Best for Customer Service
The customer-first hosting provider
Wondering if A2 Hosting could be the best provider for your site? You have good taste – out of the twelve hosting providers we studied in our research, A2 Hosting comes in a respectable fourth place.
During the search for your best-fit hosting provider, it’s easy for every option to start sounding the same. We’re here to cut through the noise and give you the facts, so that you can make the most informed decision possible – after all, this is a big move for your website!
Before we get into the weeds, here’s A2 Hosting at a glance:
- Any time money-back guarantee: you can get a full refund within the first 30 days of signing up for an account, and a prorated refund at any time after that. This massively sets A2 Hosting apart from its competitors
- Responsive customer service: A2 Hosting’s “Guru Crew” customer service team is highly rated, and always around to help
- Super secure servers: A2 Hosting takes extra measures to make sure its servers – and therefore, your website – are both digitally and physically secure
- Slightly clunky sign-up process: a crowded homepage and a slow reveal of pricing information make account sign-up harder than it needs to be
- Not the most competitive uptime on the market: A2 Hosting has a great uptime that will do fine, but if uptime is your top priority, other providers like HostGator and Bluehost can guarantee you an even better percentage
A2 Hosting’s any time money-back guarantee is a major pro, and part of the reason we give this provider a 3.9/5 in value for money. That’s definitely not a category to ignore – 88% of people we surveyed named pricing as their most important factor when choosing a hosting provider.
Top Web Hosting Providers – our comparative review of HostGator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy Hosting
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 has expanded to include data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia.
|Overall Rank||#4 out of 12 hosting providers|
|Pricing||Starting at $2.99/month (renews at $8.99/month)|
|Hosting Plans||Shared, WordPress, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated, and Reseller|
|Help & Support||24/7 customer service team|
|Features||cPanel control panel, SSL certificate, free site migration|
Uptime isn’t A2 Hosting’s “wow” factor, but this provider still covers all of the necessary bases to provide a standard service. Basically, A2 Hosting’s uptime will never leave your site behind the curve – it’s just average.
A2 Hosting claims 99.90% uptime, which translates to just under nine hours of downtime per year. From what we’ve seen, the provider actually performed even better, with an average uptime of 99.95%. Both of these are impressive figures given that 100% uptime is impossible to achieve, and no hosting provider can promise it.
However, the most competitive uptimes are in the 99.97-99.99% range, so A2 Hosting is pretty middle-of-the-pack in this area. If uptime is your top priority, it’s worth learning more about HostGator, which offers 99.99% uptime.
Load speed is another factor to consider when choosing a hosting provider. It’s an important one, too, since just over half of visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
To ensure great load speed, A2 Hosting provides easy Cloudflare setup from your cPanel control panel. Cloudflare is the Content Delivery Network (CDN) recommended by A2 Hosting, and you can choose between its “Free” and “Premium” tiers according to your needs.
CDNs are global networks of servers that are able to deliver web content based on the geographic location of a user. Simply put, a CDN is a middleman that helps you deliver faster site content to your users.
A2 Hosting offers six different types of hosting: Shared, WordPress, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated, and Reseller. It can be overwhelming trying to decide which type is best for your site, so we’ve outlined the basics of each type below:
- Shared hosting is the most affordable and beginner-friendly type of hosting, but if you have plans to scale your site, you’ll eventually outgrow it. A2 Hosting’s shared plans averaged 99.95% uptime in our research. Prices start at $2.99/month.
- WordPress hosting is tailored to WordPress websites and blogs, so if you already have a site with WordPress or want to create one, this is your best option. A2 Hosting has both shared and managed WordPress plans to choose from. Prices start at $2.99/month.
- VPS hosting is great for small business sites. It goes beyond the basics of shared hosting, but isn’t as expensive as dedicated plans. A2 Hosting’s VPS plans averaged 99.95% uptime in our research. Prices start at $4.99/month.
- Cloud hosting is great for scalability and flexibility. Your website is stored on multiple servers, meaning you can pull resources from a variety of different places. This makes it perfect if your site experiences hikes in dips in things like traffic. Prices start from $4.99/month.
