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A2 Hosting Reviews

A2 Hosting is one of the oldest providers around. They are originally from Michigan and started in 2001 under another name (Iniquinet). Later on, in 2003, the name was changed to A2 Hosting.

On their website you can read that 97% of their customers are satisfied and that they promise “Up to 20x faster servers” – we’ll see later if their servers are as fast as the Road Runner (meep, meep) or whether A2 is more like the Coyote. On top of that, their (first-term) pricing seems like a bargain, but what about the renewal fees?

That’s exactly why I decided to review A2 Hosting and tell you all about their products, prices, advantages and flaws.

Let’s dive-in and find out if A2 Hosting is the hosting service you were looking for.

What Products Does A2 Hosting Offer?

Like many other popular hosting providers, A2 Hosting has a lot to offer. Let me tell you what products you can get from them and when to use them.

a2 hosting offer

Besides hosting plans, at A2 Hosting you can get domain names too, and their prices are fair. For example, a .com domain name will cost you $14.95 per year. Among other extensions, you can purchase: .com, .info, .net and .org domains. Country specific TLDs like .co.uk, .de, .fr, .es or .au aren’t available.

A2 Hosting is very popular for its shared hosting plans. Their renewal cost goes from $8.99  to $20.99 per month. It’s the one that most projects will need – unless you have a site with huge traffic or need a special server setup, that is.

They also offer managed WordPress hosting plans. These are shared hosting packages that are optimized for WordPress, come with some additional WordPress features (e.g. staging) and their support agents are WordPress experts. Managed WordPress hosting starts at $28.51 a month at A2 Hosting.

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s a way to divide a server into smaller individual (sub)servers. This means that you can configure it to your needs and you won’t have to share resources with other clients. They are a good match if you need something in between shared hosting and a dedicated server. A VPS at A2 Hosting goes from as little as $5 a month to around $100.

You can imagine cloud hosting as a network of interconnected servers. So your website won’t be hosted on one server, but several at the same time. They are a great solution for those expecting traffic peaks as you can assign more resources as you need them. They start at $5 a month for 20 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM – storage and resources can be increased.

But if your site is likely to get hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, you probably need a dedicated hosting package. In other words, a whole server to exclusively host your project. These aren’t cheap, at A2 Hosting they start at $120 a month.

If you have clients of your own who require hosting, you can opt-in for the reseller program where you’ll be able to sell hosting plans (without A2 Hosting branding) to your clients. These plans start at around $20 a month.

But in this A2 Hosting review, I’d like to explore their shared hosting plans, so from now on, I’ll refer to those in my analysis.

A2 Pricing: What Do Their Shared Plans Include?

Lite Swift Turbo
Allowed websites 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Databases 5 Unlimited Unlimited
Email addresses 25 Unlimited Unlimited
Support 24 hours 24 hours 24 hours
Performance Regular Regular Turbo
Max. number of Inodes

(similar to number of files)

600,000 600,000 600,000
Storage Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Bandwidth

Simultaneous HTTP connections

Unlimited

35

Unlimited

35

Unlimited

35

Database 5 Unlimited Unlimited
Backup restore No Yes Yes
HTTP/2 No No Yes
WordPress, Prestashop and Magento caching system No No Yes
First-term prices for 1-year deals $3.33 a month $4.07 a month $7.77 a month
Renewal price for 1-year deals $8.99 a month $10.99 a month $20.99 a month

* A2 Hosting has an unlimited and unmetered policy, if you use too many resources, you’ll be asked to upgrade or to use fewer resources.

A2 Hosting has monthly, 12, 24 and 36-month deals – the above prices are for a 12-month plan. Obviously, the longer the deal (e.g. 36 months) the cheaper it gets. However, be aware that you’ll be requested to pay the full amount in advance.

