Saturday 20th October 2018

A2 Hosting Review

Great money back guarantee and good features however downtime and server resource restrictions are concerns.

  • A2 Hosting’s uptime has been as low as 99.54% and as high as 100%;
  • Its server response time typically falls in the high hundreds of milliseconds (which is average);
  • You can only host one website;
  • It provides an “anytime” money back guarantee (the best we’ve reviewed);
  • It provides a 99.90% uptime commitment; 
  • It supports HTTP/2 but not for customers on its cheapest package (the one we reviewed);
  • Unlike other hosts, it doesn’t provide a free domain however it does offer free SSL;
  • Unlike other hosts, it provides free site migrations.

A2 Hosting Review

Great money back guarantee and good features however downtime and server resource restrictions are concerns.

  • A2 Hosting’s uptime has been as low as 99.54% and as high as 100%;
  • Its server response time typically falls in the high hundreds of milliseconds (which is average);
  • You can only host one website;
  • It provides an “anytime” money back guarantee (the best we’ve reviewed);
  • It provides a 99.90% uptime commitment; 
  • It supports HTTP/2 but not for customers on its cheapest package (the one we reviewed);
  • Unlike other hosts, it doesn’t provide a free domain however it does offer free SSL;
  • Unlike other hosts, it provides free site migrations.

Latest rankings

We performance test the world's biggests hosts on a second-by-second basis. The top 3 performers for July 2018 are listed below.

Host Uptime Response time
HostGator 100% 390
Bluehost 100% 502
Hostinger 100% 513

Latest rankings

We performance test the world's biggests hosts on a second-by-second basis. The top 3 performers for July 2018 are listed below.

Host Uptime Response time
HostGator 100% 390
Bluehost 100% 502
Hostinger 100% 513

Overview

Overall, we like A2 Hosting; however, in consideration of the price of its “Lite” package, and the fact it’s lacking some core features provided by comparable web hosts, we feel there are better options available at this price range.

Firstly, we’d like to point out something that irks us slightly. A2 Hosting offers free SSL, which is a de facto requirement for HTTP/2; however, it is seemingly unavailable to customers on its “Lite” package.

It appears to treat HTTP/2 like an upsell, which we find frustrating and slightly self-defeating, particularly considering the position of its competitors (some of which offer HTTP/2 to entry-level customers).

Aside from that, A2 Hosting posted a monthly uptime of 99.54% in April 2018, which equates to 3 hours and 21 minutes of downtime.

In subsequent months it accounted for uptime ranging from 99.87% to 100%; however, it has only maintained an uptime of 100% on one occasion to date (July 2018).

Despite its pricing being in line with many of its competitors, it’s lacking some features or benefits of comparable hosting packages; for example:

  • it doesn’t provide a free domain;
  • it restricts the number of websites that can be hosted from a single account to one (note: a number of hosts do this);
  • its places more stringent restrictions on entry processes, I/O, inodes and CPU than other web hosts;
  • it doesn’t appear to provide free daily backups.

That said, there are positives, namely it provides SSD storage, free SSL (this is particularly important as Google Chrome now pushes “not secure” notifications on non-HTTPS websites) and free website migrations; however, as do web hosts offering cheaper packages that otherwise provide equivalent features.

In other words, despite the fact we like A2 Hosting and are particularly interested in some of the features and performance of its more expensive packages, its “Lite” package doesn’t particularly standout.

Latest uptime

Month Uptime Response time
January 2018 99.98% 940ms
February 2018 99.55% 913ms
March 2018 99.96% 1008ms
April 2018 99.54% 927ms
May 2018 99.99% 935ms
June 2018 99.87% 859ms
July 2018 100% 857ms

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Monthly price1

$9.99

Annual price2

$52.86

Bandwidth/data transfer

Unlimited

The not-so-small small print

1Many web hosts advertise monthly prices but don't allow you to pay monthly. If you can't actually pay monthly we don't display a monthly price.

2This metric lists the annual price for packages paid 12 months in advance. It doesn't calculate the cost of packages paid monthly for 12 months.

3This is what it costs to renew a package paid annually in the second year. Most hosts increase prices for the second and each subsequent year.

4A "free domain" may sound like an enticing offer but keep in mind its costs will often be subtracted from a refund and some web hosts charge significantly more for renewals than registrations.

5Most web hosts display their uptime guarantees to one decimal point e.g. 99.9% is actually 99.90%. While some uptime guarantees look more attractive e.g. 100%, it's the compensation terms - how much they pay you if they fail to honor it - that matter.

A2 Hosting alternatives

Excellent uptime and response time but offers poor customer service and lacks essential features.

Annual price

$59.88

Uptime

99.99%

Nothing spectacular, nothing truly terrible. They're expensive relative to other web hosts.

Annual price

£94.99

Uptime

99.93%

1&1

Solid uptime but limited customer service, excessive legalese and overbearing restrictions.

Annual price

$11.88

Uptime

99.97%

Good uptime, features and value for money but no free domain and response time is average to poor;

Annual price

$24.88

Uptime

99.94%

Pricing

A2 Hosting advertises the price of its “Lite” package as $3.92 per month however, like with many hosting companies (there are exceptions, e.g. Namecheap), you can only qualify for the advertised price if you pay 36 months in advance.

The actual price you pay for paying monthly is $4.90 for the first month and $9.99 for every subsequent month.  If you choose to pay annually, i.e. 12 months in advance, the total cost for the first year of hosting is $52.86; however, this increases 104% in subsequent years to $107.88.

