A2 Hosting Review

A2 Hosting Review

What is A2 Hosting?

a2 hosting reviewYou’ve probably never heard of A2 Hosting. Neither had I initially.

That’s a shame.

Because while they’re not as ‘internet famous’ as BlueHost or HostGator, they claim to boast speeds of up to 20X faster.

They’ve also been around since 2001, formerly known as Iniquinet (yes – good call on the rebranding!). A2 Hosting has data centers around the world in the US (Michigan), Europe (Amsterdam) and Asia (Singapore).

In addition, they make claims of ‘99.9% uptime’ and ‘guru support’. (OK, now it’s just sounding too good to be true.)

So what’s the verdict?

Is it a blazing fast host with amazing uptime and great support? Or another company who’s great with adjectives, but can’t back it up with performance (hint: iPage & Arvixe)?

To test for ourselves and provide an unbiased A2 Hosting review, we bought their cheapest “Shared Plan” back in 2015 and set up a basic WordPress website.

Keep reading to discover the results.

 

Pros of using A2 Hosting

A2 hosting says their speeds and customer support are great. Just how great are they really?

It turns out – pretty great!

Here are the reasons:

1. Fastest Shared Hosting Provider We’ve Tested…

A2 has claimed speeds of up to 20x faster than their competitors, remember?

Anything close to that would be impressive. And lucrative.

Some of the top online brands load in under a second because taking even 3 seconds to load can cause you losing 50% your traffic.

So… just how did they fare in our own tests?

The short answer: Extremely well (basically their loading times are INSTANT).

A2 Hosting page loading times came in with an average of 376ms over a period of TEN months – the highest of every web host we have reviewed – and 50+ percent faster than the industry average (890ms). 

How do they do it?

A2 Hosting is taking extra precautions to limit the number of people on ‘shared’ hosting servers and implementing additional functionality like caching which stores information in people’s browsers (thereby limiting the number of times they have to go back and request information from your website over and over and over again).

Last 10-month average load time for A2 hosting:

  • December 2017 average speed: 411ms
  • January 2018 average speed: 371ms
  • February 2018 average speed: 372ms
  • March 2018 average speed: 390ms
  • April 2018 average speed: 377ms
  • May 2018 average speed: 395ms
  • June 2018 average speed: 364ms
  • July 2018 average speed: 344ms
  • August 2018 average speed: 355ms
  • September 2018 average speed: 385ms

2. Quick & Efficient Customer Support

Fast load times are nice.

But none of that matters if your experience – the help you do (or don’t) receive when issues pop up – comes out lackluster.

A2 Hosting follows their string of impressive performance with friendly, helpful, US-based support. They’re available 24/7/365 through email, chat, phone or ticket submission.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given their A+ rating with the BBB (which is impressive considering they’ve been doing this for 15+ years already).

We tried reaching out to their support to provide a fair, unbiased review and were connected instantly. Their support representative was also incredibly responsive, answering our queries within a minute:

A2 Hosting review: Customer support agent

A2 Hosting customer support agent

3. Free ‘HackScan’ Keeps Your Site Safe

A2 provides a few helpful, preventative measures to keep hackers out of your site with HackScan; a free service including dual web hosting firewall, virus scanning, 24/7 security monitoring, and a brute force defense.

Some hosts simply provide similar tools to use if you’re so inclined. But unless you know what you’re doing, they’re useless. A2 hosting goes above and beyond by providing this preventative service for you, providing you with ‘peace of mind’ so you can just worry about running the site (and NOT constantly performing technical maintenance).

4. Free Site Migrations (!)

A2 will help you to relocate from another hosting provider – gratis! – if your site currently uses cPanel (which most professional sites do).

Moving the site yourself can be a huge hassle (if you’re not the most tech-savvy) or a time consuming, menial task (if you have a large site with many pages, images, etc.). And some other web hosts, {cough} BlueHost {cough}, charge you big bucks for this privilege.

5. Compatible with Common Content Management Systems (CMS)

Installing popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, OpenCart, and Magento is a simple, ‘1-click’ setup. Pretty simple and painless. ‘Nuff said.

In fact, your A2 account will come with the A2 Optimized WordPress plugin pre-installed if you choose the Turbo package.

a2 optimization plugin

6. Money Back Guarantee – 30 Days

A2 Hosting stands behind their product, offering a complete refund if you don’t like your experience for any reason (within 30 days).

Please note that domain registrations, setup fees, SSL certificate, and other migration fees are not refundable (which is pretty common with other companies as well).

7. Free Content Delivery Network

In addition to free virus scanning, you’ll also be able to use Cloudflare’s Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Cloudflare will route traffic to your site to take the path of least resistance.

This means that you’ll get even faster site speeds, enhanced security (Cloudflare CDN will block malicious threats), one-click setup, increased uptime, and more.

The best part? It’s all free.

8. Green Web Hosting

A2 Hosting supports the environment, so you can feel good about choosing them as a web host.

Since 2007, the company has partnered with Carbonfund.org to battle climate change.

If caring for the environment is something you’re passionate about, you can save the planet just by having an A2 Hosting account.

All of their servers are “carbon neutral” because they purchase carbon offsets. When you purchase carbon offsets, you’re funding projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

These kinds of projects are responsible for restoring forests, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings or transportation, or upgrading power plants to create less pollution.

For every amount of energy A2 Hosting uses, they’re buying carbon offsets to make the world a greener, cleaner place.

