When it comes to affordable WordPress hosting, A2 Hosting is a name that often comes up in various WordPress groups for offering quick-loading performance that belies its low price tag:
A2 Hosting’s regular mentions made us curious to see how A2 Hosting performed, so we set up a site on their Turbo Shared Hosting plan, played around, ran some tests, and then wrote this A2 Hosting review. If you’ve been considering hosting your website with A2 Hosting, definitely give this a read because we’ll share some real performance data, our experience with A2 Hosting support, and some other thoughts about some unique features that you get with A2 Hosting.
A2 Hosting Review: A Look At The Feature List
While A2 Hosting offers a variety of different plans, we’re going to be specifically looking at their shared WordPress hosting for this review.
1. Speed and Perfomance
Our test site loaded in under 1.3 seconds.
As always, nothing on this list matters if A2 Hosting doesn’t load fast. So before we get into specific features that we like, we’re going to run our test site through some performance tests. Here’s a little information about our test site:
- It uses a heavy Elementor landing page template with plenty of images and styling
- It’s sporting the A2 Optimized install, which includes caching and other performance optimizations (more on this in a second)
- It’s hosted on the Turbo Web Hosting shared plan
- We didn’t make any other changes beyond using the default A2 Optimized settings.
First up, we ran it through Pingdom Tools, where our homepage loaded in 1.25 seconds:
This isn’t quite as fast as we saw in our InMotion Hosting review, but is still a pretty quick time for the price. Next, we put it through GTmetrix where it loaded in a similar 1.3 seconds on GTmetrix’s Vancouver, Canada test server:
Finally, we wanted to get an idea of our server’s Time To First Byte (TTFB). This is a basic measure of how quickly a server responds to a request (not how quickly the entire page loads). We put our site through several ByteCheck tests and it consistently responded in ~90 ms:
This is pretty much identical to our InMotion Hosting test site’s result. Overall, A2 Hosting’s performance is pretty good for the price, but it’s not necessarily the best we’ve seen. On the performance front, InMotion Hosting performed a bit better as far as overall page load times went for a similar price (assuming you’re only hosting a single site).
We have tested A2 Hosting on a test website for a few months to better analyze the uptime and overall it exceeded our expectations. While there were months that had an uptime of 99.98% with a 2-3 minutes connection timeout there were also months with 100% uptime which is truly impressive.
To keep it short and to the point, A2 Hosting keeps their word with their 99.9% uptime guarantee. There a very few instances of down time with this hosting company. The average for our test websites was 99.98% uptime, which is far above the usual norm.
Fast support response times if you need help.
A2 Hosting lets you get 24/7/365 support via:
- Live chat
To test how available that support is, we started a live chat at the equivalent of 11 pm on a Sunday night during the Thanksgiving weekend, which is about as difficult a scenario as you can put customer support through. With those odds stacked against them, we got a response to our query in under 3 minutes (more on why this might be in a second):
Extra charge for priority support, even on higher tiers.
Even on the highest tier shared plan that we looked at, A2 Hosting still charges $19.99 for Priority Support (though you can apply their discounts to that price for the first billing cycle):
While support response times and quality were still pretty good for the regular support (we didn’t pay for Premium Support for our test), this is still a contrast to other providers like SiteGround that automatically give priority support to those on the higher tier plans. We don’t think this should be a deal-breaker because the free support response times should be fine for most users – but it is something that’s worth mentioning.
While it has affordable prices, A2 Hosting’s plans are more expensive than other shared hosting options we have previously tested. However, they do offer significant discounts if you sign up for at least one year which tend to more almost half the initial price. Their shared hosting plans start at $7.99/month which is not ideal for most people, but with discounts you can get more than 57% off and start at $3.92/month for the Lite plan.
Below are the discounted prices (first billing) for their shared hosting plans:
- Lite – $3.92 for a single website. With this plan you get 5 databases, unlimited storage, free SSL, and unlimited transfer. This is the cheapest one, and it is a great choice for beginners starting up their first website.
- Swift – $4.90 per month for unlimited websites and databases.The Swift plan is without a doubt their most popular one because it is only a dollar more than the Lite but it comes with more features such as unlimited websites and unlimited databases.
