The Short Explanation
A2 hosting began operations in 2003 and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have data centers in Michigan, Amsterdam, Singapore and recently opened one in Phoenix.
I’ve used them since early 2017, and my experience has been overall great. I give them a solid thumbs-up and they are as close to 5 stars as any hosting provider I’ve seen in the past 10 years when I started building my own websites. (They aren’t 5 stars… 5 stars would be ‘Perfect’, so by my definition, there is no such thing. I’d rate them at 4.7)
Why do I love them?
#1 reason – Speed.
I had gotten so used to slow websites using wordpress that I thought it was the norm. Click on a button and wait for an eternity. When I moved most of my sites to A2, I was almost in heaven. Click on a button and immediately it did something. Fast page connection and fast page loading. And I mean fast. Sometimes I wait for it to load and with a shock I realize its already loaded.
Watch this little video of one of my WordPress sites, with almost 1000 pages and thousands of images. In addition it’s using an older, outdated theme… i.e. not exactly optimized for speed.
Watch an Example of how fast A2 Shared Hosting is:
#2 reason – Support that is not hostile to me.
Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of need to contact support in 2017, but every time I have, its been fast and helpful. They don’t give me answers from a script of some sort that they’ve been told to read by their managers. If they make a mistake (and once they did), they admit it and fix it right away. All I ask of support is that they be helpful and fast. A2 meets those requirements.
#3 reason – Uptime.
Their uptime has been fabulous so far. If there has been any downtime since I started using them its been during the wee hours of the morning when I’m sleeping. My last hosting company had downtime frequently and even though I understood why, it really hurt my business. That (and slowness) are the two reasons I was forced to leave them.
All my reviews are based on my own personal experience. I’m not just making this stuff up to sound nice or make money. Read some of my other reviews and you will see that I tell you what happened to me. If you don’t see a company you’re looking for its probably because I haven’t used them or have no experience with them.
The hosting service I have from A2 is their Shared Hosting Turbo – 20 x faster + 1 gb extra ram.
Review of A2 Hosting
The Long Explanation
I’m going to assume you already know what hosting is and why you need it, so I’ll spare you the boring intro. If you don’t know then click here.
Its safe to say that people look for different things in a hosting provider, and that’s usually because they have different requirements. I’ve been using hosting providers since 2007 when a friend of mine recommended Hostgator. I knew nothing about hosting, what a cpanel was (is) or what to do with all those icons in the cpanel.
Anyway, to make a long story short, since 2007 I’ve gone through hosting companies like dirty socks. My tolerance level is pretty low now and I know exactly what I want from a hosting company.
You probably know too, so I’m going to tell you honestly what I know (from personal experience) about A2 hosting. If you don’t know what to look for in a hosting service, click here.
The 4 Keys to Hosting Happiness
I have four, super ultra important requirements.
These four matter a great deal and could make or break your endeavors.
- Site speed
Lets start with the first one. Site speed. Most people who are putting up websites go for shared hosting since its affordable. Typically it ranges from $3.95 /mo to $8.95. You are given an account and typically you can upload unlimited websites to your account. So is everybody else who signs up. Because the price is so cheap, hosting providers, not surprisingly, pack the server full with tons of websites. Because of this, they tend to be fairly slow, and there’s not a lot you can do about it.
Also, a lot of people use WordPress to build their sites since its easy to load, set up and get going. But WordPress is no speed demon. There are things you can do to optimize it, and you should do them. Don’t get me wrong. I love WordPress, but lets just admit its not the fastest software out there.
Anyway, when I switched to A2 this year (2017), I looked at their site pretty closely. One thing I liked is they emphasized site speed. It’s even in their logo. It resonated with me since speed was a total issue on my main business website. You’d click on something and then 4 seconds later the screen would start to change, then another 3 or 4 seconds later it would slowly load. It was unbearable. (Actually, it got way worse than that, but to be fair, the hosting company was having server problems with their shared hosting accounts).
Why did I wait so long to change servers? Because my site was (is) massive with thousands of images, close to 1000 pages and uses an old WordPress theme that would take forever to change. I really didn’t want to spend either the money or time with setting up a new server and then transferring my site to the new hosting account.
Well, it got so bad I was forced to. One day I woke up, went to my site, clicked a link and it took a total of 78 seconds to go to the page. I waited about an hour thinking maybe it was just a server hiccup, and tried again, and it was just as bad. I started thinking about all the customers I was losing and then I realized I had to do something fast.
Anyway, all this to say that I didn’t really know anything about A2 when I found them…
I read all the material on their site and even though they said Turbo, 20 x faster, etc… I just assumed it was marketing hype and was vastly exaggerated. But I decided to give it a try simply because I couldn’t find anything better in my price range. Granted, I would love to have my own dedicated server, but I don’t want to shell out $200 /mo. For some businesses that would be a bargain, but not for mine.
Migrating my site was a pain. I use a plugin called ‘Duplicator’ but it barfs out when the site is too big, and of course, mine was too big. I’ll spare you the details, but after an 8 hour struggle I finally got it ported to the new A2 server, had set the DNS names and everything was working.
It was magic. The first timid click on my site, now on A2… I was all set to be disappointed and have to live with unbearable response time. I expected a little improvement, but, to be honest, I never, in my wildest dreams, expected it to work FAST.
What a wonderful surprise!! It worked incredibly fast! Check out my video above if you want to see for yourselves. I went from hardly believing A2 at all to completely loving them in a matter of a few miliseconds!
Now you know why I think they’re the best thing since sliced bread.
But I should probably tell you more about what you get with A2 so you can make an informed decision yourself.
Remember, I chose the Turbo Shared Hosting plan with 20x speed. They have a plan for a single website, but even though its probably great for some people, that would never work for me. I have right now about 20 websites with several more in the works.
Here’s what you get with A2:
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited Databases
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited emails
- No bandwidth restrictions
- They will migrate your main site over for free (but there is a lead time of 3 – 4 days on a first come first served basis)
- FAST page load times / FAST website in general
- If you use Softaculous to install wordpress, it will install an A2 Optimized version with security and caching already installed and its fast. If you’re lazy, like me, you won’t have to mess with optimizing it.
- Comes with all the typical programs: Python, Ruby, PERL, php etc…
- Free SSD (solid state drives)
- Free shared SSL certificate. I have to admit, I was disappointed it wasn’t a multi site private SSL certificate 🙁 but the shared one is better than none at all.
- You can choose between Linux and Windows servers
- Free Cloudfare as an A2 customer (great for CMS systems like WordPress)
- php versions 5.6 – 7.1, you can choose the version you want
- 24/7 support
There are a lot more features I haven’t listed here, but take a look and decide for yourself. Remember the 4 Keys to Hosting Happiness. A2 has got you covered on all 4. I can’t really say that about many other hosting companies.