2016 A2 review: Everything you need to know
Overview: A2 markets themselves as the developer friendly web hosting company and they cater primarily to this crowd.
Lite: $3.92/mo for shared hosting.
Swift: $4.90/mo for shared hosting.
Turbo: $9.31/mo for shared hosting.
Ideal Customer: Any developer or webmaster looking for optimized performance boosters or who use TeslaThemes.
A2 Optimized Caching and Software: A2 Hosting is geared more towards web developers. As such, they have high-performance servers and caching options. Their proprietary A2 Optimized Caching is a pre-configured site accelerator. It’s a cPanel plugin that provides pre-configured caching options for your websites in a single interface, causing your pages to load faster. There are three caching options: Turbo Cache, OPcache/APC, and Memcached. Turbo Cache stores entire HTML contents and are served without running PHP for up to 20 times faster page loads. OPcache cuts PHP response time in half and is available for PHP 5.5 or higher. APC is available for the earlier versions of PHP. Memcached speeds up MySQL databases by keeping the most important data in memory for faster retrieval. A2 Hosting also provides A2 Optimized Software, which has automatically configured the fastest page loads for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, and more popular applications. Compression and caching are auto-optimized so you don’t have to configure the optimal settings yourself, unless you want to.
High Performance SwiftServers: Slow websites drive visitors away. That’s why A2 hosts all websites on their exclusive High Performance SwiftServers. Not all features of SwiftServers are available for all the plans, but many are. There are multiple server locations, from Michigan, Amsterdam, and Singapore. The free version of CloudFlare CDN is included in all plans, providing an average of 200% faster page loads. CloudFlare upgrades are provided for a fee for faster mobile speed. Railgun Network Optimizer is included for free with the highest plan (Turbo), and available for a fee for the other plans (Lite and Swift). A2 Hosting also provides HTTP/2, which is significantly faster than HTTP and represents a major update since 1999. It’s projected to provide 20-30% faster delivery of files than HTTP. The Turbo plan also includes websocket proxy integration, which creates a two-way interaction between a website and a browser for live content and real-time games. These are just some features; if you wanted all the extensive features of SwiftServers, you’d be best served by their Turbo account.
Quadruple Redundant Network: While A2 Hosting has data centers in three different places, it’s possible one or more of them could go down. With that in mind, they have multiple global transit carriers to make sure you remain connected. They include 10G Level 3, 10G CenturyLink/Saavis, 10G Cogent, and 2.5G Comcast. A2 Hosting is one of the very few hosting companies to offer this kind of network redundancy to make sure their customers don’t experience service interruption. A2 also offers you the chance to test their data centers. On their website they offer a 100MB File Download Speed Test and a V-Speed Third Party Speed Test which allows you to test the upload and download speeds of the data center of your choice.
We have checked several online review sites looking for honest opinions about A2 Hosting. We found that customers were happy with the various features and pricing.
One customer is happy with the overall hosting experience saying: “I’ve never experienced better features, functionality, up-time, and support – tech, billing & customer – than what I receive at A2 Hosting.”
Another reviewer agrees: “The uptime has been fantastic and the support staff is always responsive, polite, and helpful. The pricing has also been very satisfactory.”
We also found negative reviews for A2. Here customers were disappointed with the level of support and data limits.
One unhappy customer states: “The ‘support gurus’ did not seem to read my queries, and when they did reply, their answers seemed to be computer generated stock phrases and links, not related to what I was asking.”
Another frustrated reviewer warns: “But beware if your databases exceed 500MB that you may find it difficult if not impossible to perform routine admin tasks using A2 provided utilities via their cPanel such as phpMyAdmin.”
We also checked Twitter to see what people are saying about A2 Hosting. One user is happy with everything about the host:
@a2hosting i just love everything about a2hosting.. great uptime, great support, nice control panel.. everythings is just awesome.. 10/10
— Fida (@fidaktk) August 29, 2015
Another user is experiencing trouble contacting support:
@a2hosting Support not answering. Any idea how much longer the servers will be down? This is critical for clients.
— Webtactics (@webtactics_au) December 24, 2015
- Uptime Guarantee: A2 Hosting has a published 99.9% uptime guarantee on their website.
- Free Website Migration: A2 Hosting offers a free site migration if you’re using cPanel with your current host. You only have to contact the support staff to have it done.
- cPanel Included: A2 Hosting includes cPanel, one of the most popular and well-known control panels for managing websites.
- Money-Back Guarantee: They have a fairly standard 30-day money-back guarantee with the usual caveats, such as no refunds on domain registrations, setup fees, and SSL certificates (outside the 7-day window).
- Discount for TeslaThemes: TeslaThemes is a premium WordPress theme club. Their themes are attractive, mobile-optimized, and come with a lot of built-in functionality. A2 Hosting gives 20% discount for TeslaThemes if you purchase any of the three plans.
- Not Marketed for Beginners: This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, but A2 Hosting is definitely geared more towards developers. If you’re a beginner, you’ll face a learning curve.
- PHP 7 Only on Turbo Plan: PHP 7 is only available and supported on their highest-tiered plan, Turbo.
- No Domain Included: No free domain is included with any of the plans.
A2 Hosting mainly targets developers rather than casual users who simply want to maintain their personal websites or blogs. They offer a variety of optimized performance boosters. Although they place heavy emphasis on performance, their three shared hosting plans still have reasonable prices, introductory or otherwise. You will just have to purchase your domain from another site before you get started.
Takeaway: If you’re a developer, you’ll be interested in their turbo server and proprietary optimized caching. But you can still benefit from A2 Hosting as a beginner, as there are one-click installers for popular apps like WordPress and cPanel that is known to be user-friendly and intuitive.