A2 has been hosting websites since 2003. As the the company has grown, so have the options it offers. A2 has one of the most diverse portfolios of servers out there, with platforms for just about any website you could put on the Internet.
Choosing a plan can be cumbersome, but that’s easily overlooked with the amount of value A2 offers. The service offers plenty of features and has an anytime money-back guarantee when you sign up on A2 Hosting.
Read on to see how A2 compares to our best web hosting services.
- Many server types
- One-click WordPress install
- 24/7/365 support
- 99.9% uptime commitment
- Optimization for multiple platforms
- Confusing plans
- No free domain
A2 has a few features that add value to every one of its plans. There are particular features for the different server types, but we’ll look over a few things that run through all of them.
If you’re starting a site out, or need to register a domain, A2 has you covered. When purchasing hosting, you can easily register a domain. It doesn’t have every domain extension possible, but there should be plenty for most users.
If you already have a domain, you can easily transfer it to A2. In fact, you can easily transfer everything: A2 offers free account migration from other hosting platforms. Sign up for an account and it will worry about getting you transferred.
To manage your domain, A2 uses cPanel. We’ll dive more into cPanel in the ease of use section below, but it’s a great feature: cPanel is easy to use and navigate, with tons of options to configure your site.
However, the key feature is optimization for different platforms. A2 has optimized servers for Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Magento and OpenCart. These optimizations improve page speed and the security of sites that run on these platforms.
If you decide that you want to move away, A2 has an anytime money-back guarantee. If the platform isn’t for you, get your money back, no strings attached.
Since A2 has so many different hosting options, it would require an entire article just to go through all of the pricing. Since shared servers are the most common, we’re going to break down those prices as an example.
At first glance, A2 has some of the cheaper pricing out there, especially if you’re a member of Team Penguin. However, the price isn’t static as the advertised rate is only for the initial purchase.
A2 has an ongoing 51 percent reduction promotion for when you first sign up. Upon renewal, the price jumps back up to the regular rate. For example, the Turbo Windows plan would jump to $24.99 per month when renewed.
When checking out, you can purchase up to two years of hosting. That locks in the 51 percent drop for two years, in addition to a volume discount. That is where the advertised price comes from. When paying month-to-month, each plan will cost you almost twice as much and is a lot more expensive as other providers’ plans, as you can see in our web hosting comparison chart.
The Lite plan is the cheapest, but is really only suited for a small personal site. The plan only allows one website and up to five databases. Still, you get unlimited storage and a free SSL certificate like with all other plans.
The Swift plan is the exact same as the Lite plan, but with unlimited websites and databases. If you’re hosting a few websites, this is a good place to go.
The Turbo plan adds one feature. The aptly named Turbo feature boasts up to 20 times faster speeds over other shared plans. Basically, there are fewer users per server, allowing more resources per user (you can read up on A2’s Turbo feature here).
A2 offers a variety of different server types. While most companies offer shared and dedicated platforms, A2 offers five different types of hosting. You can choose from:
Shared hosting puts you on a server with other users. This is the most cost effective option for sites that don’t have too much traffic.
A2 offers three plans for shared servers. We omitted pricing here to avoid confusion since A2 has so many different hosting options. Outside of that, here’s how they break down:
|Cores:||1 x 2.1GHz||2 x 2.12GHz||2 x 2.12GHz
|Windows Pricing:||$4.90 a month||5.88 a month||$10.78 a month|
|Linux Pricing:||$3.92 a month||$4.90 a month||$9.31 a month|
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. These are virtual machines that share physical resources with other, more expensive servers.
A2 offers three different VPS plans. There’s unmanaged, managed and core VPS. Each of the different plans have additional tiers depending on your needs. Here’s how the VPS plans compare:
|Storage:||From 20GB||From 75GB||From 75GB|
|Transfer:||From 2TB||From 2TB||From 2TB|
|RAM:||From 512MB||From 4GB||From 4GB|
|Cores:||From 1 core||From 4 cores||From 4 cores|
Maybe you want to capitalize on web hosting, earning a little money on the side. That’s where A2’s reseller hosting plans come into play. Sign up for a plan and resell that to other people looking to host their site. Here’s how the different reseller plans look:
Next are A2’s cloud hosting plans. Cloud hosting spreads your hosting across a vast network of servers. This has advantages in terms of uptime and security. If a single server goes down or is compromised, it has absolutely no effect on your site.
Since the hosting is spread out, you can easily scale your site as well. With cloud hosting, you pay for exactly what you need, and it’s easy to purchase more resources as you need them. There aren’t many specs to compare since you’ll have to configure the servers. Head over here to see a few example configurations.
