A2 Hosting Review

A2 Hosting Review
Plan in review: Swift
Reviewed by:
Rating:
Review Last Updated: March 20, 2018
Summary
The best thing about A2 Hosting is speed. By introducing SSD storage, Railgun Optimizer, and pre-configured server caching to its shared hosting users, A2 is raising the speed standard of the entire shared hosting industry.

The company A2 Hosting has been around since 2001. When it first hit the scene, it was known as Iniquinet. It was then renamed as A2 Hosting in 2003 as a tribute to the founder’s home town – Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The company has data centers in three locations, with the primary data center in Michigan and additional servers in Amsterdam and Singapore, Asia.

My experience with A2 Hosting

I’ve been using A2 Hosting platform, under A2 Prime (old shared hosting plan, similar to Swift plan today), since 2013.

In this page, you will see exactly what A2 Hosting has to offer based on my experience and server test report.

About A2 Hosting

  • Head quarter: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Established: 2001, previously named as Iniquinet
  • Services: Shared, VPS, cloud, dedicated, and reseller hosting

(Quick Jump) Review A2 Hosting in:

Special Discount: A2Hosting Promo Code

A2 Hosting shared plans are originally priced at $7.99/9.99/18.99/mo for Lite, Swift, and Turbo.

If you apply our promo code “WHSR”, you’ll save up to 51% on your first bill.

* Click to enlarge image.

Save 57% 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.

 

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A2 Hosting Server Performance

 

Our Experience & Thoughts:

Average hosting uptime above 99.98%

Time-to-first-byte (TTFB) around 500ms

Rated A at Bitcatcha Speed Test

A2 Optimized – pre-tuned server for WP, PrestaShop, and Drupal

HTTP/S unavailable for Lite and Swift plan

 

Outstanding Server Performance: Speedy and Reliable Servers

The company kills when it comes to server speed and uptime.

Their shared hosting plans store everything in SSD; and come with fixed physical memory (guaranteed 1GB RAM, 2.1 gHz CPU Cores for each Swift account) and pre-configured CloudFlare CDN.

Also – users can choose their server location from different continents: Michigan – United States, Amsterdam – Netherland, and Singapore.

In October 2014, A2 Hosting released A2 Optimized – a plugin that combines custom host settings and third-party functions to provide speed and security optimizations.

* Click to enlarge image. 

The plugin is pre-configured into all A2 shared hosting. Meaning – the plugin will be installed automatically when you setup your WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, OpenCart, or PrestaShop at A2.

If that’s not enough, you can still upgrade to Turbo Server – where you get reallocated to servers with less users and free access to Railgun Optimizer (which gives 143% faster HTML load time).

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

Quick glance: Key server speed features at A2 Hosting

Features Lite Swift Turbo
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)
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
Starting price $3.92/mo $4.90/mo $9.31/mo

 

A2 Hosting Speed Test

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 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 (example here and here).

Test Result #1: Rated “A”

Test date: March 6th, 2018. Test site hosted at Michigan; longest response time (Bangalore): 279 ms.

Test Result #1: Rated “A”

a2hosting test site
Test date: June 23, 2016. Test site scored A and is loading faster than 86% of 10 million tested websites.

Test Result with WebpageTest.org

Time to first byte (TTFB) for my A2-hosted site at 538ms in recent speed test.

Note: Why focus so much on server speed? Because speed kills. According to few different case studies, just 1 second decrease in site load time offers a 7% improvement in conversion rate and 11% bump in page views. If your host is not speeding fast enough, it is killing your business.)

A2 Hosting Uptime 

I track and publish A2 Hosting uptime scores regularly. Below are some samples I have collected throughout the years.

A2 Hosting Uptime (February, 2018): 99.98%

Three minutes connection timeout recorded in February 11th and 19th. Test site uptime score = 99.98%.

A2 Hosting Uptime (June, 2017): 99.99%

A2 Hosting uptime (June 2017): 99.99%. Site went down for a minute on June 21st.

Previous Uptime Data (2013 – 2016)

* Click to enlarge image.

