Switching to VPS Hosting

The most basic websites start off with a shared hosting plan – which is cheapest and requires the least technical knowledge/ability to start.

Advantages and disadvantages of a shared web host (source: WHSR).

Shared hosting accounts shared a pool of server resources assigned by hosting companies – if one of the shared hosting accounts gulps a large share of resources – other websites hosted on the same server will suffer slow load time or even outage. This is a common problem for a web host that practices overselling.

An article on Winning WP says that:

You should almost definitely consider moving away from shared hosting if you’re running a serious online business

I beg to differ. As long as your website is working alright there is no reason to switch to a VPS. But if you need a hosting environment with better security, flexibility, and reliability – a VPS host is your next move.

Here’s when you should consider switching –

  • Getting high incoming traffics – you need to upgrade your server capacity. Sometimes you will get notified by your shared hosting provider when you are pulling too much resources from the shared server.
  • When you need a stable stream of server resources for better reliability.
  • To implement better backups, advanced monitoring, and security features (secure shell access – SSH).
  • When you need complete control over your web host – to install a custom software or custom configuration, for examples.
  • To manage multiple clients’ website hosting on your account – for example if you are a web developer who help your clients to design and host their websites; and you want to give server access to your clients.

A comprehensive guide to VPS hosting

Comprehensive guide on VPS hosting (source: HostPapa)

On Choosing A Web Host: My Best Is Not Your Best

There are 1000 hosting companies in the world and they all claim they are the best.

And majority of them are, in fact, correct.

Because “Best” is relative.

What’s best for me is best for (well) me. What’s best for you might not be right for me.

If I am hosting my school projects that I only need the site to be alive for the next 6 months, a free web host with limited features like 000 Web Host or Award Space would be *the best* for me.

Not only that your “Best” hosting provider – like this one, that gives ultra fast network, excessive server resource,  and spoon-fed customer support that charges $200/month is not best, it’s not even in my first 100 consideration list.

Truth is – those looking to emerge on the internet have a slew of options and an abundance of hosting providers.  You have got your free web hosting services – as mention earlier. Then there’s shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud, as well as managed cloud (something only seen recently).

It really depends on what you want and need; and how much you are willing to pay. Different websites have different needs – you should select a host that suits your budget and requirements.

Knowing your needs before signing up the “best” hosting

So what does your website need from its host?

Can you answer that question in clear-written bullet points? Some basic questions to ask yourself include:

  • What kind of website or blog are you building?
  • Are you going to build and host just one website; or multiple?
  • Do you need to park a lot of unused domain names with this host?
  • Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, perhaps) so it’s easier to get help?
  • Do you need Windows applications?
  • Do you need support for a specific programming language (like Java or Python)?
  • How much your website traffic is going to grow for the next 6 months?

Hosting Reviews and Best Lists?

Don’t rely too much on what you can find on Google – 9 out of 10 of these “best hosting listing” are heavily biased and manipulated by affiliate commission. There’s a reason why people nowadays all push for iPage, SiteGround, BlueHost, Hostgator, and so on as the “Best” web host. Because these are the companies that pay the fattest commission.

Look for lists that rank a web host based on performance data and real user reviews. Usually this means the list consists of both popular and less well-known names. Check site owner’s credibility before trusting their reviews and advice.

If a deal sounds too good to be true – very likely it is.

Here are three best hosting list I found useful – there are data-driven, comes with clear earning disclosures, and their authors are out from the dark (known for their reputation). If you were looking for a web host, start with the brands mentioned in these guide.

Characteristics of a good web host

To say any hosting service is best (or even good), they should perform exceptionally well in following aspects with consistency:

  1. Server performance – How often your host goes down? Is your host loading quick? Does the company provide SLA on server and network uptime? What is the compensation if your server goes down?
  2. Hosting upgrade options – Is there room to grow? Can you upgrade your host easily?
  3. Numbers of addon domain – How many domains and websites can you host in one account? Domain names are so cheap these days – you WILL own more than one website.
  4. Costs – Simple question, can you afford the host?
  5. Email hosting – Can you host your own email?
  6. Site backup – How often is your account backup? Can you restore your backup by yourself easily? Does your host charge restoration fee?
  7. After-sales service – Can you get help easily?

