A2 Hosting Review 2019 - 5,000+ Words!
Of course, most of us would like our websites to impress our visitors with quick loading and navigation. If you have designed a great looking website with quality content, then you only need solid performance for it to attract the maximum amount of traffic. This is where a hosting provider like A2Hosting helps you. The A2 web host has changed the way webmasters look at shared hosting services and even offers amazing speed with shared hosting. Well, this is not to say that speed is the sole criteria on which you determine the selection of your website’s host. There is no single hosting company that can claim to be the best for all webmasters and websites. Depending on your needs, you will find a particular hosting provider to be a better fit than others. Hence, it does not always make sense to just go to the first Google search result page for the top hosting companies to select one for yourself because there are so many web hosts like A2 that may just be the perfect fit for the requirements of your website.
A2 provides managed Word Press hosting plus Drupal, Joomla, and other CMS hosting services plus virtual machines as a cloud company would. They do not target any particular market except perhaps those who focus on WordPress. Because of their wide variety of packages, their hosting is suitable for small companies or individuals, with the limited website administrator skills, and larger web and eCommerce sites, with more expertise.
Regarding technology, a check of one of their customer’s site showed that they use the LiteSpeed web server for their hosted domains although they say users can also pick Apache or Nginx instead. LightSpeed is a paid web server built for performance and security. That includes the increased ability to fend off or mitigate DDOS attacks which are a major problem for hosting companies. LiteSpeed says their web server is the 4th most commonly used a web server on the internet. With unlimited storage and bandwidth, there is adequate scalability and room to grow. The company has a solid reputation for the majority of its customers responding favorably to a survey that we cite below and mainly positive reviews of their product from independent reviewers. Should you not be pleased with their service, A2 lets customers get their money back within the first 30 days. There is no contract and no difficulty moving a domain to another hosting company. The company says 92% of their users would recommend the service to a friend. They also say they are recommended by CubeCart, Drupal Association, PrestaShop, OwnCloud, CloudFlare, and Zend Server.They do not say what that recommendation entails. One wonders why CloudFlare, for example, with lots of web hosting customers, would recommend anyone lest they offend someone.A2 says that among 3rd-party reviews they have a 5-star average.In this article, we provide you with an honest review of A2 hosting and its features. This will help you understand whether the A2 hosting provider is the right fit for you.
Table Of Contents
- Company Background
- A2 Hosting Features
- Performance, Speed and Uptime
- Data Centers
- Security and Backup
- Customer Support
- Control Panel
- Plans and Pricing
- Shared Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Server Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- Reseller Hosting
- Alternatives to A2 Hosting
- Advantages Of A2 Hosting (Pros)
- Disadvantages Of A2 Hosting (Cons)
- User Reviews
- Expert Reviews
- Final Verdict
This web hosting company has been around for longer than you may think. It was launched in 2001. The business was based in Ann Arbor, MI. As the startup picked up a good pace, they changed the company’s name to A2 as a tribute to their base location. It has always been supportive of the latest technology, which is a major reason for its ever growing success. For example, A2 became one of the first web hosting providers to support PHP5 in 2004. In 2013, A2 introduced Solid State Drive (SSD) hosting to support its Swift Server platform. By adopting SSDs for shared hosting as well, A2 managed to raise the speed for all other shared hosting providers. This company then started making use of turbo servers towards the end of 2014 to offer much quicker page load speeds than several other web hosts. In a nutshell, A2 has grown into a reliable and high-speed web hosting company. A further validation of its trustworthiness comes from the fact that A2 has received a rating of “A+” (on a scale of A+ to F, with A+ being the highest) from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
A2 Hosting FeaturesNow that you know a little bit about the company’s history and how it has evolved, it is time to take an in-depth look at the various hosting features offered by A2. You can pay special attention to the features that matter most to you when selecting your ideal web host.
