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Offers not just Linux, but also Windows Shared Hosting
Expansive cPanel is packed with tools for any kind of website
Top service tier limits cohabitors on your server
Tons of apps available via Scriptaculous
Multiple tools to do the same thing can be confusing
A little pricey compared to other hosts
If you’re in need of tons of power, speed, or both, we recommend placing A2’s Shared Hosting Turbo on your shortlist. This tier limits the number of other users on your server, and power tools like SSH access and one-click installers make your web administration easier.
A2 Hosting is a web host that's primarily known for speed, but that isn't all they have to offer. We found A2 to be a very capable and versatile web hosting provider during our time with the service. Whether you’re just starting out and simply want a WordPress site to blog on, or you’re a tried-and-true website admin, A2 has the options you need regardless of the type of site you run.
We tested this web hosting platform to see if it's really as fast as they claim, alongside a number of other important factors, so keep reading to see how it fared.
Fast shared hosting is A2's primary focus, and they offer a tiered plan system that should be familiar if you've ever looked at the shared offerings from any other host. Each tier offers a different level of service and access to resources, and they're priced accordingly.
Here are your shared hosting options with A2:
In addition to those tiers of shared hosting, A2 also offers managed WordPress hosting, several tiers of VPS hosting, dedicated hosting if your site needs quite a few resources, and even a reseller option.
Most other web hosting companies offer services based on Linux, and A2’s default shared hosting plans run on CloudLinux. This distribution is based on CentOS, which is, in turn, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
The basis of A2’s environment is very solid, but CloudLinux has been tuned for use by hosts and resellers, meaning it has additional security and performance enhancements. At the same time, it remains compatible with a large number of applications already packaged up for Red Hat-based distributions.
In addition, A2 Hosting also offers Shared Hosting on Windows servers. This allows you to host sites or applications built on Microsoft technologies like ASP, .NET, or even Silverlight if you really need that functionality.
These accounts also have access to open-source software as well, so users can run applications such as WordPress using the MySQL database engine and PHP programming language, for example.
In addition, A2 Hosting also offers Shared Hosting on Windows servers. This allows users (most likely companies) to host sites or applications built on Microsoft technologies like ASP, .NET, or even Silverlight.
The only plan from A2 that contains limited storage is the bottom tier Startup Plan. The other plans can use as much disk space as required or you can go crazy installing lots of different sites or applications. This is particularly attractive given the large number of one-click app installers A2 makes available.
Likewise, A2 Hosting doesn’t meter traffic to your sites. So feel free to put up those high-res images or that HD video gallery. With unlimited storage and bandwidth on most plans, you don’t need to worry about overages for media-heavy sites or applications.
Getting registered on A2 Hosting is straightforward. The registration process walks you through a small number of screens, although unlike some competing providers, there’s no navigation to let you know precisely where you are in the process. You’ll start by clicking on the Get Started! link for whatever level of service you’re currently reviewing.
The next step is for you to indicate the domain name you’d like. You can also elect to transfer your domain name or use an existing domain host at this stage.
Next, you’ll select some options to your new hosting account. These include your billing cycle, the data center you’d like to use, as well as add-ons such as a dedicated IP address or performance enhancements. You can also have an application, such as a content management system, installed automatically for you.
Finally, you’ll reach the checkout page. Here you enter your contact and payment information. Set your account’s password, and you’re off to the races.
When you first log into your A2 Hosting account, you’ll land on a dashboard that contains tiles that provide information and enable functionality. The topmost contains a summary of the services you currently have as well as domains, any support tickets, and a link to invoices.
The next item down lists all your domains, and it also contains quick links to the cPanel, connection, and payment details for each.
Blocks below these two main bars let you open support tickets, register a new domain, view the company’s Tweets and news, or make referrals for credit towards service.
The site’s menu also contains links to important services:
Within each domain, your admin options are found in the cPanel, which you can reach by clicking the above-mentioned quick link. That said, you can still use all the power that the cPanel interface provides by going to the Advanced menu. If that sounds a bit confusing, blame A2 for duplicating functionality in multiple locations.
The right side of the screen provides some statistical information on your account, such as your server’s address, how much storage you’ve used, and how many databases you have.
The sections in the center of the screen contain collections of tools as follows:
All the primary administration options are available via the main site menu, the cPanel, or both. The tools themselves are straightforward, with easy-to-use-forms that let you change your payment method, for example.
One useful feature is the ability to create sub-accounts. If you’re a small web developer using A2 Hosting to service your own clients, you can set each one up with a Sub-Account that allows them to not only access their files but upgrade their own services or pay invoices.
On top of this, Turbo accounts also use a replacement to the generally-available Apache web server that is tuned for performance. Finally, there are a number of options you can activate such as caching you can turn on for top speed.
A2 Hosting’s claim to fame comes in the form of the many enhancements they provide to ensure your site is working as fast as it possibly can.
A2 Hosting is designed around providing the speediest servers available, even with shared hosting plans, so it's a bit of a disappointment that these features aren't available at every level. If you want to take advantage of A2's fantastic speed, and the great alternatives and options they offer to get things moving faster, you have to pay for one of their more expensive tiers.
A2 provides a robust set of customer support options, with 24/7 phone support, live chat, and a ticket system. They have a toll free number for customers in the United States, and local support numbers for various countries around the world. You'll also find access to their web chat support system at the top of every page on the site.
If you prefer asynchronous communication, you can also use their ticket system. This system allows you to submit a ticket and wait until a help desk staff member gets back to you, so it's a good option if your problem isn't mission critical.
A2 promises that your site will be up and accessible 99.9% of the time, and they back up that promise in their uptime commitment document. According to that document, they'll credit you 5% of your monthly bill for each hour that your site is down beyond the initial 0.1%.
The catch is that they don't count things like regularly scheduled maintenance, DDoS attacks, or network conditions outside their own network.
Compared to some other hosting providers, A2 runs on the expensive side. Their plans range from $10.99 per month for the Start Up plan to $25.99 per month for the Turbo Max plan if you pay on a monthly basis. That's a lot of money for a shared hosting plan, and the $14.99 per month you'll pay with a 36 month commitment isn't that much better.
The caveat here is that you're paying for speed, especially at the Turbo tiers. You can find shared hosting that's a lot more affordable, but you won't find alternatives that are both cheaper and as fast as A2.
The most direct competitor for A2 Hosting as an all-in-one hosting provider is GoDaddy. Both offer tools catering to users ranging from newbies to tech gurus. Both provide Linux and Windows options, and both position themselves as a host for any type of site.
The main difference between them is at the high end of their shared hosting plans. A2 Hosting’s plan provides the performance enhancements mentioned throughout this review, where GoDaddy provides the same raw processing power, yet none of these special enhancements.
GoDaddy's Ultimate plan is cheaper than A2's Turbo plan, at $12.99 per month versus $25.99 per month with no long term commitment.
If you're after speed, go for A2. If price is you main concern, look elsewhere.
Worth it for some, but this kind of power isn't always necessary.
A2 Hosting provides a solid service that can handle any type of site, from basic to complex, with little difficulty. The company also makes all the right tools available for those who know how to use them. If you're just getting started with building websites, you might be able to use another service that costs less and still has great value, but A2 is a great choice if you're after speedy shared hosting.
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