept at it and came through. The hosting has been reliable and fast on their Canadian servers. Customer support has been excellent.

Canadian-Friendly Hosting Services

The following hosts are Canadian-friendly places (.ca domain, Canadian shopping cart features, CIRA certified, etc.) to start your own searcChoosing a Website Host for your Canadian Businessh:

GreenGeeks (Offices in Canada, Canadian servers available)
Web Hosting Canada (Based in Canada, servers in Canada)
Dynamic Hosting (Based in Canada, servers in Canada)
Stormweb Hosting (Based in Canada, servers in Canada)
Sibername (Based in Canada, servers in Canada)
HostPapa (Based in Canada)
Shopify Canada Hosting and eCommerce platform (Based in Canada)
A2 Hosting Canada
Siteground Hosting
Web Hosting Hub
FatCow
Interserver Webhosting and VPS
Hosting24
BigCommerce (Hosting and eCommerce platform)
Little Oak Web Hosting (Specializing in Mac-friendly/iWeb hosting)

Warning: I can tell you from my nightmare experience to not entrust your website hosting to Dotster.

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessAm I missing anything? Please let me know in the comments below.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
The Best eCommerce Software Platforms for Drop Shipping
10 Tips for Taking Product Photos That Sell Online
The Top 8 Pages to Optimize on B2B Websites
82% of Online Canadians Shopped Online Recently

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20 Responses to "Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business ©"

  1. Ashley  October 18, 2017

    Green Geeks told me they are a US company but have Canadian servers available.

    Reply
  2. Darcy Bell  October 11, 2017

    This was really good information. We are a Canadian reseller – but you raise a good point that we need let our clients know that actual host is also Canadian and their information is also 100% hosted in Canada. Great info!

    Reply
  3. Denise Withers  August 28, 2017

    Super helpful. I just asked Green Geeks about their privacy policies with respect to the Patriot Act. Here is their response – specific to data hosted on servers in Toronto (Canada). “If we receive a subpoena for data we are required to turn it over, Otherwise no data is shared.” From what I understand, that means that they don’t comply with Canadian government privacy regulations.

    Reply
    • Admin: Melody McKinnon  August 28, 2017

      That means they DO comply. In other countries, surveillance is done without a court order or court orders are granted without strict privacy laws. In Canada, we’re protected and the privacy laws are enforced. Law enforcement or any other government entity can only access our information if they have a court order, which in turn must meet legal criteria like any search warrant.

      Reply
  4. Paul Carlson  August 5, 2017

    I have been doing some research on Affiliate training i.e.: affiolrama and others , are there any out there to avoid ? They all hook you with a small upfront payment for training , then about when you realize you need more the BIG bill comes . Thanks for any tips

    Reply
    • Admin: Melody McKinnon  August 5, 2017

      I’ve been affiliate marketing for over 20 years so I haven’t signed up for training for a long time. It always pays to be careful though. Many have free training that you can try first, like Affilorama has tons of free videos.

      Reply
  5. Gerry  April 22, 2017

    Wow… this site is a “Breath of Fresh Air”…. so many questions answered, thanks for doing a great job folks !

    Reply
    • Admin: Melody McKinnon  April 23, 2017

      Thanks, Gerry, we put lots of effort into it. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      Reply
  6. Ryan  March 14, 2017

    Hi, I would just like to share my experience to everyone who still hasn’t decided which provider to pick out of the best website hosts available in the business. I’ve been successfully running a small e-store for years now, and I’m currently with SiteGround. Uptime results and speed are great, plus their customer service is excellent. They truly are one of the best website hosts on the market. I strongly recommend SiteGround both to beginners and people with experience. They’re gonna help you every step of the way, making for such a great website-making experience.

    Reply
  7. Al  August 13, 2016

    GreenGeeks are not Canadian!

    Reply
    • Admin: Melody McKinnon  August 13, 2016

      Right, but they have the option of having your website hosted on Canadian servers if you want to.

      Reply
  8. Lollita  June 16, 2016

    I’m such a newb I wouldn’t think to ask even half of those questions. Really useful, thank you.

    Reply
  9. vafamaani  June 13, 2016

    I am afraid HostPapa promise and reliability of uptime as well as clear communication with support are very very low, as such I have decided to back up my website and look for another hosting.

    Reply
  10. BlaineStewart  May 24, 2016

    Just a note to thank you for recommending greengeeks. I signed up with them and they’ve been great. Nice change from hostgator which I found very unreliable but everyone has a different experience. I like being hosted in Canada better anyway.

    Reply
  11. Titus Keliiholokai  May 22, 2015

    I just gave this post to a colleague of my who was doing a research on this. This was very helpful. Big thumbs up!

    Reply
  12. danny daniels  May 6, 2015

    so many horrible hosts out there I don’t know how they stay in business. 🙁 🙁 Thanks for the list.

    Reply
  13. howie macdonald  April 25, 2015

    great points. not a fan of hostgator but maybe they’ve improved since i used them 4 years ago.

    Reply
  14. Tina Green  April 23, 2015

    OMG you have no idea how much you just helped me!!! I was beginning to think nobody online understod that some of us are starting out with no understanding of websites or ecom. We just need to get online and know we have to get online but there’s so much to learn and so many choices. Seriously, thank you so much!!!

    Reply

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