A2 Hosting, founded in 2003, is an independent boutique hosting company that has resisted attempts to be acquired by bigger companies. Positioning themselves as a market leader due to their high-performance, high-speed servers, A2 certainly likes to paint a positive picture of its service.
Is this the reality, though? Is A2 Hosting really a provider worth considering if your goal is to create a high-quality, fast, and responsive website that will help you rank highly in Google search results?
On the face of it, yes—A2 provides a comprehensive range of hosting solutions. Ranging from shared hosting solutions to dedicated, private ones. Looks can be deceiving, though…
That’s why we decided to inspect them thoroughly.
In this A2 Hosting review, we will over what we think are the positives and negatives. We’ll help you decide once and for all whether it is the right hosting solution for you.
What We Love About A2 Hosting
Upon first look, we thought we were on to something good and testing them out certainly confirmed this. These are the things that stood out to us.
A2 Hosting is a Global Service
With data centers positioned globally, A2 hosting manages to efficiently serve its customers’ websites and visitors no matter where they are physically located.
When it comes to website speeds, the physical location of your server—the place where your website’s files live—is important. When a visitor tries to load your site, information requests physically travel through wires to this server. Even at the lightning-fast rates that these requests travel, distance plays a huge role in how quickly your website loads. If you host files that visitors can download, physical location becomes even more important.
If your target audience, for example, is primarily located in the U.S., you would be best off choosing to host your website on a U.S. server. With A2’s global coverage, it is easy to host your website close to your target audience no matter where they are located.
“But my audience is global, so what should I do!?”
That’s a good question. If you are based in central Europe but your target audience is spread out across Europe, Central and Sothern America, and Asia, A2 would use their Content Delivery Network (CDN; see later) to serve visitors who are physically located far away.
A2’s Servers are Fast and Responsive
A2 makes a lot of claims about how fast their services are. As the saying goes, however, the proof is in the pudding.
The whole point of a website is to solve the wants, needs, or desires of your audience when they visit it, and quickly. Today, speed matters more than ever and web hosting companies that fail to provide a fast service will quickly fall from grace.
We ran a TFFB test (Time From First Byte) to assess how fast A2 really is. This is how quickly your host’s server sends the first byte of the first file in response to a request for information (i.e. a request to load a page or download a file.)
The TFFB in this instance was 0.583 seconds.
A2’s main “claim to fame”, if you will, is how fast their service is and our little test proves that they do indeed provide a hosting service that is speedy and performs well.
There are plenty of variables at play when it comes to your site’s speed. Although the quality of your hosting service plays a big role, it also comes down to your website, how it’s coded, managed, and how well-optimized it is.
Lots of Customer Support Options
Right off the bat, we can see that A2 provides a lot of different options when it comes to getting support.
First of all, customer support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through live chat, and normal business hours through other channels. Not all hosting companies do this and, usually, those that do are among the best in the industry. Your customer support options are:
- Consulting an extensive and detailed knowledge base;
- Calling them up at +1 734-222-4678;
- Sending an email (but why bother when there’s a live chat?);
- Using a live chat available 24/7, as discussed; and
- Contacting a representative via Skype.
Phone support is available globally and there are dedicated phone numbers for virtually every country going.
Customer support representatives are very good at what they do and aren’t afraid to get stuck in and help you, no matter what your problem is.
Need a custom install doing? They’ll do it.
Got a problem that you can’t (or don’t) want to solve? Your rep will fix it for you rather than referring you to a guide.
Simply want some advice or consultancy? They’re there to guide you.
This is the level of support you should expect from an independent company—it’s less corporate and more about the customer experience.
A2 Hosting is an Independent Company
We have touched upon this already.
A2 is an independently-owned company. Unlike big box brands, A2 recognizes that it has a lot more to lose than, say, GoDaddy if they don’t provide a high service level. This is reflected by the fact that A2 screams “high quality!” across the board with everything from the service itself to customer support.
Today, most hosting companies are owned by the likes of GoDaddy, Endurance, or Web.com.
Free Site Migration
Are you currently with a different hosting provider but want to move? Don’t sweat it! A2 will handle the entire migration process for you, completely free of charge (unlike Bluehost!) so that you can be back up and running in next to no time.
There is one caveat, however—your site must be using cPanel for them to do this. Most sites do, and probably yours too (most likely).
Migrating a site can be a huge hassle and time sink if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, and there are so many things you can get wrong.
With A2, you don’t need to worry about this.
Free Content Delivery Network (CDN)
We mentioned this earlier, too!
Cloudflare CDN integration is included as standard with all A2 plans. By routing visitors (traffic) to your website through the clearest path, they get access to your content at lightning-fast speeds. It also means that if there is a problem at the data center where your site is hosted, people will still be able to access your website.
With Cloudflare, you get faster speeds, better security, and increased uptime. Best of all, it’s completely free.
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Like with most hosting providers, A2 truly believes in the quality of their product… so much so that they operate a 30-day money-back guarantee for all their plans. If you subscribe to one and you aren’t happy, you can get a free refund (minus the cost of domain registration and other setup fees.)
All you need to do is email customer support and they’ll take it from there.
This means you can try out A2 Hosting and see if it’s right for you, completely risk-free.
Things A2 Hosting Can Improve On
While A2 Hosting is great, there are a few areas that could use some attention.
A2 is Slightly More Expensive Than Average
We’re going to be honest here and straight up say it—there are cheaper hosting services out there. Although comparing prices for hosting plans can be hard (no one plan is the same, after all!), there are certain things you should look at such as disk space and server spec.
A2 offers 3 plans for their shared hosting on both Windows and Linux, Linux being cheaper. It doesn’t matter whether you choose Windows or Linux as you will handle everything from a user-friendly control panel within A2’s main website rather than these server operating systems.
Right now, A2’s plans are being sold at 51% off.
$334.98 will get you the Turbo plan for 3 years. All in all, that’s just over $9.30 per month at 51% off.
For what you get, it’s not too bad—remember, you get what you pay for and A2’s plans have lots of value (free CDN, lots of security features, fast speeds…) so, in our opinion, it’s worth the extra bit of money.
As always, the longer you subscribe for the cheaper it gets in the long-term.
A2’s Entry-Level Plan is Restricted
In our eyes, this is a negative. We like to see hosting providers limiting resources (e.g. disk space) rather than the number of sites or databases you can have on a plan.
What if a customer wants to run two very lightweight websites that would perform fine on the Lite plan? They can’t!
If you want all the bells and whistles, you are going to have to subscribe to one of the pricier Swift or Turbo plans; the entry-level Lite plan isn’t all that great because it is restricted to one website and five databases.
Additionally, Lite servers don’t have PHP API, APC, or built-in caching (“Turbo” features) so they are not as fast.
Still, though, the Lite servers are faster than most other hosting providers’ entry-level servers and you will still be able to run one website at high levels of performance. The Lite plan doesn’t sound bad at all if you’re sure you’ll only work on one website!
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for unrivaled quality and don’t mind paying a little bit extra for it, A2 is a decent choice for web hosting.
- Their uptime is pretty good;
- Their services are fast;
- Global coverage provided by data centers in key locations;
- 24/7, hands-on customer support through various channels;
- Cloudflare CDN and other additional services included with all plans;
- Free site migration available;
- Top-tier support not just for regular sites, but WordPress too;
- A choice between Windows and Linux servers;
- A2 is environmentally-friendly; and
- A 30-day money-back guarantee.
What’s not to love?