Key Features :
- Unlimited RAID-10 Storage
- Clef two-factor authentication
- A2-optimized cPanel plugin for pre-configured caching
- Hack Protection Scanner
- 24/7/365 Security Monitoring
- Free CloudFlare CDN and cPanel
- Softaculous auto-installer
- 1-click Installs for Popular CMSs and eCommerce Apps
- SSL Certificates and PayPal Merchant Accounts
- $50-worth Free Ad Credit from Bing
- Free Site Transfers
- Multi Language Support
Features and Tools
Here is a list of functions that represents the total of what web hosting customers might need and whether or not A2 provides those.
|Control Panel||They use cPanel.|
|Disk Space||Unlimited storage, except customers, can pay for dedicated servers in which case storage is 250 GB.|
|Bandwidth||Unlimited except managed VPS, reseller and dedicated server plans have bandwidth limits|
|Database Support||MySQL 5.5. If you wanted another database, you would have to install yourself, which you can do since you have command-line access. If you did, that means you would have to program your exports (backups) too.|
|Free Domain||Only on their domain as in (subdomain).a2hosted.com|
|WordPress Hosting Packages||Yes. They market it as WordPress A2 Optimized which is a set of plugins designed to deliver a stable and speedy server.|
|Data Backups||Yes. And, like other vendors who use cPanel. You can download the entire home directory, just email filters, or the database only from the cPanel. And you can make a point-in-time recovery to from there too. (See Site Backup below.)|
|SSD (Solid State Drives)||This part is interesting. It is possible because of the plunging cost of solid state storage. All of their storage is SSD except there are some magnetic disks used in particularly dedicated server packages. SSD has no moving disk controller, so it has the lowest possible seek time and should provide the fastest possible server response. However that is not always a panacea as the end-to-end user experience, like with any hosting company or app, varies depending on items that are largely outside the vendor’s control, like the user’s PC or mobile device speed, internet latency and congestion, bad programming, etc.|
|One Click Installation||They install and configure all of these with one click: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, CubeCart, CMS Made Simple, Elgg, and B2evolution. Also, there is the automatic installation of these popular platforms, where the user would have to do some manual configuration later:|
|Email Accounts||25 included in the Lite plan. Unlimited with others.|
|Security Features||Clef two-factor authentication is the main item here. There are a lot of the large hosting companies, like Bluehost, for example, who do not have this crucial security feature. Anyone not using 2FA is putting themselves at great risk of having their site hacked.|
|eCommerce Solution||Yes. See shopping carts below.|
|Malware and Spam Protection||Apache SpamAssassin and Barracuda Spam Firewall.|
|Programming Languages Support||PHP, IonCube, Perl, Python, Ruby, Node.js|
|Site Statistics||Access to raw log files, Webalizer Visitor Statistics, website statistics, Analog Visitor Statistics, and AWStats|
|Site Backups||Not with the Lite plan, which leads one to wonder why the users with the least skills would suffer the greatest exposure.|
|CDN services||CloudFlare. $3 Monthly.|
|Additional features and tools||Site migration services Railgun (network optimizer via compression) Apache 2.2, Nginx, or Tomcat (Why do they not mention LightSpeed in their list I am not sure since they use that too.) Lamp stack, i.e., (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) Version control (Git and CVS) and developer tools (ssh, cron, ownCloud)|
Performance - Speed and Uptime
Well, one of the prime areas of focus when selecting a web host should definitely be the uptime of the host. Irrespective of the type of your website or your business, you would definitely want your site to be available to your visitors for the vast majority of the time, with as little disruption as possible. This is where A2 offers you what you want! It claims to provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee and most of the existing customers confirm this (if the reviews are anything to go by). In fact, one of our websites run on this host and it has been offering 100% uptime for the last six months.
One of the ways that A2 Hosting ensures that uptime is maximized, is by taking measures to limit the number of people on a shared hosting server. Taking steps to prevent overstuffing reduces the demand placed on a server with any spikes in traffic or resource requirement. This is further enhanced through caching to store information in people’s browsers so they don’t have to pull information from your website every time they visit, some of the resources are saved in the browser cache. Apart from the considerably high uptime, the good part about A2 is that the company has been completely transparent about it. Their server uptime statistics are publicly revealed as they are being tracked by a third-party, such as WebsitePulse. As far as website performance and speed is concerned, it is one of their biggest USP. A2 loves speed which explains the use of SSDs and turbo servers (up to 20x faster) to maintain extremely high page load speeds at all times.The SwiftServer platform of A2 also ensures the smooth functioning of your site, irrespective of a heavy traffic load.
Another reason for the solid performance of sites with A2 hosting is that their data centers are spread across three continents. A2 has data centers located in Michigan (USA), Singapore (Asia) and Amsterdam (Europe). You thus get access to the server that is located closest to your location. This enhances the speed and performance of your site. These servers are furthermore monitored round the clock. Also, since these servers are exclusively owned by A2, you can rely on their security.