- Dedicated hosting is the most expensive, but also the most scalable and powerful type of hosting. A2 Hosting’s dedicated plans averaged 99.94% uptime in our research. Prices start at $99.59/month.
- Reseller hosting means that you rent hard drive space and bandwidth from A2 Hosting, but unlike every other hosting plan, it doesn’t stop there. You would then rent that space to a third party (for example, to a small business), as if you were the hosting provider. Reseller hosting is only necessary for aspiring web hosting companies or developers. Prices start at $18.99/month.
A2 Hosting Features
Every A2 Hosting plan comes with a free cPanel control panel and SSL certificate. You’ll also always have the option of free site migration, which is pretty generous considering some providers charge over $100 for that service! A2 Hosting also offers eco-friendly “green hosting” solutions, and special discounts for non-profit businesses.
As with all providers, other features vary according to hosting type and pricing plan. A2 Hosting gets a score of 4.3/5 in our research for features, which puts it in the middle of the pack – you’ll definitely have what you need, but you may need to pay a little extra to take your site to the next level.
All of A2 Hosting’s shared and WordPress plans include unlimited SSD storage and transfer, as well as a cPanel control panel. These are pretty standard inclusions across the industry. As you move up the pricing tier of the shared and WordPress plans, you’ll also get unlimited email accounts and automatic site backups.
A2 Hosting’s three VPS plans and four dedicated plans offer a mix-and-match of root access, cPanel control panel, and full HostGuard management.
When you sign up for a plan with A2 hosting, you’ll have the option to:
- Pay by the month
- Pay for one year in advance
- Pay for two years in advance
- Pay for three years in advance
Three years seems like a huge commitment – so what’s the appeal? The more time you commit to, the lower the prices get. For example, the Startup Shared plan starts at $2.99/month when you pay in advance for three years, versus $10.99/month when you pay by the month. We still think two or three years is a very long time to commit to in advance, but springing for an annually billed plan is probably wisest for your wallet.
It’s also important to note that hosting providers tend to have confusing promotional prices, and A2 Hosting is no exception. Promotional prices are first-term prices that renew at significantly higher rates. For example, that $2.99/month we mentioned earlier becomes $8.99/month after your three years are up. This can be frustrating, but once you’re aware of it, you’ll be better equipped to choose the most sensible plan for your budget.
|Hosting Type||Promotional Price Range||Renews At|
A2 Hosting’s prices are pretty standard for the industry, and it ranks fourth out of 12 in the “Value for Money” category of our research (we gave it a 3.9/5). For reference, top competitors like Bluehost and HostGator have price ranges of $2.95-119.99/month and $2.75-148.98/month, respectively.
Other providers, like 1&1 IONOS, are cheaper than A2 Hosting, but you get what you pay for. In this case, investing a little more money into A2 Hosting means better customer service, and a wider variety of hosting types to choose from.
The best part of A2 Hosting’s pricing is its any time money-back guarantee. Other hosting providers usually only offer refunds for up to one month, so A2 Hosting far exceeds the competition with this policy. That said, the money-back guarantee does come with the usual fine print: it won’t be honored if you violate the company’s terms of service, and it doesn’t cover domain registration, setup fees, and migration fees. You get a full refund for the first 30 days, and a prorated refund any time afterwards.
In addition to the free SSL certificate included in every plan, A2 Hosting has created its own Perpetual Security initiative, which goes above and beyond to keep your site safe. As part of the initiative, your account comes with free HackScan protection, working 24/7 to prevent attacks on your site. A2 Hosting Perpetual Security includes a whole host (get it?) of other measures, from the virus scanning you’d expect to more exceptional stuff, such as:
- Dual Hosting Firewall: in addition to an overall network firewall, your A2 Hosting account includes an additional server firewall to block unauthorized users.
- Limited Server Access: instead of passwords, A2 Hosting’s staff members use keys to access servers. Keys are more secure than passwords, because they function like a conversation between the computer and the server, rather than as a simple code (password) that anyone could potentially guess.
- Server Hardening: this means strengthening network settings and tightening access control to increase the server’s security.
- Reinforced DDoS Protection: Distributed Denial of Service (or DDoS) attacks occur when a large volume of fake traffic gets sent to a web server, using up the server’s resources so that legitimate traffic is unable to access it.
