A2 Hosting Review

A2 Web Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, Pricing and More

A2 hosting logo text
Rating
3.9/5
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$2.99/mo
A2 hosting logo text
Rating
3.9/5

Contents

My first few looks at the A2 Hosting website were something of an advertisement fever dream. If there is one thing that I can say about A2 Hosting right away, the company gives you tons of information. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a bit overwhelming.

Usually, websites built like this mean bad news, often followed by several negative customer reviews. But A2 Hosting is a bit of a different story.

Below, we will use all of the information to determine how this web hosting provider is is worth your money. Let’s get started.

What Is A2 Hosting?

A2 Hostings About Section is a bit of a wild ride. The company was started in 2001 by Bryan Muthig, making them more than a decade old. Unlike other hosting providers, they haven’t been bought up by any major companies. They are still independently owned.

It is said that the company started in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a hobby. Since then, A2 has grown to a fully scalable hosting company that offers many standard hosting services.

A2 Hosting is so confident in its abilities that it calls out almost all of the major host providers on its about section.

A2 Hosting Compared to Other Leading Companies

It takes some significant clout to claim to outperform some of these major players. But A2 Hosting does back it up, which is something we will discuss throughout this review.

Thankfully, the team also knows how to tell a joke. A2’s about section is also full of pop culture references:

A2 Hosting About Pop Culture References

While it’s awesome to see a bit of humanizing in our “always be the best” kind of world, being the best also helps out. So let’s explore what makes this hosting provider worth the big bucks.

Is A2 Hosting Good?

A2 Hosting is an excellent provider if you are willing to pay up.

Would Recommend If…

A2 Hosting is best for companies that demand excellence and have the capital. Compared to other web-hosting providers, they outmatch most regarding speed and reliability. However, they do not have Windows servers.

Wouldn’t Recommend If

If you are a small business looking to start with a little hosting provider, A2 is a bit overwhelming. Their pricing packages are also pretty steep for those who have limited capital.

A2 Hosting Pros and Cons

Pro's Con's
30-Day Money Back Guarantee Overwhelming Website
24/7 Live Chat & Phone Support No Free Domain Name
Incredibly Fast & Reliable No Support For Windows Servers
Unlimited Storage Cheapest Plan Is Very Weak
Free SSL Certificate Pricier Than Most Web Hosts
Free Website Migration Website Builder Can Get Expensive
Unlimited Email Accounts With All Plans Low Disk Space For WordPress Hosting
Choose Your Server (Local & Global)
Robust Security Features
Website Staging Available
Transparent Billing Practices
Prorated Money Back Guarantee

Features

A2 Hosting has a lot of good reasons to stick around. Here are some of the positives:

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee (Prorated As Well)

A2 offers a 30-day money-back guarantee of 100% of your payment during that first period. If you cancel your services after the 30-days, you might still be entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your hosting plan.

Free Site Migration

A2 offers free site migration services with all of its hosting plans. However, higher-tier plans will require you to pay for managed hosting.

Managed hosting plans are better for people who want to put the server load on other web admins. If you already have an internal team, you do not need this service.

Multiple Global Server Locations

A2 has server locations at worldwide locations. Most other hosting providers tend to stick to the US, but not A2. A2 has data centers in these locations.

  • Michigan
  • Arizona
  • Europe (Amsterdam)
  • Asia (Singapore)

A2 has a page devoted to supporting international hosting, but don’t be fooled into thinking there are servers there.

Website Staging Features

A2 Hosting has a control panel that enables you to run test sites efficiently. This feature allows you to test changes to your website before publishing them. Even the cheapest shared hosting plan comes with this.

Unlimited Email Accounts and Unlimited Storage

A2’s Startup plan and everything beyond has support for unlimited email accounts. Unlimited storage is limited to the higher three tiers of the shared hosting plan.

