Review SummaryUpdated: July 10, 2020
- 24/7 Customer Support.
- Usage terms for ‘Unlimited’ resources is better than most.
- Low entry price for new customers.
- Competitive pricing across most plans.
- Multiple Global Data Centers to choose from.
- Pure SSD drives on all servers.
- Unmanaged and Managed dedicated server plans
- Less included storage than some competitors for WordPress and VPS plans.
Shared Hosting Review
Best for Portfolio and Basic websites
A2 Hosting’s shared plans provide a solid platform for those running anything from a small business website to an eCommerce store already seeing a decent amount of monthly traffic. Each comes with a range of useful features, and you can also purchase add-on services to ensure you’ll get all the support needed with your hosting.
To start, all plans include many of the basic features you’ll want to get started with. Such as a free SSL Certificate, one-click app installation, free domain registration, free site migration, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. This level of included value is typically found with most good providers and is especially great for customers new to hosting.
What’s more, you’ll also have the choice of data center from which to host your site. With options in Michigan, Arizona, Amsterdam, and Singapore. Once again, this is another feature you’ll only really find with the top hosting providers and can work to reduce your dependency on a Content Delivery Network (CDN), if your traffic is solely based in one of these areas.
Like some competitors, A2 also promises an ‘unlimited’ limit for your site’s storage, database, and bandwidth usage. While some customers may be skeptical about this offering, (these types of plans always come with some sort of caveat or restriction) we can say that A2’s terms are more flexible than most of the competition.
Firstly, they have one of the highest inode limits we’ve found on the market for shared hosting. Essentially, inode limits are the number of files your site can host and it’s one of the ways providers restrict resource usage. With A2, customers are limited to 600,000 inodes on all plans which, when compared to the typical 200,000 inode limit found with other providers, is quite substantial. What’s more, storage isn’t limited for each file type either. For example, some providers may restrict customers to 5GB of video files or 3GB per database. With A2, you’ll only be flagged once your hosting begins to impact server performance.
For customers looking to host the types of sites we mentioned at the start, you’re unlikely to ever reach these limits unless your site grows rapidly- at which point you’ll simply have to upgrade your type of hosting. Those planning to purchase Lite will want to be aware that there’s a five database limit on the plan and is only ideal for basic static sites. Such as portfolios, business homepages, or small blogs. As for eCommerce stores or any migrating customers, with sites that already see traffic, you’ll be better off on either the Swift or Turbo. These plans come with a range of great additional features that work to increase your overall site performance and security.
Both plans are where your site’s resources become virtually unlimited (websites, emails, databases, etc), and also come with free automatic backups up to 50GB. For new customers, we’d suggest getting started on the Swift plan and upgrading to Turbo once you’re starting to see regular monthly traffic, and can make the most of Turbo’s performance optimizations.
Performance and Security
As you’ve likely seen by now, these performance levels are where A2 advertises themselves to be better than their competitors. Like most good providers, A2 also offers a solid foundation to ensure optimal site performance across all of their plans. With some of these including pure Solid State Drives (SSD), integration with Cloudflare’s freemium CDN service, site caching software, and resource allocation that scales with each tier.
A2 also advertises their A2 Optimized Software (included on all plans) which works to automatically configure sites that utilize popular Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Presta or Drupal. Overall, It works to optimize site performance and security, plus it’s a level of support, not all host’s can match. Which is something some customers may appreciate. A2’s premier tier, Turbo, goes one step further by hosting customers on an entirely separate server infrastructure from Lite and Swift. Again, it’s another feature only a handful of competitors offer.
In short, Turbo servers host fewer total customers and utilize LiteSpeed’s server software, instead of Apache. With fewer customers, servers are under less load and can allocate more resources per site. As for LiteSpeed, this software supersedes Apache in being able to handle more than double the traffic amount, increases PHP performance by 50%, and also handles DDoS attacks more efficiently.
If this isn’t enough, A2 also offers its Performance Plus ($1.47/mo) upgrade for both Swift and Turbo at checkout. Which gives you an additional gigabyte of RAM and doubles the processing capacity for your site(s).
More optional performance and security configuration options can be purchased include an Advanced SSL Certificate ($72/year), Dedicated IP Address ($4/month), Offsite Backups (Starting at $2 for 5GB storage), and Email Security ($3 per domain). Additionally, Priority Customer support can also be purchased for $20/month, oddly enough, it’s not selectable at checkout and must be purchased in a separate transaction.