With all of these measures in place, A2 Hosting’s servers are well-secured both on and offline.
A2 Hosting hasn’t won our “Best for Customer Service” title for no reason! This provider gets a perfect 5/5 for customer service. The Guru Crew – as A2’s one-to-one assistants like to be called – are available 24/7 to make sure your site runs smoothly.
You also get a range of support options – A2 Hosting provides online tickets, a searchable knowledge base, global phone lines, and a live chat feature, where you can hear directly from the Guru Crew.
This is all seems great at first glance, but we wanted to know how good A2 Hosting’s support really was. So we decided to put it to the test ourselves! Our team tried A2 Hosting’s email, live chat, and knowledge base and rated each one based on our experiences.
The overall score was pretty surprising: A2 Hosting failed to meet our customer support expectations by 9%!
It was A2 Hosting’s knowledge base that really let it down – it was difficult to find answers quickly using its search feature, and in the end it fell below our expectations by 33%. While it might be okay for simple queries, we don’t recommend A2 Hosting’s knowledge base for complex issues!
A2 Hosting’s live chat support also failed to impress us, and failed to meet our customer support expectations by 13%. Common complaints from our users included blunt, short answers from support agents, impersonal messages, and information such as links or screenshots sent as answers without any context.
“The conversation felt quite impersonal, and the operator’s answers became quite brief – I felt as thought I was being a nuisance by asking so many questions.”
On the whole, we would’ve liked more detailed information from A2 Hosting’s live chat, and more engagement from the support agents to help answer our questions!
It’s not all bad, though. A2 Hosting’s email support exceeded our expectations by 20%, making it A2 Hosting’s best support channel. The email responses we received were informative, enthusiastic, friendly, and easy to digest – replies were quick, and usually contained helpful links to more information.
This member of our testing team summed up A2 Hosting’s email support perfectly:
“The A2 Hosting representative replied very quickly (within 35 minutes) and answered my questions carefully and thoroughly, linking to resources where I could read more if I wanted to. The structure of the reply made it easy to match the answers with my original questions. At no point did I find the interaction too salesy – the tone was easy-going and friendly, and made it clear that I could get in touch for more information.”
At times we wanted more tailored recommendations, for example when suggesting a hosting plan, but overall we were impressed with A2 Hosting’s email support. We recommend starting with email if you need help, rather than using the live chat or knowledge base.
A2 Hosting was one of two hosting providers that failed our customer support expectations in testing. It’s not as bad as InMotion, but if helpful support is important to you then Bluehost or HostGator are better choices.
A2 Hosting also lags slightly behind in ease of use. Once you choose the hosting plan you’d like to sign up for, 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 – this is less than ideal, since you may get deep into the signup process before realizing that you’re overpaying for a domain.
During the sign-up process, you’ll be confronted with all kinds of add-ons (dubbed “Configurable Options”) to choose from. Unlike most popular web hosting companies, A2 Hosting doesn’t auto-select paid options that you have to manually uncheck, which is convenient. But this also means the good stuff won’t be checked for you, either. For example, remember to select the free tier of A2’s own website builder if that’s a service you’re interested in.
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.
You can’t really go wrong with A2 Hosting, but that doesn’t mean it’s the top provider for everyone. Overall, A2 Hosting’s score of 4.3 out of 5 in our rankings is well deserved, and it has some very specific strengths.
A2 Hosting is for you if…
- Customer support is very important to you
- Security is very important to you
- You’re interested in cloud or reseller hosting
A2 Hosting isn’t for you if…
- Uptime is your #1 priority – for this, you might want to check out HostGator
If you’re really not sure how you feel about A2 Hosting, its any time money-back guarantee makes it a great low-risk provider to try out firsthand.
If you do have strong hosting opinions, leave a comment and let us know what you value most in a provider!
No! Plenty of top hosting providers offer reseller options, although A2 did make the top three in our roundup of the best reseller hosting providers.
Yes you can – in addition to its hosting service, A2 Hosting also provides a domain registrar. The main benefit of purchasing your domain through A2 Hosting is the convenience of having both services under the same umbrella provider.
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