A2 Hosting Review: Pros (+) & Cons (-)
A2 Hosting has been in the web hosting business for 16 years running, starting out as Iniquinet in 2001. Two years later, the company changed its name to the current A2 Hosting, in tribute to Ann Arbor, MI, where it is based until now.
A2 Hosting is A+-accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and has garnered several prizes given by reputable industry organizations in recent years related to its excellent performance in the web hosting industry.
A2 Hosting essentially offers a full gamut of hosting services designed for individuals, small businesses, and large corporations.
Its shared hosting plans, although a bit pricier than competitors, are still ideal for budget-conscious business owners and individuals.
A2 Hosting also offers both managed and unmanaged VPS hosting, cloud servers, managed and unmanaged dedicated servers, as well as reseller hosting, all competitively-priced.
So, what makes A2 Hosting a viable hosting service for your website? Is it good enough for your needs? We’ll try to answer that question in this review.
How fast is A2 Hosting?
A2 Hosting server speed test — A+. Credit: Bitcatcha
Pros of A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting offers the following benefits for those seeking reliable and scalable web hosting services.
1. Availability of Linux and Windows Shared Hosting Plans
Many web hosts offer Linux-only shared hosting plans. Not A2 Hosting — the company offers Windows plans as well, albeit at slightly higher prices, which is an industry norm. So if you want to go with Windows, A2 Hosting is a suitable option.
For example, if your website’s development team’s core expertise is in Windows technologies, you can use Windows Servers, ASP.NET, SQL Server, MVC, Silverlight, and even classic ASP on your website.
Linux plans have cPanel control panel as their management dashboard while Windows plans use the Plesk control panel.
2. Competitively-Priced Shared Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting is a versatile web host, offering plans for both individuals and large businesses.
For shared hosting, it offers three plans on both Linux and Windows. All plans come with unlimited storage and transfer, a free SSL certificate via Let’s Encrypt, free SSD, and an anytime money-back guarantee.
3. A Wide Range of Hosting Options
Aside from shared hosting, A2 Hosting also offers other kinds of hosting, including VPS hosting (both managed and unmanaged), Reseller hosting (both Linux and Windows), dedicated hosting (both managed and unmanaged), and Cloud hosting (similar to VPS, except that it is based on the Cloud).
For aspiring web hosting resellers, A2 Hosting offers four levels of Reseller Hosting accounts. All reseller accounts are fully white-labeled, meaning you are free to carry A2 Hosting plans using your own brand.
The Dedicated Server Hosting has four levels, starting with a semi-dedicated server and an unmanaged flex server designed for developers.
The last two levels are both fully-managed dedicated servers, which is distinguished by the availability of root access in the latter.
The Cloud Hosting plans are pay-only-for-what-you-use and high-availability options that boast of RAID-10 storage, 10 Gb/s redundant network, redundant power (UPS/Diesel Generator), high-performance hardware, and cloud disaster recovery.
A2 Hosting’s Cloud Hosting solutions feature optional blazing fast SSDs that boost page loads by as much as 300% compared to traditional hard drives.
Moreover, with a quick-start Configurator tool, resizing your Cloud Hosting account and adding more memory, among others, is a cinch.
You can also choose from among a myriad of Linux operating systems for your Cloud hosting account.
Lastly, all Cloud hosting plans come with free High-Availability Failover, which means that when the node where your current Cloud server is hosted goes down, it is automatically brought back up on another node.
4. Blazing-Fast and Optimized SwiftServer Platform
A2 Hosting’s SwiftServer Platform boasts of speed-optimized servers with your choice of server location in Ann Arbor, MI; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Singapore.
Thus, if your website caters to audiences in Europe or Asia, A2 Hosting would be a good option to look at, considering the importance of location when it comes to faster load times.
The SwiftServer platform comes with free SSDs and the option to host on Turbo Servers capable of 20x faster page load times.
Not only that, A2 Hosting also boasts of the A2 Site Accelerator, which it says is designed to further boost page load times. The A2 Site Accelerator is free on higher-level plans, but is affordably-priced for those on lower-level plans.
The optimized platform means faster load times for software platforms such as OpenCart, Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, and Magento. Thus, if you have websites based on these platforms, A2 Hosting would be a suitable web host for you.
Moreover, the SwiftServer platform allow A2 servers to use less memory and CPU resources and handle connections faster and more efficiently.
The platform is extra stable as well, and includes a Turbo Cache option that caches your pages’ HTML content, allowing these pages to be served even if PHP is not running.
5. Availability of CloudFlare and AnyCast DNS
Another contributing factor to the fast page load times that A2 Hosting boast of is the availability of free CloudFlare DNS on all its hosting plans.
For those on the lower-level plans that are not served by Turbo Servers, they also have access to CloudFlare Basic, which means faster speeds when accessing from mobile devices.
