And it’s time to review another cPanel dime-in-a-dozen provider! In this A2 Hosting review, I’ll discuss my experiences with A2 Hosting after some extended testing.
A2 Hosting is a party I always wanted to test and even have looked at as a serious provider for all my websites. They are a large hosting provider with a large offering of services, from shared hosting to VPSes and dedicated servers.
In this A2 Hosting review, I will mainly focus on them from the perspective of using WordPress. Are they any good for hosting your WordPress website with? Let’s find out!
A2 Hosting is a bulk hosting provider with a special WordPress offering. They offer LiteSpeed packages (a technology to make your website run fast) as well and use the infamous cPanel and Plesk to administer your sites. If you like them, you can signup here.
If you are too lazy to read, these are my most important takeaways:
- A2 Hosting is offering great performance, especially the Turbo Max Shared packages are of great value.
- A2 Hosting is not expensive, but some alternatives are cheaper.
- Support is okay, but the platform’s usability could be improved.
- The managed hosting offering offers a neat WordPress toolkit, but needs some fine-tuning.
- A worthy competitor who is also using LiteSpeed is AccuWebHosting.
The A2 hosting review: some background
For each review, and also this A2 Hosting review, I consider the exact same factors. Let me briefly describe a couple (by the way, I started doing hosting reviews because I found the lack of good hosting reviews disturbing. That’s why I obsessively focus on doing it well).
A2 Hosting Review Criteria
The overall grade of a hosting review is determined by five criteria, which each gets a grade. The average of these criteria forms the final verdict. Exciting, ain’t it? Here are the criteria:
- Features: what does A2 Hosting offer?
- Performance: how fast is A2 Hosting?
- Usability: how easy is it to use A2 Hosting?
- Support: how well am I supported by A2 Hosting?
- Pricing: is what A2 Hosting asks a fair price?
In this review, I tested the A2 Hosting Startup, Drive, Turbo Boost, Turbo Max, and Managed WordPress subscriptions. Worth noting is that a couple of these subscriptions do use LiteSpeed, and a couple doesn’t. You will see the differences in the performance section.
It was a lot to test, but the results are interesting.
So, now that the standard is set, we can move on to a couple of other things!
A2 Hosting is great for starters (but may cater to more)
Because of the low entry prices, the completeness of the offering (including email and domain registration if you like), A2 Hosting is very useful if you are just starting out.
A couple of other features such as SSH access and the possibility for GIT repositories make A2 Hosting also a viable option for more advanced users.
Their interface may be overwhelming though if you’re just starting out, and optimizing a site is not always that straightforward.
A2 Hosting is a (bulk) hosting provider
A2 Hosting is in my opinion a bulk hosting provider, but a good one. They also offer more advanced packages for the obviously more advanced users, but a larger part of their offering is inexpensive.
They are different than so-called managed WordPress hosting providers, who focus on WordPress only or WordPress control panels, who let you run WordPress on your own servers (you can find the best WordPress control panels here).
Enough of the introduction, let’s move to the body of this A2 Hosting Review.
A2 Hosting Features: Good
A2 Hosting is offering a good amount of features, including specialized WordPress hosting, email accounts, domains, and a WordPress toolkit to easily manage your WordPress websites.
Notable other features are the addition of an A2 hosting plugin, which checks if your WordPress website is optimized. This is a fine feature, but might be a step up if you are a total beginner.
The A2 Hosting offering in a nutshell
This is what A2 hosting is offering in a nutshell:
- Hosting based on Litespeed or Apache
- Fast, servers with either SSD or NVME storage and the latest software (such as PHP 8 and MariaDB)
- Support for unlimited storage and WordPress installations
- 24-7 support, available through live chat, tickets, and phone
- Backups and server rewind if something goes wrong
- A free SSL certificate
- Advanced features such as GIT integration
- Free integration with Cloudflare
- Data centers in multiple locations: Michigan and Arizona (USA), Amsterdam (Europe), and Singapore (Asia)
- Safety features such as Hackscan, firewalls on two levels, protection for DDoS attacks and brute-force attacks, and a malware scanner.
- And another big plus: Green, carbon-neutral hosting!
- A2 optimized installation of WordPress
- A2 Hosting is using cPanel or Plesk, a famous interface for managing your website.
- Free migrations for one site.
- And at last, the ability to add additional users to your hosting account
Please be aware that while technically most of the plans offer unlimited websites, the number of so-called inodes (which reflects the actual files and links on your server) is limited to 600000 nodes. Basically, it means you can’t have unlimited websites.
