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A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting Review

Posted by Review Hell
Published on 2 Feb 2015 | Last updated on 8 Jan 2017

A2 Hosting is based out of Michigan and has been in the web hosting business since 2003. I started using A2 Hosting in March 2014. A hefty WordPress site wasn’t loading very well on my DowntownHost plan and after reading some recommendations about A2 Hosting’s performance and speed, I opted for their Prime+SDD shared hosting account (which is now called Swift). It turns out that I made a great decision and here’s why…

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Fast Loading Speed - "High Speed Hosting" Claim

I decided to enabled their "A2 Optimized WordPress" plugin which basically auto configures your WordPress site to increase performance and security. I'm quite familiar with optimizing WordPress and I have to say they did a pretty great job putting this pre-configured package of plugins and settings together. Maybe some more seasoned WordPress users might not opt to use it, but I dig it so far. It was a time saver and it works.

I was a bit skeptical of A2 Hosting's "High Speed Hosting" claim. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how well things loaded on their servers. Overall I've been very happy with the time it takes for my site to load with A2 Hosting.

Here's a Pingdom speed test result of my site hosted on a A2 Hosting server located in Michigan. They also have server locations in Amsterdam and Singapore.

A2 Hosting Speed TestSite on A2 Hosting (Datacenter in Southfield, Michigan)

A2 Hosting definitely meets my speed requirements with a 1.06 second load time for a 825.9kB homepage.

In order to properly evaluate speed, I put the same site on my Downtownhost plan again. Server location in Chicago, Illinois (close to Michigan).

A2 Hosting Site BeforeSite on DowntownHost (Datacenter in Chicago, Illinois)

As you can see the site took more than twice as long to load.
A2 Hosting: 1.06s Load Time
DowntownHost: 2.63s Load Time

A2 Hosting has a new shared hosting plan they created late last year called Turbo. It costs twice as much as what I'm paying for my Swift plan, but A2 claims up to 20x faster page loading speeds with the Turbo plan. I'm satisfied with the speed on my current plan but I might try out Turbo for future projects. With the Turbo plan they put fewer users on each server and double the memory, which means more resources per user. They also use something called "SwiftCache Site Accelerator" on this plan (explained below).

A2 Hosting SwiftCache

Great Uptime Overall

Overall my A2 Hosting plan's uptime has been fantastic. The only bad month was in October when I had a total of 57 minutes of downtime in one week due to a massive denial of service (DoS) attack on their networks. The downtime was not all at once, but several small blocks over the week. No other downtime was recorded for the rest of that month. Here's a screenshot of some of their Twitter feed from that week regarding the DoS attack.

A2 Hosting Dos Attack

I was impressed with how they handled the attacks and how they kept their customers in the loop throughout it all. The downtime really was minimal, especially when you consider what they were up against. Many customers (including me) expressed their support for A2 on social media that week.

In looking back at the past four months, their uptime has been overall above the 99.9% standard, except for that one week in October 2014:

  • October 2014 - 99.87% Uptime (57 minutes of downtime)
  • November 2014100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • December 2014 - 99.96% Uptime (19 minutes of downtime)
  • January 2015 - 99.97% Uptime (14 minutes of downtime)
    Updated on 08/09/2015 to report uptime for the months of February - July shown below.
  • February 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • March 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • April 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • May 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • June 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • July 2015 - 99.94% Uptime (29 minutes of downtime)
    Updated on 03/10/2016 to report uptime for the months of August - February shown below.
  • August 2015100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • September 2015 - 99.99% Uptime (5 minutes of downtime)
  • October 2015 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • November 2015100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • December 2015 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • January 2016 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • February 2016 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
    Updated on 08/04/2016 to report uptime for the months of March - July shown below.
  • March 2016 - 99.98% Uptime (9 minutes of downtime)
  • April 2016 - 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • May 2016 - 99.98% Uptime (8 minutes of downtime)
  • June 2016 - 99.99% Uptime (5 minutes of downtime)
  • July 2016 - 99.99% Uptime (1 minutes of downtime)
    Updated on 01/07/2017 to report uptime for the months of August - December shown below.
  • August 2016100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • September 2016 - 99.92% Uptime (35 minutes of downtime)
  • October 2016 100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • November 2016100% Uptime (0 minutes of downtime)
  • December 2016 - 99.84% Uptime (71 minutes of downtime) DNS resolving issues

My Brief Support Experience

The only time I have used A2 Hosting's support was to have them create a php.ini file so I could enable fopen.

allow_url_fopen = On

I just checked my support ticket history and it shows that I opened a ticket for this at 9:29 PM on a Saturday and they completed my request at 12:08 AM Sunday. Not bad for a Saturday night, low priority support ticket.

I haven't needed their help with anything else except this single non-urgent request on a Saturday night, so I can't say how much more or less responsive they would be Monday - Friday. A2 Hosting does have a live chat system as well, but I usually prefer to open tickets for most support related tasks. The brief ticket conversations I had were friendly and they knew what they were doing, so for now I'm giving A2 Hosting's support my full recommendation. I'll post any updates to my assessment here as my time hosting with them goes by.

Final Verdict

A2 Hosting has been a fantastic web hosting company to use so far (I've been with them since March 2014). Their performance and loading speed make them a great web hosting choice. I haven't had any problems on their end where I've needed the support department (only a non-critical account modification I requested). Overall their uptime has been well above their guaranteed 99.9%. There was one exception, last October where they were being hit by a massive DoS attack. Even with all that mess thrown at them they still managed to only have minutes, not hours, of downtime spread out over the week that they were being attacked. They handled the crisis extremely well, with minimal impact on their clients.