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

 

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A2 Hosting Essential Features

 

Our Experience & Thoughts:

Basic plan covers all essential features 

Well optimized for site speed and security

Free site migration for first time customers

Choice of server locations in three continents

Easy to scale – Plenty of room to grow

Free HackScan, Server Rewind, and Outdated software notification

Generous in server capacity – store up to 300,000 inodes for Swift plan

Let’s Encrypt SSL ready for all new shared and reseller accounts

Additional charges for switching server location

Turbo Plan does not support Ruby- or Python-based applications.

 

Scalability: Plenty of room to grow

A2 Hosting offers various hosting options.

You can choose from –  shared, VPS, reseller, cloud, and dedicated server hosting.

 

a2hosting choices
Plenty of hosting choices at A2 Hosting.

A2 Hosting Server Locations

You can choose your server location when ordering.

A2 Hosting operates their data centers in United States, Amsterdam, and Singapore.

A closer look on A2 Hosting’s Shared, Managed VPS, and Cloud 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.

A2 Shared Hosting Plans

Features Lite Swift Turbo
Websites 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Databases 5  Unlimited Unlimited
SSD Speed Boost Yes Yes Yes
Turbo Server No No Yes
Pre-configured Site Caching No No Yes
Price /mo $3.92/mo $4.90/mo $9.31/mo

 

A2 Managed VPS Hosting Plans

Features Power Prestige Pinnacle
RAM 4 GB 6 GB 8 GB
SSD Storage 75 GB 100 GB 150 GB
CPU Cores 4 6 8
cPanel Control Panel
Price $32.99/mo $46.19/mo $65.99/mo

 

Tip: The plans listed above are managed VPS – this means A2 Hosting will provide assistance in setting up and managing your servers. Experienced developers – you might want to check out their Unmanaged plans as they are dead cheap. Basic plan starts at $5/mo and come with 20 GB SSD storage, 1 CPU core, and 512 MB RAM. 

 

A2 Cloud Hosting Plans

Features Start Median Ace
RAM 512 MB 1 GB 1 GB
HDD Storage 10 GB  10 GB 25 GB
CPU Cores 2 2 2
Price $15/mo $20/mo $25/mo

 

Tip: A2 Hosting Cloud Plans are very basic. If you are considering this – you might want to check out their VPS plans or Hostgator Cloud (powerful and cheaper) instead. 

 

 

A2Hosting Free SSL (Let’s Encrypt)

Let’s Encrypt is enabled for all new A2 Hosting shared and reseller accounts.

A HTTPS version of your site is ready without any additional work from you.

* Click image to enlarge.

To check and verify Let’s Encrypt, login to cPanel > Security > SSL/TLS > (under Certificates) Click “Generate, view, upload, or delete SSL certificates.” Let’s Encrypt will appear in the Issuer column.

Server Rewind, CloudFlare CDN, and HackScan

A2 Hosting offers Server Rewind, CloudFlare CDN, and HackScan in their shared hosting plans. These features are seldom offered in budget shared hosting deals (<$10/mo).

 

Worry free hosting environment - server backup and hack scans performed regularly.
Worry free hosting environment – server backup and hack scan performed regularly.

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.

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.

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.

* Note: Unfortunately I can’t test this function as my test site is hosted on an old server (A2S80).

Quote from A2 Hosting Patchman release announcement

Right now Patchman is only available on shared SSD hosting accounts and HDD servers numbered 81+. 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.

(Original source)

 

 

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A2 Hosting’s Customer Support

 

Our Experience & Thoughts:

Clear service terms and guarantees

Anytime money back guarantee 

BBB accredited since 2005, rated “A”

Good billing practice – users can refund or cancel account easily

Live chat support not 24×7 based on our test

 

Customer Support and Refund policy

The company has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau at time of writing.

a2hosting bbb rating
A2 Hosting is a BBB Accredited Business since January 2005 – that’s more than a decade!

You might need your Support PIN to confirm your identity when you reach out to A2 Hosting support (phone calls, online chats, tickets).

Your Support Pin is shown at A2 Hosting Customer Portal (top left corner).

 

Anytime Money Back Guarantee

At A2 Hosting, you can

  1. cancel you account within the first 30 days for a full refund, or
  2. cancel after 30 days for a pro-rated refund.

A2 Hosting Anytime Money Back Guarantee (source).

