When it comes to affordable WordPress hosting, A2 Hosting is a name that often comes up in various WordPress groups for offering quick-loading performance that belies its low price tag:
A2 Hosting’s regular mentions made us curious to see how A2 Hosting performed, so we set up a site on their Turbo Shared Hosting plan, played around, ran some tests, and then wrote this A2 Hosting review. If you’ve been considering hosting your website with A2 Hosting, definitely give this a read because we’ll share some real performance data, our experience with A2 Hosting support, and some other thoughts about some unique features that you get with A2 Hosting.
A2 Hosting Review: A Look At The Feature List
Originally launched in 2001, A2 Hosting started its life with a mouthful of a name – “Iniquinet”. Thankfully, the company rebranded to the much-more-pronounceable A2 Hosting in 2003 and has been chugging along ever since then. While A2 Hosting offers a variety of different plans, we’re going to be specifically looking at their shared WordPress hosting for this review.
Here are some of the features that we like about A2 Hosting:
- Unlimited websites (except on cheapest tier).
- SSD storage – offers better performance than physical drives.
- “Perpetual Security” – web hosting firewall, virus scans, brute force defense, and more.
- Free SSL – automatically install a free SSL/TLS certificate via Let’s Encrypt.
- Multiple data centers – choose from 4 different data centers on 3 different continents.
- PHP 7.X – offers performance improvements over older versions of PHP.
- HTTP/2 – offers performance improvements over HTTP/1 (only available on highest tier)
- A2 Optimized WordPress – makes it easy to get started with a number of helpful WordPress tweaks.
6 Things That We Liked About A2 Hosting
1. Our Test Site Loaded In Under 1.3 Seconds
As always, nothing on this list matters if A2 Hosting doesn’t load fast. So before we get into specific features that we like, we’re going to run our test site through some performance tests. Here’s a little information about our test site:
- It uses a heavy Elementor landing page template with plenty of images and styling
- It’s sporting the A2 Optimized install, which includes caching and other performance optimizations (more on this in a second)
- It’s hosted on the Turbo Web Hosting shared plan
- We didn’t make any other changes beyond using the default A2 Optimized settings.
First up, we ran it through Pingdom Tools, where our homepage loaded in 1.25 seconds:
This isn’t quite as fast as we saw in our InMotion Hosting review, but is still a pretty quick time for the price. Next, we put it through GTmetrix where it loaded in a similar 1.3 seconds on GTmetrix’s Vancouver, Canada test server:
Finally, we wanted to get an idea of our server’s Time To First Byte (TTFB). This is a basic measure of how quickly a server responds to a request (not how quickly the entire page loads). We put our site through several ByteCheck tests and it consistently responded in ~90 ms:
This is pretty much identical to our InMotion Hosting test site’s result. Overall, A2 Hosting’s performance is pretty good for the price, but it’s not necessarily the best we’ve seen. On the performance front, InMotion Hosting performed a bit better as far as overall page load times went for a similar price (assuming you’re only hosting a single site).
2. Fast Support Response Times If You Need Help
A2 Hosting lets you get 24/7/365 support via:
- Live chat
To test how available that support is, we started a live chat at the equivalent of 11 pm on a Sunday night during the Thanksgiving weekend, which is about as difficult a scenario as you can put customer support through. With those odds stacked against them, we got a response to our query in under 3 minutes (more on why this might be in a second):
3. It’s Easy To Install The Free Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate
Nowadays, SSL/TLS is important not just from a security perspective, but also because of how hard Google is pushing for its adoption. With A2 Hosting, we didn’t even have to install the SSL/TLS certificate – all you do is select from a drop-down and A2 Hosting will do it for you:
That means your site will get the coveted green padlock in web browsers without you lifting a finger, which is pretty awesome!
4. It’s Similarly Easy To Automatically Install WordPress
While pretty much all WordPress hosts give you access to autoinstallers, one thing that we liked about A2 Hosting is that it gives you an option during checkout to have WordPress pre-installed on your site. That means you don’t even need to use the autoinstaller – just select the option from a drop-down and enjoy your new WordPress site:
If you’re a beginner, this is pretty much the simplest process you’ll find for installing WordPress on a new site.
5. A2 Optimized Provides Some Unique Performance Functionality
As you saw in the screenshot above, when you choose pre-installed WordPress, you can choose between:
- Regular WordPress
- A2 Optimized WordPress
In a nutshell, A2 Optimized WordPress adds the following features right from day one:
- Page caching
- Database caching
- CSS/JS/HTML minification
- reCAPTCHA on comment and login forms
- Move the login page
- Image compression
- Compress pages with gzip
Most of those features are great for performance, and the CAPTCHA and login page change are great for security. While you can accomplish everything on this list with plugins, it’s nice to have it built into the system because:
- It’s simpler for beginners and doesn’t require any configuration.
- It means fewer “moving parts” that might break.
6. Easy Backups With Backup Wizard And Server Rewind
To help you keep your data safe, A2 Hosting gives you access to a helpful backup/restore tool via cPanel:
And you can also use Server Rewind to quickly restore specific files/folders:
1 Thing That We Didn’t Like About A2 Hosting
While we were generally a fan of A2 Hosting, there was one thing that we didn’t like.
1. Extra Charge For Priority Support, Even On Higher Tiers
Even on the highest tier shared plan that we looked at, A2 Hosting still charges $19.99 for Priority Support (though you can apply their discounts to that price for the first billing cycle):
While support response times and quality were still pretty good for the regular support (we didn’t pay for Premium Support for our test), this is still a contrast to other providers like SiteGround that automatically give priority support to those on the higher tier plans. We don’t think this should be a dealbreaker because the free support response times should be fine for most users – but it is something that’s worth mentioning.
Should You Use A2 Hosting?
A2 Hosting is definitely one of the better affordable WordPress hosts. And you probably won’t go wrong with them. But, at least in our testing experience, InMotion Hosting proved to be a little better for the same price with the big caveat that the InMotion Hosting plan that we tested only allowed one website.
So, if you’re specifically looking to host just one WordPress website, you might be better off going with InMotion Hosting for a similar price. But if you need access to unlimited websites, then A2 Hosting is a great option.