Again – when you are choosing a hosting solution, bear in mind that what you want is to select the one that suits you the best. It’s not about finding the best web host in the world, it’s finding the best web host for your website and business.

Hosting Operating System (OS): Unix & Windows

Operation system, or normally known as OS, is a platform for your computer to work. An OS has to be installed on your computer before any other software. The operating system is so important that it takes care of almost all the basic operation on your computer: from shutting down the PC to handling the memory to coordination among hardware.

Now in case you not know, not just that your personal computer needs an OS.

Your hosting server needs one too! (surprise? duh…) In the world of web hosting OS, there’re two major players, namely Unix and Windows.

Unix (Linux & FreeBSD) Hosting

While there are more than 80% of the PCs runs on Windows; there aren’t so much running on servers.

Instead, web hosting server are normally runs on Unix base.

Note that Unix is not a single operating system. It offers many modern variants also referred to as flavors, types, distributions, or implementations, which branch from its origins in early 1970s mainframe computing.

Reason Unix-based OS is so popular is because that the OS is an open source operating system – thus free to use.

The 2 most popular variations are Linux and FreeBSD.

Windows Hosting

On top of personal computer OS Windows 10, 8, Vista, XP, etc; Microsoft do have their own operating system designed specifically for servers.

One of the well-known server OS from Microsoft is Windows Server 2003, and in case you’re familiar with Windows, you should be aware that Windows Sever 2008 is already in the market.

Unix > Windows?

Unix is developed in the Universities for the purpose of research and has been focusing more on networking and speed. Windows is a commercial product developed and targeted to the home users. Unix is built to be more powerful, secure and fast while Windows is built to be more user friendly and easy to use.

Most webmasters and developers lean over Unix systems as they are  generally better, in term of stability and security, Windows OS.

(* I didn’t find hard proof on this claim though).

After so many years of development, Unix has been evolved into a very stable, secure and powerful platform for the servers. On the other hand, Windows (Microsoft Corporation) is still consider to be a new comer to the server market.

What you need to know: Unix or Windows?

You should always go for a Unix web host unless you have some specific requirements that require Windows platform.

Not only Unix is more powerful and secure in networking but it is also cheaper because Unix is *FREE*! If a web host setup their servers to run Windows 2003, he will need to purchase the license from Microsoft and this will increase the hosting price.

You will need a Windows host if you want to use some Windows-only features. The most common are ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, etc. If you have never heard of any of these application, you most probably won’t need a Windows host.

Cut it short, ASP.NET and ColdFusion are scripting language. Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access are databases.

 

List of Free / Discounted Hosting Deals for Students

Dear students –

I just bumped into this Quora thread  and am sick with the amount of spam flooded there.

Chances are you need a web host to host your course work cheap (or better, for free). And you only need a small space and bandwidth for the project.

If this is your case, it’s better to stick with a student hosting plan – where plans are cheap (or free) and hosting capacity are small.

To help, I am curating a small list of hosting services that offer free or discount plans for students here.

I do not use affiliate links nor accept advertisement on this blog. Feel free to use (and share with your friends) this list at your own risks.

List of Student Hosting

What to expect in student hosting plans?

Usually a small shared hosting plan is offered.

Shared hosting is the most popular webs hosting service over the internet because of its economic budget and newbie-friendly features.

Shared hosting is the perfect solution for individual and small scale websites – like a student project 🙂

Cost efficiency  The best benefit associated with shared mode of web hosting is the budget price. As the specific server hosts several websites over the internet, thus the cost is distributed over each of the website leading to much cheaper rates which you cannot find on other hosting service packages. Normally, the annual cost lies with shared hosting ranges in between $50 to $100. And you don’t have to compromise with the web space and speed as you will get great web space of around 5 – 50 GB.

Feasibility and operational ease As the servers under shared hosting are associated with dozens or hundreds of websites, so any users do not have to worry much about maintaining the server. The hosting company IT experts will look after the server performance and security.

Utility Management Tool  Irrespective of the number of websites shared over a single server, web-hosting companies provide the administrative utility panel to each of the website separately (usually cPanel or Plesk). Through this admin utility control page, a user can do the modification and customization of the web pages. Also one can issue the subdomains and can create site emails as like the normal web hosting features.