The final option that A2 offers are dedicated servers. These are easily the most expensive servers of the bunch, giving you a server all to yourself. You’ll have super fast speeds and tons of customization options. Here are the different dedicated plans:
|Unmanaged Flex Server:||Managed Flex Server:||Core Flex Server:|
Needless to say, there are many different options for servers at A2. Every plan talked about here has additional plans with differing resources. It can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for.
If all of this is new to you, just go for shared hosting. It’s the most inexpensive and straightforward and will get you up and running (read up on how to choose a web hosting provider).
Not to mention, A2 has respectable speeds on shared plans. We ran a basic plan through Bitcacha with Turbo turned off. This tool loads a website hosted on the server, but not any content on that website, providing a baseline server response.
Our tests returned an average of 52.5ms in the States. It’s a bit higher than most other web hosts, sitting above HostGator (read our HostGator review) who clocked in at 45.3ms. However, it’s still shy of GoDaddy (read our GoDaddy review) who has an average of 56ms.
A2 performs far better when we add international servers to the average. It has an overall 176.1ms response time, faster than GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review) and Pagely (read our Pagely review) by a significant margin.
Everything is simple with A2 when first configuring. After that, integration with cPanel makes managing each domain a breeze.
Let’s start with sign up. Creating an account and purchasing hosting is simple. Just choose your plan, add your details and you’re on your way. Additionally, you can easily register a domain or add extra services.
A2 does a good job of giving you customization options without making checkout too confusing.
However, there is one option that you should pay attention to if you’re creating a new account. The auto-install is important if you want to easy setup services like WordPress or Joomla. Make sure you select the service you want here so you don’t have install later.
After logging in, you land in the client area. Basically, this is an overview of your account with quick access to support. You can do things like register a new domain and log into your cPanel, but not much else.
To manage a particular domain, log into your cPanel. You can do so from the client area. If you’ve never used cPanel before, it’s a joy. There are a ton of options from application install to SEO and marketing tools. Every service has nice, visual icons, broken down into categories.
The page looks overwhelming at first with all of the options there. However, it’s not difficult to scan with the icon layout. You can also use the search function if you don’t want to look through everything.
Naturally, there are a lot of options to sort through with web hosting. Still, A2 does a good job presenting all of the options in a way that is accessible to most people.
The A2 servers are locked down with many different security features. There are features on both the user and host side to protect your site against malicious attacks and spam.
Included with every plan is CloudFlare free, with an option to upgrade to CloudFlare’s more extensive plans. Basically, CloudFlare protects against DDoS attacks on your site, as well as providing a cached version of your site should it crash.
However, CloudFlare isn’t all that special: many hosting companies offer it. What makes A2 shine A2 is the perpetual security initiative. This two-part program helps protect your site from malicious attacks.
The first part is KernelCare. It’s a software extension that can update A2’s kernel security each day without a need for a reboot. That keeps the updates quick, with absolutely zero downtime on servers.
The second part is called HackScan. This is a piece of malware protection software that is included, for free, with every plan. The software runs continuously and halts attacks before they can damage your site.
Outside of that, things like a free SSL certificate are included with every plan for free, from the lowest to the most expensive.
Unfortunately, that won’t cover everything. A2 has an impressive list of security features, but the risk remains. If you want to learn more about securing your site with A2, check out the security articles in the knowledgebase.
A2 has some of the most impressive support out there. In addition to an extensive knowledgebase, A2 offers 24/7/365 customer support via email, live chat, phone and even Skype.
The knowledge base is massive. Honestly, A2 would need to provide minimal support with how much is included. For some context, there’s 19 articles on SSL certificates alone.
Just about every piece of information you’d need is there. That comes at a price, though. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so navigating all the articles can be confusing. There’s a search option, thankfully. However, if you can’t find what you’re looking for that way, you’re in for a long haul trying to find the particular article you want.
That’s where all the other support comes in. A2 puts support right out in front, even if you’re not a customer. A bar across the top of website gives you all of the direction you need, whether it’s your first time, or you’re a long time user.
The live chat was the fastest way to support. Just hop on and send your question. I received a response within a few minutes after chat was open.
Instead of queuing, A2 will not allow you to submit a question to chat if all support staff are occupied. You may land on the page and find that’s case: if so, it’s easy to use the links there to find someone who can help.
However, chat can’t solve everything, especially problems that may require monitoring. A2’s ticketing system is a classic form of support that still functions without any problems. Opening a ticket, I received a response within a couple of days.
Of course, there’s phone and Skype support as well, all at no extra charge. I was really impressed with how many options A2 has for support. Their team was responsive and helpful, making this area a huge win.
A2 has one of the best web hosting services out there. The many server options appeal to almost any customer, and the process to get your website set up is straightforward. If you take our other web hosting reviews into account, A2 particularly shines in its range of plans and usability.
The service may not be the cheapest out there, but it’s packed with features that’ll help personal sites to large networks. Have you tried A2 before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.