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A2 Hosting review

An honest host obsessed with speed

A2 Hosting Review Hero
(Image: © A2 Hosting)

TechRadar Verdict

A2 Hosting is a US-based host offering everything from pocket-friendly shared hosting solutions suitable for individuals and small start-ups to advanced types of hosting such as VPS and dedicated servers that are suitable for more demanding business endeavors. Either way, if you’re into powerful performance and lightning speed, A2 Hosting provides multiple speed-boosting technologies that make them worth a look.

Pros

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    A wide array of hosting options and features

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    Data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia

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    Free website migration

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    Hassle-free money-back guarantee

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    Speed-optimized WordPress

Cons

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    Price spike after the introductory deal

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    Windows servers are not available

Although A2 Hosting (opens in new tab) was initially launched as a hobby, right from the start it was evident that this side gig was destined to grow into the main one. In 2001, they were occupying a two-room office in Ann Arbor (Michigan, the USA) and offering just shared hosting (opens in new tab) solutions. Nowadays they employ hundreds of “hand-picked” experts and manage data centers around the globe while offering a whole range of web hosting (opens in new tab) products including shared, reseller (opens in new tab), VPS (opens in new tab), and dedicated server hosting (opens in new tab).

Although some things have changed for A2 Hosting, the location of their head office has stayed the same, in Ann Arbor, a city that also inspired the name of the company. One of their US-based data centers is located in Michigan as well, and the other one is in Arizona. Besides this, they also offer data center locations in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Singapore (Singapore).

A2 Hosting’s official site benefits from its clear-cut design and while it doesn’t look too old-fashioned, it has a notably nostalgic feeling about it. Everything you need to know about the company and its products before giving them a shot, you’ll find within a few clicks. A2 Hosting’s site features a blog and at first glance, everything looks done by the book: a lot of easy-to-read articles covering a whole variety of hosting-related topics, from being smart on website security to setting up your own Minecraft server (opens in new tab) by using VPS.  

If you’re somewhat hooked on social networking sites, you can find A2 Hosting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Even if you’re not, be sure to check out their YouTube account since it offers some pretty helpful how-tos.

Pricing

A2 Hosting offers a wide variety of affordably priced hosting plans though their prices do increase upon renewal (Image credit: A2 Hosting)

Plans and pricing

If you don't already know what you want, the absolute amount of hosting options that A2 Hosting offers can cause a bit of confusion. The landing page of A2 Hosting’s site provides four plans in total, one for each type of hosting they provide (shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated server). However, if you check the main menu, you’ll also find WordPress hosting (opens in new tab), as well as additional plans for all hosting types mentioned above.

Go down to the site’s footer and (surprise, surprise), there are more options, including blog hosting (opens in new tab), CMS (opens in new tab) hosting, CRM (opens in new tab) hosting, ecommerce hosting (opens in new tab), forum hosting, Linux hosting (opens in new tab), and Wiki hosting. However, if you dig just a little deeper, you’ll notice that all these “different” plans cited above are actually the same four shared hosting plans we’ve already seen.

The most budget-friendly plan out of the four is suitably named “Startup (opens in new tab)” and for $2.99 per month it will provide you with a single website, 100GB of storage space (SSD), unlimited bandwidth, free SSL certificate (opens in new tab) (HTTPS), free site migration, and a money-back guarantee. However (and sorry to disappoint you) the price is only valid if you submit for three years. If you go for an annual billing it will rise to $6.99 and, with the monthly one, to significantly higher $10.99 (which is the price you’ll face upon renewal, anyway).

In addition to an industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee, A2 Hosting also provides an any-time guarantee which means that even if you exceed the 30 days, you are free to cancel their services and ask for a refund, and you’ll get one for the remaining part of your contract.

As for payment methods, A2 Hosting accepts credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover), PayPal, Skrill, PayU Latam (from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru), UnionPay (only through Stripe), bank transfer, check and money order.

 Ease of use 

Almost as a rule, all of A2 Hosting’s plans are overloaded with features, which are then paraded all over the site. Although it looks a bit boastful, this is quite useful, since users will get a pretty clear picture of A2 Hosting’s products from the outset. Regardless of the type, all hosting packages are displayed side-by-side, and if you click on “Get Full Details” you’ll get exactly that and fit into a table.

After you pick out the preferred plan, you’ll be asked what you want to do about the domain name, whether to register a new one, transfer an old one or use it as it is and update your nameservers. In addition to this, you’ll get an option to use A2 Hosting’s subdomain (a2hosted.com) and deal with the domain later on, which is a nice touch.  

After this, you’ll proceed to the configuration page on which you’ll have to decide about several add-ons, including a RapidSSL certificate, a dedicated IP, auto-install apps (they are included in the price), and an A2 website builder. If you are going to build a one-page site (which is probably not the case), the builder is free-of-charge. However, for everything above that you’ll need to pay extra cash.