Limitations associated with Shared Hosting

Though shared web hosting technique is money valued and featured hosting package but still there are few drawbacks that comes with the service. Some of such drawbacks are listed as under:

  • The main drawback is related with the safety issues. A shared web hosting service offers less security as many websites share the common server.
  • The shared hosting holds good for small websites but its performance highly degraded with bulk weighted websites
  • Less robustness is also a limitation which one has to deal with shared hosting.
  • No dedicated IP address

 

FatCow Review by Peter Benson

This informative FatCow (site: https://www.fatcow.com/) review was published 7 years ago. I received this review from a user named Peter Benson. FatCow’s price has not changed much today and the review is still somewhat useful today.

If you are considering FatCow Hosting, you should check it out.

User Feedback on FatCow

I think you have FatCow rated too high

I tried FatCow for webhosting a local political campaign site based on good reviews like these. The price was decent – $44 for a year.

The campaign was successful, and I took the site down afterward. Unfortunately, I did not cancel the account, and it autorenewed at _$107_ for a year. When I went to cancel it, they told me there would be a $35 cancellation fee. When I said I didn’t remember seeing that when I signed up, they said it’s in “Terms and Conditions” – buried with a ton of legalese. Their “cancellation fee” is almost as much as the first year of web hosting. For what it’s worth, I had _much_ better luck getting a refund for unused time from JustHost.

Anyway, fool me once and all that. I told them I thought their policy was misleading and abusive, and I won’t be back.

(PS- They also take _forever_ to answer their phone – it took three tries to get this cancelled since one time I had to leave after ~20 minutes on hold and the other time I was cut off after a similar wait time.)

Anyway, I think you have them rated too high, and I think you ought to let people know about their loss-leader, bait-and-switch pricing and high cancellation fee.

– Peter Benson / Minnesota @ September 4th, 2011

Other helpful FatCow review you should read:

Alternatives to FatCow

The best thing about FatCow is price. If FatCow is not for you, some other budget hosting providers you can look into include: BlueHost (same owner with FatCow), FastComet, and Hostinger.

Latest Trends in the Cloud

1. Improve Security in the Cloud

From Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader to Apple’s integrated cloud allowing extensive Mac device communication, even the most casual user is aware of the power of the cloud. Small and medium sized businesses are slowly adopting cloud hosting in even the most staid markets. Major enterprise cloud solutions have been in development for years and are being deployed at a high rate.

But the security aspects of the cloud are still being worked on.

Many suggest that hackers are focused on big potential breaches in cloud security. Therefore, it’s increasingly important for hosting companies offering cloud products to anticipate weaknesses in cloud security and address those aggressively.

Customers are also becoming savvier with respect to potential security issues connected with the cloud. As a result, hosting companies are developing stronger communications around this issue in the form of copy, collateral, and training for their sales teams. The need to fight malware and abuse is a major theme affecting all kinds of hosting companies, not just the cloud hosts. Continuing investments and upgrades in this area remains a major theme for hosting companies.

2. Increased Differentiation Among Cloud Providers

The last few years have seen hosts focused in on providing infrastructure needed to support cloud hosting* and rolling out basic services.

In the coming year, prices are likely to increase as providers layer differentiation and additional services on top of existing hosting plans. An important trend is the degree to which individual providers are able to do so in an automated way that minimizes the need for human intervention. The more automated this process is, the higher margins will be on individual accounts. As a consumer, it’s helpful to understand how efficient your potential host’s processes are in this respect – it will save you tremendous amounts of aggravation when an issue does occur.

In addition, cloud providers seeking differentiation will need to find other avenues for communicating their advantages to customers.  Quality customer service is important, but it’s not enough. Instead, cloud hosting providers need to find real points of differentiation and market those effectively. 2012 so far has proved a big year for marketing spending in the hosting industry, and this is likely to continue as hosting companies work to educate the public. Differentiation is especially key as cloud hosting companies compete against Amazon, which has to a certain degree commoditized cloud services.

3. Increased Reseller Activity And Partnerships

As more big players like Amazon and others move in to the hosting field, it’s growing increasingly important for smaller players to have strong partnerships. Affiliate and reseller relationships are becoming a mainstay of how these businesses profit, as a number of small to medium sized hosting companies become bundlers for the specific services packages needed by small business users and online companies.

Competitive pricing, niche specific approaches, and stellar service will all play a key role in how this growing class of middlemen continues to evolve. Some speculate about whether hosting companies will actually phase out their own infrastructure altogether in favor of acting as straight resellers with lower infrastructure costs and therefore higher margins for Amazon and other larger players.

