Site speed is talked about a lot, especially when it comes to affordable web hosting providers. The reality is that there’s not a lot a host can do for you until you get into the more expensive types of hosting, like managed WordPress, VPS, or even dedicated servers. At the shared hosting level, companies have thousands of customers on one server that they have to keep happy. So, they really can’t do much to optimize it for a small group of users.
However, A2 Hosting is the one exception to this–it’s one of the only affordable hosting companies that focuses heavily on performance, from the cheapest plan all the way to the most expensive.
How A2 Hosting Stacks Up to Other Web Hosts
To optimize your site for performance, higher-end hosting is where you’ll really start to see a significant improvement. However, A2 Hosting does everything they can to help shared hosting customers keep their sites fast and lightweight. With that said, it’s definitely geared more towards experienced users.
If you’re brand new to hosting and want something easier to use, one of our other top web hosting picks may be a better fit:
- Hostinger – Best overall hosting company
- DreamHost – Best WordPress hosting
- SiteGround – Best ecommerce hosting
- Bluehost – Best hosting for beginners
- ScalaHosting – Best customer service
- GreenGeeks – Best eco-friendly web hosting
- HostGator – Best website hosting for scalability
- WP Engine – Best managed WordPress hosting
- A2 Hosting – Best shared hosting for site speed
- InMotion Hosting – Best for technical users
Where A2 Hosting Stands Out
First and foremost, A2 stands out in terms of site performance—more specifically speed. You can tell just by looking at the shared hosting plans and what is included in each. While site speed usually doesn’t matter much when you’re just starting out, it’s clear A2 Hosting wants to help even those with tight budgets achieve maximum performance.
Ease of Use (the good)
A2 Hosting starts strong from moment one. Signing up is easy and A2 makes it clear they want it to be as convenient as possible for new customers, starting with the detailed comparison chart of its different shared hosting plans.
Once you choose the right plan for your needs, A2 doesn’t force you to choose a domain name to complete the signup process. It provides a temporary domain so you can get your hosting service in place, then take your time finding just the right domain name for your future site.
The signup process also recognizes that A2 customers come from around the world. You can choose to display pricing in U.S. dollars or Indian Rupees, and when it comes time to pay, the options are virtually endless.
In addition to the usual credit and debit cards, you can also use PayPal, PayU, Skrill, check, money order, and even bank wire transfer. How’s that for an array of convenient payment options?
Once you get your hosting squared away, A2 provides you immediately with a link to your Client Area.
There’s also a Quick Start Guide you can browse to get up to speed on all things A2.
One more option you’ll see on that welcome screen is an opportunity to add an enhanced SSL certificate to your site. This is optional, since every hosting package automatically adds a free SSL certificate to your site for security and protection.
You can always enhance your SSL through the Client Area dashboard. You’ll have four options available—DigiCert Standard SSL, GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium, DigiCert Extended Validation SSL, or GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium Wildcard. A better SSL can make your site more secure and optimized for search. Prices vary from $6.67 to $35.92 per month.
Your Client Area dashboard is where you’ll do all your site and hosting-related administration. In it, you can manage additional things like:
- Domains and cPanel access
- Active services
- Open support tickets
- Billing and account information
There’s even a suggestion box, so you can share your thoughts about what you’d like to see improved with the A2 Hosting team.
The Client Area dashboard itself is clean and straightforward, laying things out in an easy-to-read and understandable way. The main menu is at the top and it is easy to find the cPanel login area, as well as all your active services.
You can also quickly find other important things, like open support tickets and one-click access to updating your account information like address, email, and phone number.
A2 Hosting also puts an emphasis on referrals by including information about their referral program right in your Client Area. They’re definitely not the only hosting provider to offer such a program, but it is one of the few that devotes this much prominent dashboard space to promoting it, even going so far as to include social sharing options.
While basic administrative tasks are easy to find, you will need to use cPanel to dig into the meat of website management. If you’re not familiar with cPanel, things can get complicated. More on that a little bit later.
A2 Hosting also offers users access to its website builder. While it isn’t as robust as the offerings from some other providers we’ve used, it still gets the job done.