Regardless, the access to unlimited resources is handy, but you’ll find that the speed is far slower on lower-tier plans. Larger websites (like those in eCommerce) are best left to the highest tier shared plan, VPS, or dedicated servers.

Regardless, having unlimited storage is still a useful feature as a shared host.

Drawbacks

A2 also has some areas it could improve upon:

Overwhelming Website

Navigating A2’s website is like traveling down a series of unmarked, backend country roads. You might think you are in a new location, but it feels like going in circles. You’ll find yourself looking at the same information on multiple pages.

I found mentions of A2’s shared hosting plans on well over twenty pages. Each of those pages is created to try and drive SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an attempt to draw new visitors using what people search.

For example, the locations page provides you information on what countries they operate in. Clicking on those pages will give the same shared hosting plans with slightly different appearances, mainly the flags.

Thankfully, A2 does not continue this habit outside of its main website.

More Expensive (Website Builder & Hosting Plans)

A2 is much more expensive compared to other providers, especially when comparing shared hosting plans. The entry-level pricing gets you in for free years, but the turnaround can easily cause you to spend thousands without realizing it.

In addition, A2 requires you to give a fifteen-day notice of cancellation on most of their offerings. So you’ll need to act fast if you want to try and take advantage of the cheaper plans.

Also, the website builder is a separate cost if you want to build a site beyond one page. For unlimited pages (necessary for eCommerce), you’ll need to pay over $20 per month.

A2 is also one of the few providers that does not offer a free domain. However, domains don’t typically cost over $30 for entry-level investors.

Performance: How Fast Is A2 Hosting?

Much like our other reviews, I ran A2 Hosting’s platform through three speed tests. Because a single website isn’t enough to determine sufficient numbers, our test involves multiple trusted resources:

  • Pingdom
  • GTMetrix
  • Web.dev

Our first test through Pingdom showed the following stats:

Pingdom

Pingdom A2 Hosting Speed Test

With a load time of 1.63 seconds, Pingdom recognizes that this reasonably chunky website is running incredibly fast. It’s a credit to their major content management systems, which is essential in enabling quick access to a website.

GTMetrix

The speed results from GTmetrix were not too far off:

GTMetrix A2 Hosting Load Time

At 2.3 seconds, the speed of this website is still incredibly fast. Bear in mind that 2.96 MB of this website is devoted to on-site images. The “First Contentful Paint” of this website runs in just over half a second as well.

Web Dev Measure

Web.dev brings this website back down to earth with a Lighthouse score of 67:

A speed index of 6.7 seconds with a First Contentful Paint of 2.6 seconds still isn’t bad. However, this higher speed will have an intense impact on the average page speed.

At 3 seconds, A2 manages to load a page size of around four megabytes with incredible speed. It is not the fastest web host available on our review list. Still, A2 is a high-speed hosting provider.

Uptime Guarantee

A2 Hosting has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Using data from Pingdom, we can determine that A2 hosting has met or exceeded this guarantee for many years.

Web Host Uptime Guarantee
WPX Hosting 100%
Kinsta 100%
Cloudways 100%
DreamHost 100%
Flywheel 99.9%
A2 Hosting 99.9%
WP Engine 99.9%
HostPapa 99.9%
GreenGeeks 99.9%
InMotion 99.9%
HostGator 99.9%
SiteGround 99.9%
GoDaddy 99.9%
Hostinger 99.9%
GeekStorage 99.9%
iPage No Uptime Guarantee
Bluehost No Uptime Guarantee

Here’s how they’ve looked over the past several months based on data from Pingdom:

  • September 2021 – 99.99% uptime
  • August & July 2021 – 100%
  • June & May 2021 – 99.99%
  • April 2021 – 100%
  • March 2021 – 99.99%

Stats like those mentioned above continue back to 2014. So you can tell A2 offers a reliable hosting platform.

A2 Hosting Security Features

A2 Hosting has numerous hosting packages that include a lot of security features. From A2’s secure hosting site, it is clear they like to be transparent.