 

On InMotion Hosting – Reviews & Notable Features

InMotion is a web hosting company that was founded back in 2001.

InMotion Hosting Business (Shared) Hosting in a glance (source).
InMotion Managed VPS Hosting in a glance (source).

InMotion Hosting – A Leading Industry Player

Over the years, InMotion has emerged as one of the top players in the web hosting industry.

PC Mag rated InMotion Hosting as Excellent

The feature-packed InMotion Hosting offers many free tools for building a website, and it’s PCMag’s top choice for managed WordPress hosting.

WHSR hosts their site at InMotion Hosting and gave a 5-star rating –

InMotion Hosting is highly recommended due to two reasons: 1) strong server performance data (>99.95% uptime, TTFB <450ms) and 2) solid customer service. I personally pay them hundreds of dollars every year to host this site you are reading.

User reviews at Web Hosting Geeks rated them 4.5 stars on average

I moved from shared hosting at another provider to a VPS at InMotion about a year ago, and it was a fantastic decision. I’ve had so few problems, but when I’ve had to contact tech support, they’ve been super helpful. I just had my VPS upgraded from CentOS 6.9 to 7.4 and both Tech Support Chat and Tier 2 Sys Admins have been great help getting all my hosted sites settled onto the new server. I do peek around from time to time at other hosts to make sure I’m still getting the best deal, and I’m convinced I’m still getting the best deal.

In hosting industry, the most important thing to deliver is customer satisfaction because if a company fails to do that, customers can easily find another provider. With the high level of competition in the web hosting industry, there is no room for mistakes.

We will take a closer look on these features and advantages with InMotion Hosting in this short article.

East or West Coast of United States

InMotion operates in two data centers to provide convenience to their clients. One in downtown L.A and another one at the outskirts of Washington. Users get the luxury to pick either one of these locations to host their websites.

WordPress Website Builder – Perfect For Beginners

Many people are reluctant to start a website because they are afraid of the technical aspects related to it. It is not easy to learn the complicated programming language like the HTML or PHP.

Luckily we don’t have to do this in 2018.

Nowadays, many web hosting companies will include a free website builder tool. With InMotion, you will get a free WP site builder known as BoldGrid.

With BoldGrid, users will be able to build a professional looking website even if they do not have any knowledge about web designing. They just have to follow easy and simple instructions to build their website. They can choose from hundreds of template in order to customize their website as well. The simple to use interface will allow the user to build their website in a matter of minutes.

More than 200 ready made themes in BoldGrid.

Free Domain – Great Savings

InMotion customers will get a free domain when they sign up with a hosting package. The free domain will be available with any hosting package as long as it is a one year contract. Users will get to choose from different extensions such as .com, .net, .biz, .org, .us, and .info.

No matter what website you are intending to build, you will be able to choose an extension that suits you. What if you terminate your hosting account with InMotion? No worries, they have this sorted out for you. All you need to do is pay $12.95 and you will be able to keep the domain.

In addition, InMotion Hosting also provide domain transfer services. This is great for those who are looking to switch to InMotion. They will be able to continue using the domain that they are using with their previous hosting company. So they don’t have to get a new one. This is also another good reason why many webmasters are switching to InMotion.

In-House Support

One unique feature about this company is that they never outsource their customer support service to any third party. So, their support staffs are all based in Virginia Beach.

Backup Your Data

During system failures, a good backup and restore feature will be the key to protect users from losing their valuable data.

Backup feature is included in all hosting plans at InMotion Hosting.

Users will be able to set the interval for the backups to be performed on their system. Once the backup is done, they will be provided with a link. Using this link, they will be able to download the data and store it in their local computer. This way, they will have a copy at hand. They can schedule the backups to be done according to their preferences. Some people do it weekly while others do it on a daily basis. This will depend on the amount of data you have on your website as well as the amount of activity you are expecting as well. With data protection, you will be glad to know that all of your precious data will be safe to ensure nothing goes wrong with your business operations.

Verdict: Should You Choose InMotion Hosting?

InMotion is definitely one of the leading web hosting companies that you will come across these days. They will provide their clients with a plethora of features that will ensure a great hosting experience.