The perks of bulk hosting: domains and email accounts
One notable thing is that domains and email accounts are included in A2 Hosting. You may thing, duh, isn’t that obvious? However, it the world of WordPress hosting, many providers don’t offer email or domain registration but leave that at specialized parties.
A bit cumbersome if you are a beginner, but often logical if you are a more advanced user.
2 offerings: Shared versus Managed WordPress
A2 Hosting has a shared offering that supports WordPress and another offering that proudly touts ‘Managed WordPress’. They are both shared hosting, however, but the Managed WordPress hosting offers a couple of more bells and whistles.
Compared to the shared plans, the managed WordPress offering does the following:
- A different interface for managing your websites.
- A WordPress for each site toolkit for easily managing WordPress, plugins, and themes.
- A free personal license for Jetpack, which includes backups.
- An easy way to set up staging (a copy of your live site that you can use for testing and developing purposes).
- An easy way of doing backups
- Installation of WP-CLI (useful if you are a developer).
But what makes A2 Hosting unique?
To be hosting, A2 Hosting looks eerie similar to other bulk hosting providers. They use cPanel and Plesk, which is used by many other providers. This makes the experience very similar.
There is one notable feature though, and that is that A2 Hosting installs a special plugin on your WordPress websites which checks if everything is optimized, from performance to login safety. It also is possible to check all optimizations from cPanel.
They also make sure your WordPress login is obfuscated, making it much more secure.
Although I do find this feature kind of overwhelming for beginners, it will definitively help to tune your website.
A2 Hosting Performance: Very Good
The performance that A2 Hosting offers is good, especially for the packages running on LiteSpeed. The regular packages and the managed WordPress offering lack some performance.
However, the shared packages do limit CPU usage over long periods of time. This means that performance is not always sustained.
A2 Hosting’s Technology
A2 Hosting is interesting, because it offers two kinds of technologies which have great ramifications for the actual performance:
- LiteSpeed webserver (for improved performance)
- A regular webserver using Apache
If you are a bit nerdy (like me), you may find it interesting to know that their shared servers are using Intel Xeon E5-2620 CPUs, running at a base-clock of 2.10GHZ.
The drive and startup plans use the regular setup, while the other plans are using LiteSpeed. You’ll see the differences in the results below.
About Performance Testing
For the rest, I keep all server and hosting settings at default – as the hosting provider will recommend. Of course, I know how to get the speed up your WordPress website, but the idea is to test how well the host is doing.
I also test with caching off (caching is a technology to greatly speed up a website and improve the loading performance). This gives a real indication of a server strength, and reflects situations where caching is not possible such as websites where users need to log in.
Concurrent Users: up to 3100 with caching on, up to 15 with caching off
The concurrent users’ test is the most important test in my performance review. It does say a lot more than just the loading time, which you will see in many other reviews.
It actually says how strong the server really is, and how many users it can handle per second. You’ll also see great differences if caching is turned off (caching is a technology to speed up your website).
In the table below, you can see the results per plan. Except for the startup plan, A2 Hosting is doing very well!
|Plan||Maximum Users||Total Requests||Average Response|
|Managed WP 1-site||400||5711||310ms|
With caching turned on: up to 3100 users
The Startup plan could just handle 10 concurrent visitors, while the Drive plan was able to handle 1200 simultaneous visitors, completing 72000 requests in one minute with very good results.
The impact of Litespeed
The Turbo Max plan powered by Litespeed could handle up to 3100 simultaneous visitors, completing 185757 requests in one minute with an average response time of 100ms. That is a monster score! A2 Hosting claims that their Turbo plans are much faster, and this claim is, according to my tests, true!
However, the managed WordPress offering did much worse (to my surprise). It could just handle 400 concurrent users, completing only 5711 requests in one minute.
With caching turned off: up to 15
If caching is turned off, we see a different story. The Startup plan can just handle one user at a time, while the Drive and Turbo Boost can handle up to 4 concurrent users.
|Plan||Maximum Users||Total Requests||Average Response|
|Managed WP 1-site||14||706||1866ms|
The Turbo max and Managed WordPress plan, however (both utilizing LiteSpeed), can handle respectively 15 and 14 concurrent users. You can also see the average response times are much higher compared to the test with caching on.
By the way, you can also find more details for each plan at the bottom of this review.
Pingdom Average loading times (cached): 0.39-0.47 seconds
In this test, I test the average loading time using Pingdom, from the closest location of the server.