But let me tell you what each plan will get you:

Their entry plan, Lite, allows for 1 website and 5 databases and a maximum of 25 email addresses. Sadly, it doesn’t come with the ability to restore the backups that A2 Hosting keeps for you. Bandwidth and storage are unmetered.

With the Swift tier, you are allowed to host as many websites as you want. It comes with unlimited databases and email accounts. The backup restore features are also enabled. Finally, if you need more performance, you can purchase more resources (e.g. RAM and CPU).

The main addition to the Turbo package is its higher performance. Your server will work on HTTP/2, you’ll have fewer server neighbors and the caching options (A2 Optimized Site Accelerator) are available. Caching plugins for WordPress, Magento and PrestaShop are included too.

At checkout, they offer a bunch of add-ons that you can purchase separately. For example, if you’d like to create your own backups, you can get 5 GB of backup storage for $1.99 extra a month. Paid SSL certificates, spam filters and CloudFlare (a CDN) are also available.

With the Swift and Turbo plan, you can top up your servers’ resources for higher performance. $3 extra a month gets you double the number of CPU cores and 1 GB of RAM extra. This could come in handy if you have a site that needs loads of resources.

A2 Hosting Pros & Cons

Let me talk a bit about its advantages and disadvantages so you know what to expect from this popular hosting provider.

Pros Cons
  • Speed: As we’ll see later on, A2 Hosting is one of the fastest providers I’ve ever tried.
  • Advanced features: Their higher plans come with interesting advanced options like staging areas or a server-side caching system.
  • Backups: They keep 7 copies of your site. Be aware that the backup restore features only come with their Swift and Turbo plan.
  • Server locations: You can choose to host your website in America (East or West Coast), Europe or Asia.
  • Unmetered storage and bandwidth: Your storage is unlimited, although your total amount of files can’t be more than 600,000. Bandwidth isn’t metered either.
  • Windows-based hosting: Unlike many other competitors, Windows-based servers are available.
  • Uptime: They need to improve their uptime (more on this later on).
  • No PCI Compliance: They don’t support PCI Compliance out-of-the-box. Not great for ecommerce projects.
  • On-demand backups paid separately: If you’d like to use their on-demand backup system to create your own backups, you’ll need to purchase their add-on.
  • Confusing checkout: Even if they are not as pushy as other providers (e.g. iPage), their check out is loaded with add-ons that you most likely won’t need (e.g. paid SSL certificate).
  • 35 concurrent HTTP connections: All shared hosting plans seem to be limited to 35 concurrent HTTP connections to the server – this may not be enough for some.

There are some cases where using A2 Hosting will be a smart choice, but other times it may make little sense to use this hosting provider. Let me clarify those for you.

When to Use A2 Hosting

If you are after a medium-priced provider that’s generous with storage and bandwidth, A2 Hosting is a reliable choice.

On top of that, it comes with some features that similar competitors won’t offer, for example, built-in server-side caching, staging areas and speed optimization plugins for CMSs like WordPress, PrestaShop or Magento.

I can imagine that A2 Hosting would be a good fit for new bloggers who need a reliable host, for small and medium-sized businesses who are after a serious hosting service, or digital solopreneurs (e.g. SEO consultants or WordPress developers) who need storage for their website and potentially their clients’.

It’s a really solid option for those looking to host a Windows-based project.

When Not to Use A2 Hosting

However, there are a couple of limitations that make me reluctant to recommend A2 Hosting for larger projects. Their uptime should definitely improve and having a 35 concurrent HTTP connections limitation may be a deal-breaker for those getting more traffic.

On top of that, they are not PCI compliant out-of-the-box, so I would recommend that you  take ecommerce projects to an alternative like SiteGround (read review).