- Turbo – $9.31/month for unlimited websites plus significant advantages such as turbo speed and A2 site accelerator. Apart from these improvements this plan is fairly similar with the Swift one meaning it offers unlimited databases, free SSL, and unlimited storage.
Check out the table below to see each plan’s pricing with and without the discounts and how much you can save in 3 years.
|A2 Shared Hosting||Without Discount||With Discount||Savings in 3 years|
One of the things we appreciate A2 Hosting for is their impressive and flexible money back guarantee. They offer full refunds if you ask for one in the first 30 days of acquiring the plan. However, if you pass the 30 days period because you used the hosting services for a few months and then stopped, let’s say you still have a couple of months paid from your 1 year plan, they will offer you a refund for the months you stopped using their services. This is called a pro-rated refund and it is rarely applied by hosting companies.
5. A2 Hosting’s Shared Features
In this review we tested their shared hosting plans which come in three options: Lite, Swift, and Turbo starting with discounted prices from $3.92 to $9.31 per month. Each plan has its pros and cons but we recommend the Swift one if you are willing to spend a bit more for unlimited features. For those looking for speed, the Turbo plan is the one to go for as it is up to 20 times faster than the other 2 plans and comes with a A2 site accelerator.
A table showcasing A2 Shared Hosting features for each plan.
|SSL & SSD Speed Boost||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pre-configured Site Caching||No||No||Yes|
|Money Back Guarantee||Yes||Yes||Yes|
6. Unrelenting Upsells
Just like BlueHost, A2 Hosting also comes with aggressive upsells trying to get you to purchase all sorts of features that you might not need. While most users will know what they need or not, beginners might be easily influenced by all the premium features presented at the check-out. For example, at check-out for only $2 you can choose the Swift plan, for $19.99 premium prioritized support, for $4.16 Alpha SSL, and so on.
While this does come across a bit pushy, it is up to you if you purchase all these extra features. However, it does raise some questions if you do not. Some may wonder what if they do not get priority support? Will they have to wait days for a reply? What about data back-up? Do I have to get DropMySite offsite backups in order to have my data backed up?
These are just the few that you can find at checkout, but once you purchase you will see more of them in your cPanel.
7. Security Options (Free SSL Included)
Nowadays, SSL/TLS is important not just from a security perspective, but also because of how hard Google is pushing for its adoption. All of A2 shared hosting’s plans come with a free SSL certificate meant to protect your domain. Even if it’s completely free, Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate is just as good as any other option.
If you have purchased one of the three shared hosting plans and do not know how to request your free SSL just send an email to A2 support team and they will apply it to your account without having to lift a finger. So, in short, with A2 Hosting, we didn’t even have to install the SSL/TLS certificate – all you do is select from a drop-down and A2 Hosting will do it for you.
That means your site will get the coveted green padlock in web browsers without you lifting a finger, which is pretty awesome!
Benefits of Let’s Encrypt:
- Completely free
- Easy to set up – automatically applied to your own by the support team
- Increased security
- Automatic protection
8. Auto-Install WordPress
While pretty much all WordPress hosts give you access to autoinstallers, one thing that we liked about A2 Hosting is that it gives you an option during checkout to have WordPress pre-installed on your site. That means you don’t even need to use the autoinstaller – just select the option from a drop-down and enjoy your new WordPress site:
If you’re a beginner, this is pretty much the simplest process you’ll find for installing WordPress on a new site.
Even if installing the WordPress A2 optimized version is easy and save you some time, you have to keep in mind that they reduced the memory limit to 40M instead of the standard 250M. This will not affect you straight away, but if you get enough traffic on your website it is possible to causes some failures or errors. For advanced WordPress users this might not be an issue as they know how to increase the memory limit back, but beginners will have a harder time figuring it out.
9. WP Setup and On-boarding
As you saw in the screenshot above, when you choose pre-installed WordPress, you can choose between:
- Regular WordPress
- A2 Optimized WordPress
In a nutshell, A2 Optimized WordPress adds the following features right from day one:
- Page caching
- Database caching
- CSS/JS/HTML minification
- reCAPTCHA on comment and login forms
- Move the login page
- Image compression
- Compress pages with gzip
Most of those features are great for performance, and the CAPTCHA and login page change are great for security. While you can accomplish everything on this list with plugins, it’s nice to have it built into the system because:
- It’s simpler for beginners and doesn’t require any configuration.