In late 2016, A2 Hosting announced the availability of AnyCast DNS on all its hosting plans, with shared hosting and reseller plans having preconfigured access.
The multiple CDNs mean both high-availability and faster speeds. This further ups the ante in favor of A2 Hosting.
6. Hosting Freebies
A2 Hosting provides Perpetual Security, which includes free HackScan protection to prevent hackers from attacking your sites. Other security features include KernelCare rebootless kernel updates, a dual firewall, and brute force defense.
A2 Hosting also offers free website transfers, for the convenience of clients with existing websites hosted on other providers.
No matter your level of experience with websites, this free service is priceless, as you don’t have to waste your time taking care of site migrations by yourself. For this, you have to thank A2 Hosting’s excellent Support Team.
Free dedicated IP addresses for websites on all hosting plans is another thing going for the company.
7. Extensive Support
A look at A2 Hosting’s knowledgebase shows extensive coverage of topics related to website hosting and the services A2 Hosting provides. FAQs on a wide range of subjects are there for customers to read through in case of problems.
Other available documentation include a cPanel guide, a WHMCS guide for resellers, a Developer’s corner, a Plesk guide for Windows hosting account owners. In case you need support, you may submit tickets via email, telephone, or live chat.
For those who have extra money to spare, Priority Support is available for $19.99 per month on all hosting packages (it is available by default on all Dedicated Server hosting plans).
If you have multiple plans on A2 Hosting, you only need to get a single Priority Support subscription to have all your plans covered. With Priority Support, your support tickets are attended to by the Guru Crew Support Team with both haste and precision.
8. Anytime Money Back Guarantee
A2 Hosting offers a no-questions-asked and full money-back guarantee that can be availed of anytime after you sign up for an account with them.
Thus, you are not tied down to fixed contracts. You can terminate your account at any time, without incurring corresponding cancellation charges.
9. Uptime Commitment 99.9%
A2 Hosting offers a 99.9% uptime commitment which, based on feedback from past clients, the company seems to be living up to.
You will also rest easy with A2 Hosting’s multiple data centers on different continents and the availability of multiple CDN on all hosting plans, since this means that your website’s DNS entry is backed up to both the data centers and the CDNs’ DNS servers.
All the above minimize downtime, and probably are the reasons for the uptime commitment.
Cons of A2 Hosting
Now, let’s tackle the cons of A2 Hosting as a web hosting provider.
1. Slightly Pricier Web Hosting Options
A2 Hosting plans are slightly pricier compared to its competitors. However, given the extremely fast load times generated by its SwiftServer platform and the Turbo Servers in its more expensive plans, the higher prices seem to be worth it.
2. Lack of Windows on the Other Hosting Plans
Though A2 Hosting is to be commended for providing Windows shared hosting plans, the lack of Windows plans on the other hosting options, e.g. VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud, leaves a big question mark on this feature.
If later on that shared Windows hosting plan you initially decided to get no longer meets your needs, you are left with no choice but to either shift to another provider offering a better Windows-based plan, or to a Linux plan with A2 Hosting.
This might mean additional costs, particularly if your website runs on ASP.NET and/or if you have a SQL Server or MS Access database.
Windows hosting is available for resellers, but that is not nearly as crucial as the lack of Windows hosting on the other hosting options.
The lack of an upgrade path if you choose a Windows-only plan with A2 Hosting means that you should probably look at other hosting providers if you are eyeing a website running on Windows technologies, particularly if you anticipate an increasing user base in the future.
A2 Hosting is a viable option for individuals new to websites, experienced developers, and small and large organizations alike.
The wide range of hosting plans, slightly priced higher but still competitive, makes A2 Hosting a veritable marketplace in terms of hosting options.
Thus, if you are a newcomer looking for a provider for a website that you anticipate will grow in size and eventually attract more people, A2 Hosting is an extremely attractive option.
If the anticipated growth materializes, switching over to a more powerful plan able to handle higher traffic loads would be easy.
What makes A2 Hosting particularly attractive is it stacks up your website with everything that would allow it to serve pages faster.
There is the fast SwiftServer Platform with its optimized Turbo Servers capable of boosting page load times to unprecedented levels, the A2 Accelerator which further boost website speeds, and the availability of both CloudFlare and AnyCast CDNs.
The VPS, Dedicated and Cloud hosting options are meant for developers, system administrators, and experienced users, and are only hampered by the fact that, if you are coming from a Windows shared hosting plan, you won’t be able to upgrade your plan to these higher plans, unless you shift to Linux.
Hopefully, A2 Hosting will soon offer Windows plans on its other hosting options to address this gap. Nevertheless, the wide range of options available on A2 Hosting more than makes up for this deficiency.
This also means that, at least for now, despite the availability of Windows-based hosting plans on the platform, you’re better off getting a Linux hosting plan with A2 Hosting.
Originally published at hostingpill.com on June 9, 2017.