* Updates: Pricing and host features edited to reflect latest changes in 2020.
Having been around since 2001 and originally known as Iniquinet, the company “A2 Hosting” was reborn in 2003 with the new name being in recognition of Ann Arbour, Michigan. For those interested in the why of it, Ann Arbour is the hometown of the founder of A2 Hosting.
The company's data centres are located strategically in Amsterdam, Singapore and, of course, Michigan. This gives them a good global spread covering all equal segments of the globe.
About A2 Hosting, the Company
Company HQ: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Established: 2001 (formerly known as Iniquinet)
Services: Shared, VPS, cloud, dedicated, and reseller hosting
My experience with A2 Hosting
I first started off on A2 Hosting in 2013 with what was then known as the A2 Prime Plan. This would be the rough equivalent of what that's offered under A2's Swift Plan today.
With this A2 Hosting review, I will take you to the backstage and see how things work at A2 Hosting. I will share with you my experience with them as a customer as well as the data I’ve collected (from this test site) on their server performance over the years.
1. Excellent hosting speed performance with typical TTFB below 400 ms
For me, speed is one of the key performance indicators. To determine A2 speed, we host a simple website at A2 Hosting and run regular speed tests on different tools – and I was impressed with A2 Hosting servers. Overall speed results consistently showed an outstanding ratings: A+ on Bitcatcha and Time-To-First-Byte (TTFB) was rated A in most tests at WebPageTest.org.
Below are screenshots of my recent test results.
Speed test at Bitcatcha
Speed tests from United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore at WebpageTest.org
2. Well-optimized – Even for cheap shared hosting package
Server speed is a key point in web hosting. Slow servers can kill your site traffic faster than you can say “uh-oh”.
There have been web performance case studies indicating that just a 1 second decrease in site load time can lead to a 7% improvement in conversion rate and 11% increase in page views. Hosting your site on a slow server turns this around and your traffic is likely to nosedive.
This explains why my hosting review emphasizes a lot on server performance.
A2 Hosting “speed features”
The fantastic speeds I’ve shown you would not likely be possible if not for a combination of first-class infrastructure along with specialized server optimization.
In a glance, here are the “speed features” A2 covered in their shared hosting plans. We will go into details for some of these features below.
Complete SSD solution
Turbo server (20x faster page loads)
US, EU, and Asia server locations
HTTP/2 (deliver files 20-30% faster)
RailGun Optimizer (143% faster)
Full SSD storage + fat server resources
A2 Swift Plans offer full SSD storage along with a guaranteed 1GB RAM and 2 x 2.1 GHz CPU Cores. It also has pre-configured Cloudflare CDN – which helps load your webpage 200% faster.
Pre-configured Cloudflare CDN
* Alternatively you can get these features free from CloudFlare but A2 Hosting made the implementation process simpler and quicker.
Even better, in October 2014 A2 Hosting came out with a new feature- A2 Optimized. This specialized plugin, available for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, OpenCart, or PrestaShop, helps tweak custom host settings and third-party functions so that your hosting account gains greater speed and security optimizations.
If you’re one of those who demands the best of the best, there’s more. Upgrading your account with their Turbo Server option moves you onto less populated servers (hence leaving you with more access to resources) and allows free access to Railgun Optimizer.
* Note – Railgun is included free in A2 Turbo Hosting Plan but costs extra $2/mo for Lite and Swift plans.
3. Reliable – Strong server uptime record
Aside from speed, availability is also important. There’s no pint having the fastest servers in the world if your servers are down half the time. In this aspect A2 Hosting also performs brilliantly. Mostly you can expect more than 99.99% availability, way above the industry standard.
To monitor hosting performance, our team has built a system named HostScore. Image below shows A2 Hosting uptime stats we gathered in January and February 2020. For latest A2 Hosting uptime, visit this page.
Recent A2 Hosting uptime review
Previous A2 Hosting uptime review
Jul, 2019: 100%
Sep 2018: 100%
Feb 2018: 99.98%
Jun 2017: 99.9%
Jul, 2016: 100%
Mar, 2016: 99.84%
Feb, 2016: 99.88%
Aug 2015: 100%
Apr 2015: 99.98%
Oct 2014: 99.98%
Aug 2014: 99.7%
Sep 2013: 99.98%
* Click to enlarge image.
4. Minimum risk – Big signup discount + Anytime Money Back Guarantee + reasonable renewal rates
It is usual that cheap hosting providers offer discounted sign-up rates and then increases fees during renewal. I like A2 Hosting because although it follows this stereotype, their renewal rates are at least reasonable. The pinch can’t really be avoided at renewal time, but I think what A2 Hosting charges is fair. Their Swift Plan renews at $9.99 per month on a 2-year contract.
A2 Hosting sign-up discounts
For those who are just joining them, you will get a one-time discount before having to pay standard rates upon renewal. Here is the signup (promo) and renewal prices for A2 Hosting Lite, Swift, and Turbo plan.
Try A2Hosting out for free!
Thanks to a 30-day money back guarantee, you can signup to A2 Hosting and change your mind if you’re unhappy with what you’ve bought into.
I’ve found that A2 Hosting does make good on their money back guarantees, so you can feel secure in their promise that it’s “Risk Free, Hassle Free, Worry Free”.
In the case that you change your mind after the 30-day honeymoon period lapses, you can still get a prorated refund from the company on unused services.
5. A2 will help migrate your websites
Not all of us are just starting out with our first site and if you’re one of those with an existing site, you may dread having to move it. No worries, with A2 Hosting, once you sign up, they’ll help migrate your websites for free!
Free site migration
To request a free site migration, all you need to do once you sign up is to get in touch with the company customer support and they will help you along.