Like their competitors, A2 also attracts new customers with extremely low starting prices and further discounts added when signing up for annual terms (paid upfront). While this is no new pricing strategy, customers should keep in mind that the 50%+ discount you pay today isn’t included at renewal. Compared to other unlimited/unmetered plans on the market, A2 sits in the middle of the pack for most plans. While there are cheaper plans with similar resource allocation, most don’t include many of the performance and support features A2 has to offer. So you’ll want to take these into account when comparing the market. All plans also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Naturally, the refund applies to the hosting service itself and not any add-on services are chosen at checkout.
Overall, A2 provides a scalable and configurable shared hosting platform that will be suitable for most customers. While they’re not the cheapest option on the market, they do a good job at providing customers enough value for the price point, especially when it comes to performance and support. These are a few of the reasons why we hold A2 as one of the top shared hosting providers on the market.
Managed WordPress Hosting Review
Best for: Blogs and eCommerce sites
Other than A2’s basic shared plans with WordPress pre-installed. A2 also offers Managed WordPress plans, which are great for those who are happy to pay a bit more for their hosting for better site support. Managed Plans can be utilized by both new and experienced users looking to host a WordPress blog or eCommerce site, with convenience being their best aspect. If you’re time poor or want to skip a lot of the hassle involved in site setup and management, a managed WordPress plan may be the best option for you.
A2’s plans offer all the speed benefits of their premiere shared hosting plan (Turbo) plus some extras to help kickstart your WordPress site. With some of these features being automated site backups, staging environments (useful for developers and deploying site changes) and a premium license to Jetpack.
Jetpack is the WordPress management choice for a majority of hosting providers on the market, however, few provide a premium subscription to the service like A2 (valued at $39/year otherwise). It’s a multi-faceted plugin that provides site optimizations for everything from custom themes to search engine optimization. However, it’s most beneficial aspects come in the increased performance through a premium CDN and site caching, security protection against brute-force attacks, and automated site updates and monitoring.
Jetpack provides two tiers above personal that come bundled with more optimizations, and on all Jetpack plans you’ll be able to contact their support team for WordPress specialist support. With the latter making up for the fact A2 doesn’t offer a dedicated, specialist support team for WordPress plans.
One primary difference between A2’s managed and unmanaged plans is in the form of storage allocation, with managed providing 10GB, 25GB, and 45GB of storage space respectively. In most cases, 10GB of storage space is enough for a single eCommerce site or developed blog. We’d be remiss not to mention that, for the price point, A2’s storage limitations are lower than average across all plans. There are a handful of competitors that provide more storage space for a cheaper rate at renewal, however, few can match the premium Jetpack license and optimal server environment A2 offers.
What’s more, A2’s managed plans also carry over a lot of the basic essentials included in their shared plans, such as a free domain, Let’s Encrypt SSL support, and free site migration. An Advanced SSL can also be purchased at checkout for $72/year, which is highly suggested for those starting an eCommerce site.
Overall, A2’s managed plans are an efficient solution for those looking to migrate or create a WordPress site for scale. Moreover, A2 is able to make up for lower than average included storage with optimal features and server infrastructure that ensure a high level of performance no matter the type of WordPress site.
VPS Hosting Review
Best for: High Traffic and Fast Growing sites
A2’s VPS hosting packages provide a highly configurable and high-performance hosting, best suited for resellers or those with an established site already seeing monthly traffic. Providing unmanaged and managed solutions, A2 provides a solid platform form that can be suitable for most customers.
Starting at $5/month, A2’S Unmanaged VPS is the cheapest tier and is generally recommended for the most experienced developers. As you might expect, the plan offers root access with no included Control Panel, however, one can be purchased at checkout.
Of A2’s VPS plans, this provides the most configuration options. Allowing customers to curate the amount of included server OS, Disk Space, CPU, Memory, and Bandwidth. Those with high traffic sites can also purchase LiteSpeed for better server performance, and Webuzo is also an option for those who want to skip any app installs.
In terms of value for money, A2 is in line with the rest of the market for unmanaged VPS hosting. However, where they may win customers over is through more configuration options and overall customer support, with free site migrations being one feature not all hosts provide. For experienced hosting customers looking for great value for money, we’d have to recommend this plan.
Starting at $25/month, A2’s managed VPS offers cPanel access instead of root and removes most configuration, with options limited to data centers and pre-installed apps. Overall this type of hosting is best suited for those with growing sites, who are time poor or less experienced with VPS hosting.
