Beyond those two major areas, we’ll also compare A2 Hosting and Bluehost in smaller areas like:
- Whether they offer free SSL
- How the dashboard looks and functions
- How easy they make it to get WordPress installed
Sound good? Let’s get comparing!
A2 Hosting vs Bluehost: The Plans We Compared
Before we dig into the actual comparison, we want you to have a good idea of what we’re comparing so that you know how each host stacks up with respect to the actual plans that we tested.
For A2 Hosting, we hosted our test site on their Turbo Web Hosting shared plan, which starts at $9.31 per month with promotional pricing and retails for $18.99 per month. You can read our complete A2 Hosting review here.
For Bluehost, we hosted our test site on their Plus shared plan, which starts at $5.45 per month with promotional pricing and retails for $10.99 per month. You can read our full Bluehost review here.
Both plans allow unlimited websites, unlimited traffic, and unlimited storage.
Our Test Sites Loaded In The Same Time At Each Host
Let’s start with the most important comparison:
Because we always use the exact same configuration for our test site when we review a host, we’re able to easily compare performance times across multiple hosts for the exact same website configuration.
In this comparison, both hosts loaded our test site in exactly 1.3 seconds.
You can see the performance data for A2 Hosting below:
And here’s that exact same time for our Bluehost test site:
So, with respect to performance, we didn’t notice any difference between these two hosts in our tests.
A2 Hosting Offered Faster Support Response Times In Our Test
Beyond performance, another comparison that you’re probably interested in is how easy it is to get support at each of these two hosts.
In this comparison, the performance was not as equal. When we made a support request via live chat at each host, A2 Hosting responded faster, even though it was a Sunday on Thanksgiving weekend when we put in our request.
You can see our chat with A2 Hosting below – the total time to response was around 2 minutes:
With Bluehost, they initially told us we would be waiting for up to 5 minutes, though we did eventually get our response in about 4 minutes. One thing we will say, though, is that the Bluehost chat interface is at least nicer to look at while you’re waiting!
So if you care about being able to quickly access support, you might want to go with A2 Hosting over Bluehost.
Both do offer 24/7/365 support via a variety of methods, though.
Bluehost Has A Nice Custom Interface, But With Lots Of Upsells
At a base level, both A2 Hosting and Bluehost use cPanel to help you manage your site. But A2 Hosting gives you the default cPanel Paper Lantern theme, while Bluehost wraps a ton of functionality in its custom dashboard.
In fact, you can perform most actions without actually needing to use the cPanel interface, which is a lot more convenient.
For example, here’s the Bluehost website management dashboard:
We think it looks a lot better than the default cPanel design that A2 Hosting uses.
The price for Bluehost’s nice dashboard, though, is that you’ll have to deal with a lot of service upsells. These aren’t a dealbreaker by any means and are pretty easy to ignore, but they are a bit annoying given that you’re already paying for the service.
Bluehost Offers Staging, While A2 Hosting Doesn’t
One of the new features that Bluehost is introducing is easy WordPress staging (though this feature was still in beta when we wrote our Bluehost review and gathered test data).
Staging sites are super helpful because they allow you to safely test changes to your site in a sandbox before making them live.
You can see an example of Bluehost’s staging feature below:
At this time, A2 Hosting does not offer staging on its shared plans, though you can get staging on A2 Hosting’s managed WordPress plans.
Both Hosts Offer Free SSL/TLS Certificates
Because Google is going to start branding all HTTP websites as Not Secure in July 2018, it’s essential that your site uses HTTPS (which you get from an SSL/TLS certificate).
Both of these hosts offer free SSL certificates with their plans, which is great.
Here’s how it looks at Bluehost:
And here’s where you can select SSL when purchasing your A2 Hosting plan:
Both Hosts Make It Easy To Pre-Install WordPress
While it’s pretty easy to install WordPress yourself nowadays, it’s always nice when your host makes it even easier…which both of these hosts do.
Each lets you opt for pre-installed WordPress, which means your site is ready to go as soon as you sign up.
We forgot to grab a screenshot of the process at Bluehost, but rest assured it’s pretty dang simple! And A2 Hosting, again, lets you choose this option when you check out:
A2 Hosting vs Bluehost: Which Should You Choose?
There might not be a clear-cut winner here. Both are solid cheap website hosts.
Instead, we think it probably comes down to what you value more.
Both hosts performed identically in our performance tests, so we can’t point out any differences there.
But A2 Hosting’s support was more impressive to us. So if you think you’ll be needing lots of help, that might be a reason to go towards A2 Hosting. A2 Hosting also has fewer customers, so you might be able to get a bit of a more “personal” touch.
On the other hand, Bluehost’s dashboard is nicer than A2 Hosting’s dashboard, and Bluehost also has helpful features like staging and in-dashboard plugin management that A2 Hosting doesn’t offer.
So with respect to day-to-day management of your website, Bluehost has an edge in our opinion.
So which one should you pick? Well, if you value:
- Support – then A2 Hosting is a better pick based on our experience.
- Day-to-day management – then Bluehost is a better pick based on our experience.
Have any other questions about these two hosts? Leave a comment and we’ll try to help out!
Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics. You can find him at www.cnewcomer.com