With unlimited resources at their disposal, users will be able to do whatever they want with their account in order to achieve success on the internet.

If you search online for reviews (see here, here, and here), you will be able to find a lot of positive remarks about this hosting provider. Therefore, there is no reason why you should not go for InMotion Hosting.

For students and teachers – InMotion Hosting provide free hosting services as well as career advancement (for certain universities in United States). Visit official site for more info.

If InMotion is not for you…

Alternatives: InterServer, SiteGround, A2 Hosting, Hostgator, and NetMoly (where this site is hosted).

Things to Consider When Choosing a Managed Hosting Provider

Are you interested in outsourcing your web hosting services? Do you require a dedicated server?

If the answer is “YES” to both of these questions, you may want to consider a managed hosting provider.

What is a managed hosting?

In a managed hosting environment, the hosting provider owns and is responsible for the data center, network, devices, operating system and application infrastructure components. The customer generally manages the applications infrastructure and maintains full control over the business process.

Whether you are looking for your first managed hosting provider or switching from an existing provider, making the selection can be an overwhelming task.

Each organization has unique requirements and the best provider for one may not be good for another.

For bloggers or individual websites – a cheap host with basic features is usually good enough. In contrast, you definitely need better reliability and technical support from a business web host.

Once you have taken the plunge and selected a provider, it can be very difficult to back out or make yet another change. This is why it is so important to make the selection carefully. Of course, it never hurts to ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, but this should only be a starting point.

Below are some things to consider when making your decision.

1. Scope of Services

To start, you should determine exactly which services you need and whether each managed hosting provider can support them.

Some providers may offer a variety of plans ranging from partial managed hosting to full managed hosting. It just depends on how much support you require and how much you are willing to pay.

Here are some standard services to consider:

  • Management of Windows or Linux environment
  • Application of security patches and upgrades
  • Management of the platform: hardware, networks, operating System, storage, database, domain name system, firewall, etc.
  • Clusters, redundancy and load balancers

Here are some additional services you might need:

  • Backups
  • Application support
  • Website security
  • Migration from the existing site (if applicable)

2. Service Levels

Response time and problem resolution are critical to any hosting service. You will want to review the capabilities of your prospective managed hosting provider to identify whether their service level is adequate to meet your needs. This is one area where you get what you pay for.

Small, less expensive providers may not have the resources to provide expert assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Below are few questions to ask:

  • Are they available by phone, e-mail, chat, etc.?
  • Do they provide 24 hour support?
  • What is the average response time during the day, at night and on weekends?
  • How long does it typically take to resolve problems? Are expert resources available in the off hours to resolve difficult problems quickly?

You may even want to call the provider in the middle of the night to see how long it takes to get a response.

3. Uptime

You should determine the level of uptime that your business requires. Of course, everyone wants 100% uptime, but higher service levels may cost more. In particular, consider the cost of downtime to your organization.

Are you a retailer who will lose thousands of dollars per hour if your site is down during the holiday season?

No managed hosting provider can provide 100% uptime and you should be skeptical of any that claim that they do. Ask the hosting provider what their average uptime is and if they guarantee an uptime service level. If they cannot meet the guaranteed service level, how will you be compensated?

Fortunately, most managed hosting providers maintain well over 99% uptime. Netcraft tracks the performance of many providers and you may find the information at their site helpful: Netcraft.

4. Scalability and Traffic Spikes

The ability of your site to handle spikes in activity is dependent not only on the managed host provider, but also on how well your website is programmed.

Clearly, you should provide prospective managed hosting providers not only your average traffic levels, but also your peak levels. Ask them if they can accommodate the peak levels. If traffic spikes can be anticipated, how much lead time do they require in order to prepare?

Ask the provider how many visitors per month they currently handle.

  • How many websites are they hosting?
  • How many visitors does the average site have?

This should give you a good idea if they can handle the size of your business.

5. Applications & Languages

Make sure that the provider can support the applications and languages you intend to use.

These might include:

  • WordPress, Drupal, Joomla
  • Windows Server, Linux
  • PHP, .NET, Python, Ruby

It’s important to not only make sure they can accommodate the applications and languages that you use, but also the particular versions you are using.

Ask if their other customers are already using these same versions.

6. Server Control

If your developers will need full server control, be sure that the managed host provider offers it.

