Here’s an in-depth look at A2 Hosting’s “Pros” vs. “Cons” after signing up, paying, and putting it to the test.
Their customer support is efficient, the hosting plans are developer-friendly, and they have a unique “anytime” money-back guarantee to get a refund on any unused portion of your plan. Most plans include SSL and backups, too.
A2 Hosting has been around since 2001. It might keep a low profile compared to some other big-name hosts, but it has also delivered some of the fastest server speeds we’ve seen over the past 16 months.
Uptime has slipped over the past few months, however. And the renewal rates jump pretty aggressively after your first purchase period ends.
General Info & Hosting Overview
|OVERALL RANK:||Rated #7 out of 32 web hosts|
|SPEED:||336ms (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|UPTIME:||99.92% (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|SUPPORT:||24/7 Live Chat|
|APPS:||WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Magento|
|FEATURES:||Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage, Free SSL, Anytime Money Back|
|HOSTING PLANS:||Shared, WordPress, VPS, Reseller and Dedicated Servers|
|SITE TRANSFER:||Single Free Site Transfer|
|PRICING:||Starting at $3.92/mo (renews at $7.99/mo)|
Pros of using A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting is one of the best under-the-radar hosting companies you should know more about.
Their speed is excellent, customer service friendly, security features plentiful, refund policy liberal, and even environmentally conscious on top of it all.
Let’s go through each one by one so you can see for yourself.
1. Fastest Shared Hosting Provider We’ve Tested (336ms)
You’ll see a recurring theme when you go to A2Hosting.com:
They talk about speed on the homepage. All of the features are designed to make your site “screaming fast.” And even the name of each pricing plan is related to speed (like “Swift” and “Turbo”).
It should come as no surprise that A2 Hosting is, in fact, fast. They’re the fastest shared hosting provider we’ve tested, and they’ve been the fastest for several years now.
That’s no small feat in a world where page loading times could be the difference between keeping a website visitor around or losing them to the competition.
Last 16-month average load time for A2 hosting:
2. Friendly & Efficient Customer Support
A2 Hosting provides hundreds of articles in their knowledge base if you’d prefer to find a quick answer to your sticking point.
Otherwise, if you’d like to speak to a human, they offer everything from chat, to phone, and ticket-based help.
We fired up the live chat. Ironically, A2 Hosting’s customer support was a little slow connecting to the live chat session, taking around five minutes to hop on.
But from there, everything was smooth sailing.
Julio was really friendly, answering all of my questions directly within 30-seconds or so. It seemed like he genuinely cared and didn’t need to look every answer up.
It was a good experience overall.
3. Free ‘HackScan’ Keeps Your Site Safe
Online, speed and security don’t always go well together. That’s because extra scanning, firewalls, or layers of encryption can often slow users down.
A2 Hosting might be lightening fast comparatively, but they fortunately don’t drop the ball on security, either.
A2 Hosting servers are protect by “HackScan,” a 24/7-monitoring service that scans for malware and other attacks day-in, day-out.
The best way to keep your site safe is by preventing issues before they break out.
Their data centers are also scalable, meaning you’re protected if a denial of service attack (DDoS) breaks out. These attempt to flood your servers with traffic and knock your site offline. So A2’s got your back to handle sudden, unexpected surges.
4. Free Site Migrations (1 – 25 Depending on Plan)
A2 Hosting will personally move your existing website over to their servers at no extra charge on all plans.
All you need to do is reach out to their customer support department with your cPanel account credentials, any day or time, and they’ll take that burden off your back.
The only catch is the number of sites, based on the plan you’ve purchased. Their terms spell everything out in detail.
Shared hosting customers on the Lite, Swift, and Turbo plans will get a single site moved for free. But if you’re purchasing the reseller, dedicated, or managed VPS hosting? You’ll get 25 free migrations.
Again, this assumes you can provide cPanel access to your existing sites. Otherwise, A2 might assess a small fee for the extra work.
5. Content Management Systems (CMS), Website Builders, and Developer-Friendly Tools
A2 Hosting works seamlessly with all major content management systems. You can install a WordPress, OpenCart, Drupal, Joomla, or Magento site with just a few clicks. No need for a developer to help you out.
They have a few special features for these sites, like the A2 Optimized WordPress plugin that will come with Turbo plans to keep your site speedy.
A2 Hosting also has their own website builder, appropriately named SiteBuilder. These are ideal if you’re looking for something a little more user-friendly to customize your site by yourself without having to Google a single HTML tag. Just keep in mind that pricing and plans are a little different for A2’s SiteBuilder (than the normal shared hosting plans).
A2 Hosting’s plans come compatible with a Cloudflare CDN account to, repeat after me, keep your site fast (by loading images and other large files separate from your server).
If you’re a webmaster or agency looking to host dozens of sites under one roof, A2 Hosting comes with developer-friendly tools. You can get admin-level access on servers, free server rewind backups to load old versions of a site, and multiple versions of everything from PHP to MySQL, PostgreSQL, Python, and ASP.NET.
6. Anytime Money-Back Guarantee
A2 Hosting used to have the standard 30-day money-back guarantee like most other hosts we’ve reviewed.
You know the drill with these. Run into any problems or issues within the first 30 days and you can get a complete refund. No questions asked.
However, A2 Hosting has modified this policy a little over the last few years. And customers are the ones who benefit.
A2 now offers an “anytime” money-back guarantee.
You’ll still get a full refund within the first 30 days. But what if you’re prepaying for three years to get the best deal (more on that later), and you’re unhappy after the first year?
You can still ask for a refund and receive a prorated amount back for the remaining time (so the last two years of your deal).
There are a few caveats, however.