A2 takes a unique approach to it, though. You’ll decide which flavor of their website builder to use during the signup process. There are four options:
- 1-Page: $2.99; includes 10 templates
- Basic: $8.99; blog functionality, build up to 10 pages, and 25 templates included
- Business: $14.99; blog functionality, build up to 10 pages, and 40 templates included
- Enterprise: $18.99; blog functionality, build unlimited pages, and use unlimited templates
Basically, if you want to use A2 Hosting’s website builder, you’ll have to pay for it each and every month. This can add up fast when you’re also paying for A2’s web hosting.
If you plan to use WordPress or another content management system to create your site, our recommendation is to skip the A2 website builder altogether. But, if you want to quickly launch a site with as little effort as possible and don’t have deep CMS knowledge, the paid website builder may be a good option for you, at least as a jumping-off point.
If you do go the website builder route, you’ll get a decent variety of templates to choose from.
Once you select your preferred template, you can build your site within its easy drag-and-drop interface.
Just choose the elements you want to include, like image containers, text fields, buttons, and more, then drag it to the place where you want it on the page.
With the website builder, you can have a new site up in just a few hours, maybe less. If getting a new site up as fast as possible is your goal, A2 Hosting’s website builder is a convenient option to take advantage of.
However, keep in mind that it’ll be challenging or impossible to move your site as it is to another hosting provider in the future if you use the site builder.
If you already have an existing website and want to move it over to A2 Hosting, you’re covered, too. A2’s Guru Support team will do it for free for, as they put it, the “vast majority of most sites.” We’re not entirely sure what that disclaimer means in real life. But, we suspect if you have an average site with average complexity, you’re going to be covered just fine.
Migrations are promised to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. You can request migration through the Support Ticket feature on your Client Area dashboard.
Giving you room to grow is another area where A2 Hosting excels. We already mentioned its focus on optimized performance, but it bears repeating.
A2 Hosting offers four shared hosting plans: Startup, Drive, Turbo Boost, and Turbo Max. You can begin with the entry-level Startup plan and have what you need for a simple starter website. As your site traffic and performance needs grow, you have lots of options without ever leaving A2’s offerings or the shared hosting world.
Upgrade to A2 Hosting’s Drive plan and jump from 100 GB of RAID-10 SSD storage to unlimited disk space. This means you can upload all the images or videos you want to your site without compromising performance or getting an extra fee on your bill.
Still need more? Turbo Boost and Turbo Max are shared hosting plans that deliver performance you often only find in more expensive cloud or VPS hosting plans. With both, you’ll get unlimited NVMe storage. NVMe drives deliver superior loading and caching speed, meaning your site will perform even better.
And if you outgrow shared hosting at some point, A2 Hosting doesn’t leave you hanging. You can move to a number of different hosting options above shared, between four flavors of managed WordPress hosting (starting at $11.99 per month) to a wide array of managed and unmanaged options for VPS and even dedicated hosting.
Each tier and plan offers more performance and functionality. No matter where your website is headed, A2 Hosting has a solution to keep site speed and performance optimized.
One caveat to keep in mind, although it’s certainly not a deal breaker: you’ll need to work with A2’s technical support team to upgrade, even among shared hosting plans. There’s no instant scaling within the Client Area backend.
The final area where A2 Hosting gets high marks is with its customer support. No matter which shared plan you select, you have both live chat and telephone support available to you. We tested each and both are great.
No matter when we tried connecting via the live chat feature, we were almost immediately matched up with a helpful and knowledgeable support technician. Even on a Sunday afternoon, despite an initial message estimating a 26-minute wait time, we connected in under three minutes.
We have nothing but great things to say about A2 Hosting’s live chat support. It was so good and consistent that we never even bothered with the telephone support. But, it is nice to know telephone support is there when you need it, too. You just can’t replace the peace of mind that comes from talking to a real person when you have site or hosting issues.
There’s also a ticket system for requesting support. You can open a new ticket from the menu at the top of your Client Area dashboard.
You can open tickets for anything, including technical support, sales, billing, and migration. You can also track all your open tickets and their statuses through the Open Ticket menu option on your dashboard.
Finally, in terms of support, there’s also a robust Knowledge Base and a blog available to browse. If you are struggling with a specific feature or functionality, chances are you’ll find an explanation in one of these two resources.
