A2 Hosting Review - The Fastest Shared Hosting Around?

Unlike a lot of shared hosts (such as HostGator) A2 limit the number of users that can be assigned to any one shared host at a time - This balances out resources across multiple users, helps prevent slowdowns at peak times and vastly improves the performance of each indiviual shared server.

They have a highly rated support system that covers live chat, phone and a ticketing system - With trained, US based support agents.

They also offer very competitive pricing, which can get you unlimited domains, bandwith and disk space for under $5 per month.​

To top it all off? A2 offer a 30 day back money guarantee if you aren't completely happy with the service you got.

A2 Hosting Review 2017

A2 came into the industry in 2003 and they came swinging, claiming load times up to 20x faster than other shared hosting providers due to their clever server infrastructure and custom developed software. The slogan A2 uses is "We provide services that we would want to use ourselves!".

They quickly made a name for themselves with load time tests showing speeds of under 1/4 of a second. Yes, you heard right, under 250ms. With these kind of speeds their popularity with subscribers increased and increased fast!

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Key Features

​We like to know what is included in the account and how we can leverage our plan to further increase the use of our hosting. The usual suspects are included in your subscription and yes cPanel for the configuration and control of your website hosting.

A2 has a really good framework for web developers to work within. ​Most formats supported and more being added. Recommendations for web developers is always use the VPS hosting plan, work in a safe environment when possible.

It's important to know what some of the key features are of any host before looking to purchase hosting for your site, so that being said, what are some of the features of A2 Hosting?

Performance & Speed

We decided to test A2 Hosting in the best way possible, and temporarily move this site from our usual host over to A2. We actually saw a faster load time even without the Turbo Boost enabled on the site - See the results from the test in the image below.

​This speed improvement, mixed with a close to 1s load time has to be one of THE FASTEST web hosts we have ever tested on this site. Very impressive and we don't make statements like that unless we have tested and tested. 

99.99% UpTime

A2 Hosting have one of the highest uptimes we have ever recorded.. With a 0% downtime over a 6 month testing period we ran. 

That being said, it's pretty much impossible to have a 100% uptime all of the time, so 99.99% is the highest possible.. Which A2 have managed to achieve, which is very impressive for a medium sized company. When you see the claim of 99.9% Uptime there is always some rook to move on the claim. A2 hasn't let anyone down and as stated above they are above the claim they make about their service. 

A2 is heading towards a more effective green hosting service provision. Proudly partnering with Carbonfund.org they work towards the battle against climate change. ​Partnering together since 2007 A2 is focused on reducing their footprint. The services provided by A2 hosting are 100% carbon neutral, they repurpose older hardware and have many internal green office processes. We are big fans of businesses that have a focus on changing the way their business interacts with the environment.

A2-hosting-features

Customer Support

In actual fact, A2 are one of the only companies on the market that offer 4 different layers of support communication:

  • 24/7 Phone
  • Ticket System
  • Live Chat
  • Direct Email​

There team is also made up of very technically knowledge people - Which shows when you go with some of the trickier questions we tested them on. They replied to all 4 levels of communication within a 15 minute window, and quickly resolved server side issues.

Free Manual Site Migrations

A good added bonus for anyone thinking about moving a site to A2 ​is that there support team offers free, manual migration - This means your site migration will be handled by someone who's done hundreds (if not thousands) of them before.. Leaving little to no risk of anything going wrong during the site migration.

​The knowledge base is not as extensive as other hosting providers. This might be attributed to having very knowledgable support staff. The knowledge base is a good reference point for when you have to fix problems or want to know how to do a task following best practises. The layout of teh knowledge base is very easy to navigate and you wont have as problem finding information that you search for.

The combination of super helpful customer support staff and the knowledge base and you should have everything you need to troubleshoot problems.​ 


Data Center Locations

A2 have 3 different data centres, based over 3 continents.. Which allows them to cover hosting for any number of nationally targeted sites. A2 own all of their internal web servers. Monitored 24x7 and 365 days of the year, they want to provide undisrupted service for all subscribers. 

The data center options are:

  • Michigan, USA (North America)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (Europe)
  • Singapore (Asia)

The A2 data centres are secured and maintained by robust security systems. Infrastructure for maintaining the function of the servers is not compromised. In short the data centre is well managed using reliable equipment.

One of the unique things about A2 is that they provide you with a speed test download. You use this feature by testing the speed of the server ​that will be hosting your website. This allows you to work out your approximate speed.  This is an excellent feature that was built for users, the company is thinking of it subscribers.


