A2 Hosting Review 2020: good for small sites with minimal growth

A2 hosting is a solid choice for cheap, fast hosting.

They were one of the fastest shared hosts in my TTFB test comparing 15 hosts, but still has CPU limits like all shared hosts. I personally use it for my girlfriend’s restaurant website and it does the job: it’s fast, easy, cheap. Keep in mind the restaurant site has minimal, steady traffic.

I would use A2 Hosting over SiteGround, Bluehost + EIG brands, and obviously GoDaddy. SiteGround is the most comparable, but they have gone downhill with their price increases, renewal prices, slower TTFB over the years, reduced support, and worse CPU limits than A2. TLDR; A2 is decent (especially as a SiteGround alternative), but Cloudways is better + faster.

A2 Hosting Review

 

1. TTFB is one of the fastest for shared hosting

300-400ms is an average TTFB for A2 Hosting.

I set up the same exact website on 15+ different hosting companies using the same Astra Starter Site and plugins. When compared to other shared hosting, A2 was one of the fastest.

You can view atwoserver.com to see a live demo of the site using A2’s Turbo Boost plan.

You can run your own tests, but even when clicking through pages you can see it’s noticeably faster than stgrndserver.com (the same website only hosted on SiteGround GrowBig’s plan).

The data center used for this website was Arizona.

A2 Hosting Confirmation

Hosting Comparisons Pingdom

A2 Hosting TTFB GTmetrix

A2 Hosting TTFB KeyCDN

A2 Hosting Server Response Time

A2 Hosting WebPageTest

A2 Hosting Time Spent Downloading Page

 

2. Integrated speed features for faster load times

Cloudflare, PHP 7.4, caching, and hotlink protection are all inside your cPanel.

I recommend using all these to further improve load times. Simply sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, upgrade to PHP 7.4 using the PHP Selector option in A2, and enable hotlink protection to prevent bandwidth consumption from people copying/pasting images on your website to theirs.

WordPress A2 Optimized

A2 Optimized Settings

A2 Memcached

A2 Turbocached

 

3. Support is usually good, but there are complaints

You’re going to get mixed reviews with any shared host, so I always try to include the best and worst review of a company’s support on their TrustPilot reviews which has a 4.2/5 star rating.

A2 has good support for the price. It’s not going to beat Kinsta (or what SiteGround used to be but no longer is). Right now in 2020, it’s one of the better places to get support for it’s low price.

Support options include phone, live chat, and tickets.

Good A2 TrustPilot Review

Bad A2 TrustPilot Review

I only used support twice so far, but they answered my questions both times.

A2 Hosting Support Tickets

 

4. cPanel is user-friendly

A2’s cPanel is user-friendly while SiteGround’s Site Tools or Cloudways can be hit or miss.

For the most part, you know what you’re getting with cPanel: backups, SSL, staging, domain and database options, along with some speed and security features. One of the main complaints about SiteGround is them taking away cPanel, and Cloudways is “more technical” than cPanel.

A2 Hosting cPanel

 

5. Automatic security patches

I like how A2 sends you email updates warning you of vulnerabilities in WordPress, then automatically applies the patches for you. While most hosting companies show you the vulnerabilities and have a “status page,” they won’t directly fix it for you. Big kudos to A2.

A2 Hosting Security Patch

 

6. Staging and backups are 1-click

Staging is only available on their managed WordPress hosting.

This lets you clone your site to update plugins, install new plugins, or test new designs without worrying about breaking your live site. When you’re done, launch it to the live site with 1-click.

 

7. Con: CPU limitations on shared hosting

All shared hosting companies have CPU limits, not just A2.

You can always find this on their terms of service page. I would personally skip shared hosting all together if you’re running plugins or themes that consume high CPU (WooCommerce, Divi, Elementor, even WPML or AdSense). These require more server resources and you will likely run into CPU limitations on any shared hosting (if this is you, I recommend Cloudways instead).

A2 Hosting CPU Limits

 

8. Con: storage is not unlimited like they say

Just like unlimited bandwidth doesn’t exist, neither does unlimited storage.

A2’s pricing page says “unlimited storage” but their acceptable use policy page says your use of resources may not exceed that of similar situated customers… large photo galleries, audio files, MP3 files, and online backups may be removed at their sole discretion without notice. I haven’t heard of anyone having this nightmare, but I have heard of people running out of storage on A2 and either having to remove files or upgrade the plan. Either way, it’s something to think about.

A2 Hosting Storage Limits

 

9. A2 Optimized Plugin: not that good

The A2 Optimized Plugin has a 3 star review, so I wouldn’t trust it.

Most complaints are that it makes your website even slow than before, which is the exact opposite thing it’s suppose to do. I recommend using either LiteSpeed or WP Rocket instead.

A2 Optimized WordPress Plugin

 

10. A2 Hosting pros and cons

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy to use cPanel
  • Fast TTFB for the price
  • Support is good (for the price)
  • More speed features than most shared hosting

Cons

  • Support isn’t as good as it used to be
  • Shared hosting is limited on resources
  • A2 Optimized WordPress plugin isn’t great

 

11. A2 Hosting pricing

A2 has separate pricing for shared and managed WordPress hosting.

The main difference is Drive has 2x more server resources than Startup, and Turbo Boost has 5x accordingly. Turbo Boost comes with faster CPU performance, and Turbo Max comes with 5x more server resources than Startup. You get what you pay for in terms of speed and storage.

The same concept applies with A2’s Managed WordPress Hosting. The basic plans comes with 2 CPU + 2 RAM, 3 CPU + RAM for the middle plan, and 4 CPU + 4 RAM for the highest plan. All of A2’s managed hosting accounts come with staging, the Plesk control panel, and other features.

A2 Hosting Pricing

A2 Hosting Managed WordPress Pricing

 

12. Free migrations

Like most hosts, A2 hosting offers free migrations.

A2 Hosting Migration Prompt

 

13. Is A2 hosting a good alternative to SiteGround?

A2 Hosting is definitely an upgrade over SiteGround, especially now.

As explained in my SiteGround review, they have gone completely downhill with their constant price increases, renewal prices, reduced support, ditching cPanel, CPU limits, and they’ve even corrupted Facebook Groups (the SiteGround community manager is an admin for some of these groups). As an ex-super affiliate of SiteGround, I would 100% use A2 over SiteGround.

SiteGround used to be fast but they’re very slow now, even after the moved to Google Cloud. But if you complain about SiteGround’s slow TTFB in Facebook Groups, the post will be deleted. Here are the results of stgrndserver.com which is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig.

SiteGround Alternative

SiteGround Alternative Beginners

 

14. Conclusion: A2 has it’s place, but it’s not the best

Cloudways is definitely faster than A2 Hosting and is who I use.

Cloudways is a little more technical and Kinsta is expensive. But if you’re looking for something cheap, easy, and still relatively fast, that’s when I would recommend A2. Their shared hosting should be sufficient for smaller sites not running high CPU plugins, while managed hosting will better support high CPU plugins and more traffic. It really does depend on your website/needs.

See Also: Cloudways Review

Cheers,
Tom

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