A2 Hosting Review
A2 Hosting has been around since 2001. When it first hit the scene, it was known as Iniquinet, but it was renamed A2 Hosting back in 2003. The name may have changed, but the services and features have remained the same. The company is still known for providing blazing fast speed, superior uptime, and stellar customer service today. It manages to accomplish this by owning all of its own web servers. It has data centers in three locations, with the primary data center in Michigan and additional servers in Amsterdam and Singapore, Asia.
I’ve been using A2 Hosting (under A2 Prime package – an old shared hosting plan – on HDD and unlimited domains) since 2013 and I’m extremely happy with its performance. On this page, you will see exactly what A2 Hosting has to offer based on my experience and server test report.
This original review was published on June 26th, 2013. A complete re-review was done on June 23th, 2016 and updated on March 7th, 2017.
A2 Hosting: What’s In The Package?
First, though, take a minute to see the different hosting plans that you can get if you use A2 Hosting. Then, I’ll go over the specific features that I like with this company.
If you go with A2 Hosting, you can choose from – shared, VPS, reseller, and dedicated server hosting.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these, starting with the shared hosting plans.
I spent most of my time testing A2 Hosting’s shared hosting plans.
It offers three options for shared hosting, in the form of Lite, Swift, and Turbo. Like many of the hosting companies out there, it focuses on unlimited options with its shared plans. The plans range from $3.92 to $9.31 a month, and they all come with unlimited storage and transfer, plus free SSD. In addition, the Swift and Turbo plans include unlimited websites and databases.
Regardless of the account that you use, you can integrate it with Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress. It’s also easy to integrate basic shopping cart applications to create a merchant website using .
|SSD Speed Boost||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pre-configured Site Caching||No||No||Yes|
While shared hosting is the most popular option, it’s far from your only choice
You can also go with Unmanaged or Managed VPS hosting with A2 Hosting. Unmanaged VPS hosting starts at $5 a month, while Managed VPS hosting starts at $32.99 a month. Choose the Managed VPS hosting option if you want a user-friendly platform and a worry-free Host-Guard Management system. Go with the Unmanaged VPS hosting option if you’re a developer and you want to have full control over your server.
A2 Hosting has three reseller hosting options available. The Produce plan starts at $13.19 a month; the Progress plan starts at $19.79 a month, and the Prosper plan starts at $36.29 a month. These plans range from 60 GB to 200 GB of storage a month and 600 GB to 2,000 GB transfer a month. They all include unlimited accounts and free SSD.
Dedicated Server Hosting
Finally, you can sign up for dedicated server hosting. Select the Unmanaged Flex Server plan or the Managed Flex Server plan. The Unmanaged plan starts at $99.59 a month, and the Managed plan starts at $141.09 a month. The Unmanaged plan is fully customizable and includes root access, while the Managed plan has a free cPanel control panel. Both provide 10 TB transfer and 8 GB of RAM.
Exclusive A2 Hosting Promo Code: WHSR – Get 51% Discount
A2 Hosting Promo: 51% Discount on First Hosting Bill
Use promo code “WHSR” when you order A2 Hosting (shared hosting only); price starts at $3.92/mo after discount.
My Experience With A2 Hosting Service
I signed up A2 Hosting Prime Hosting Plan back in May 2013. The test account remains active as of today (June 2016); the following are my key findings about the web host.
A2 Hosting server speeds (for real!)
There is a lot to like about A2 Hosting.
Fat server resources & Railgun Optimizer
The company kills when it comes to speed – the folks at A2 Hosting are heavily obsessed with hosting speed. The shared servers store everything in SSD, including your files, databases, and OS. The shared hosting plans come with 10 GB redundant networks, 64 GB of RAM, and a 12-core server. Plus, all of the shared plans include free CloudFlare CDN support. If you upgrade to a Turbo plan, you’ll also have access to the Railgun Optimizer for free. This tool loads HTML 140% faster. If you don’t want to upgrade, you can still get this tool, but you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.
Multi continent server locations
Along with all of this, all of the packages include multiple server locations Michigan – United States, Amsterdam – Netherland, and Singapore) – which helps a lot if most of your target audience are from a specific region.
As great as all of this is, it gets even better if you use WordPress. A2 Hosting offers exclusive WordPress hosting features, courtesy of A2 Optimized*. Pages load 6x faster, and sites have enhanced security. Your package will include automatic A2 Optimized updates so you don’t have to worry about getting the latest updates when you have access to this tool.