The first is that any refund request past the first 120 days will be issued through PayPal. Like other hosts, ‘additional’ services like domain registrations, setup or migration fees, are nonrefundable.
You’ll get to keep anything that’s not refunded, though, like your domain name.
7. Green Web Hosting
A2 Hosting’s hometown of Ann Arbor Michigan is known as “Tree Town.” They reportedly have 50,000 trees and 150 parks, according to their site.
So A2 feels a moral obligation to help protect the planet from global warming.
They have partnered with Carbonfund.org to help support renewable energies and reforestation. They also have a “FutureServe” green hosting initiative in place to help offset emissions from their servers.
This shouldn’t be the deciding factor to sign up for a web host. But knowing the company you’re working with has a small conscious about the big picture is a helpful extra perk.
Cons of using A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting has a lot of “Pros” going for it.
However, fast speeds and friendly support can’t make up for everything.
We have noticed a few issues as of late, like slipping uptime and high renewal rates that you might want to double check before signing up.
Here’s a look at each of these issues in detail:
1. Uptime Has Slipped to 99.92% (2017 – 2019)
The fastest page loading times in the world can’t make up for a site that’s constantly offline.
That might sound obvious but it’s a critical point. A2 Hosting’s uptime was stellar when we first signed up a few years ago. But over the last 16 months or so, we’ve noticed a slight downturn in performance.
That’s pretty disappointing because uptime is the main ingredient in a host’s performance. The last month’s 99.83% translates to over an hour of downtime in March. Not good when you have customers trying to visit and give you money.
Last 16-month average uptime for A2 hosting:
- March 2019 average uptime: 99.83%
- February 2019 average uptime: 99.94%
- January 2019 average uptime: 99.98%
- December 2018 average uptime: 100%
- November 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- October 2018 average uptime: 99.97%
- September 2018 average uptime: 99.78%
- August 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- July 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- June 2018 average uptime: 99.89%
- May 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- April 2018 average uptime: 99.60%
- March 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- February 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- January 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- December 2017 average uptime: 99.89%
2. High Renewal Rates (And 15-Day Deadline)
A2 Hosting features a slight price break on long-term plans. So prepaying for three years will knock a couple of dollars off the monthly price, which can add up over the course of 36 months.
A2 then sweetens the deal for new customers with special introductory pricing that basically cuts the total price in half.
The problem is that when your initial term expires, an automatic renewal will kick in at the “regular” pricing (almost double what you first paid).
Most web hosts pull this same stunt in one form or another. They know if you’re happy with the service overall, it’s probably going to be a huge pain to move your site again before the price increase kicks in.
Here’s the part that doesn’t sit well, though.
According to their terms, you have to submit a written cancellation request “15 days before the beginning of the Renewal Term” through their customer portal or by emailing them at [email protected].
What happens if you miss this 15-day window? You will be on the hook for paying the next renewal plan, which will renew automatically, and you’re not eligible to receive any refund.
In other words, they’re banking on you forgetting to stop your account before it’s too late. Policies like that come off a little too extreme for us.
3. Restrictions on Cheapest Plan
The introductory price for A2 Hosting’s cheapest shared hosting option (“Lite”) is currently $3.92/month (51% off the regular price). That’s not the lowest pricing we’ve seen, but it’s pretty good.
The only issue is when you start comparing that price point with what you’re getting (compared to the competition).
This plan only gets you a single website, with unlimited storage, a free SSL, the site migration, and Anytime Money-Back Guarantee.
You don’t get a lot of the awesome perks that helps make A2 a good choice, like Turbo Servers that provide “up to 20X faster page loads,” server rewind or even offsite backups.
The same issue applies to their website builder plan. The cheapest option that’s similarly priced around ~$4/month only gets you a single page — not nearly enough to create an actual website.
A2 Hosting Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
A2 Hosting has three pricing tiers for their shared hosting:
- Lite plan: This plan starts at $3.92 per month. It comes with enough for one website, five databases, unlimited storage and bandwidth, a free SSL, plus cPanel control access
- Swift plan: This plan starts at $4.90 per month. It supports unlimited websites, databases, storage, transfers, SSL certificate cPanel, and a single site migration.
- Turbo plan: This plan starts at $9.31 per month. It comes with everything from the Swift plan does, plus Turbo (20X speeds) and the A2 Site Accelerator.
Remember, if you use “HOSTINGFACTS” coupon on the last checkout page, you’ll be able to get it notably cheaper :).
- Ease of Signup: Three step sign up. Not too difficult.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Check or Money Order, Bank Transfer, Skrill and PayULatam.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: Renewal rates are higher than the introductory period. You have to cancel 15 days before the Renewal Period, otherwise, you’ll get automatically charged. Domain name purchases are not refundable. Only one site migration is free on their shared hosting plans.
- Upsells: Very few upsells.
- Account Activation: Instant Activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Option to install WordPress and other popular CMSs are available at checkout.
Do We Recommend A2 Hosting?
Yes, we do.
A2 Hosting has consistently delivered best-in-class speed for the last several years. Their customer support is friendly and helpful. All shared plans come with a free SSL certificate and one free migration.
And if you run into issues at any time while being a customer, you can ask for a refund on the prorated balance of unused time.
The only downsides are that uptime has slipped over the last few months. Renewal rates are high (and the strict terms aren’t great).
Plus, if you’re paying for the most expensive shared plan to host unlimited websites (“Turbo”), they’ll still only give you one free site migration.
Those final details might not work for some people. So while A2 is mostly good, it’s also not the best we’ve seen, either.
If you’ve used A2 Hosting, please tell us about it below! Good or bad – it doesn’t really matter as we’re trying to keep our hosting reviews transparent and honest.