Here’s a breakdown of what you get.

Free SSL Certificate (Support for Multiple SSLs)

Types of SSL Certificates

It is common for a hosting service to provide a free SSL. A Secure Socket Layer is necessary for you to prove your security. Many users will avoid your website entirely if it doesn’t have an SSL.

A2 offers a free SSL for all packages. You can also look at their additional SSL packages:

A2 Hosting SSL Pricing
  • Additional Single Site SSL – $49.99 annually
  • Premium SSL – $79.99/yr
  • Wildcard SSL – $149.95 /yr
  • Advanced SSL – $359.00 /yr

The Single Site SSL is a domain validated option good for only one website. Being domain validated means that it can be confirmed through email. These SSLs also have static site seals, enabling you to put a confirmation image.

Later packages come with dynamic site seals, which are confirmed regularly, making them look more legitimate.

A Wildcard SSL includes unlimited subdomains, while the Premium and Advanced SSLs include business verification. However, these four basic packages don’t have their support for a plethora of other SSLs:

SSL Options for A2 Hosting

SSLs mentioned on this list vary by warranty level, security, and other factors. We couldn’t spend the rest of the review talking about these SSLs, and those seeking a shared hosting plan aren’t likely to use these.

This page is a good reminder that A2 offers a wide variety of security options.

Free Automatic Backup with Most Packages

A2 Hosting has taken notes from where other web hosts failed by offering free unlimited backups. The backups do not come with their weakest available package (Startup), but they come with all the following plans.

Automatic backups protect in the event someone hijacks your website. That way, you won’t lose everything in the event hackers take your website. Other web hosting providers should be taking notes on this one.

OpenVPN, DDoS Protection and Various Security Options

The staggering amount of security features A2 offers is pretty intense. In this section, we’ll attempt a roundup of the remaining security features.

  • Brute Force Protection – A2 offers brute force protection to prevent hackers from accessing your data through brute force attacks. A hacker creates a program that repeats actions until it gets what it wants.
  • OpenVPN (Virtual Private Network) – OpenVPN enables point-to-point connections between clients and servers. Encrypted connections appeal to security-conscious people, preventing data leaks.
  • ConfigServer and Firewall (CSF) – CSF is an open-source Linux security system that inspects incoming packets for oddities. It prevents unwanted data from breaching your server.
  • Linux Malware Detection – It protects your domain from trojans and viruses through regular website scans.
  • Linux Environment Security – Provides root access protection to prevent unwanted people from entering the backend of your server.
  • Clef 2-Factor Authentication – Enables you to verify your website access using two-factor authentication.
  • Secure Shell (SSH) – Enables you to access your website files from a remote PC.
  • SimpleRisk – A program that enables you to submit potential risks and offer plans to reduce those risks
  • Fail2Ban – A Python program that also prevents brute-force attacks

A2 Hosting has no shortage of security. It is straightforward to be overwhelmed by their site offering.

The transparency is excellent, but the tremendous amount of information makes it incredibly difficult to navigate.

Customer Support

A2 Hosting’s customer service offers 24/7 live chat and telephone support. A2 also has a robust knowledge base enabling you to get your questions answered.

A2’s customer support specialist answered within a matter of seconds at a reasonably late hour. The quickness in their response is noted below:

A2 Hosting Customer Support Chat

The customer service specialist was knowledgeable and answered all of my questions promptly. Also, their chat built-in chat window follows you through different web pages.

Other web hosting providers typically kill the chat window if you accidentally get curious about other pages. Thankfully, A2 Hosting has an excellent live chat feature.

But what do other users say about A2’s customer service?

A2 Hosting Review – Trustpilot Responses

A2’s bloated website typically means a poor customer experience. However, Trustpilot shows that A2 meets the hosting needs of its users pretty well. With a 79% positive customer experience rating, they are one of the better companies.