Where A2 Hosting Could Improve
There’s a lot going for A2 Hosting in its favor, but one thing keeps it from being a perfect, all-around fit for all users.
Ease of Use (the not so good)
The one area that may present a challenge for some users is the lack of help and guidance you’ll get with A2. There are no new user tutorials to walk you through anything after you sign up. Contrast this with the help you find with others like Bluehost, you may find it rather difficult to use.
Also, you’ll need to know—or quickly get up to speed on—cPanel to effectively build and manage a website with A2 Hosting. cPanel isn’t our favorite and we usually recommend providers that have developed their on control panels for inexperienced users because they tend to be easier to use.
If you’re a novice with little or no cPanel experience or knowledge, A2 Hosting may present a steep learning curve. Even installing WordPress is going to require you to take a dive into cPanel.
The same is true for doing fairly common website hosting tasks, like setting up new email accounts and tweaking security settings.
The bottom line is that A2 Hosting is better suited to someone with some website hosting experience rather than users who are brand-new to it. Yes, you can learn it all, but there are other options out there that won’t require you to do so.
If you want a hosting provider to guide you every step of the way, you should consider DreamHost, Bluehost, or SiteGround.
Plans & Pricing
A2 Hosting offers four shared hosting plans. All include a free SSL certificate, a solid state drive speed boost, Anycast DNS, and free unlimited email addresses.
- Startup: starts at $2.99 per month; includes one website, 100 GB RAID-10 storage, and 1 GB physical memory
- Drive: starts at $5.99 per month; includes unlimited websites, unlimited RAID-10 storage, and 1 GB physical memory
- Turbo Boost: starts at $6.99 per month; includes unlimited websites, unlimited NVMe storage, and 2 GB physical memory
- Turbo Max: starts at $14.99 per month; includes unlimited websites, unlimited NVMe storage, and 4 GB physical memory
Many people will be fine with the Startup plan, at least at first. But, it’s reassuring to know there are plenty of more powerful options as your site needs grow.
With A2 Hosting, you have the option of paying monthly or committing to a contract of one year, two years, or three years. You’ll get the best pricing with either a 12-month or 36-month contract, but the latter will let you lock in the lowest pricing for the longest, so it’s what we recommend.
To make it easier to see how pricing changes based on contract term, we’ve broken it down below for A2 Hosting’s entry-level Startup plan:
- Monthly billing: $11.99; $11.99 per month upon renewal
- One-year term: $2.99 per month; $9.99 per month upon renewal
- Two-year term: $5.99 per month; $9.99 per month upon renewal
- Three-year term: $4.99 per month; $9.99 per month upon renewal
Let’s compare this same plan in terms of different routes for getting four years of hosting.
When you choose an annual contract, you’ll pay $35.88 up front, then $119.88 per year for the next three years. Your total hosting expense for the full four years will be $395.52.
If you commit for the long haul, that 36-month contract will require you to pay $179.64 at checkout. Then, you’ll pay for the last year at the renewal rate, costing you $119.88, for a four-year total of $299.52.
A2 Hosting offers pretty competitive pricing to others on this list, but that’s only part of the story. You also have to consider how much various add-ons will cost. The following are not included in A2 Hosting’s plans:
- Domain registration: No free domain is included with your hosting, so you’ll pay $10.99 to register a new .com domain name. Pricing varies for other domain extensions.
- Domain privacy: This will cost an extra $9.95 per domain name each year
- Domain transfer: If you want to move a domain name you already own over to A2 Hosting, it will cost $10.99 per domain, but does give you an extra year of ownership (so basically you’re just prepaying for your domain renewal)
If you get started with A2 Hosting but decide it’s not for you, A2 offers a sliding money-back guarantee. You can cancel within 30 days and get your money back. If you cancel between 30 and 90 days, you’ll get a pro-rated refund amount, and after 90 days no refund is guaranteed.
One thing to note, if you registered a domain with your hosting plan, the cost for the retail price for the domain name will be deducted from your refund.
You can cancel via your customer portal and can choose to cancel right away or at the end of your current billing cycle. If you opt for immediate cancellation, it will take between one and three business days to process your request.
If you prefer a host that’s easier to use, check out our ultimate guide on the best web hosting providers. There, you’ll find our top picks, how we tested and reviewed them, and which one’s best for your specific scenario.