A2 Hosting is a fun-loving web hosting company which was created way back in 2011. Initially, they named themselves Iniquinet but after a couple of years of being in business, they made what was possibly the best business move they could have ever done – they rebranded themselves as A2 Hosting (sorry, but Iniquinet really wasn’t a very good name!).
Named after the founder’s hometown (Ann Arbor, Michigan) the CEO manages to provide excellent service for their customers while maintaining a fun-loving, light-hearted company culture.
Recently, we’ve heard people singing praises about their web hosting plans, so we went ahead and bought ourselves a Swift and a Turbo account just to see how they perform, and you know what?
We’re pretty damn happy with them.
You may have heard of their 24/7 Guru Service (their Gurus may have spent too long in meditation – more on that later on!)
People might have sung praises about their unlimited benefits.
They’ve implemented many features and perks that’ll keep customers happy, but really, it’s the whole speedy package, conveniently wrapped with quality of life features that truly leaves the competition eating dust.
In fact, after serious testing and benchmarking, we feel that A2 hosting definitely deserves their place on the big boys’ table.
Here’s a list of things we love about the A2 hosting, and a few things we didn’t.
Here at Bitcatcha.com, we’re all crazy about SPEED. The faster a web host can perform, the better they are in our books. You see, when it comes to online businesses, we understand that speed is everything and every millisecond matters.
Just take note of the time it takes for you to blink.
That’s around 400 milliseconds.
A webhost needs to respond to a request in HALF that time to be considered effective (which is Google’s recommended speed – 200 ms), and your data needs to be transferred to the customer’s screen in roughly the same amount of time, because anything slower than that will cause your potential customer to potentially no longer be a customer because he/she got too bored and decided to visit another faster, more effective site.
Speaking of effective, A2 Hosting is VERY effective and fast.
A2 Hosting’s Turbo plan comes with an secret weapon – their Turbo servers. They claim that sites hosted on their Turbo servers are able to load 20 times faster than regular sites, because they limit the amount of users per server and apparently, the servers are more efficient at handling connections.
All of A2’s shared hosting plans comes with SSD Storage which really contributes to their fast loading speeds. You may feel that this isn’t that big a deal, but let me assure you, quite big this deal is.
A site that is slowed by just 1 second will lose customer retention, resulting in massive loss of sales.
SSDs are around 30% faster than regular hard disks, so whenever we see SSDs as our web hosting storage options, the corners of our mouths curl upwards in anticipation of super quick loading speeds.
Check out this windows boot speed test for an example of the speed difference between SSDs and HDDs.
What exactly is uptime?
One of the definitions of ‘uptime’ according to Wikipedia, is the direct opposite of downtime. Yes, that’s super helpful.
Basically, uptime is the amount of time your site has been up and available to view by your precious customers. Since getting 100% uptime is practically impossible, most web hosts out there settle for being able to provide 99.9% uptime.
The difference between A2 hosting and the rest is that A2 guarantees 99.9% uptime. If unscheduled downtimes occur to your site more than 0.1% of the total time per month, A2 will provide a service credit of 5% from the amount paid per month for every hour your site is down due to internal network or equipment failure.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to DDoS attacks, ISP problems or any issues that are caused by outside forces, but we’re pretty happy that this guarantee is there to begin with – their confidence in their uptime inspires confidence in us!
Online businesses are no different from regular brick and mortar businesses in the sense that we are always looking for ways to keep our expenses low. It’s really annoying when we have to fork out for additional expenses if we want another domain or add on an email address.
With A2 Hosting, this writer was very happy to experience a host of unlimited features with both Swift and Turbo accounts.
These are just the unlimited features. Wanna have a look at what we get for FREE?
Between the free and unlimited benefits, we finally realised how it felt like to be treated like a king. The best part of it all is, we didn’t even have to worry about any additional costs at all!
Every respectable web hosting company knows that the key to success in this business is a solid support team. All the speed and hardware in the world isn’t going to do the customers much good if there’s nobody around to help them troubleshoot problems.
A2 has cleverly branded their support team as Gurus, technical experts who are able to solve any problem you might have at any given hour.
Our experience with them was quite a pleasant one, our tickets was resolved rather quickly and the Guru I spoke to in Live chat was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
The only issue i had was that it took a little longer than usual for us to connect to an agent, but this shouldn’t be an issue once A2 hires more support staff.
The datacenter locations of web hosting companies is absolutely crucial for speedy loading times. No matter what kind of tech or hardware webhosting companies crow about, when it comes down to data delivery speed, it’s all about how close the datacenters are to your target customers.
If you’re targeting Singaporeans and your website is hosted in a datacenter in North America, your data will have to travel quite a fair bit to reach the screens of your customers (which means it’s gonna be slow to load) and sometimes, that’s just not going to get the job done.
While most web hosting companies only has datacenters in the USA, A2 hosting has 4 datacenters worldwide, 2 in America, 1 in Amsterdam and 1 more in Singapore.
This way, A2 covers America, Europe and Asia – you just have to select the closest datacenter to host your site in relation to your customers, and they’ll be able to enjoy quick loading speeds.