A2 has some proof of being beginner-friendly here:

“From someone with limited “tech skill” I have found A2 hosting service to not only be reliable but easy to use.I’m currently moving all my hosting from C-funnels and couldn’t be happier.”

Indy Cycle Specialist, 5 Stars

You’ll also find through Trustpilot that they used to handle Windows servers. However, A2 no longer offers Windows server support.

“Thank God I’m not hosting a commercial business here. I’m currently hosting a test site only for educational purposes. A2 hosting had a MAJOR virus hit Spring of 2019. All websites hosted by A2’s Windows servers went down for 7 to 10 days… COMPLETELY.”

T Murray, 3 Stars

You’ll also find about 15% of their customer experience is “bad.” Some have shared that their free site migrations don’t always go well:

“I’m moving to A2 Hosting and the migration was disaster. Technical team doesn´t have any idea about whaat are doing and my sites don´t work, I loose my email accounts and only have access to cPanel for the main domain. The team is always trying charging more instead of fixing the issues. It is being my worst experience with a hoster.”

António Cardoso, 1 Star

Ease of Use

A2 Hosting Dashboard
A2 Hosting cPanel is accessible from the customer dashboard

Taking a look at A2’s general site dashboard reveals a simple dashboard. Going to their cPanel shows a series of icons that are a bit clustered but sorted no different from other cPanel providers.

It is easy to switch between multiple domains, which is essential for those who manage multiple websites. If you want to use A2’s reseller hosting or just happen to manage multiple websites, this web hosting company has you covered.

A2 hosting also has a custom website builder, comparable to other web hosts like GoDaddy or HostGator.

Is A2 Hosting’s Website Builder Easy To Use?

A2 Website Builder Templates

A2 Hosting’s website builder is pretty comparable to others. It is better than SiteGrid’s offering and pretty similar to what GoDaddy has.

A2 offers a solid range of templates, but those templates are weak compared to other builders. Granted, the customization options are pretty solid.

You’ll find that if you want to create more than a single page, you’ll need to pay extra for the website builder. A2 has four plans available:

A2 Hosting Website Builder Pricing
  • One-page: $2.99 monthly ($10.99 renewal)
  • Basic: $8.99 monthly ($16.99 renewal)
  • Business: $14.99 monthly ($22.99 renewal)
  • Enterprise: $18.99 monthly ($26.99 renewal)

You are limited to between 10 and 25 templates among the four. So, your website easily blends in with others at this level. You also are limited to 10 pages and need to pay for the later three to get a blog plugin.

eCommerce pages are stuck with the Enterprise plan, as that one comes with a plugin. It also offers unlimited pages, making them most suitable for those who host larger or multiple sites.

Compared to other website builders, this feels a bit like handcuffs. So you might want to stick with WP hosting if you don’t plan on dropping some significant dosh. Much of A2’s promotional pricing requires an entire year upfront to get the most benefit.

A2 Hosting Pricing and Plans

A2 offers a plethora of shared hosting plans. Below, we will dig into the pricing of areas we haven’t talked about quite yet.

You’ll find that each page provides a table-based pricing breakdown of how much it costs to pay in different increments. There’s little guesswork that comes with comparing pricing plans on A2.

Let’s start with their most popular offering:

A2 Hosting Shared Hosting Plans

A2 Hosting Shared Hosting Plans

A2 offers four major shared hosting plans:

  • The StartUp Plan – $2.99 for three years upfront ($10.99 /mo)
  • The Drive Plan – $4.99 /3 yrs ($12.99 /mo)
  • The Turbo Boost Plan – $6.99 /3 yrs ($20.99 /mo)
  • The Turbo Max Plan – $12.99 /3 yrs ($25.99 /mo)

A2 Hosting prefers its Turbo Plan compared to the others. It claims websites under the Turbo Plan are twenty times faster.

The StartUp plan comes with 100 GB of SSD storage, pretty good for a starting site. It also has free migration, unlimited emails, and website staging features. The website staging already makes this plan pretty solid, but the later plans are more substantial.

