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. But if you prefer to watch an overview of A2 Hosting, check the video below:
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.
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 $24.99 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?
|Startup||Drive||Turbo Boost||Turbo Max|
|Max. number of Inodes (total files)||600,000||600,000||600,000||600,000|
Simultaneous HTTP connections
|Support||24 hours||24 hours||24 hours||24 hours|
|1 GB RAM|
|2 GB RAM|
|4 GB RAM|
|WordPress, Prestashop and Magento caching system||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|First-term prices for 1-year deals||$6.99 a month||$8.99 a month||$14.99 a month||$19.99 a month|
|Renewal price for 1-year deals||$8.99 a month||$11.99 a month||$19.99 a month||$24.99 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, Startup, allows for only 1 website and 100 GB of storage. 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 Drive tier, you are allowed to host as many websites as you want and the storage is unlimited. The backup restore features are enabled too. It also comes with more resources; 1 GB of RAM memory and 2 cores.
The main addition to the Turbo Boost 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.
The Turbo Max plans have twice as much resources (RAM and cores) than Turbo Boost.
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.
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.
|+ 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.
+ Uptime: They have improved their uptime rate since compared to last years’.
+ 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 (for the highest 3 plns), 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.
|– 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).
– Concurrent HTTP connections: All shared hosting plans seem to be limited to 15 to 50 concurrent HTTP connections to the server depending on the plan – 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. Having a concurrent HTTP connections limitation may be a deal-breaker for those getting more traffic.
A2 Shared Hosting Details
Let’s now explore A2’s specifications in detail:
|Ease of Use||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 enough to use. Their checkout page can be a bit overwhelming with all the add-ons and purchase options you have.|
|Domain Names||The Startup plan allows you to have 1 website (domain name). All the other plan won’t have a domain name limitation. A .com domain name with A2 Hosting will cost you $14.95 – not included in the price.|
|Email Rating||All plans come with unlimited email accounts. 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||The Startup tier allows a maximum of 5 databases, the other plans come with unlimited databases.|
|Applications||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||The Startup plan has a 100 GB storage limitation, the other plans offer unlimited space. 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||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||FTP (and FTPS, secure) accounts aren’t limited either. SSH access (for faster deployment) is available.|
|Server Location||You can choose between 4 server locations on 3 continents: Michigan, Arizona, Amsterdam and Singapore.|
|Security Features||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.|
It’s possible to setup a 2 factor authentication workflow to access your account, this makes the login process more secure and keeps phishing scams away.
|Server Speed||In our tests, A2 Hosting performed really well (more information below). The Turbo plans come 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||In my experience, the uptime is very good and has improved when compared to last years’. For the last 12 months the uptime rate has been 99.99%, well above the 99.95% industry standard. They have a 99.9% uptime commitment, but serious projects should look at higher uptime rates.|
|Backups||They create automatic backups of your site. They keep a copy of the last 7 days, they could offer more. With its server rewind feature, you can restore files to a previous version at no cost, but it’s only available with the Drive 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||A2 Hosting doesn’t come with a built-in CDN, but CloudFlare is pre-integrated and really easy to enable.|
|Server Features||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 Startup plan comes with 0.7 GB of RAM, the Drive tier has 1 GB, the Turbo Boost package has 2 GB and Turbo Max 4 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||A2 Hosting has a 99.9% uptime commitment with a 30-day money-back guarantee.|
|Assistance and Support||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 Rating||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, 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 Loading Time|
|5 GTmetrix test||2.68 s|
|5 Pingdom test||0.896 s|
|5 PageSpeed Insights (Google)||3.30 s|
A2 Hosting performed very well, in our tests. Its average loading time was 2.29 seconds, only a 0.19 seconds slower than the top-performing provider (SiteGround).
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.
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.
In the past (2019) A2 Hosting has struggled with uptime ratios, but in our last tests, as you can see in the table above, they had outstanding uptime results.
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 HTTP concurrent connections may not be ideal for some.
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 bandwidth
- Generous storage
- 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.
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 and DreamHost
- Along with A2 Hosting, SiteGround and Kinsta 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.
I hope I answered all your questions about A2 Hosting in this review. But please, if you do still have some questions, leave a message and I’ll do my best to help you.