Security and Backup
A2’s data centers are SSAE16 certified. It involves a gated parking lot with security key entry. Also, a security key is required to enter the data centers. The physical security is further enhanced with video surveillance. A2 also offers a server rewind backup facility, which allows you to recover data from (automatic) saved account backup snapshots. A2 provides a few key security tools, one of which is called HackScan which is part of their Perpetual Security initiative. Another is their dual web hosting firewall, complemented by virus scanning, security monitoring, and a brute force defense mechanism. These are not just optional add-ons, where you have to set everything up, bolt it on and manage them yourself as you find with some hosts. A2 manage these seamlessly in the background for you so can have peace of mind and get on with running your site knowing that they are managing security in the background. It also uses CloudFlare for many of their hosting packages which have a multitude of performance and security protection elements to help you deliver content at a fast pace without the worry of malicious threats reaching your site. You can see all the properties of what CloudFlare offers on A2’s CloudFlare hosting page.In addition, A2 offers a security solution labeled “Patchman” for all shared SSD accounts and some HDD servers. This security tool helps to detect out-of-date software versions, infected files (which is quarantines) and so on. It even helps to patch any security issues with Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla.
A2 has a reliable customer support team labeled “Guru Crew Support”. They are extremely good because they do not outsource their support facility to save money, instead, they provide you ‘in-house’ knowledge and expertise. They have also formed their support team with the best professionals who have good technical knowledge. That is the reason why the A2 support team is able to not only answer your basic hosting queries with ease but also able to answer any advanced technical queries. If you are a developer, you would still receive good support from the A2 support team for trying out advanced features on your site. The name “Guru Crew” is clearly apt for this team! Their support team is furthermore there for you whenever you need as they are available 24×7 and 365 days a year! You can connect with them via chat, phone calls, and emails or by simply submitting a ticket! Their response time when compared to other hosts is impressively quick as they do not believe in keeping their customer waiting for long.Phone : yes, for all plans.
Support email : when we write a review, the first thing we do is open a support ticket to see how quickly the company responds. We received a human response within 2 hours which might have been quicker as their system status said that their system to email ticket status was down.
Chat : yes. Someone came online pretty quick each of the two times we contacted them. The first time it was less than 1 minute. The second time it was about 4 minutes. One annoying feature is it asks you to enter your question up front, but then it seems to ask you to open it again when someone comes online.
Knowledge Base : yes.
Video Tutorials : Yes, on MySQL, changing cPanel style, creating subdomains, parked domains, change a password, different software like eCommerce, ssh access, backups, branding, and more.
Support Forum : no.
Additional Options : Priority Support puts your support ticket ahead of all other customers, although they would not phrase it that way for those without priority support.
Is it provided on a 24/7 basis? : They told us “yes we offer 24/7/365 phone support.” So if they are going to answer the phone all night long then obviously they will respond to chat and email too.
Professional attitude of customer support agents : very courteous and informed their interaction with us.
Speed and accuracy : support ticket response speed was good. As for accurate, we did not ask anything complex, but we presume what they told us about their service was correct.
A2 will suit both the experienced and the newbie webmaster who knows nothing about web hosting. To make matters easy for you, it offers the industry standard control panel in the form of cPanel. This control panel is extremely easy to use, even for first-time users, and you can easily navigate through all the elements to manage and control your website completely. With options like Softaculous, you can install WordPress script or scripts of other CMS with just a few clicks. You can also easily access Joomla, Drupal and many other applications from the control panel. It further offers you a shopping cart for your eCommerce platform, if you have any requirement for this. A2 offers support for some highly effective eCommerce tools, including PrestaShop and Magenta. Also, the one-click cart set up functionality does not involve in any complex coding. If you wish to get a hosting account with root access, then A2 even allows you to install open source control panels, such as ZPanel, Ajenti, and ISPConfig. There are both managed VPS and Dedicated hosting core packages that offer root access.
The A2 hosting provider is unique as it offers a lot for developers as well. So, if you are a programmer or like coding, you will enjoy the kind of support that A2 offers for various programming languages or tools. Your A2 account will always be loaded with the current versions of the most popular developer software. For example, A2 was also one of the first PHP7 hosting providers (apart from the PHP5 one in 2004). Moreover, you get performance tuned databases, such as MySQL, along with several hosting frameworks for Perl, Ruby, and Python.