My speed test results
While this all looks good on paper, you probably want to know how it actually performs in the real world. With that in mind, I performed a speed test on my test site using Bitcatcha (awesome tool – go check it out). The test site hosted on A2 Hosting is pinged from 8 different locations and then compared with 10 million other results (more about how the test works later).
As you can see below, the test site performed an A in the speed test – which is extremely impressive for a shared hosting that costs $3.92/month. If you compare other web hosts in the same price range, most of them will come in at a B or lower.
* Note: A2 Hosting released A2 Optimized in October 2014 – a pre-configured for A2 Optimized plugin that work with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, OpenCart, and PrestaShop. Exclusive for shared hosting users, the plugin provides auto server configuration for your CMS or cart applications sites. The officials claims that the plugin ends ‘the guesswork of how to get the fastest WordPress page loads.
Key server speed features at A2 Hosting
|Complete SSD solution|
|Turbo server (20x faster page loads)|
|US, EU, and Asia server locations|
|HTTP/2 (deliver files 20-30% faster)|
|12 core server minimum|
|16 GB RAM server minimum|
|10 GB/s redundant network|
|RailGun Optimizer (143% faster)||Add $0.98mo||Add $0.98/mo||Free|
Uptime is possibly even more important than speed. After all, if your site isn’t up, it doesn’t matter how fast it is. I am really impressed by A2 Hosting’s uptime. The company has a 99.9% uptime guarantee (official ToS here), and it is able to honor that by having support staff on hand all day and all night.
Besides one or two occasions where it went below 99.9%, my test site 30-day uptime scores were constantly above 99.95%. So I have been very pleased with the uptime. To learn more, see my monthly uptime report here and below.
Customer support and refund policy
Another big plus about A2 Hosting is the customer support. Affordable hosting companies typically have average customer support, but that is far from the case with A2 Hosting.
Anytime Money Back Guarantee
Quote from A2 Hosting Anytime Money Back Guarantee policy
The thing is, we don’t think you’ll be canceling. If you do decide we’re not the right host for you though, we’ll give you a hassle-free refund. We may have to stock up on tissues if you cancel though because we hate break-ups, but we promise, no hard feelings. Just cancel your account within your first 30-days for a full refund, or anytime after for a prorated refund of unused service after 30-days. It’s that easy.
And if that’s not good enough… A2 Hosting moves beyond good customer support by offering an anytime money back guarantee. If you don’t like your hosting plan, you can get your money back. Cancel within the first 30 days for a full refund, or cancel after 30 days for a pro-rated refund. That means that A2 Hosting has to work extra hard to keep its customers happy. Otherwise, the company will lose a ton of money.
Other user positive feedback on customer support
Not long ago we did a survey and asked bloggers for their hosting feedbacks. Here’s Lori Soard feedback on A2 Hosting.
A2 Hosting review by user Lori Soard –
What I like about the most about A2 Hosting – Tech support is fast to respond. If I send them an email, they respond in less than an hour.
A2 [Hosting] is a little more expensive than my last hosting company, Downtown Host, but they have resolved issues for me within minutes and have a lot of additional perks. Thanks to Jerry Low for recommend A2 to me when I was preparing to switch hosts. His reviews are always spot on for web hosting. – Lori Soard, Promo Warriors
Scalability: Plenty of room to grow
Last but not least, there is room to grow with A2 Hosting. If you’re just starting out and want to go with a basic shared plan, you can spend a few bucks and get started. If you want to scale up, you can get a VPS. You can grow as much as you want without having to change hosting companies when you choose A2 Hosting as your hosting company.
Server Rewind, CloudFlare, and HackScan
A2 Hosting’s shared hosting plans have some features you don’t see often in shared hosting deals, including Server Rewind, CloudFlare, and HackScan.
Server Rewind is one of the best features available. This tool backs up your account so you can restore a single file, MySQL database, site, or account if you accidently delete something. The service is:
- Automatic – Account backup snapshots are taken regularly.
- Flexible – Restore a single file, MySQL database, site or your entire account.
- Convenient – Access Server Rewind from your control panel.
- Free – Yes, it’s actually 100% free.
CloudFlare is a CDN that is known for its blazing fast speed and cached content. It loads content up to 200x faster than other CDNs.
