A2 Hosting Review

Reviewed by: Jerry Low . .
  • Review Updated: Jul 25, 2019
A2 Hosting
Plan in review: Swift
Reviewed by:
Rating:
Review Updated: July 25, 2019
Summary
The best thing about A2 Hosting is speed. By introducing full SSD storage, Railgun Optimizer, and pre-configured server caching to its customers, A2 is raising the speed standard of the entire shared hosting industry.

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.

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 offer under the Swift Plan today.

With this review, I will share with you my experience with them as a customer as well as the data I’ve collected on their server performance over the years.

About A2 Hosting

  • Company HQ: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Established: 2001 (formerly known as Iniquinet)
  • Services: Shared, VPS, cloud, dedicated, and reseller hosting

 


 

Summary: In this A2 Hosting review…

Verdict 

 

A2 Hosting Discount – Special promo code: WHSR

A2 Hosting has three shared plans; Lite, Swift and Turbo, which go for (normal price) $7.99/9.99/18.99 per month respectively. The company is running special summer sales now. If you signup today – you'll save 51% on your first bill. Life, Swift, and Turbo plan cost $3.92/4.90/9.31 per month after discount.

Just quote code “WHSR”.

Save 51% on your first A2 Hosting bill  (order here): Discounted price for shared plans: $3.92, $4.90, and $9.31/mo.

Click here to order A2 Hosting at discounted price.

 


 

Pros: What I Like About A2 Hosting

1- Great performance with typical TTFB below 400 ms

For me, speed is one of the key performance indicators. To determine A2 speed, we host a basic WordPress site 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 below 400ms on WebPageTest.org. Below are screenshots of my recent test results.

Speed test at WebpageTest.org, TTFB = 373ms

A2 Hosting speed test
A2 Hosting speed test (July 2019) from Dulles, United States: Time to first byte (TTFB) = 373ms.

Bitcatcha test result, A+

A2 Hosting in recent server speed test
The most recent trials I ran with A2 Hosting on the Bitcatcha proprietary speed test system also managed to gain impressive timings that led to an average A+ rating thanks to impressive response times.

 

2- Well-optimized for best hosting performance

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.

FeaturesLiteSwiftTurbo
Complete SSD solution
Turbo server (20x faster page loads)
US, EU, and Asia server locations
CloudFlare Basic
CloudFlare Plus
HTTP/2 (deliver files 20-30% faster)
RailGun Optimizer (143% faster)Add $2/moAdd $2/moFree
Starting price$2.96/mo$3.70/mo$7.03/mo

 

Full SSD storage + fat server resources  

A2 Swift Plans offer full SSD storage along with a guaranteed 1GB RAM and 2.1 GHz CPU Cores. It also has pre-configured Cloudflare CDN – which helps load your webpage 200% faster.

a2 speed features
A2 shared hosting plans come with pre-configured CDN and guaranteed server resources.

Pre-configured Cloudflare CDN

A2 Hosting free cloudflare CDN
CloudFlare is pre-configured* in all A2 shared hosting accounts – this gives extra boost in speed (CDN) and site security (unlimited mitigation of DDoS attack).

* Alternatively you can get these features free from CloudFlare but A2 Hosting made the implementation process simpler and quicker.

A2 Optimized 

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.

A2 Hosting auto optimized for popular CMS, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento.
A2 Optimized plugin is pre-configured into all A2 shared hosting. Meaning – the plugin will be setup and configured automatically when you install a new web application.

Railgun Optimizer

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.

A2 Hosting RailGun Optimizer
Railgun accelerates the connection between each proxy and an origin server so that users can load HTML 143% faster (based on CloudFlare study).

* 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.

A2 Hosting Uptime (July, 2019): 100%

a2hosting uptime
A2Hosting uptime (July 2019): 100%

A2 Hosting Uptime (September, 2018): 100%

A2 Hosting Uptime - 2018-09
A2Hosting uptime (September 2018): 100%

A2 Hosting Uptime (February, 2018): 99.98%

A2 Hosting Uptime - 2018-02
Three minutes connection timeout recorded in February 11th and 19th. Test site uptime score = 99.98%.

Previous Uptime Data (2013 – 2017)

Jun 2017: 99.9%

A2 Hosting Uptime - 2017-06

Jul, 2016: 100%

A2 Hosting uptime for June and July 2016

Mar, 2016: 99.84%

a2 - 201603

Feb, 2016: 99.88%

a2 feb 2016 uptime

Aug 2015: 100%

a2hosting uptime august 2015

Apr 2015: 99.98%

a2hosting uptime score (apr 2015)

Oct 2014: 99.98%

a2hosting september uptime

Aug 2014: 99.7%

A2 Hosting Past 30 Days Uptime (July - August, 2014)

Sep 2013: 99.98%

a2hosting uptime score

* Click to enlarge image.