Data Centers

Not only can you choose your preferred data center, A2 Hosting also provides speed tests for each of its data centers on its site (Image credit: A2 Hosting)

Here, you’ll also get to choose your data center location and all four are available (Arizona, Michigan, Amsterdam, and Singapore). If you have any questions or concerns about any of this, A2 Hosting’s sales team will (finally) be available via live chat.

The “auto-install application” you choose above will be (as expected) automatically installed in your account and more than 30 are available including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magneto, and OpenChard. However, since you'll be getting the Softaculous auto-installer, any application you want can be yours with a couple of clicks.

To complete your account with A2 Hosting, you’ll have to fill in your personal and payment information and create a solid password. After making a payment you’ll be taken to A2 Hosting's dashboard which has an all too familiar layout that makes it easy-to-use.

cPanel

Manage your A2 Hosting site using the industry-standard cPanel (Image credit: A2 Hosting)

Since A2 Hosting utilized a pretty popular industry-standard cPanel as its main control panel, managing your domains, e-mail, databases, and software should be an intuitive experience.   Alternatively, you can use A2 Hosting’s drag-and-drop site builder that comes with a few good-looking templates and plenty of widgets.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to test the uptime and response time of A2 Hosting's main site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

It seems that speed is all you need, at least according to A2 Hosting, since the word “speed” is mentioned quite often on its official site. Even some of its hosting packages bear the names that suggest speedy performance: Drive, Turbo Boost, Turbo Max, Launch, Turbo Kickstart, and all that. Given all of this, we had no choice but to check the speed performance of A2 Hosting’s site for ourselves, and in collaboration with GTmetrix (our tool of choice).

Although we were performing multiple tests throughout the day, the results stayed pretty much the same, an admirable A (100%), at least according to all of GTmetrix’s vital web metrics. The page required just 1.6 seconds to completely load, which is one of the best speed performances we have witnessed so far.

When it comes to uptime, A2 Hosting guarantees your site will be up 99.9% of the time. After checking it with UptimeRobot (an uptime monitoring tool) we were presented with pretty promising results. After monitoring the uptime of A2 Hosting’s official site for two weeks, we failed to find a single second of downtime which has left us with a splendid 100% of uptime. Although we can’t expect this to continue until the end of time, it sure looks at the very least (let us repeat ourselves) promising.

Support

You'll find an FAQ section and how-to guides in A2 Hosting's knowledge base (Image credit: A2 Hosting)

Support

Choosing “Support” on the site’s navigation menu will take you to A2 Hosting’s knowledgebase, below which you will notice a FAQ section and highlighted how-to guides that are divided into three main categories (Website Migration, Quick Guides, and Account Access and File Uploads). A2 Hosting’s knowledgebase is searchable via search box and it contains a lot of support materials, most of them including screenshots that are easy to understand and follow.  

If you don’t find these self-help options sufficient, you can retrace your steps to A2 Hosting’s blog, which is everything a blog should be, both interesting and informative.  

However, to get in touch with A2 Hosting’s customer support staff, you ought to be a registered user. If you become one, you’ll be offered round-the-clock telephone support, live chat, a ticketing system, and an e-mail. The support agent we made contact with responded rather rapidly, however, since we are aware that all the inquisitive non-registered users are left out (making their work easier), we weren’t exactly blown away by the response.

The competition

Whether you are a beginner or a webmaster, both Bluehost (opens in new tab) and A2 Hosting will come up with more than a few solutions to fit your needs. However, to get the best bargain with either of them, you’ll have to commit for the entire three years.

HostGator (opens in new tab) is another host you are likely to consider, since it offers a myriad of hosting options and features, and all at an attractive price. Like Bluehost (and unlike A2 Hosting), HostGator provides free domain registration for new users that are willing to commit for one year at a minimum. On the other hand, like A2 Hosting (and unlike Bluehost), it offers its own drag-and-drop website builder free-of-charge with all of its hosting packages.

SiteGround (opens in new tab) and A2 Hosting offer similar products including shared, cloud, reseller, and dedicated server hosting. However, with A2 Hosting you can also get VPS hosting packages, but not with A2 Hosting (at this moment, at least). Both offer a money-back guarantee, which means you can try them without any risk before coming to a final conclusion.

Another popular host with a similar scope of hosting options is Hostwinds (opens in new tab), a US-based host offering all-in-one hosting solutions with loads of free features (including unlimited disk space with all its plans), an easy-to-use dashboard, a control panel, and helpful support. That being said, Hostwinds provides only three server locations, two in the USA and one in Europe. With A2 Hosting you can choose to host a server in Singapore as well, which might be a decisive point for the users from Asia.

Final verdict

On the question of whether we recommend A2 Hosting, we have to say yes. It offers a wide array of well-rounded hosting packages full of performance-optimizing features and a few cool speed-boosting tricks. The only weak point we could find with A2 Hosting is their customer support, although we’ve seen much worse.

If this isn’t your first time hosting and you have a soft spot for speed, A2 Hosting is definitely worth a try. However, if it is, with Bluehost and HostGator you’ll get about the same line of products at a similar price, yet backed with support options that will make all of it a bit easier.

Mike Williams
Mike Williams

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.