One limitation customers might find with managed plans is that resources are not individually scalable, and must be upgraded from plan to plan. In terms of server management, A2 provides all the support you’d expect from a top hosting provider. Including managed security, core software installs/updates, and priority queue level support.
Customers can also expect all the necessary included features and services on managed plans, such as priority customer support, free site migration, and A2’s Turbo hosting server configuration. Most of these are quite standard industry-wide, with the Turbo server config being a useful and unique feature from A2. Moreover, those looking at the Core VPS plans should know that these are nearly identical to the Managed VPS range. With the only difference being, Core includes root access at no additional cost.
Price-wise, A2 doesn’t do much to stand out against their competitors. While the amount of included resources are fair for the price, you can find cheaper plans with more resources with some select hosts. That being said, not all hosts provide the same overall features and level of scalability A2 has to offer, so the value can vary from customer to customer.
Across the board, A2’s VPS plans are great for customers already utilizing their service. Their unmanaged plans stand out as one of the most configurable, low starting cost solutions on the market. As for the Managed plans, while plans are quite inclusive and fairly priced, customers may be able to find a better solution for less solutions elsewhere – though this can vary from customer to customer.
Scalable Server Environments
A2 provides hosting solutions right up to dedicated servers.
Great 24/7 Support
A2 is among the best when it comes to customer support.
Global Data Centres
On signup, A2 customers can choose between data center’s in the U.S., Europe, or Asia.
Optimal Server Infrastructure
A2 provides optimal server infrastructure for high-performance, high traffic sites.
A2Hosting Server Performance
To test A2Hosting’s hosting performance we used a few Pingdom reports. Over the span of a year, Pingdom’s probes (located across North America) performed daily checks, on a basic website (less than 100KBs) hosted on A2Hosting’s shared server environment. Additionally, there was no throttling added to these checks, so slower response times can be expected for 3G or 4G connections.
Yearly Server Performance:
Average Response Time
Data shown as monthly Uptime averages for a basic A2 Hosting website
Server performance can affect all aspects of your site. Case studies have consistently found that customer wait times (page load and response times) directly affect everything from SEM, revenue, and traffic growth. By a lot too, here’s just one example:
For Mobify, every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed worked out to a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion, yielding an average annual revenue increase of nearly $380,000.
A2 Hosting appears to be very flexible with their security, both automated with software and manually with their customer support. Their servers are protected by the software HackScan, running everyday to keep a constant watch for any major issues. This could include anything from as massive as a denial of service attack (DDoS) to as comparatively smaller as a bit of malware. Should something as heavy as a DDoS attack befall your server, A2’s servers are also scalable so that they can shift to another effortlessly should one be compromised with a surge of too much traffic. Should your server experience an issue where something be reversed, they offer server rewinds as well.
Customer Support Review
A2 offers 24/7/365 human support through all channels you’d want or need, through Phone, Ticket, and Live Chat. Ticket and Phone support is generally handled by their U.S team, with Live Chat outsourced to their team in the Philippines.
Like most hosts, technical or critical issues are best handled via phone as you’ll be connected with their US team. With Live Chat being less useful for technical issues and better for basic troubleshooting or sales questions. One aspect A2’s Live Chat box does better than others is that it shows you your queue in the line and also an estimated wait time.
Free migration support is also offered with most plans, with their team estimating a maximum of 48 hours for the process to be completed per site, this including the 24 hours of potential down time your site may experience during DNS propagation (pointing your site to the new servers).
Other than this, priority support can be purchased for $19.99/mo. While this can be useful and a feature not all hosts provide, most customers may be turned away at the price point. Especially considering its primary advertised function is to move your requests higher up in the support queue.
A2 offers phone support for billing, sales, and technical support.
A2 offers free site migrations for new customers.
A2 provides premium, managed support for select VPS and Dedicated plans.
Tutorials & Guides
A2 provides a rich knowledgebase full of technical articles and startup guides.
A2 offer ticketed support, which can be accessed via the Control Panel.
A2 offers technical customer support via live chat for most sales, billing, or technical issues.
A2 does not have a dedicated community forum for customer support and troubleshooting.
A2 does not mention offering customer support across multiple languages.
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New users looking to create a WordPress site or store may find the best value with A2’s plans, providing scalable solutions right upto dedicated servers. What’s more, with 24/7 customer support through phone and live chat, it’s hard to find a reason not to recommend A2 when it comes to hosting.
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