I feel like I'm in good hands with A2 Hosting and I'm confident that things will remain that way for a long time to come. What it really comes down to is they are among the most reliable web hosting companies I've used thus far. Which is why I've recommended A2 Hosting so many times.

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Comments

  • Vlad Stafford

    Nice review, I might have to try them out.

  • MisterNeutron

    You might want to check your A2 connection from any AT&T/Uverse client. I’ve been working with someone recently who discovered that virtually all AT&T/Uverse customers, from various places around the country, even with reliable connection speeds of 30-60 mbps, get no more than 3-4 mbps from any A2 shared server. This, of course, makes videos completely unwatchable. These same people have no problem with speeds from other hosts (like mine, currently Site5) and, conversely, accessing A2 from other ISP’s (like mine, Charter) produces excellent speed.

    So, whose fault is this? Who can say, but if it doesn’t get fixed, one would have to think twice about hosting with A2, unless you’re willing to lose all site visitors who just happen to be with AT&T/Uverse.

    • Hosting videos on shared plans instead of embedding isn’t really ideal or common but it’s interesting that they determined this to be specific to AT&T/Uverse customers. Thanks for sharing and hope it’s resolved for your colleague soon.

      • MisterNeutron

        I’m not talking about commercial movies – I’m talking about family videos, which people don’t want to host somewhere like YouTube. The people who use my software are each hosting dozens and dozens of them, all on bargain shared hosting. They’re typically short – just a minute or two – and have been processed so that the file sizes aren’t enormous (they usually end up at something like 10Mb per minute, and often smaller than that). They’re also not being viewed by hundreds of people – it’s usually just a handful of family and friends.

        A2 didn’t diagnose this problem – my user did, by having friends and relatives from around the country do some simple speed tests. The pattern was immediately clear: AT&T/Uverse, slow speeds, no matter where the person lives – any other ISP, fast speeds. A2 doesn’t appear to be trying to solve this problem. They’re simply pointing the finger at AT&T. Yet AT&T users have no problem accessing videos on other hosts.

        The final irony is that the support person at A2 that my user contacted was connected via AT&T/Uverse, and saw exactly the same dog-slow speeds. How could they not be aware of this? And does this not worry them?

  • Brad

    Sounds like you definitely need a VPS. AT&T or not, it’s all a moot point because video hosting on shared servers are clearly in violation of A2 Hosting’s TOS and just about any shared hosting provider you come across. Besides – https://www.wp101.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-never-host-your-own-videos/

  • Rinderpest

    I heard but cannot confirm that A2 had been trying to recruit ex-Arvixe staff, the good ones that were laid off by EIG, not the bad ones that remained. Either way I am glad to read the review of their support. Network speeds can change due to many factors but a good support staff handled by good, customer focused managers will always make hosting with them worthwhile.

    I am going to migrate my Arvixe hosting over and see if I can convince them I am owed a refund.

  • I’ve just been through approx 1 month of hosting on A2 Hosting and I’m going to leave. Here’s why.

    Pros:

    First. Their support isn’t bad. Some reps rely on the script – but you can get really knowledgeable people most of the time!
    Second. The speed really is good.

    Cons: (for developers or multi-site hosting)
    They use CloudLinux which is better at isolating one account from another. The bad part of this is that if you are a developer, like myself, and need to run multiple WordPress sites for clients during development – forget it. CloudLinux (at least how they’ve configured it) can lead your sites to being limited very quickly. They pay close attention to CPU usage, Physical RAM (1gb) and Virtual RAM (8gb) and IO operations per second. The big problem with this is WordPress Heartbeat. Put simply, it’s what WordPress uses to manage a lot of things on the backend. It also pings a file called admin-ajax.php a few times a second. You can have two people in admin on one site cause your entire account to hit the limits very quickly. But you can install HeartBeat Control to limit this. But then you’ve got other users accessing your sites from the front end…the short of it (too late) is that a modest amount of people accessing your sites will then max out your Physical RAM. Background processes will max out your VRAM. It just goes on and on. The end of this story is that it is quite difficult to run multiple sites without them quickly slowing down.

    They really supply what they promise – but their infrastructure is unforgiving if completely accurate.

    • CloudLinux is a good thing to have. Do you have a reseller account?

      • No, for the simple reason that I’m not a reseller. I’m a developer with a portfolio site and two blogs

        Seriously – for the truly low traffic my sites generate – it’s crazy that I run out of resources multiple times a day. (site 1: 1-3 visitors daily, site 2: 20-30 daily, site 3: 200-300 daily)

        I get why it’s happening up to a point.

        I didn’t even mention that I’m also using Cloudflare, W3 Total Cache, and other tricks to keep the resource usage under control.

        I was on A Small Orange (may EIG rot in hell for ruining them) with few problems. I only left them because their support has rotted and they change servers and pull other tricks that take my sites offline once or twice a week. (seriously – they admit it was them and not me)

        • Thanks for your comments Kermit. I asked about a reseller account because you mentioned multiple WP sites for clients and a reseller plan would provide better performance and security since you could have each WP site on a separate cPanel account, each with their very own resource limits. However for having the 3 sites and the daily traffic you mentioned resources normally shouldn’t be an issue. Thanks again for commenting and best of luck.

          • Update – they offered to update me for a no-extra-cost trial of their Turbo shared hosting. So far it’s been pretty good and it’s still within the range of what I was paying at ASO.

            Aside from adding another gb of pMEM – the big selling point is that turbo uses Litespeed instead of Apache.

            I’m getting more fond of Cloudlinux too – while it’s absolutely unforgiving of bad code – A2’s support has been good at finding the sources so I can fix it. Which I simply never knew about in non-Cloudlinux hosting.