Then, HackScan blocks attacks before they occur. This is another way that A2 Hosting keeps your site secure.
All these are available for free at A2 Hosting.
Patchman Enhanced Security
Security is a major concern with web hosting. You want your site to be as secure as possible, and A2 Hosting provides an extra layer of security with Patchman. Patchman is a security tool that is available for free when you have a shared hosting account.
Patchman (introduced August 2015) detects out-of-date software; quarantines infected files, and auto-patches security issues in WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. This can prevent your site from getting hacked.
Quote from A2 Hosting Patchman release announcement
Right now Patchman is only available on shared SSD hosting accounts and HDD servers numbered 81+ (unfortunately I couldn’t try this function as my test site is hosted on server A2S80). According to the official announcement, A2 Hosting is finding ways to implement this function on other hosting plan.
We are rolling out Patchman on all Shared SSD Hosting accounts and on HDD servers numbered 81+. As Patchman requires cPanel, we are investigating ways to offer this service on our Reseller, VPS and Dedicated Servers as well.
While there is very little I would complain about A2 Hosting. There are a few important issues that shoppers need to take note.
1. Ever changing prices and promo code
A2 Hosting’s promo codes change throughout the year. Because of that, the promo code we have listed might not be correct. Check the official A2 Hosting page to make sure you have the right promo code.
2. Only Turbo users get Turbo Server
You will only have access to the Turbo Server if you sign up for the Turbo plan. While the Turbo and Swift Servers are similar, the Turbo Server has some features that are important to web developers. The Turbo Server has its own PHP API and compiles .htaccess files. In addition, APC is enabled on the Turbo Server, and the server has a built-in caching engine. All of these features improve the server’s speed.
If you want to change the PHP configuration settings for the server, you’ll need to use the cPanel instead of the php.ini files. These servers don’t support Python-based or Ruby-based web applications.
3. Server migration fees
Quote from A2 Hosting Refund Policy
When upgrading to a higher-priced hosting plan, we will migrate your account to the new product for free. The data center migration fee is also waived if you choose to move to a new data center during the upgrade process. Upgrades requests are processed and effective only after payment for the package price difference is paid. If you would like to move to another data center without upgrading your account, there is a $25 migration fee.
When downgrading to a lower-priced plan, the difference between the amount of the current package price already paid over the new package price will be placed on the billing account as a service credit. Refunds will not be issued and a $25 downgrade migration fee will be charged. Please contact the sales or billing department if considering an upgrade or downgrade to determine what options are available as well as cost.
A2 Hosting charges a small server migration fees for non-upgrading customers who wish to switch data center locations (say, from US to Asia data center). Also, a server migration fee will be charged on customers who wish to downgrade their existing hosting plans (so it’s always recommended to start small and upgrade later at A2 Hosting).
A2 Hosting Uptime Review
I track and publish A2 Hosting uptime scores regularly. Below are some samples I have collected throughout the years.
A2 Hosting Uptime (February/March, 2017): 100%
A2 Hosting Uptime (June/July, 2016): 100%
A2 Hosting Uptime (March, 2016): 99.84%
A2 Hosting Uptime (February, 2016): 99.88%
A2 Hosting Uptime Scores (2013 – 2015)
A2 Hosting Server Speed Test
We started to track server speed in 2016, results are shown in the following image. Test site hosted on A2 Hosting is pinged from multiple locations and compared with 10 million other sites using Bitcatcha.
How does the test work? According to Bitcatcha, the tool will pings a site URL from 8 different locations and measure how quickly the server responds. For each location, the tool will ping as many as 3 times before getting the median value as the final result. Note that these response times have nothing to do with how well a site is optimized for speed. Instead, the test results rely solely on server response speed (time to first byte) – hence, a usable metric to judge hosting speed.
Speed Test on Jun 23, 2016: A, Excellent
Speed Test on Feb 25, 2016: B+, Good
If you’re trying to decide if you should go for A2 Hosting, I have a simple answer…
You can get a powerful hosting plan for a little bit of money with A2 Hosting. The customer service is great, the features are customizable, and there is room to grow. Plus, my test site has performed well, so I am really happy with this service. Whether you are a web developer or running an online business, this is a great hosting platform for you.
For more details or to order A2 Hosting, visit (link opens in new window): https://www.a2hosting.com/