Some of us enjoy tweaking our software, tinkering with the settings to squeeze out every drop of performance. Others like me, prefer for things to work right out of the box with the best settings possible.
A2 Hosting really punches above its weight with this feature, with software settings pre-tuned for maximum security and top performance. As of now, this optimization option can be applied to popular software like WordPress, PrestaShop, Drupal, and Joomla, which means that we don’t have to worry about page load speeds – in their own words A2 “takes the guesswork out of how to get the fastest page loads and most secure settings”, leaving us to run the business without any worries.
Just to give you a rough idea of how much better the software is with A2’s Optimized Software, Optimized WordPress runs up to 6 times faster compared to non-optimized sites!
They’ve even thrown in their A2 Optimized Site Accelerator for users with the Turbo plan, which has pre-configured caching options that’ll help your site load faster. You’ve got 3 caching options:
Navigating around A2’s login UI felt so easy and natural. They obviously paid a lot of attention to user experience, making everything intuitive and convenient to use.
You can find everything you need at the top panel, clearly laid out in contrasting colours catches the eye.
Everything is where you’d expect it to be, with a search bar prominently placed in the center for you to look up their impressive knowledge base articles.
Using it felt natural, the colour combination is pleasant, doesn’t hurt the eye, and all the important links and icons stand out so you never have to look too hard for them.
Long story short, we love the UI!
As much as we liked A2 Hosting’s Turbo Plan, we’d be lying if we said they had absolutely no flaws.
We contacted their live chat support to ask for help with some minor issues we encountered, and we found them to be very patient, helpful and knowledgeable. The thing that frustrated us was the queue time; it took a little longer to get connected to somebody.
Once we got through, they were really helpful and efficient in solving our problems, but one thing we noted was that they seem a little understaffed. The Gurus we connected to were experts in their field, but it seems like they were handling 2-3 different requests at a time so it took them awhile to respond to us.
Long story short, support speed is inconsistent but fruitful. Once they hire more support staff to help with response times, they’ll have one of the best support teams in the industry.
A2’s shared hosting plans comes in 3 sizes – Lite, Swift, and Turbo.
The Lite plan is the most basic of them all, giving you access to only 1 website and 5 databases at only $4.40 per month.
The Swift plan grants you all the benefits of the Lite plan, but with unlimited websites and databases at $5.39 monthly (only $0.99 more than lite!)
Last but definitely not least, the Turbo plan is their fastest plan yet, with all the same benefits and features of Swift, but with Turbo Servers – (up to 20 times faster) and A2 Optimized features. This plan will cost you $10.29 monthly. If you’re looking for a big speed boost. You’ll have to decide for yourself if a speed boost is worth the extra cash.
Price wise compared to SiteGround (our favorite host so far!) you won’t see much difference, but you’ll have to decide if you prefer features or speed – A2 has better free and unlimited benefits while SiteGround has much faster server speeds.
All of the plans come with a 99.9% uptime guarantee, but what’s even more interesting is that these shared options has Node.Js supported, a feature usually reserved for VPSes only!
How can we call this a detailed review without at least performing server response time tests between the star of the show and the competitors? After all, server response time plays a very important role in making or breaking your business (e.g. note the amount times you turned away from a site just because it took too long to respond).
We took a look at A2’s Swift plan and compared them against our favorite web hosting plan SiteGround’s (Bitcatcha.com is hosted with them!) GrowBig plan, and here’s what we discovered.
As Shared WordPress plans, both webhosts has their own WordPress-centric benefits. Some features are named differently but is created for the same purpose, while others are unique to the plans.
A2‘s Swift plan has:
SiteGround’s Growbig plan has:
Take note that while Swift and GrowBig are the web hosting brand’s moderate package, it seems that GrowBig provides more speed benefits as their SuperCacher (enhanced caching) feature is available from the get go, while A2’s users will need to upgrade to the Turbo plan to enjoy their Turbo servers.
We feel that this alone gives SiteGround’s the edge when it comes to value – roughly the same price but with better loading times.
It’s safe to say that A2 Hosting is a solid web hosting brand.
They’re not the fastest web host around (they performed slower than the competition) but they’re by no means slow either – both their Swift and Turbo plans produced a worldwide average response time of below 180 ms, giving them a strong A+ ranking.
What they lack in speed (I can’t stress enough that A2 is actually pretty damn fast, just not as fast as the competitors in the same bracket), they make up for in convenience and unlimited features.
Their A2 Optimized Software feature and 1-Click Set Up is such a time saver, allowing busy business owners a way to conveniently set up their site with the most optimized settings possible.
A2’s prices are actually quite decent with the Swift plan, but if you want faster speeds you might wanna opt for the Turbo plan, but it’s actually quite pricey.
Nevertheless, A2 Hosting is chock full of really good features that makes life easier for us. It’s unfortunate that their live chat support is a little inconsistent, but if you can look past that, they’re an excellent brand to host your website with.
If you want to host unlimited websites and email accounts with decent speed, look no further than A2 Hosting.
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.