 

4- Reasonable rates and gresign-up discounts

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.

a2hosting signup and renewal prices
The pricing details are published clearly on A2 Hosting offer page. The “Promo Price” (highlighted) is the price you pay when signup (screenshot updated July 2019).

 

5- Try A2Hosting out for free!

Try it before you buy it! Well, not exactly, but thanks to a 30-day money back guarantee, at least you can 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.

A2 Hosting anytime money back guarantee
A2 Hosting's “Anytime Money Back Guarantee”.

 

6- 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 do it for you!

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, just like that.

Free site migration for new A2 Hosting users
A2 Hosting offers free site migration to new customers.

 

7- 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

A2 Hosting server in three different locations
Options are always good, and A2 Hosting lets you choose from any of their data centres around the world to be hosted on. This step kicks in when you place your order, so choose wisely beforehand!

 

8- 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.

A2Hosting Solutions
A2 web hosting plans. Actual prices may vary – A2 is running special promotion at time this screenshot was taken (July 2019).

 

9- 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.

A2 Node.js hosting
A2 Hosting offers wide range of specialized developer environments at affordable prices: Node.js hosting starts at just $3.70/mo.
A2 Hosting cPanel Selector - install node.js, python, and ruby
For existing A2 Hosting users who wish to setup a new development environment, you can login to your A2 dashboard to create and configure new Node.js, Python, or Ruby application.

 

10- Get your 51% special discount here (promo code “WHSR”)

As I mentioned earlier, A2 Hosting shared plans are priced at $7.99/9.99/18.99 per month for their Lite, Swift, and Turbo Plans respectively.

If you sign up now with our special promo code “WHSR”, you’ll get a 51% discount on your first bill.

A2 Hosting discount
Discounted price for A2 Lite, Swift, and Turbo: $3.92, $4.90, and $9.31/mo.

Click here to order A2 Hosting at discounted price.

 


 

Cons of 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 centre location, you’ll also be charged. The fee in both cases is a nominal $25.

A2 Hosting site migration fees for downgrade
Possible fee (source)

 

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?

I’ve found that a major drawback with A2 Hosting is that their live chat support has times when it’s not available.

A2 Hosting live chat record
I had to resort to email for assistance during those periods.

 

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 support on python and ruby
Turbo server (source).

 


 

A2 Hosting's Shared, Managed VPS, and Cloud Plans

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 focusses 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 / PlansLiteSwiftTurbo
Websites1UnlimitedUnlimited
Databases5 UnlimitedUnlimited
SSD Speed BoostYesYesYes
Turbo ServerNoNoYes
Pre-configured Site CachingNoNoYes
Price /mo$2.96/mo$3.70/mo$7.03/mo

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 / PlansPowerPrestigePinnacle
RAM4 GB6 GB8 GB
SSD Storage75 GB100 GB150 GB
CPU Cores468
cPanel Control Panel
Price$29.99/mo$41.99/mo$59.99/mo

 

 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.

 

A2 Cloud Hosting Service

Features / PlansEntryMidAce
RAM512 MB1 GB1 GB
SSD Storage20 GB30 GB50GB
CPU Cores114
Price$5/mo$10/mo$15/mo

 

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 Peers Comparison

A2 Hosting vs SiteGround

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 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.

FeaturesA2 HostingSiteGround
Plan in ReviewSwiftGrowBig
WebsitesUnlimitedUnlimited
StorageUnlimited20 GB
Free Domain
In-house Server Optimization
Server LocationsUnited States, Europe, Asia.United States, Europe, Asia.
Money Back GuaranteeAnytime30 Days
Signup Price (36-mo subscription)$3.70/mo$5.95/mo
Renewal Price$9.99/mo$14.95/mo
Order / Learn MoreA2Hosting.comSiteGround.com

 

Learn more

 

A2 Hosting vs BlueHost

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.

FeaturesA2 HostingBluehost
Plan in ReviewSwiftPlus
WebsitesUnlimitedUnlimited
StorageUnlimitedUnlimited
Free Domain
In-house Server Optimization
Server LocationsUnited States, Europe, Asia.No Choice
Money Back GuaranteeAnytime30 Days
Signup Price (36-mo subscription)$3.70/mo$5.95/mo
Renewal Price$9.99/mo$10.99/mo
Order / Learn MoreA2Hosting.comBluehost.com

 

Learn more

 


 

Verdict: Should you go with A2 Hosting service

Quick recap: A2 Hosting Pros & Cons


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.

So yes, A2 Hosting is a good choice.

 

 

P/S: Did this review help you?

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 8+ 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.