A2 Shared Hosting Details

Let’s now explore A2’s specifications in detail:

Characteristics Evaluations Comments
Ease of use Good The backend looks a bit outdated and it could be a bit more intuitive. However, their cPanel version has a clean design and it’s easy to use. Their checkout page can be a bit overwhelming with all the add-ons and purchase options you have.
Domain names Not included The Lite plan allows you to have 1 website (domain name), 5 sub-domains and 25 parked domain names – the Swift and Turbo tiers don’t limit these. A .com domain name with A2 Hosting will cost you $14.95 – not included in the price.
Email Very good You get 25 email accounts with the A2 Hosting Lite plan, and unlimited with the Swift and Turbo packages. You won’t have any email storage limit per account. Be aware that you can’t use A2 Hosting for email blasts (e.g. sending newsletters).
Databases Very good The Lite tier will let you create up to 5 databases – with the other plans you get unlimited databases.
Applications Very good On A2 Hosting’s cPanel you’ll find an application installer for many CMSs like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. They integrate the standard Softaculous script with many applications on offer.
Webspace limit Very good A2 Shared Hosting doesn’t limit the storage available to you. Be aware that they have a long list as ‘Acceptable Use Policy’, so it may be that your project/idea isn’t allowed (e.g. to use them as a device backup). Your account won’t be able to host more than 600,000 files (inodes).
Monthly data transfer limit Very good They also don’t have a bandwidth limitation (traffic you can get). However, you are only allowed 35 concurrent HTTP connections to your server.
FTP accounts and secure FTP Very good FTP (and FTPS, secure) accounts aren’t limited either. SSH access (for faster deployment) is available.
Servers location Very good You can choose between 4 server locations on 3 continents: Michigan, Arizona, Amsterdam and Singapore.
Security features Solid They have a system in place for security. Among others, they scan your files for viruses, protect you from DDoS and Brute Force attacks. They also have a (free) tool to uncover infected files and quarantine them, as well as a WordPress, Joomla and Drupal automatic update parching system. Additionally, you get free SSL encryption via Let’s Encrypt. And you’ll be able to easily restore your site to a previous backup point.
Server speed Very good In out tests, A2 Hosting performed really well (more information below). The Turbo plan comes with increased performance (more resources and fewer users per server), HTTP/2 and a caching system for Magento, WordPress and PrestaShop installations. It pre-integrates CloudFlare’s CDN and uses SSD drives to boost your speed.
Uptime Bad In my experience,  the uptime could have been better as they didn’t reach the 99.95% industry standard. They have a 99.9% uptime commitment, but serious projects should look at higher uptime rates.
Backups Good They create automatic backups of your site. They keep a copy of the last 7 days. With their server rewind feature, you can restore files to a previous version at no cost, but it’s only available with the Swift and Turbo plans. The interface could be a bit more intuitive in my opinion. If you’d like to create on-demand backups, you need to use the standard cPanel tool to download a copy of your site or pay for their backup add-on starting at $2 a month.
CDN (content delivery network) Pre-integrated A2 Hosting doesn’t come with a built-in CDN, but CloudFlare is pre-integrated and really easy to enable.
Server features Very good You can choose between Linux and Windows plans, not many providers offer both. You will be able to use PHP 7 and PHP 5. MySQL 5.6 and PostgreSQL 9.6 are available for databases. The Lite plan comes with 0.5 GB of RAM, the Swift tier has 1 GB and the Turbo package has 2 GB. You’ll need a third-party provider if you need PCI compliance. You can use other programming languages like Python and Ruby. Staging areas for WordPress and Joomla sites can be added.
Refunds and guarantees 30 days A2 Hosting has a 99.9% uptime commitment with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Assistance and support Very good Support is offered 24/7 via phone, chat or email (ticket system). Their knowledge base is comprehensive and extensive, its support materials are easy to follow and come with many screenshots for clarification.
Overall evaluation

Good

4.3 out of 5

A2 Hosting is a solid provider and comes with many interesting features (e.g. backups and staging areas). However, the uptime should be a bit higher.

A2 Performance Tests

Along with support, performance is one of the most important aspects of a hosting provider. Having the most advanced technology and features is pointless if your hosting provider can’t keep up with your website’s needs.

