A2 Hosting Managed WordPress Hosting Review with User Opinions

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A2 Hosting was founded in 2003. It is a globally known hosting company which is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In fact, their hosting services portfolio include shared hosting plans, reseller hosting, VPS hosting (including managed VPS and Cloud VPS) and Dedicated hosting.

Not to mention, A2 Hosting offers both Linux & Windows hosting plans.

At first sight, A2 Hosting is similar to other non-corporate owned companies such as SiteGround and InMotion Hosting. This is just an apparent similarity as my own experience with A2 Hosting is here to support this.

At the same time, A2 Hosting is a truly modern web hosting company offering a wide variety of WordPress hosting features for their customers.

Website Speed and Server Performance of A2 Hosting

Of course, I will start with testing the Time To First Byte or TTFB as it is one of the indicators of the webserver’s responsiveness. We all know that the importance of TTFB is somehow questionable as it’s always good to take into consideration also the Load Time of the site itself.

Anyways, TTFB is still in use by search engines for assigning search rankings. This is what I got:

I decided to compare the A2 Hosting performance to the one of GoDaddy.

Actually, GoDaddy’s TTFB result was better in my test. Here it is:

For comparison, the TTFB test result of SiteGround showed a surprising result:

However, when analyzing these results we should have in mind that these are 3 different websites. And each of them needs different server resources.

On the other hand, A2 Hosting promises a blazing fast web hosting solution for every customer. This means that they have up to 20 times faster servers. Speed and security come together. And every solution – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or Magento – comes A2 Optimized. This provides optimal configuration of each of these content management platforms.

Meanwhile, make sure you check out our comparison between the most popular content management systems (CMS) today.

Turbo Servers for Faster Performance

In fact, the promised up to 20 times faster speed is offered with their Turbo Servers. A2 Hosting claims that the Turbo Web Hosting servers and the Swift Web Hosting servers have similar technical features.

The only difference seems to be that Turbo Web Hosting servers perform faster thanks to custom .htaccess modifications.

Another feature of the Turbo servers is the Alternative PHP Cache which allocates some additional 256 MB that is tweaked further from the php.ini file.

In terms of speed, all of A2 Hosting plans use SSD (Solid State Drive) hard disks. This means that your website hosted with them will have an up to 300% faster access to its files compared to the traditional HDD drives used with other hosting providers such as GoDaddy.

Similarly to other hosting providers, A2 Hosting supports PHP 5.3, PHP 5.4, PHP 5.5, PHP 5.6 and PHP 7 which is a revolution in the delivery of web applications. And this improves dramatically the speed of your WordPress site:

Datacenters on 3 Continents

As with most of the global hosting companies out there, datacenters are a crucial part of the speed of the content delivery.

As a matter of fact. A2 Hosting claims that they own all of their web servers which reflects in high performance and availability. Their hosting services are offered in datacenters in Michigan, USA, in Amsterdam, Europe and in Singapore, Asia. This means that you have the option to choose your preferred datacenter for your account based on your visitors’ geography.

In fact, I tested the ping reply from a proxied connection passing the traffic to two IPs in France and one IP in Panama. And then to the 3 datacenters of A2 Hosting.

Here’s what I got:

In addition, it’s interesting that the IP that was supposed to be the one forthe A2 Hosting datacenter in Amsterdam. Actually, it reported as an IP in the United States.

In fact, choosing the right datacenter for your site is important. Your visitor speed experience with the site is one of the factors that define your online brand trustworthiness.

Furthermore, A2 Hosting have 3 main datacenters. Depending on your visitors’ physical location you have the option to switch your datacenter at any time.

Support Services Review

A2 Hosting Support is divided in two main sections.

  • The first one is the Knowledge Base tool which contains guides and articles about the most common support issues with Billing, MySQL, DNS, SSL, cPanel, A2 Customer Portal and Plesk:

  • The second section is the one for Reactive Support. Every customer gets in touch with the A2 Hosting support team via Support Ticket or Live Chat:

A2 Shared Hosting Plans Overview

Their shared hosting plans come in 2 flavors

  • Linux shared hosting
  • Windows shared hosting

Of course, the Linux based shared plans are cheaper.

In fact, technically speaking, the only main difference between them is the operating system.

Shared Hosting Plans – Pros & Cons

  • With the Lite shared hosting plan, you have the option to host just one and only site.
  • And you have up to 5 databases.
  • This is kind of a disadvantage of A2 Hosting compared to other independent hosting companies.

Actually, with the basic shared hosting plans of SiteGround and InMotion Hosting the user has unlimited number of databases for the site.

  • The Lite shared hosting plan of A2 Hosting limits your database number to 5. But this limitation doesn’t exist with the Swift and Turbo plans.
  • The Lite plan has maximum 5 subdomains, 25 parked domains and no addon domains.
  • Swift and Turbo have no such limitations. The number of subdomains, parked domains and addon domains is unlimited.

Not to mention, the basic shared hosting plan has a lot of limits.

Identically, this is true also for the emails. With a Lite plan you create no more than 25 email addresses. The number of email accounts is unlimited with the other two plans.

In fact, each of the plans have the Barracuda Advanced Spam Filtering as an optional service.

Moreover, your domain is configurable with Google Apps directly from the Remote MX Wizard of cPanel.

Regardless of the type of account, all the data is on SSD hard drives. This guarantees high input/output storage performance.

Notably, free unlimited Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates are available at no extra costs.

Of course, with a Turbo shared hosting plan you have the option to move to a Turbo Server which is advertised as up to 20 times faster in page loads.