These prices are broadly in line with its competitors e.g. Siteground charges $47.40 for the first year and $143.40 for subsequent years, while Bluehost charges $59.40 for the first year and $95.88 for every subsequent year.

A regular .com registration costs $14.95 and domain privacy costs $9.95 per year. Unlike a lot of hosts (e.g. Hostgator, Bluehost, Just Host, etc.), A2 Hosting doesn’t charge more for renewals than registrations.

That said, some web hosts are significant cheaper for domain registrations. Namecheap and Hostinger charge $10.98 and $8.99 for one year .com registrations, respectively. Hostinger also charges $5 for domain privacy; however, Namecheap offers free domain privacy “for life”.

A2 Hosting also offers an interesting “anytime” money-back guarantee which allows for a refund at any point within the contracted period and for any unused service.

Within this it also provides a 30 day money back guarantee i.e. a full refund, including for the days you’ve utilized the service, will be given provided you cancel within the first 30 days.

Its refund policy (“anytime guarantee”) is the best of any web host we’ve reviewed. Another positive is, unlike a number of its competitors e.g. Bluehost, it offers free website migrations. 

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Annual price

$52.86

Compare web hosts

We compare 17 web hosts against 56 metrics, including monthly and annual pricing and bandwidth, CPU, read/write, storage and database restrictions.

Technical

A2 Hosting set a number of restrictions across I/O, entry processes, storage and CPU usage.

I/O (read/write speed) is limited to 1MB/s for its “Lite” package. You can contrast this with GreenGeeks and Namecheap which limit at 4MB/s and 6.5 MB/s, respectively. 1MB/s is the default I/O restriction for CloudLinux OS installations and a number of other web hosts restrict at this speed e.g. GoDaddy.

We were informed by one of its sales representatives that CPU usage is restricted to 10%; however, we weren’t available to verify this anywhere on its website. Siteground and GreenGeeks restrict CPU usage at 20%, respectively (the latter also provides access to two CPU cores). HostGator restricts at 25%.

Its storage restrictions are a lot higher (better) than most web hosts and are set at 600,000 inodes (meta data for a file). It’s very unlikely the average user will ever exceed this restriction – the average WordPress installation comprises roughly 2,000 inodes.

Meanwhile, entry processes (which refers the limits placed on simultaneous script executions) are restricted to 15. This is significantly less (worse) than other hosts e.g. GreenGeeks, Hostinger and GoDaddy all limit entry processes to 100, while InMotion and Namecheap limit to 20.

A2 Hosting doesn’t mention bandwidth on its price comparison page however we’re informed by its chat representatives it’s “unlimited”; its terms of service state the following:

Section 3d of A2 Hosting’s terms of service specifically state ‘Our Hosting accounts are allocated bandwidth depending on the package you select”.

If bandwidth is “unlimited” for its “Lite” package, why is it “allocated”?

A2 Hosting chat representatives tell us that this section only applies to VPS and reseller accounts however further up the page (section 3b) the terms of service state:

A2 Hosting offers a number of different products and services, including those listed below.  These TOS and our Policies apply to all Services, whether or not listed below”.

Section 3bi then lists ‘shared web hosting’ under the definition of ‘all services’

According to A2 Hosting’s chat representatives there is no bandwidth allocation (they say it’s “unlimited”) on shared hosting accounts and it’s monitored based on average server usage.

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

CPU usage restriction?

Yes

CPU usage restriction

10%

Number of CPU cores

1

Bandwidth

Unlimited

Storage restriction

Unlimited

RAM restriction

500MB

Database size restriction

NS

Free SSL?

Yes

No. of websites restriction

1

Compare features

Annual price

Compare all 18 hosts by what it costs if you pay 12 months in advance.

Host Annual price
SiteGround $47.40
Bluehost $59.40
Hostinger $39.00

Free domain?

Compare all 18 hosts by whether they offer a free domain with new hosting subscriptions.

Host Free domain?
FatCow Yes
A2 Hosting No
HostGator Yes

Offers HTTP/2?

HTTP/2 was the first update to the HTTP protocol in 20 years. See which hosts support it.

Host Supports HTTP/2?
Just Host No
GoDaddy No
SiteGround Yes

Entry processes

Learn more about, and compare 18 hosts by, limitations placed on entry processes.

Host Entry processes
InMotion 20
GreenGeeks 100
Namecheap 20

Service

A2 Hosting provides a 99.90% uptime commitment.

It may sound as though it’s trying to pull a fast one with the word “commitment,” particularly considering the prevalence of the term “uptime guarantee,” however it doesn’t appear to be.

A2 Hosting attempts to maintain an uptime of 99.90%; if it fails to adhere to this it will compensate you to the amount of 5% of your monthly hosting fee for every hour of unscheduled downtime.

Unscheduled downtime creates a distinction from scheduled downtime, which is also often referred to as “scheduled maintenance”.

A2 Hosting outlines when it performs scheduled maintenance in its terms and conditions, e.g. for a maximum of 15 minutes every Sunday morning between 12:00 AM and 5:00 AM.

Unlike a number of other hosts e.g. Dreamhost, Just Host and Bluehost, A2 Hosting provides free site migrations; however, unlike a number of other web hosts, it doesn’t appear to provide a free daily backup of your website (this can be done manually, however).

Rather, it provides a “server rewind” service which is available to “Lite” package customers but at an additional cost. It’s also provided free of charge to customers on more expensive packages.

Key data

Click on a metric to compare the performance of all 18 hosts, or learn more.

N/A = Not applicable NS = Not specified RBNS = Restricted but not specified

Uptime guarantee

99.90%

Live chat support

Yes

Ticket/email support

Yes

Phone support

Yes