The Drive Plan has unlimited SSD, unlimited websites, and free automatic backups. It also provides unlimited SQL databases, enabling it to be a solid base for smaller eCommerce sites. SSD storage is a cut above some providers, as Solid State Drives (SSD) are typically faster.

Their later two plans receive support with NVMe drives, which are typically much faster than SSDs. The “Turbo Features” involve custom caching. These latter two turbo plans also come with traffic surge protection.

Given the higher cost of their hosting plans compared to other providers, it’s easy to see how they can offer these promises. It’s because you are paying for the extra power.

The pricing above also includes support for shared WordPress hosting.

A2 Managed WordPress Hosting

A2 Managed WordPress Hosting Plans

A2’s basic web hosting service includes shared hosting for WordPress sites. If you prefer managed hosting, here is what A2 offers:

  • One-Site Managed Plan – $12.99 for three years upfront ($32.59 /mo)
  • Three-Site Managed Plan – $22.99 /3 yrs ($55.04 /mo)
  • Unlimited Managed Plan – $43.99 /3 yrs ($83.61 /mo)

Managed hosting packages enable A2 to do most of the heavy lifting with your server. For those who lack web hosting experience, managed hosting is better.

The one-site plan comes with (you guessed it) one site. It also has these features:

  • Ten gigabytes of storage
  • Free SSL
  • Plesk control panel support
  • One-click site staging
  • Automatic backups
  • Jetpack personal license

The three-site plan increases your site count and storage to 25 GB. Meanwhile, the unlimited plan does what you expect with your number of sites and gives you 40 GB of storage.

The limited disk space is a bit weak compared to A2’s other offerings.

A2 Hosting Unmanaged VPS Hosting Plans

A2 Unmanaged VPS Hosting Plans

A2 offers both managed and unmanaged VPS hosting options. The cost of the cheaper plans is very comparable with A2’s shared hosting plans. Here are A2’s six unmanaged options:

  • Runway 1 – $4.99 for three years upfront ($8.99 monthly)
  • Runway 2 – $8.99 /3 yrs ($14.99 /mo)
  • Runway 4 – $11.99 /3 yrs ($19.99 /mo)
  • Supersonic 8 – $35.99 /3 yrs ($59.99 /mo)
  • Supersonic 16 – $54.99 /3 yrs ($99.99 /mo)
  • Supersonic 32 – $74.99 /3 yrs ($139.99 /mo)

RAM doubles from one to 32 GB with each plan. The first three plans have 150, 250, and 450 GB SSDs each. The SuperSonic plans have the same GB levels but support for NVMe drives instead.

Transfer rates go from 2, 3, and 4 TB with each plan, matching those same numbers with each preceding number. They also include one, two, and four cores with each Runway plan. However, the Supersonic plans have two, six, and eight cores each.

All plans include support for root access, enabling web admins to have the control expected with VPS servers. Provided you enjoy Linux, your webmasters will find a home here.

Managed VPS Plans from A2

A2 Managed VPS Hosting Plans

If you prefer to let someone else do the technical heavy lifting, A2 has solutions for that as well. Here’s how that price breakdown looks:

  • Lift 4 – $39.99 /3 yrs ($69.99 /mo)
  • Lift 8 – $54.99 /3 yrs ($99.99 /mo)
  • Lift 16 – $67.99 /3 yrs ($119.99 /mo)
  • Mach 8 – $77.99 /3 yrs ($139.99 /mo)
  • Mach 16 – $89.99 /3 yrs ($189.99 /mo)
  • Mach 32 – $99.99 /3 yrs ($239.99 /mo)

All plans match the same core and RAM structure from above. The significant difference comes from included free site migration, included server management, and cPanel control panel accounts varying from one to five.

Having multiple control panels is handy for those who have numerous managers on staff. Those who run massive website chains will find this access convenient.