In addition to fighting climate change, the company also allows employees to telecommute to prevent unnecessary CO2 emissions.

They also recycle older servers rather than throwing out old hardware, plant trees during special promotions, and reduce trash by using coffee mugs instead of disposable coffee cups.

The company was also one of the first providers that offered Solid State Disk Drives (SSDs). These drives use much less energy than traditional HDDs.

 

Cons of using A2 Hosting

Our affection for A2 hosting should be obvious by now. Great speed, and support go a long way in our books. Plus, they don’t nickel-and-dime you for small things like migrations.

Unfortunately, nobody’s perfect. Here are a few of A2’s flaws:

1. Uptime Has Slipped to 99.91% Over the Last 10 Months

‘Uptime’ is critical, because the opposite – downtime – can cost you $7,900 per minute (depending on how valuable your site is).

That’s why when someone (or some host) tells you that they have 100% uptime, you shouldn’t believe the hype.

While 100% can be achievable, it’s VERY rare. We’ve tested ~30+ hosting providers and none of them have managed to get an uptime of 100% over a period of 10 months.

Initially A2 Hosting posted strong uptime. Unfortunately, they’ve started slipping the past few months. Now, their ten-month uptime comes out to 99.91%, well below the industry average we’ve seen.

Here are the detailed findings:

Last 10-month average uptime for A2 hosting:

  • December 2017 average uptime: 99.89%
  • January 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
  • February 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
  • March 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
  • April 2018 average uptime: 99.60%
  • May 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
  • June 2018 average uptime: 99.89%
  • July 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
  • August 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
  • September 2018 average uptime: 99.78%

A2 performance stats last 10-months

A2Hosting Load Time and Uptime: Last 10 months, data can be found here.

2. More Expensive than Average

The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” rings true here. All those fancy benefits come at a price.

A2 hosting tends to be more expensive than the average web host (coming in around the middle of the pack).

Like other web hosts, they also employ a common procedure of providing the lowest possible price if you sign up for a longer term. Traditionally their cheapest shared hosting plan advertised at $3.92 meant you needed to sign up for 36 months.

3. Restrictions on Cheapest Plan

If you want the flashy features, you gotta pony up some more dough.

For example, their Lite plan (the cheapest one) has restrictions on the number of websites (1, as opposed to unlimited) or databases (5, as opposed to unlimited) you get.

But it’s worth noting that in our experience, the cheapest plan is still much, much faster than most other web hosts. So you’re probably still OK.

If you want turbo fast speeds, you’ll have to sign up for the turbo plan. The Turbo and Swift plans are similar, but the Turbo server is full-stacked with extra perks.

For example, the Turbo server has PHP API. APC is enabled with the Turbo plan, and the server features a built-in caching engine.

Because of this, the speeds are lightning fast!

a2 hosting turbo

APC is enabled by default, and accounts get 256 MB of APC memory.

It’s important to note that if you want to change how PHP is configured on the Turbo Server, you’ll have to use the cPanel rather than the php.ini files.

The Turbo plan compiles .htaccess files to boost speeds, too.

Turbo web hosting servers don’t support Ruby-based or Python-based web applications. This includes Rails and Django.

 

A2 Hosting Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts

Shared Hosting: They have three main shared hosting plans:

A2 Hosting plans and pricing

  • Lite plan: This plan starts at $3.92 per month. It supports 1 domain name, 5 subdomains, 5 databases and 25 email accounts.
  • Swift plan: This plan starts at $4.90 per month. It supports unlimited domain names, databases and email accounts.
  • Turbo plan: This plan starts at $9.31 per month. It supports unlimited domain names, databases and email accounts. It also comes with HTTP/2 and SPDY support for improved website speed.

Remember, if you use ‘HOSTINGFACTS’ coupon on the last checkout page, you’ll be able to get it notably cheaper :).

  • Ease of Signup: Three step sign up. Not too difficult.
  • Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Check or Money Order, Bank Transfer, Skrill and PayULatam.
  • Hidden Fees and Clauses: Payments made by check are not refundable. But honestly, who pays by check anymore?! There’s also a $25 fee to move your account to another data center or to downgrade your hosting plan.
  • Upsells: Very few upsells.
  • Account Activation: Instant Activation.
  • Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
  • Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Option to install WordPress and other popular CMSs are available at checkout.

 

Do We Recommend A2 Hosting?

Yes. Undoubtedly.

Other web hosts might have the big, flashy advertising campaigns. Or the entire blogosphere singing their praises. But A2 hosting delivers where it matters most: performance.

Despite flying under the radar for all these years, they offer some of the best speed results we’ve seen (and we’ve seen A LOT). Their customer support is also friendly, attentive and couldn’t be recommended more highly.

Need a fast, reliable, and helpful web host for almost any type of website? Give A2 Hosting a try. You shouldn’t be disappointed. After all – they’ve been one of our top web hosts for the past 8 months.

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If you’ve used A2 Hosting, please tell us about it below! Good or bad – it doesn’t really matter as we’re trying to keep our hosting reviews transparent and honest.

One thought on “A2 Hosting Review

  1. Danke für Publishing this awesome Artikel. Ich bin ein langjähriger Leser,
    aber ich war nie gezwungen, einen Kommentar abzugeben.
    Ich abonniert Ihren Blog und teilte dies auf meinem Twitter.
    Nochmals vielen Dank für einen tollen Post!

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