6. Choice of 4 different server locations
For those who know their target audience, you can enhance speed slightly more since you can select your server location. The closer your server is to your target audience, the better your site speed will be for them, typically. A2 Hosting servers are in Michigan and Arizona – United States, Amsterdam – Europe, and Singapore – Asia.
I find that this is great for those who are targeting website traffic from specific countries or zones, e.g. Asia or Europe.
Choose your server location when order
7. Room to grow – Upgrade to VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting
For those who need something more powerful and comprehensive than standard shared web hosting plans, A2 Hosting has something for you as well. Whether you need VPS, cloud, or even dedicated hosting, the sky is the limit in catering to your needs.
A2 Hosting Plans
I think that the key operative here is scalability. If you’re concerned that your site will outgrow your host’s capabilities, don’t be. There’s lots of room to expand at A2 Hosting.
8. Even more options: Offers specialized developer environments
A2 Hosting is one of the extremely rare service providers that offer some very specialized developer environments on their shared plans. Examples of this include node.js, a Java-based open source server environment.
A2 Hosting = Cheapest Python and Node.js hosting
These specialized environments can allow a wide variety of features such as the generation of dynamic page content. Although open-source and can be installed in almost all environments, it is extremely unusual to find a host which allows installation and configuration on shared environments. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, the only place that allows this is A2 Hosting.
Drawbacks and Cons: What I Do Not Like about A2 Hosting
1. Site migration is chargeable if you downgrade
Unfortunately, while moving to A2 Hosting gets you free site migration, if you scale down your hosting plan for any reason, they’ll charge you for migration support services.
If you opt to move to another data center location, you’ll also be charged. The fee in both cases is a nominal $25.
2. Live chat support isn't always available
I’m quite finicky when it comes to customer support – after all, part of our fees should cover that right?
3. Turbo Plan does not apply to Ruby or Python application
If you’re a regular site user, this probably won’t apply to you since their Turbo and standard plans show and act with the same characteristics.
However, web developers might not be so pleased.
A2 Hosting Plans & Pricing Review
Having had an account with them for so long, I’ve spent A LOT of time testing and dissecting their shared hosting plans.
Three options in shared hosting offers potential customers just enough choices to make things interesting, but not enough to confuse. This is especially true since A2 Hosting focuses on unlimited options in its shared plans.
The cost range stretches a bit from $3.92 to $9.31 a month, yet all shared plans have unlimited storage and data transfer, plus free SSD. Unless you’re opting for the cheapest plan, the rest also cater for unlimited websites, email accounts, and databases.
A2 Shared Hosting Service
Features / Plans
SSD Speed Boost
Pre-configured Site Caching
Tip: No matter which plan you choose, you can opt for Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress as your platform. These options allow you to easily integrate basic shopping cart applications, so you can create online stores if that’s what you need.
A2 Managed VPS Hosting Service
Features / Plans
cPanel Control Panel
Tip: VPS on A2 Hosting come in three different packages – Core VPS, Managed VPS, and Unmanaged VPS – For the first two packages (Core and Managed), the company provides you with help in setting up and managing your VPS servers. If you’re already experienced at this, it’s a bonus because A2 Unmanaged VPS hosting plans are dirt cheap. At the lowest tier, they start at a mere $5 per month and come with 20 GB SSD storage, 1 CPU core, and 512 MB RAM.
Tip: Although Cloud hosting is scalable, I find the plans offered by A2 Hosting in this respect very basic. Much rather you consider their VPS plans instead.
A2 Hosting vs SiteGround: A2 is Cheaper but SiteGround has better support
With over a million domains under management and in the business since 2013, SiteGround has grown and grown and … well, simply grown. I have both tested their plans (read my SiteGround review here) as well as interviewed SiteGround CEO, Tenko Nikolov before.
In my humble opinion, both A2 Hosting and SiteGround are ranked in the top tier of their industry. There are slight differences, such as that A2 Hosting has an advantage in terms of long term cost. Alternatively, SiteGround offers better customer support thanks to 24×7 live chat sales support.
BlueHost is the baby of Matt Heaton and Danny Ashworth who founded the company early in 2003. Later, they sold it Endurance International Group (EIG). Still, WordPress.org officially recommends BlueHost service and they have become a force to be reckoned with in the web hosting business.
A2 Hosting has servers in three key regions – United States, the Netherlands, and Singapore.
How do I access cPanel A2 Hosting?
You can access your A2 hosting cPanel account either via your client dashboard or directly through the cPanel address of your site. The latter should have been provided to you as part of your onboarding package.
Which hosting is best for WordPress?
There are many good providers of WordPress hosting around. Some such as A2 Hosting offer special optimizations, while others like Kinsta have built their entire business based on WordPress hosting.
Is shared hosting slow?
Generally, shared hosting servers usually house more customers per server which increases the chance of performance degradation. Comparatively, VPS hosting would be faster since fewer users share each server and resources are guaranteed. However, the quality of the hosting servers also should be taken into account.
Is shared hosting safe?
Shared hosting is less safe in comparison with other types of hosting since the environment and resources are shared. An infection on one site may spread and involve other websites housed on the same server.
So…. Is A2 the Right Hosting Solution for Your Site?
If you don’t already have a hosting provider, there’s little to consider here. A2 offers powerful features and great customer experience at responsible prices – which is by any account good for both host and customer.
Their high-performance servers, impressive uptimes and good spread of plans make them easily palatable no matter what your needs. I’d say firmly that they check all the right boxes that are necessary for a stable and fast website.
Links pointing to A2 Hosting website are affiliate links. If you purchase via this link, it will credit me as your referrer. This is how I have kept my site alive for 12+ years and continually add more free hosting reviews based on real test accounts – your support is highly appreciated. Buying via my link doesn’t cost you more – in fact, I can guarantee that you’ll get the lowest possible price for A2 Hosting.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.
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