A2 Hosting Review
A2 Hosting began in August 2001 under the name Iniquinet. As the company grew, they rebranded in March 2003 as A2. Naming the business after their home town, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A2 is best known for being the first hosting company to host PHP5, a server-side scripting language designed for web development. In April 2011, they launched their Virtual Private Server plans and followed up by offering SSD powered hosting as of January 2013. Overall, A2 scores very highly among our web hosting reviews.
During our A2 hosting review, we discovered A2 offers a variety of web services, not just traditional hosting. Clients can choose from shared, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated, and reselling. The company also offers strictly WordPress based-hosting, which the company claims is up to 300% faster than any leading competitor.
A2’s High speed web hosting platform is what the shared plans are called. This option utilizes a proprietary SwiftServer platforms. All packages come with RAI-10 storage, unlimited email databases and domains. Prime + SSD has the added power of a solid state drive’s speed boost. The turbo option offers speeds up to 20 times, by giving users more resources and housing fewer accounts on the same server. However, this final package does not have servers available in Europe.
Pricing options for the basic Prime packages are:
A2 Shared Hosting Plans
A2 also has dedicated servers for businesses that need their own space. The flex dedicated program gives you ultimate control over more resources than VPS. The three tiers are leverage, verge, and peak.
Leverage platform gives users 2x 250GB RAID-1 standard HDD storage, 4 GB RAM, 10TB transfer, 2 cores, 3.1 + GHz CPU, 2 free IP addresses.
A final dedicated server option is peak platform. This plan offers 2x 1000GB RAID-1 standard HDD storage, 8 GB RAM, 20 TB transfer, 8 cores, 2x Intel Xeon 2.4+GHz, with 2 free IP addresses.
VPS and Dedicated Server Hosting Plans
During our A2 hosting review, we checked into how difficult it would be to setup a new shared hosting account, as this is the most commonly purchased plan. During sign up, you are asked to give a domain name. If this is a previously unregistered site, the provider will check for availability prior to continuing with activation-of-service. It saves time and hassle in the long run.
For customers who wish to transfer their site to A2, the option is available. Instead of registering a new site, simply select the “I have a domain” option before entering the web address. They do offer to help migrate your data from an old host to their servers, as long as the previous provider used cPanel as well. This is a free service.
As with most web hosting services, A2 activates your account immediately. However, it still may take a day or two before your domain is ready. Those who migrate their data may see delays of a few days as well.
A2 uses cPanel to control accounts. For those who are unfamiliar with this feature, it may be a little difficult to navigate. It’s not the most intuitive dashboard around, but it is one of the most common ones. Look for a steep learning curve if it’s your first time with cPanel.
A2’s High speed hosting has many great features that customers will enjoy. For starters, you get unlimited bandwidth for data transfer, databases, domains and the use of CloudLinux OS. Users also get perpetual security with free hack scan and server rewind backups. Of course, there is unlimited MySQL 5.5 databases, and FTP/SFTP file transfer access.
Users can also use this hosting platform to park an unlimited number of domains if so desired.
One nice feature is the ease of install for many popular applications. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, CubeCart, and Elgg all install with a single click. Those who want to use their new domain to host a wiki, can do so with Piwik, which also has one-button installation features.
Those who want to keep a close eye on their website will enjoy access to raw log files, website statistics, visitor stats, and webalizer visitor stats. Business customers can also add PayPal, Magneto, and OpenCart to their sites for easy payment acceptance.
Another nice feature that A2 offers is unlimited email addresses. All messages can be accessed from a Webmail portal such as horde, Squirrelmail and RoundCube. Users can also choose to have the information routed to a POP3, IMAP or STMP account. All accounts have spam protection in place.
When we looked at uptime for our A2 hosting review, we visited Webhostingstuff.com to see what their tracker has verified. This third-party site has been watching A2 since February 8, 2006. During that time, the service has gone down 16 times. Downtime for these occurrences totaled 5,013 minutes or approximately 83.55 hours.
The worst downtime rate the company had in those 3,100+ days was in October 2014, where they had 4 outages with a total of 4843 minutes lost. However, this was a rare occurrence and overall they have a 99.89% uptime average, an excellent rating for any hosting business.
While A2’s uptime is phenomenal, speed is what they tout most on their site. This company guarantees to be faster than anyone else. According to NCMonline.com, the statement is relatively true. Based on tests performed from 13 sites worldwide, the fastest page loading was 0.7245 seconds. This method utilized a standard Internet Explorer web browser. There was a slow spot in Hong Kong. Sites accessed in this location took 1.2598 seconds to load. To be fair, while this might have been the snail’s pace for A2, it is still faster than many other web hosting providers. This service definitely lives up to its claims.
Security is one of the most important things you have to consider when choosing a web host. Having all the features in the world won’t do any good if you are prone to attacks and hacks. Like all good companies, A2 maintain their servers by updating software and installing the latest security patches.
While this helps to keep your information safe, and your domain running, there is more that A2 offers in order to make sure a site isn’t vulnerable. In addition to offering server rewind backups of your site for free, you also get perpetual security with free hack scan included with any service. This feature can be very important to those who want to make sure their service is safe and secure.
In addition, A2 offers SSL security certificates at an additional charge. The company also provides free vulnerability scans and discounts on other services. Those who are interested, can also purchase ID protection for $9.95 per year.
Customers can check out the knowledge base to find articles on how to secure sites. These articles can guide you as you choose a strong password, recover from being hacked, or even just help figure out which of their security services will work best for your domain.
Customer service is important to everyone, it keeps people from fleeing once their contract is up. A2 has many ways to contact support for answers to any problems you may be having.
We contacted customer support via their live chat option to clarify a few questions about the package information. We did have to wait, but were answered within two minutes. The support personnel that assisted us was very knowledgeable and able to answer our questions quickly. He was also very friendly and eager to assist in any way possible.
One of the things we did enjoy was that, even though there was a wait, A2 told how many people were in the que in front of us and sent a message each minute letting us know what the status was.
In addition to contacting support via live chat, you can also enter a support ticket or call their toll-free number to speak with a representative. Email messages can take up to 24 hours to receive an answer. For those who want to try it themselves, there is a thorough knowledge base full of articles to search through. You do have to perform a little research in order to access the right documents though.
Overall, we are pleased to find A2 Hosting. This company is obviously trying to stay on the cutting edge of webhosting platforms. They understand that customers want fast upload and download speeds while maintaining a high uptime. Thus, A2 receives an almost perfect score in our web hosting comparison.
This company may have a not-so-easy to navigate control panel, with cPanel, however that is A2’s biggest shortcoming. It does take some time to learn how to use this interface, but once you do, it’ll be one of the simplest tools you’ll ever use when it comes to hosting a website.
Of course, this isn’t the cheapest option available as far as hosting sites go. However, there is some truth in the statement “you get what you pay for.” There are advantages to spending a little more money, with all the added features and security– the price is worth it.
A2 is a company that should be considered when it comes time to decide on who is going to host your next website.