The average loading time for Pingdom, with caching turned on, varied between 0.39 to 0.47 seconds. Surprisingly, the Turbo Max plan was doing the worst here.
|Plan||Average Loading Time|
|Turbo Boost||0,42 seconds|
|Turbo Max||0,47 seconds|
|Managed WP 1-site||0,44 seconds|
As you can see in the above table, there is not so much difference in the average loading time.
Pingdom average loading times (uncached): 0.69 – 4.17 seconds
It’s a whole different story if caching is turned off. Consider the table below and the dramatic increase in loading times:
|Plan||Average Loading Time|
|Turbo Boost||0,95 seconds|
|Turbo Max||0,69 seconds|
|Managed WP 1-site||1,28 seconds|
Only the Turbo Boost and Turbo Max plan are doing okay here, but the rest is really lacking performance.
WebPageTest loading times: 3.88 – 4.05 seconds
Using the WebPageTest loading time test, the loading times averaged 3.88-4.05 seconds for the plans, which is an okay score.
|Turbo Boost||3,91 seconds|
|Turbo Max||4,00 seconds|
|Managed WP 1-site||4,05 seconds|
As you can see, there wasn’t that much variation for each of the hosting plans.
GTMetrix Loading Times: 2.40-3.80 seconds
The table below displays the scores per plan. In general, these are good scores for the GT-Metrix test.
|Plan||Average Loading Time|
|Turbo Boost||3,40 seconds|
|Turbo Max||3,80 seconds|
|Managed WP 1-site||2,40 seconds|
The Managed WordPress plan did extremely well on GT-Metrix with an average loading time of 2.4 seconds. This is due to the fact that this plan is only available in the USA, which is closer to GT Metrix testing servers. The other plans ranged between 3.45-3.80 seconds of loading time.
Time to the First Byte (TTFB): 24-108ms as fastest, 271-400 ms on average.
The time to first byte is how much time it takes before the server sends over the first parts of a webpage. It’s a very important metric for indicating how well a hosting provider has equipped its servers.
The best time to the first byte for was 24ms (milliseconds), from London. The best average time to first byte (the time to the first byte from dozens of global locations) was 249ms. These scores were both for the Drive Plan, starting at $12.99 a month.
|Plan||Fastest TTFB||Average TTFB|
|Managed WP 1-site||108ms||391ms|
A2 Hosting is doing very well here, with very low TTFBs, which indicate that they have fast servers. You can find the scores for other plans in the table above, at the bottom of the review or in the compare section.
WordPress Performance: up to 1552 queries a second.
The WordPress performance test is an artificial benchmark that runs on WordPress, which has a server score for some common operations ((a lower figure is better for the server score), and a test for the number of queries per second.
The Turbo Max plan did very well in this test, with 1552 queries per second and a server score of 4.824. This even beats our fastest test (at the time of writing) from Rocket.net, but just by a tiny margin. The Startup and Drive plan performed worst, with only 112 and 148 queries per second and server scores of 10.056 and 10.601 respectively. Those are pretty bad scores.
|Plan||Server Score||Queries / Second|
|Managed WP 1-site||10,433||652|
The Managed WordPress plan did perform average to poor, with 652 queries per second and a server score of 10.433
Uptime is indicating how much of the time the website is online, and the servers of A2 Hosting are just spinning fine. In the one-month testing period, I did not encounter any downtime.
Compare A2 Hosting to other providers
Great news – I programmed a nifty feature in which you can compare performance using a chart.
Use the dropdown below, and it will show a chart with the scores of all A2 Hosting competitors reviewed on this site. You can also use it to compare different plans.
At the time of writing, A2 hosting is one of the fastest shared hosting companies I tested. It comes even close to some cloud servers or managed services, such as Rocket.net (which is blazingly fast).
Unfortunately, there is one area where A2 Hosting really lacks. And that is usability. Both cPanel and Plesk are not the most user-friendly in their use, and also the general account screens are a bit confusing. If I had to vote, I’d vote for Plesk as the most user-friendly though.
In addition to that, there are some minor quirks such as that WordPress login from the admin panel is not working on the Managed WordPress plan.
I also had a very painful experience when upgrading to a higher plan, which can’t be done by the click of a button. To upgrade, you need to send a ticket and this usually takes some time. In me experience, it took me a couple of days to test multiple plans while for other hosts, this is often a matter of hours.
A2 Hosting uses cPanel and Plesk
The account overview
The first screen after logging in is the account overview. And it could have a better design in my opinion, although you will get used to it.
Nevertheless, if you want to manage your websites you need to go to services or the quick login (huh, another login after logging in?).