A2 Dedicated Hosting Plans – Unmanaged Servers

A2 Unmanaged Dedicated Hosting Plans

A2 also has support if you want a dedicated server. Those who need dedicated web hosting have the highest demands regarding speed and reliability. This is a good reminder of the expandability of A2. Here is what A2 offers:

  • Hyper 1 – $129.99 /3 yrs ($199.99 /mo)
  • Hyper 2 Intel & AMD – $199.99 /3 yrs ($279.99 /mo)
  • Hyper 2 Turbo AMD & Intel – $299.99 /3 yrs ($329.99 /mo)
  • Hyper 3 Intel & AMD – $519.99 /3 yrs ($649.99 /mo)
  • Hyper 3 Turbo Intel & AMD – $569.99 /3 yrs ($699.99 /mo)

Like previous plans, the Turbo Plans come with NVMe hard drives, enabling the fastest data access. RAM on these varies from 32 to 128 GBs with data transfer speeds of 5 to 15 TBs. You’ll also see a variance in cores from four to 20 with threads from four to 40.

Both servers support the top of the line in AMD or Intel products, supporting Intel Xeon Silver servers and AMD Rome 2nd Generation CPUs.

Without getting too technical, that’s pretty good. However, shared hosting plans won’t even come close to the speed behind these servers. For us common folk, that gives us an idea of the capabilities for why their turbo servers are so turbo.

A2 Hosting Alternatives

If A2 Hosting sounds like a bit much for you, we’ve got three A2 alternatives worth talking about below:

SiteGround is a competing web host provider with equally excellent customer service. This company offers just as many plans for shared web hosting and also supports unlimited email accounts.

SiteGround is also a lot more inexpensive, but much of that cost system comes from the lack of unlimited storage. SiteGround also does not have a unique website builder, mainly relying on third-party software.

HostGator is more beginner-friendly, which is a much more eye-catching and appealing site. These plans are also much more cost-effective, offering just as many server locations in the United States.

However, international hosts will find themselves struggling with limited access. Still, HostGator offers ad credits and a more simple interface for those new to web hosting.

BlueHost is a simple enough web host provider that enables users to create WordPress sites in just a few clicks. They offer a free domain as well, which is something that A2 doesn’t do.

BlueHost is much more inexpensive when compared to A2 hosting. This shows in the quality of BlueHost’s offerings, as they don’t have the same excellent customer service one comes to expect from more robust providers.

Customer Tweets

An A2 web host review wouldn’t be complete without looking at Twitter. To check the pulse of fellow users, I like to test popular hosting providers with a good/alright/ugly approach. Here is what Twitter Says About A2:

Final Thoughts

A2 Hosting is an excellent web host when it comes to speed, reliability, and features. However, you’ll end up paying for those lightning-fast speeds out of pocket, as A2 is one of the most expensive providers on the market.

Other hosting services are slower, but those hosts likely appeal better to small businesses. If you want to use A2, you’ve got to come with some existing income. The cheapest plan is a good start, but actual speed comes from their turbo boost levels, coming from highly advanced NVMe storage.

Customer support services are also solid, with tech support available 24/7. A2 only fails in its comparatively weak website design and its expensive pricing practices.

A2 is a hosting provider that names its pricing plans in a way that will make you want to say “nyoom.” If you are willing to put up with that and the higher cost, they can be a great provider.

FAQs

A2 Hosting is a solid option for WordPress, provided you are willing to pay for the service. WordPress hosting comes with Jetpack themes and a few secure plugins you can install and update automatically through their control panel.

A2 Hosting has a variety of security measures to prevent hackers from accessing your data. As a result, they are an incredibly secure host provider. A2’s weakest performance came back to when they had Windows servers. Those servers were down for more than a week, leading them to discontinue the service eventually.

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Written by:
Chris Altamirano

Chris is a digital nomad. He loves tacos, tech & traveling. His favorite soccer team is FC Barcelona. He created 2BW to help people navigate through the maze of getting online. Learn more about Chris.

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