Security

Alongside a number of other hosts, A2 uses unique kernel instances for each of there shared hosting accounts - This essentially splits a server into hundreds of smaller servers to prevent malicious activity from being able to compromise multiple accounts if one of the accounts on the server is also compromised. A very smart feature for helping to keep your website safe. Every effort has gone into the service for customers to enjoy a really good product, and a reliable support system that compliments that product.

Free HackScan Bonus

The only host that gives you free access to a paid service called "HackScan" - Which is an addon for your installation that includes 24 hour scanning, extra firewall protection, 24 hour monitoring and brute force defense. 

Pricing & Subscriptions​

A2 provides affordable pricing plans for their 3 shared hosting options. Starting with Lite the most basic and best suited to hosting one single website. The next option is Swift, best suited for websites with traffic and a lot of resources required. The biggest plan on the shared hosting is the blazing fast Turbo plan. The Turbo plans comes with A2 optimized Turbo which is up to 20% faster.

Look inside the tabs below for the features each plan includes along with the pricing of the monthly service.​

  • litE
  • Swift
  • turbo

Pricing starts at $9.31 monthly

The Turbo plan includes these features.

  • Unlimited Websites
  • Unlimited Databases
  • Unlimited Website Transfers
  • Unlimited Storage​
  • cPanel Control
  • Free SSD & SSL
  • A2 Accelerator
  • Turbo  (Up to 20x faster)
  • Money Back Gurantee

A2 has a solid reputation within the industry. The additional features just for being an A2 customer are, access to their high speed servers, very helpful support staff that are knowledgable about the technical side of the business. Access to customer support staff that understand technical problems is a huge benefit to the customer. When you have a problem and you need it fixed yesterday, talking to support staff that can help you fix  the problem is such a positive. 

You can rest easy knowing that A2 provides a money back guarantee that you can request at any time! There are some details within the small print and that really is attached to other features and add ons of a basic account. The confidence that you will remain a paying customer, and happy with their service is brash but gets the point across. What is the actual refund request rate? That I can not tell you but looking around the web I find a stream of glowing reviews and very happy customers.

A2 hosting accepts payment from PayPal, Skrill and 2CO or more commonly known as 2Checkout. 


A2 Hosting Alternative

What are some good alternatives to A2 hosting?

Hawkhost: Hawkhost are a popular alternative to A2. Both offer great speeds for your site, however with Hawkhost you pay very little for what you get.

The animated hawk mascot of HawkHost.

Read the review here

WPEngine: WPEngine is a dream to use, simplified and fast! Functional and feature rich you want WPEngine if you need a reliable host. 

WPEngine-logo

Read the review here

Conclusion

​The only reason we didn't give A2 a complete 5 star rating is due to the plans they do have being a bit more expensive than the standard in the industry - That being said, you are essentially paying to get access to more resources on a server than you would normally get from other shared hosting providers.

Pricing For Shared Hosting Packs​

Here is the indiviual pricing for each of the shared hosting plans:​

  • Lite Plan, From $3.92/Mo - One domain, unlimited storage on a solid state drive, unlimited bandwith and up to 5 database installations.​
  • Swift Plan, From $4.90/Mo - Unlimited domains, unlimited bandwith, unlimited storage but does not include the Turbo Boost software feature which allows for up to 20x faster load times.
  • Turbo Plan, From $9.31/Mo - Exactly the same spec as the swift plan but with the "Turbo Boost" and "A2 Site Accelerator" software enabled to help achieve faster load times.

Overall Summary​

If you're looking for an extremely fast host with great customer support, a number of different package options and your site isn't going to be getting millions of hits per month, then A2 is the host for you.

We'd also like to re-iterate how impressed we were with the speed tests we ran on this host, and they're our #1 most recommended host when it comes to loading times on any platform, aside from WordPress - The crown for that goes over to WPEngine.​

Like I said at the top as well, if you're not happy with the service after 30 days then they offer a money back guarantee which should ​let you sleep a lot easier at night after investing in a hosting pack with them.

Summary
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A2 Shared Hosting
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About the Author

Though I don't like to reveal my personal identity, I've been a sysadmin for the better part of a decade. Those days however, are now behind me, as I run my own consultancy firm, specializing in speed optimization, penetration testing and system management. This blog is a personal project of mine, so that I can share my own opinions, feelings etc.. without ever having clients phoning me up screaming down the phone. Enjoy!