Managing Websites and WordPress
Managing your website and WordPress is done with Softacalous in the regular plan, and with the WordPress Toolkit in the Managed WordPress plan. This is again another interface within the existing interface. From a usability perspective, this is not optimal.
In addition, you need to add a (sub)domain manually (after registering) in the domains section of cPanel to make it available for use in your website.
Both the managed and shared plans have the possibility for creating a staging environment, which is a temporary environment that you can use for development and testing purposes.
The Managed WordPress offering
As I said, the managed WordPress offering does offer a different control panel called Plesk. In my opinion, this panel is more logical and easy to use as it separates settings per website.
The menu on the left is also much more logical, clearly separating the most important aspects of managing your hosting account.
In addition, the backup manager is much more straightforward than in cPanel (which also only offers local backups).
The WordPress Toolkit
The WordPress toolkit is another perk of the managed offering. It makes managing WordPress easier by providing some useful functionalities to manage your installation, plugins, and themes. This toolkit is not available in the regular packages.
Now that we have considered the usability in this A2 Hosting review, let’s move on to support.
What do you do when something goes wrong or have a question? Right, contact support! That’s why support is an important criterion to look at.
Support quality was okay, replying quite quickly within 90 seconds of my first request. Technical support was of less quality, took much longer to reply. They also basically referred me to the knowledge-base for most of the answers they gave.
The process of upgrading and contacting support back and forth was cumbersome and slow, as I described earlier.
Support Availability: Chat, Tickets, Email and hone
What I like about the A2 hosting support is that they are available on multiple channels, and generally respond fast (within 1.5 minutes in my first test).
I had some good encounters with the friendly sales support because I wanted to upgrade a couple of times.
However, for upgrading I needed to make a ticket manually and write back and forth a couple of times before an upgrade was processed.
In two instances, I had to remind their support if they still would be pursuing with the upgrade. This was very odd, because don’t they want to earn more money?
Technical support was somewhat slower (with a waiting time of up to 23 minutes), and they referred me to the knowledge-base for all my technical questions (with sometimes less relevant articles).
Moreover, I also test if the support can spot an error on my site (I hide an encoded message which generates an error). While some other WordPress hosting providers easily find the location of the error and even decode what is says, A2 Hosting just stated that I needed to contact a developer to fix errors.
I also had to press them a couple of times to look into the error. I must say I am a bit spoilt by some other providers who are really doing support well, so you may think I am picky. Probably. I am.
A2 Hosting does have a great knowledge-base, although it could be more visual in some instances.
A2 Hosting pricing is fine – you get a good value for what you pay, although some similar competitors such as AccuWebHosting are slightly less expensive.
In my opinion, especially the Drive and Turbo Max plans are interesting. You can signup for them here.
For pricing, I always consider the monthly pricing. However, if you want to commit for a longer period (such as 3 years), this may be a lot cheaper. You can check the difference on A2s pricing page.
A2 Regular WordPress Hosting Plans
The regular offering has the following plans:
|Startup||Drive||Turbo Boost||Turbo Max|
|Normal performance||Normal performance||Turbo|
|More Turbo Performance|
|1 site, 100GB storage||Unlimited sites||Unlimited sites||Unlimited sites|
|$10.99 monthly||$12.99 monthly||$20.99 monthly||$25.99 monthly|
The exact features are described earlier under Features.
A2 Managed Hosting Plans
The managed offering has the following plans:
|10GB storage||25GB storage||40GB storage|
|Turbo performance||Turbo performance||Turbo performance|
|Jetpack Personal License||Jetpack Personal License||Jetpack Personal License|
|$16.99 monthly||$32.99 monthly||$49.99 monthly|
Again, the exact features for the managed plans are described earlier under Features.
Funny enough, I find the staging and backups feature within the managed hosting plans not as easy as advertised and oddly enough I think the shared packages offer more value for what you get.
The five best A2 Hosting Alternatives
These are the five best alternatives to A2 Hosting.
This list is updated regularly, so you may want to come back to check this out.
A2 Hosting Review: The Conclusion
So, how did you like this a2 hosting review? I hope you got a good glimpse of what A2 hosting is able to offer you and aids you in making a good decision.
In my opinion, A2 Hosting does have a solid offering, with most of the features you will need for hosting an average WordPress website.
Their performance is excellent, especially for the Turbo Max subscription. Although they are not the most inexpensive, they are still very inexpensive compared to many managed WordPress providers, offering great value.
At last, I do think their setup for the regular plans (using cPanel) is not the most easy to use. The managed plans are more easy to use. Also, support is friendly but don’t expect too much from advanced technical support.
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