In other words, A2 Hosting has to work extra hard to keep its customers happy. Otherwise, the company will lose a ton of money.

A2 Hosting Live Chat – Not 24×7

I did a survey on hosting companies live chat support in 2017. During the experiment, I wasn’t able to reach A2 Hosting support via live chat and was advised to send an email.

A2 Hosting User Feedback

On the other hand, this is what A2 Hosting user, Lori Soard, told me.

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.

I use A2 Hosting and always just email them. I’ve never had a problem with them getting back to me within a few minutes, but I’ve never had a problem that required a lot of back and forth I’d need through a Live Chat, so that was interesting that they weren’t manning that.

– Lori Soard, Promo Warriors

Server migration fees

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.

Quote from A2 Hosting Refund Policy

Upgrades

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.

Downgrades

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.

(Original source)

 

Tip: Hence, it’s always recommended to start small and upgrade later at A2 Hosting.

 

 

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A2 Hosting Pricing: Is A2 value for money?

 

Our Experience & Thoughts:

Reasonable: Swift Plan starts at $4.90/mo

Cheap entry price for Unmanaged VPS ($5/mo)

Users save 51% when order via our special promo link

Price increase during renewal

 

 

 

A2 Hosting Discount, Promo Code: WHSR

A2 Hosting shared plans are originally priced at $7.99/9.99/18.99/mo for Lite, Swift, and Turbo.

If you apply our promo code “WHSR”, you’ll save up to 51% on your first bill (see image).

Save 57% 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.

 

A2 Hosting 50% expensive on renewal

New users get an one-time discounts when they first signup to A2 Hosting. The hosting price will fall back to the “standard” rate when you renew your account, which is $7.99/mo, $9.99/mo, and $18.99/mo for 2-year renewal.

The pricing details are published clearly on A2 Hosting offer page.

A2 Hosting vs SiteGround

A2 Hosting SiteGround
Shared Hosting Lite Swift Turbo StartUp GrowBig GoGeek
Websites 1 Unlimited Unlimited 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Free Domain
Money Back Guarantee Anytime Anytime Anytime 30 Days 30 Days 30 Days
In-house Server Optimization
Server Locations United States, Europe, Asia. United States, Europe, Asia.
Signup $3.92/mo $4.90/mo $9.31/mo $3.95/mo $5.95/mo $11.95/mo
Renewal $7.99/mo $9.99/mo $18.99/mo $9.95/mo $14.95/mo $29.95/mo
Order / Learn More A2Hosting.com SiteGround.com

 

A2 Hosting vs BlueHost

InMotion Hosting BlueHost
Shared Hosting Lite Swift Turbo Basic Plus Prime
Websites 2 Unlimited Unlimited 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Free Domain
Money Back Guarantee Anytime Anytime Anytime 30 Days 30 Days 30 Days
In-house Server Optimization
Server Locations United States, Europe, Asia. No Choice
Signup $3.92/mo $4.90/mo $9.31/mo $2.95/mo $5.95/mo $5.95/mo
Renewal $7.99/mo $9.99/mo $18.99/mo $7.99/mo $10.99/mo $14.95/mo
Order / Learn More A2Hosting.com bluehost.com

 

 

 

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Verdict: Should You Go With A2 Hosting?

Yes.

You can get a powerful hosting plan for a little bit of money with A2 Hosting. Their server performed well, pricing is reasonable, and there is always room to grow. Whether you are a web developer or running an online business, A2 is a great hosting platform for you.

Pros

  • Excellent server performance – average hosting uptime above 99.98%, TTFB below 550 ms.
  • Almost 20 years of proven business track record.
  • Good billing practices and reasonable renewal rate.
  • Risk free – anytime money back guarantee.
  • Free sites migration for new customers.
  • Plenty of room to grow – users get to upgrade their servers to VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting.

Cons

  • Site migration is chargeable when downgrading.
  • Live chat support not 24×7 based on my test.
  • Turbo server does not support Ruby or Python application.

 

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Order A2 Hosting at 51% Discount

Click: https://www.a2hosting.com/

 

 

P/S: Is this review helpful?

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 keep this site alive for 8+ years and 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. )