Whether you’re constructing your first site or your hundredth, it helps to have a guru in your corner to provide support when you need it. That’s what A2 Hosting provides, according to its website. The company calls its support team the Guru Crew, which is available 24/7 every day of the year.
While the Guru Crew moniker is a fun little piece of marketing — though we’re sure the company takes that name seriously — it shows the emphasis A2 puts on support. Understanding what a company prioritizes (price, performance, specific web platforms etc.) gives you an idea of what it will be like to use their service. This is key since there are so many web hosts online, and after a few hours of research they all start to look the same.
This review looks to tease out some of the key points of A2 Hosting and make it easier to decide whether it’s the right service for you.
A2 Hosting started under the name Inquinet in a small, two-room office in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2001. The company is still an independently owned operation based in Ann Arbor, but it now has data centers around the world. The company doesn’t say how many websites it currently hosts, but it does claim to host “thousands of prominent websites.”
A2 Hosting promises an uptime of 99.90 percent, which works out to just under 9 hours of downtime per year. That’s not bad, but our research nudges that number up a little bit higher to 99.95 percent, which works out to a little over 4 hours of downtime per year. Either way, it’s uptime you can rely on.
In a perfect world, you’d never want your site to go down (not even for a second), but that’s simply not possible. There will inevitably be times when a site goes down. It may not happen every year, and it may happen in the middle of the night when you and your visitors don’t even notice, but a site going down for a short period just happens. Even sites as big as Amazon and Facebook go down from time to time.
That’s why the goal shouldn’t be 100 percent, but as close as you can realistically get to that number
A2 Hosting offers both Linux and Windows shared hosting plans. Those who are building out their first blog or basic site will probably have an easier time with a Linux plan as it is the more common platform for web hosting.
The company has an anytime money-back guarantee, which is basically unheard of in most of the web hosting world. You can find 30- or 60-day guarantees, but not anytime. Now there are some restrictions on that. The guarantee won’t be honored if you violate the company’s terms of service. The refund also doesn’t cover domain registration, setup fees, and migration fees. A full refund is only possible for the first 30 days, after that the refund is prorated.
For beginners, A2 Hosting’s most basic Linux plan provides 1 website, a maximum of 5 databases, unlimited storage, unlimited data transfer, a free SSL certificate via Let’s Encrypt, SSD storage, and the aforementioned anytime money-back guarantee.
Windows basic shared hosting accounts offer the same features as the Linux side but adds the Plesk Onyx 17.8 control panel.
Basic users also get 25 email addresses, free site migration, one-click installs for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, CubeCard, B2evolution, phpBB, BlogEngine, and SMF. A2 Hosting also offers CloudFlare ServerShield for faster page loads.
One notable feature the company offers that isn’t part of the lowest-tier plans is its “turbo server.” These are tweaked web servers that the company claims are 20 times faster than usual web hosting platforms.
A2 Hosting also has unmanaged and managed virtual private server (VPS) plans and dedicated hosting.
Once you choose your hosting plan, A2 Hosting asks you to either register a domain, use an existing domain, transfer your domain from another registrar, or use an A2 Hosting subdomain. This section doesn’t mention the price it will charge for a new domain, which is not ideal since you may get deep into the signup process before realizing your overpaying for a domain.
On the next page, you choose your payment term, which ranges from 1 month to 3 years. What’s odd is that this page doesn’t show the discount that will be applied to the price. A2 Hosting uses discount codes, which are automatically applied, but you don’t see that until you’re on the payment section further down the page.
Below the service length section are all kinds of add-ons (dubbed “Configurable Options”) that users can choose. None of the paid options are chosen by default, which is great and not an option you’ll find with the larger web hosting companies. One drawback, however, is that A2 has its own website builder with a free tier, but you actually have to select it on this page.
Another handy configurable option is auto-install for applications such as WordPress or Drupal. Prepping these in the sign-up process before you even get to the control panel is a great option that removes an extra step — a great help for new users.
For those looking to migrate a site, you can do it for free within the first 30 days that your A2 Hosting account is active.
A2 Hosting has plenty of support options. The company has a knowledge base for those who wish to search for solutions on their own. There are help articles for a variety of topics including WordPress, email accounts, SSH keys, and PHP. There’s also a search box at the top for deeper dives.
A2 Hosting’s focus, however, appears to be one-on-one assistance. From the company’s landing page the only support options it shows are those of its Guru Crew. The link to the Knowledge Base, meanwhile, is at the bottom of the page. A2’s personal support options include phone, live chat, and email all of which is available 24/7, 365 days of the year.
For shared hosting there are three different options with A2. The basic package is called Lite and has an initial price offering of $4 per month. Once that initial term is up the price increases to $8 per month. The Swift package starts at $5 (the standard price is $10), and the Turbo plan is $9.31 ($19 after the initial period).
The Windows shared hosting plans have the same names, but are slightly more expensive. Lite for Windows is $5 and after that the price goes up to $10. Swift starts at $6 with a $12 regular price, and Turbo is $11 per month with a $22 regular price.
Unmanaged VPS starts at $5 per month, managed VPS starts at $33. There’s also a Core VPS option, which is a managed VPS solution that also offers root server access starting at $33 per month with a standard price of $50 per month.
A2 Hosting is not the cheapest company around, but its prices are fairly good. It offers Windows servers, which not every hosting service does.
One of the standout features is the anytime money-back guarantee, which is very unusual and allows you to choose A2 relatively risk-free.
Perhaps the only place it falls short compared to the larger web hosting companies is the pricing. A2’s prices are closer to $4 at the promotional price points, while the bigger companies like Bluehost and GoDaddy stay around three.
A2 Hosting’s regular prices, however, are just as competitive.
While it’s nice to see Windows servers on equal footing with Linux in terms of service, the reality is that most users will want to go with Linux anyway since it’s so much more widely supported with more options available to it — especially for novices.
A2 Hosting is a capable service offering everything a beginner needs to get their website up and running. Its prices are a little higher than you’ll find elsewhere, but that money-back guarantee does make it more a palatable choice for a long-term commitment. If things start falling apart after a month or 60 days, you can still get at least some of your money-back and go elsewhere.
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