- It means fewer “moving parts” that might break.
In comparison to other hosting companies, A2 Hosting’s on-boarding is not the best starting with the emails you receive which tend to lack useful information regarding your account that you will need further down the line. You can find the missing information easy enough if you contact their support team but it would be better if it was all there from the beginning.
10. More about A2 Hosting
Easy backups with backup wizard and server rewind.
To help you keep your data safe, A2 Hosting gives you access to a helpful backup/restore tool via cPanel:
And you can also use Server Rewind to quickly restore specific files/folders:
New customers benefit from free site migrations.
A2 Hosting has thought of everything to make their deals appealing to new customers and free site migrations are an amazing offer especially if you are transferring from a different host. To get going with this process you have to contact the A2 Hosting customer support team and they will help.
Option to select your server’s location
With A2 Hosting you get to choose between 4 different server locations when you order your hosting plan:
- USA Michigan
- USA Arizon
- Netherlands Amsterdam (Europe)
- Singapore (Southeast Asia)
This option exists for those who want to focus their attention and content on certain locations from Europe, Asia, or the USA. Because information travels through wires the closer your server is to your audience the easier to get the information to them hence a faster website. If your audience is all over the globe you have to think of other solutions, but until then this is a great one.
Synopsis: A2 Hosting Advantages
A2 Hosting is seen as one of the best hosting companies thanks to its fair prices and incredible features. It has been on this market for over 17 years now and is still growing in popularity. Below is a list we everything we like about A2 Hosting and what makes it such a popular choice among webmasters all around the world. From the shared hosting plans we tested so far, A2 Hosting offers the fastest one.
Here are some of the features we like about A2 Hosting:
- Unlimited websites (except on cheapest tier).
- SSD storage – offers better performance than physical drives.
- “Perpetual Security” – web hosting firewall, virus scans, brute force defense, and more.
- Free SSL – automatically install a free SSL/TLS certificate via Let’s Encrypt.
- 24/7 Support. Access to tech support through email, phone, and live chat.
- 30 days money back guarantee. This is a no questions asked guarantee that extends past the 30 days (pro-rated refunds).
- Multiple data centers – choose from 4 different data centers on 3 different continents.
- PHP 7.X – offers performance improvements over older versions of PHP.
- HTTP/2 – offers performance improvements over HTTP/1 (only available on highest tier)
- A2 Optimized WordPress – makes it easy to get started with a number of helpful WordPress tweaks.
- Free website migrations – a great offer for beginners.
For a more detailed list of every A2 Hosting feature click here.
Additional Info About A2 Hosting
Originally launched in
2001, A2 Hosting started its life with a mouthful of a name –
“Iniquinet”. Thankfully, the company rebranded to the
much-more-pronounceable A2 Hosting in 2003 and has been chugging along
ever since then. Then new name A2 comes from Ann Arbor, a city in
Michigan US where the founder grew up.
As you will notice when ordering a plan, apart from having servers in Michigan and Arizona, A2 Hosting also has 2 more in Amsterdam and Singapore. Some of the services offered by A2 Hosting consist of shared hosting, VPS hosting, reseller hosting, dedicated hosting, domains, and other web hosting solutions.
Conclusion: Should You Choose A2 Hosting?
A2 Hosting is definitely one of the better affordable WordPress hosts. And you probably won’t go wrong with them seeing as they have impressive uptime, amazing fast load time, and great professional support. But, at least in our testing experience, InMotion Hosting proved to be a little better for the same price with the big caveat that the InMotion Hosting plan that we tested only allowed one website.
So, if you’re specifically looking to host just one WordPress website, you might be better off going with InMotion Hosting for a similar price. But if you need access to unlimited websites, then A2 Hosting is a great option because of these features:
- You get unlimited storage for your data.
- You ca create unlimited databases.
- Benefit from free SSL & SSD speed boost.
To keep this short and to the point, A2 Hosting Swift plan is the one to go for especially price vs features wise. The Lite plan is just a tad cheaper but is a bit limited, while the Swift plan allows more for mostly the same price. And that concludes our review for A2 Hosting. If you want to see what other options are out there before choosing make sure to check out our BlueHost review.