A2 is yet another website hosting company that offers unlimited everything for a fairly inexpensive price. But is there anything that sets A2 apart from the competition? Yes! And I’ve got the information you need to decide if this company is the best choice for hosting your website (if you are a developer, you will definitely want to check this out).
Is A2 an “A1 Company”?
According to the Better Business Bureau, they are, indeed! The BBB gives A2 Hosting Inc. an A rating. One of the reasons for this excellent rating is a total of four customer complaints in the past three years. That’s right: four complaints. From what I’ve seen, many other hosting companies receive that many complaints from customers in a single month – or even week!
So…A2 must be doing something right. Although they haven’t been in business all that long, being founded in 2001 as Iniquinet before switching to A2 in 2003, this Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company has built their good reputation on superior speed, uptime and customer service.
Owned by a group of developers, A2 is eager to incorporate new technologies as soon as they are available. Along with providing a lot of developer tools to their customers, their adoption of cutting-edge technology makes A2 an excellent choice for someone who wants full control over their website functionality and design using the latest tools.
What’s Different About A2?
There are a couple things about web hosting service from A2 that really stand out: their SwiftServer platform and SSD hosting.
One thing A2 is known for is its fast speeds. One of the reasons they can claim your website will load faster on their servers is due to the SwiftServer platform, which includes high performance servers designed by the company’s developers.
SSD stands for Solid State Drive. That’s an option you can add to your account if you want your website’s pages to load up to 300 percent faster than files on a standard server hard drive.
Between SwiftServer and SSD, A2 provides some of the fastest speeds available in a shared hosting plan – or from a dedicated server.
All-Inclusive Shared Hosting Accounts
A2 provides just three shared hosting plans: Lite, Swift, and Turbo.
Swift and Turbo come with unlimited everything: storage, transfer, emails, domains, subdomains, parked domains and databases. They also include free backups and a anytime money back guarantee.
All accounts have access to all the popular applications, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, along with a shopping cart for basic e-commerce (additional software and applications, such as a private SSL certificate and merchant account, available at an extra charge).
Also – their shared hosting accounts are easily managed via the popular cPanel control panel.
For developers, A2 Hosting includes the following:
- PHP (5 & 7 versions)
- Unlimited MySQL 5.5 databases
- PostgreSQL 9.1
- phpMyAdmin & phhpPgAdmin
- SSH access
- Ruby on Rails
- Git, CVS, Subversion & Mercurial
A few things of note with A2’s shared hosting plans:
- Railgun Optimizer, which loads your site’s pages up to 143 times faster, is available as an add-on for the Prime account and included free with a Prime+SSD account
- Prime account customers get a choice of hosting their files on a U.S. or European server.
- A dedicated IP address costs an additional $3 per month.
Other Types of Accounts
Although shared hosting always seems to be the website hosting company’s bread and butter, A2 also offers reseller accounts, VPS and dedicated hosting. They will manage hosting for VPS and dedicated packages, too, if you don’t want the hassle of doing so.
All reseller accounts can host as many client sites as they wish. The difference between the three tiers of service, ranging from $9.89 to $26.39 per month, is in the storage space and data transfer limits. You have the option to add SSD to any reseller account for $5 per month extra.
Now – VPS accounts. A2 is really unique in that they allow a custom-designed server configuration. You get to choose how much disk space, CPU, bandwidth and memory you want and then select an operating system from 13 options. The nice thing is that you only pay for what you need – it’s not necessary to purchase a package with a huge amount of disk space, for instance, if that doesn’t suit your needs.
All VPS plans allow a single IP address and come with perpetual security, choice of server location (Iceland is a 100 percent “green” choice), root and SSH access, full network control and a SolusVM control panel (cPanel is not an option here).
If you want A2 to manage your VPS hosting account, you can choose from three different preconfigured packages with limited RAM, storage, data transfer, virtual CPUs and two dedicated IP addresses. Prices for managed VPS accounts range from $32.99 to $65.99 per month.
How about dedicated hosting? While you have to contact the company for pricing, there are two options: Flex Dedicated Server and Managed Flex Dedicated Server. Of course, the former option is great if you are comfortable with administering and developing your server from the command line using root access and a Linux OS. You also get to configure your server’s hardware the way you want it. Managed dedicated hosting uses a preconfigured server with cPanel.
Does A2 Uphold Their Promise of Excellent Customer Service?
Customer service is at the backbone of A2’s mission statement so I wondered if they really live up to expectations in regard to their 24/7/365 customer support promise. As far as I can tell, they do!
Service is provided via phone, fax, email, live chat or online ticket system. They also provide a Knowledgebase resource online.
That’s all pretty standard stuff – but when you start researching customer ratings and reviews on external sites, you will find one of the highest levels of satisfaction ever encountered! Technical support is provided within 24 hours and the ‘Guru Crew’ (as A2 refers to them) is knowledgeable, honest and helpful.
Is A2 Hosting Reliable?
A2 offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.
In WHSR’s A2 Hosting review – test site is constantly scoring above 99.9 percent uptime.
I could find no complaints about website downtime. Sure, they have issues every now and then just like any other company, but their customers seem happy with the resolutions provided by A2 support.
Who Should Use A2 Hosting Services?
A2 web hosting – whether it’s shared, VPS, reseller or dedicated – is perfect for developers who want the ultimate level of control over their sites. I particularly like the fact that they allow you to configure your own servers (for VPS and dedicated hosting) and allow ample control.
But it’s also a good value for those who aren’t quite as comfortable with development and design of a website. Because their technical support and customer service departments are so highly rated, it’s easy to get the help you need.
A2 offers a “hassle-free money back guarantee” which you can request at any time. With a promise of getting all your money back (for monthly hosting fees less any add-ons, anyway), that should make anyone switching A2 confident they won’t be locked into a long-term contract if they become dissatisfied.
A2 Hosting Pros & Cons
As a recap, here is what I think are the best and worst features of A2:
- Greater control over website design and configuration
- Excellent BBB rating
- Fast speed
- Your choice of servers
- Great customer service/support
- Excellent reliability
- Few affordable account options
- Dedicated IP addresses cost extra
A2 offers mid-range priced hosting plans, excellent speed, great customer service and a good variety of customizable features, making them a great pick for any website owner, but especially developers and businesses.
Alternatives: SiteGround, InterServer, Altus Host, Name Cheap.