Microsoft SQL Server 2014
Tools with a Windows based solution :NET 2.x, 3.x and 4.x
Windows Server 2012
MVC 4 or 5
.NET Core 1.1
Silverlight 4 or 5
FTP / SFTP
SSL and Free SSL
PHP 5.6, 7.0 or 7.1
Tools with a Linux based solution :PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0 or 7.1
Python 2.6, 2.7 or 3.2
PERL 5.10, Apache 2.2
FTP / SFTP
Free SSH Access
SSL and Free SSL
|This is just a sample of the key tools available for use in the developer suite for Windows packages as published by A2.||This is just a sample of the key tools and languages available for use in the developer suite for Linux packages as published by A2.|
A2 offers you a risk-free trial accompanied by an anytime money back guarantee. You will get a hassle-free refund from A2, and if you cancel your account within 30 days, you will get a full refund. You can always tell how much a company believes in their products by how much they are willing to ‘bet their own money on it’ so to speak. You can even get some pro-rated refunds based on your usage if you cancel your A2 hosting account after the initial 30 days. This is something you won’t find often at all with other hosting companies. In fact, even the SSL certificates that have to be purchased enjoy a seven-day refund cycle from the date of purchase. Clearly, A2 believes in offering the maximum convenience to you! They believe in their products and they believe you will too.
Various Plans and Pricing
A2 offers a variety which is evident in the types of hosting plans that it provides. Based on your requirements, you can select a hosting plan that suits your needs best. Below, we go through the various A2 hosting plan categories. Before we go into this, let’s be clear that all discounts mentioned or offered apply to your first term only. If you choose to take out a monthly plan, then your discount is for the first month only, as this is your first term. However, if you take a biennial term, then your discount applies for the first two years, as this is the period of your first term. Prices after the first term revert back to standard prices. All prices correct at time of publishing.
Shared HostingThere are both Linux and Windows server packages available for shared hosting.
- All the A2 Shared Hosting Plans offer the following common features :
- Unlimited RAID 10 storage
- Unlimited transfer
- A2 optimized software
- SSD speed boost
- Free CloudFlare CDN
- Free site migration by A2
- The Patchman security tool
- WordPress features, including integrated ManageWP account and optional WP-CLI (Command Line Interface)
- Free magazine subscriptions
VPS HostingIf you are not into the technical stuff, you can go for the A2 Managed VPS hosting options or for the A2 Dynamic VPS hosting plans. With the dynamic VPS plans, you can get a fully customizable account, while the Managed VPS plans offer you full HostGuard management. VPS hosting is for those that need more than a shared plan can offer, but not really to the scale of requiring your own dedicated server.
Managed VPS Hosting :There are two kinds of Managed VPS Hosting plans available. You can choose Managed VPS or Core VPS Managed hosting with Root Access. Each of these offers three different plans and the price is the same for either Managed or Core.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting :The A2 Unmanaged VPS hosting packages start at the prices shown above. However, each of these packages is configurable and customizable, so it is pointless to go into pricing beyond this. It will vary depending on how you customize your package.
When you click to configure the VPS package, you are presented with the following screen where you can easily select what you want :
This interactive page allows you to change the sliding scales, choose your server location, cPanel, Turbo boost and operating system requirement. The price will change accordingly for your customized plan.
Dedicated Server HostingA2 also offers you Flex dedicated server hosting options if you like control and are excited about developing the command line. It further provides Managed flex dedicated server hosting options, if you like a completely managed hosting solution. Under both categories, three different plans are offered: Sprint, Exceed and Mach.
Dedicated Unmanaged Hosting Plans :Each of the Unmanaged Dedicated Server Hosting Plans is customizable. You can choose between 8GB up to 32GB RAM, add Turbo Boost as well as a number of licenses and backup packages that can be added on. Thus, the price will vary again greatly from user to user depending on your personalized configuration and length of term that you decide to take.
Dedicated Server Managed Hosting :
As with the VPS hosting, there are two kinds of Dedicated Server Managed Hosting plans available. You can choose Managed Dedicated Server or Core Managed Dedicated Server with Root Access. Each of these offers three different plans and the price is the same for either Managed or Core with root access. Trying not to sound like a broken record, but again the pricing can vary widely depending on how you choose to customize your hosting. There are lots of ‘froms’ here, you can select your RAM, storage, and transfer speed requirements as well as additional licenses and bolt-on products. For the ‘Vanilla - off the shelf products’ though. The starting price for A2’s Dedicated Server managed hosting and Unmanaged hosting solutions is as follows :
Cloud HostingThe Cloud Hosting Plans are all Linux server based, there is no Windows option. You can, however, choose your Linux Operating System as well as which type of storage you want in your plan - HDD or SSD.