For example, some developers need Secure Shell Support (SSH) access to customize their environments. These are all details that you want to specify upfront to avoid nasty surprises late in the process.

7. Cost

In the end, the provider and plan that you select will represent a compromise between the service levels that you desire and the money you are willing to spend on a website.

Be sure that you understand exactly how much each plan costs. Which costs are part of the standard plan and which are a la carte? How much bandwidth is included? How much storage is included? How many domains can you host without additional charges?

Most hosting problems can be avoided by conducting a thorough review BEFORE selecting the provider.

If you do your homework and are clear about your requirements, you should have no problem finding a good managed host provider that meets your needs.

Good Luck!

Things to Know Before Buying A Web Host

Shopping for web hosting? Here’re the main 5 consideration points when you’re looking for the right web hosting: Hosting uptime, server load time, hosting features, pricing, and free domain offers.

Be sure to read on in case you’re about to start your website online, as I’ll be revealing each consideration points in detail.

1- Hosting Uptime

When choosing a host for your new (or old) website there are many things to consider. Your host is the one who is responsible for your website being online and being able to be accessed by users, and potential customers.

Seeing such, you will want to look at the uptime that the hosting company guarantees first. You really can’t take their word for it, however, but anything under 99% should be a red flag to you. In order to better check out the hosting company’s “real” uptime, try to visit a few of the sites that you know they host. They normally have links to them somewhere on their site.

Also, if the hosting company’s site is ever down for an extended period, say an hour or so, this should also be a red flag. Basically, you’ll want your site up and online as much as possible, so in order to make sure this happens, you’ll want to make sure that other websites that a hosting company is hosting are up. Try checking at different times during the day, too. If there is a routine time that sites are down, this will not be good for you, and it should be a sure sign that you shouldn’t be using that hosting company.

2- Server Load Time

Another thing you’ll want to check is load time.

This is just what it says, how fast your site will load. You can time how fast the hosting company’s site loads and how fast other sites it hosts load, and compare them with other hosting companies.

If you want a pretty accurate reading, you can try using the Fasterfox extension for Firefox . It gives you a time that the page took to load up to the thousandths place in seconds. This should be sufficient enough of a timer for your purposes.

TTFB = Good measurement of server response speed? Source: WHSR Kinsta Review.

3- Hosting Features

Features are always important as well. Some hosting companies offer loads and loads of features; more features than you’ll ever even think of using. Do you really need those FrontPage extensions? How about unlimited databases? No, all you’ll probably ever need is the latest PHP, and about 2-3 Email accounts, FTP accounts, and 2-3 databases.

Keep in mind that this is based on one website, so if you are looking to host, say ten, on one account, then obviously, you’ll want to multiply those numbers by 10. Another important feature to look for is regular backups.

This will save your site if something goes extremely wrong, which is rare, but it does happen, so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

4- Pricing

After you’ve examined everything you need, it’s time to look around for the best deal.

If you’re reviewing web hosting according to this article, you should have established a minimum amount for each of the features you want, including by now.

What’s next is to weed out the best deal. While the cheapest deal always is the most appealing, be very sure that you look beyond the first year of pricing, because some hosts like to trick you with cheap hosting for the first year, and then change the fee to the most expensive ever without you even noticing.

Sometimes (but not a must) the hosting companies with fees right in the middle work out for the best.

5- Free Domain?

Lastly but not least, if you’re hosting your website for the first time (meaning you do not own an existing domain), you should look for web hosting that offer free domain registration. Take BlueHost for example, they are offering lifetime free domain for customers.

What’s Your Horrible Story in Hosting?

Honestly, I think there’re way too many lousy web hosting around the market – most are overselling their bandwidth, over promised and underdelivered in hosting uptime, over-priced hosting plans, and dishonest merchants who disallow cancellation.

Almost everyone has their own version of horrible hosting story.

So remember – next time, before you click buy, ask your web host the questions stated above.

A2 Hosting Review

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).

Read on…

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
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PERL
  • Git, CVS, Subversion & Mercurial

A few things of note with A2’s shared hosting plans:

  1. 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
  2. Prime account customers get a choice of hosting their files on a U.S. or European server.
  3. 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:

Pros

  • Greater control over website design and configuration
  • Excellent BBB rating
  • Fast speed
  • Your choice of servers
  • Great customer service/support
  • Excellent reliability

Cons

  • 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.