WordPress Optimized Software Kit

In the first place, all of A2 Hosting shared plans offer the A2 Optimized Software kit exclusively for WordPress and the A2 Optimized Site Accelerator. The latter uses Turbo Cache, APC cache and Memcached for faster caching performance.

A2 Hosting provides Performance Plus as a feature.

Certainly, this cool option helps in maintaining the regular website speed during traffic spikes. I’ve used Performance Plus for one of my customer’s social network campaigns. And this feature just saves the day.

In other words, if your plan is Lite, you add up to one additional 2.1 GHz CPU Core, 0.5 GB of RAM and 4 GB of additional SSD storage to your account.

Thus, with a Swift and Turbo shared account, you upgrade to 2 2.1 GHz CPU Cores, 1GB of RAM for Swift and 2GB of RAM for Turbo plans and 8 GB of SSD storage.

Cloudflare Integration for Even Faster Performance

Similarly to InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting advertises all of their hosting accounts as fully compatible with CloudFlare. And A2 Hosting promises an average of 200% faster page load with CloudFlare Free CDN service.

While CloudFlare’s Free CDN option for faster mobile speed is available for both Lite and Swift plans, the Turbo shared hosting plan doesn’t have this feature.

Instead, there’s CloudFlare Plus for improved mobile speed and SSL is ready for use with the A2 Hosting Turbo shared hosting plan only.

In addition, another marketing trick here is the Railgun™ Optimizer feature. Basically, Railgun™ Origin Network Optimizer is a technology by CloudFlare. It makes sure that the origin server and the servers of CloudFlare use the fastest possible network.

Lastly, the coolest thing here is that Railgun™ is able to compress and cache web code that is basically not cacheable with other website caching techniques.

Having this said, A2 Hosting promises up to 143% faster HTML load time. Railgun is a paid service with Lite and Swift and it’s a free service with Turbo.

A2 Hosting supports HTTP/2

But I didn’t like the fact that HTTP/2 is not available for all of A2’s shared hosting plans.

Actually, HTTP2 is available only if you’re on a Turbo shared hosting plan.

The same is true for the now disapproved SPDY networking protocol feature and the Edge Side Includes or ESI – these are available only for customers on a Turbo shared hosting plan.

In the same fashion, another marketing tactic of A2 Hosting seems to be the use of additional information about the technical specifications of the servers hosting the shared accounts. Each of these servers has a minimum of 12 Cores and a minimum of 64 GB RAM which guarantees a solid web hosting performance.

WordPress – a Key CMS for A2 Hosting

There are some WordPress-specific features like Optional Command Line WordPress Interface or WP-CLI, Integrated ManageWP Account.

And even 6 times faster WordPress page loads with the A2 Optimized plugin which is basically a better tweaked version of the W3 Total Cache plugin.

Given these points, WordPress is installed with just a few clicks thanks to Softaculous which is accessible from the A2 Hosting cPanel.

Also, if you already have a WordPress website and would like to just migrate it to a new and better hosting provider, the A2 Hosting guru support experts will migrate the site to your new account for free.

A2 Hosting’s VPS Plans Overview

There are 3 types of managed VPS hosting solutions – Unmanaged VPS, Managed VPS and Core VPS:

A2 Hosting’s Unmanaged VPS Hosting solutions are 3 different VPS plans:

  • The first one is Entry and it has 20 GB of available storage, 1 CPU Core and 512 MB RAM.
  • The second unmanaged VPS hosting plan is Mid which has 30 GB of free space, 1 GB of RAM and again just one CPU Core.
  • The third and highest VPS unmanaged hosting solution is Top and it offers 50 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM and 4 CPU Cores.

The Managed VPS hosting solutions are in 3 categories – Power, Prestige and Pinnacle:

These three plans have with the following technical characteristics:

  • Power has 4 GB of RAM, 75 GB of free storage and 4 virtual CPU Cores.
  • The second Managed VPS hosting plan is Prestige and it provides 6 GB of RAM, 100 GB of available disk space and 6 virtual CPU Cores.
  • As the highest Managed VPS plan of A2 Hosting, Pinnacle offers 8 GM of RAM, 150 GB of storage and 8 virtual CPU Cores.

The last category of A2 Hosting’s VPS solutions is Core VPS.

These plans are technically speaking the same as the Managed VPS plans but the main difference here is that the user has Root Access to the server which means more control.

A2 Hosting’s Cloud Plans Overview

The Cloud solutions are in 3 different plans – Start, Median and Ace:

As a matter of fact, each of the three plans have 2 CPU Cores clocked at 600 MHz.

The Start and Median Cloud plans have 10 GB of disk space each.

The Start Cloud plan has just 512 MB of RAM in contrast to the Median and the Ace plans which have 1 GB of RAM.

The inbound transfer is unlimited for all of the three Cloud hosting solutions.

In addition, the A2 Hosting Cloud plans support the following Linux operating systems: CentOS 5, CentOS 6, Debian 6, Debian 7, Fedora 20, Gentoo 2011, Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 14.04.

A2 Hosting Dedicated Server Plans Overview

In fact, there are 4 different Dedicated plans.

  • Semi Dedicated Server
  • Unmanaged Flex Server
  • Managed Flex Server
  • Core Flex Server

Lastly, the Unmanaged Flex Dedicated server is the ideal option for developers or sys admins who prefer dealing with code. The other best dedicated option here would be the fully Managed Flex Server which offers a graphical user interface.

[wp-review id=”61″]

Anu Jones

Content creator at wpbackend.com

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