That’s why I’ve intensively tested A2 Hosting’s speed and uptime. Let me show you the results.

A2 Hosting Speed Test

Slow websites aren’t cool, and a fast hosting provider is vital for supporting a quick site. As you can imagine, your site’s speed is crucial for having better user engagement and many studies have correlated slow sites with lower conversion rates.

On top of that, Google and other search engines dislike slow sites. So even more reasons to have a fast hosting provider.

For over a month, I closely monitored A2 Hosting’s speed (and that of other competitors) using tools like Pingdom, GTmetrix, Webpagetest.org and Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

I have to say that A2 Hosting’s speed is impressive. As you can see in the table above, they were one of the top 3 providers in our tests and had an outstanding performance.

Check out an overview of their results:

Test Average Ranking Average Speed
5 GTmetrix test 1 out of 7 providers was faster 1.28 s
5 Pingdom test Fastest provider 0.77 s
5 Webpagetest test 1 out of 7 providers was faster 4.886 s

 

If you are worried about speed, A2 Hosting is a trusty provider. Much more Road Runner than Coyote indeed.

Is A2 Hosting’s Uptime Good?

Another point search engines monitor closely is the Uptime – this measures how many interruptions your site had. In other words, how much time your website was offline. If you don’t have a decent uptime (e.g. 99.95% or higher), your organic rankings could suffer.

As you can imagine, projects that highly depend on their site being online all the time (e.g. online stores), can be deeply harmed by a server that has constant periods of downtime.

a2hosting uptime test 2019

To monitor uptime I use StatusCake, a tool that checks each website every 5 minutes.

A2 Hosting guarantees a 99.9% uptime for all their clients in their Terms of Service. That’s a good start, but competitive projects will need a tiny bit more.

Provider Uptime
DreamHost 100%
SiteGround 99.98%
Bluehost 99.98%
GoDaddy 99.97%
A2 Hosting 99.97%
HostGator 99.94%
A2 Hosting 99.93%
iPage 99.66%

I wish I had better news here, but A2 Hosting’s uptime really needs some improvement. Although their results aren’t terrifying, the truth is that in our tests they had one of the lowest uptime rates.

I’d really like to see this fixed so they can become a top provider.

A2 Hosting Review: Do I Recommend It?

Even if A2 Hosting is not my absolute favorite hosting provider, it’s on the top 5 for sure.

It’s true that it has some limitations that can make it not ideal for those looking to host really big projects. For example, the 35 HTTP concurrent connections and the lower uptime rate we experienced in our tests.

But it also comes with a whole bunch of perks for the price you’ll pay:

  • Top speed thanks to their technology (e.g. SSD drives and server-side caching system)
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth
  • Reliable support
  • WordPress site owners will love their staging and speed optimization options
  • You can choose among 4 server locations (in 3 continents)

So if you want to start cheap (and have decent renewal prices), A2 Hosting is a capable provider for those looking for a solid host.

> Check out A2 for 30 days for free

A2 Hosting Alternatives

For many, A2 Hosting will be a good option, but as I mentioned before, some businesses will find it to be limiting. Let me mention a couple of alternatives:

  • Check out DreamHost if you are looking for the best bang for the buck
  • A2 Hosting offers reliable support, other providers with great customer care are SiteGround, InMotion Hosting and DreamHost
  • In my experience, SiteGround and DreamHost are the top-performing providers. Suitable for larger blogs and ecommerce sites.
  • Along with A2 Hosting, SiteGround has the most advanced WordPress features

> But feel free to test A2 Hosting without any risk for 30 days and decide if it’s a good alternative for your project.

Thanks for reading this A2 review, I hope it helped you get a better idea of what you’ll be getting with A2 Hosting. However, if you have any questions, please leave a message and I’ll try to help you.

Review Updates

25 Jul 2019: First review

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