Much like the VPS Unmanaged plans, the Cloud Hosting plans are customizable so the pricing will vary depending on how you configure your server. The packages start from $5 monthly for the ENTRY plan, $10 monthly for the MID plan and $15 for the ELITE plan.
Reseller HostingA2 offers a variety of Reseller hosting plans on both Windows and Linux servers.
The price range for A2’s Linux and Windows Reseller hosting solutions is as follows :
Alternatives to A2 HostingOut of the most well-known hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how A2 Hosting compares directly to each.
Advantages Of A2 Hosting (Pros)
- Page Load Speeds Up to 20 times Faster than Average
- 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
- Easy Set up
- 24/7 Network Monitoring
- Free SSDs
It provides top speeds due to its use of SSDs even for the shared hosting environment. The turbo servers further boost the speed of your website. It offers comprehensive support for developer features, especially for the adoption of the latest versions of most programming software. The best thing about A2 is its transparency and confidence in its server performance. This enables it to share its server uptime statistics on the official A2 host website. This transparency is also evident when it comes to checking the prices. Rather than having to start the sales process as with a lot of hosts, when you click to see full details of a plan there is a table on the respective page that shows you the pricing for each plan and for each of the payment terms. The A2 hosting plans offer a lot of quality features for free in the form of server rewind backup, CloudFlare CDN, hack scans and so on.
Disadvantages Of A2 Hosting (Cons)
- Not the best option for Beginners
- No Windows Hosting
- No support for Plexum, ColdFusion, PDFLib, MSSQL, HTMLDoc, or mod_perl
- More Expensive than Average
- Restrictions on Cheapest Plan
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 24 months. However, the great news is that currently, they’re providing a one-time discount code that will give you that low price for a short term as well (like 12 months).
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 OK still.
Positive Consumer Reviews and Testimonials on A2 Hosting :Customers of A2 report being very happy with the services offered by the company. Of course, there will always be outliers, but by and large, the customers are touting the benefits of A2.
- Great technical support. if you end up needing it With a very helpful knowledge base, live chat, as well as a dedicated phone line with useful people on the end of the line, your support will always be covered 24/7.
- Beefy hardware infrastructure to support their customers. Choose from a range of server locations, and SSD (including managed VSP) servers.
- Fast load speeds for customer sites. With great infrastructure comes great power. or speed rather! Apparently A2 loads sites quicker than other hosting options.
- Many customers have stuck with them for a long time or happy they relocated to A2. When it comes to customer loyalty, A2 seem to have hit the nail on the head in the services they offer.
Negative Consumer Reviews and Complaints on A2 Hosting :
- For the most part, A2 customers are fairly happy. So what are the things that can go wrong with this provider from their perspective?
- Some experience of DDOS attacks. Like any other hosting service, A2 can on the odd occasion be affected by DDOS attacks -meaning your website is down.
- Pricing is not as cheap as other providers. While customers generally say that the pricing is fair, you’re not likely to get a bargain deal with A2 if that’s what you’re after.
Expert ReviewsIndustry Experts Verdict on A2 Hosting
The experts also rate A2 hosting very highly when it comes to your website hosting needs.
Here’s what they had to say about A2 hosting :
- Very good performance when using A2’s SSD hosting
- The technical support is always very helpful
- It’s good that they use the standard cPanel
- The Turbo server option has great performance
- The security provided is top notch compared to some other services
- They roll out some very useful updates (e.g. security, performance)
Very rarely have we come across a web host that has something for everyone: a newbie webmaster, a developer, an administrator and so on. You can start with A2 hosting at a lower level and then eventually scale up as your site requires more resources. Based on our experience and the consensus among other reviewers that their service is solid we can recommend their service. But don’t believe everything you read. For example, they say their Turbo Servers load “up to 20x faster than alternative hosting,” which is just silly. You might want to handle your domain registration elsewhere as that is always recommended so that you can switch web hosting companies and email providers when you want to Most people would not want their email and web hosting together as many would want to us use Zoho, Google, or Microsoft for email since those have more features, like office, and much better spam engines. We hope that this article helps you determine if you can opt for A2’s hosting services for your website. Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
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Updated : Mon - 03 June 2019