A2 Hosting Review 2017
Is A2 Hosting a good web host? Read our full A2 Hosting review with pros & cons, complaints, recommended use, FAQs, coupons, & more.
|Server O/S:||Linux & Windows|
|Data center location #1:||Michigan, USA|
|Data center location #2:||Amsterdam|
|Data center location #3:||Singapore|
A Quick Overview:
www.a2hosting.com is an award-winning web hosting company that offers high-performance data center services for SMEs, start-up companies, non-profits, professional bloggers, web developers, ecommerce sites, and independent web publishers. We’ve found them to be one of the fastest and highest performing web hosts out there – even outpacing many of the larger, more popular companies in the industry. A2 Hosting is one of our top recommendations for website owners because of their blazing platform speeds, advanced technical support, overall low pricing, and large variety of available web hosting plans. They are also an excellent choice for web and mobile applications that require servers to be custom configured to support specific programming languages. The company has recently launched a managed WordPress hosting service, a number of innovative cloud VPS plans, and a new “Turbo” upgrade for select accounts which provides up to 20x faster page load speeds, making a great service even better.
Why choose A2 Hosting:
- Fast web hosting services optimized for speed and reliability
- Excellent choice for web developers & programmers who need platform customization options
- Allows customers to choose server location in either the USA, Europe, or Asia
- Managed and unmanaged web hosting plans with a wide variety of technical configurations
- Excellent choice for WordPress with 6x faster page load speeds
- Auto-configures software installations with the best speed and security features
- Offers multi-tiered Reseller packages for web designers and hosting start-ups
- SSD storage is now included free of charge on most account plans
- Shopper Approved reviews show 96% of 604 customers would recommend A2 Hosting to a friend
- “Always Available” technical support services via phone, live chat, and email
- Unmanaged VPS plans starting at $5/month with wide range of OS choices
What are the disadvantages:
- Most CMS hosting plans other than WordPress offer no additional features
- Not the best choice for beginners who don't use all of the tools
- Turbo Boost and Turbo Cache services are expensive on VPS & Dedicated plans
- Overcharges for cPanel, Softaculous, & CloudLinux licenses on unmanaged plans
- R1Soft CDP Backup service priced at an additional $83 to $100 per month
The bottom line:
A2 Hosting provides a wide variety of configuration options on their hosting plans to support advanced web development and application programming requirements. We particularly like their unmanaged VPS and Dedicated server platforms with support for CentOS, cPanel, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, and Gentoo. A2 Hosting is a great choice for WordPress and comes pre-configured with the A2-optimization service for advanced page compression and website caching. Their A2 Optimized Site Accelerator uses Turbo Cache, APC, OPcache, and Memcached for even faster page load speeds, with additional options to integrate HTTP/2, SPDY, ESI, and the CloudFlare CDN. Railgun optimization is only $.98 per month, and each dedicated IP address is billed at $1.96 per month. Unfortunately, site owners and web developers who are tempted to max-out all of the add-on features and custom configuration options available on A2 Hosting plans will probably end up paying more than expected for the platform services, but this is the trade-off for a premium hosting account with elite hardware specifications. We would not hesitate to recommend A2 Hosting over competitors to site owners looking for a reliable, high-performance web hosting plan with cutting-edge technical innovation and support for the latest web standards.
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A2 Hosting was originally founded in 2001 by Bryan Muthig in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The original name of A2 Hosting was Iniquinet. Bryan created Iniquinet as a modest startup business to serve just a few local clients in the industry. As his business grew, Bryan decided to pick a new name. In 2003, the company rebranded as A2 Hosting as a tribute to their love for the local Ann Arbor community. Today, A2 Hosting has grown into an innovative company with multiple international data centers, all offering the best versions of the most popular web development software to customers. A2 Hosting was the first web hosting company to support PHP 5, and they have led in the implementation of PHP 7 as well. Bryan is still the CEO of A2 Hosting and when asked what his main goal for the company is, he paraphrased Mahatma Gandhi in stating: “To be the host that we would want to use ourselves.” A2 Hosting is a leader in “green” web hosting services, 100% carbon neutral, and a partner of Carbonfund.org in raising awareness about the threats of global climate change.
A2 Hosting offers a large variety of feature-packed web hosting plans suitable for any type of website development, online community, or mobile application. A2 Hosting provides shared hosting plans on Linux & Windows servers, three different versions of their VPS plans, a managed WordPress hosting platform, reseller hosting packages, and dedicated servers. They sell the VPS and dedicated server packages in both managed and unmanaged plans with a wide choice of operating system support and configuration options on the hardware. Most of the plans run on CentOS, CloudLinux, and cPanel. A Turbo Server upgrade is available offering more CPU & RAM resources on accounts, a reduction in the allocated simultaneous user processes permitted per server, and up to 20x better performance over a standard Apache installation. All of the shared hosting accounts are currently configured with Apache 2.2, PHP 5.3-7.0, MySQL 5.6, PostgreSQL 9.4, Python 2.6-3.2, Ruby 1.8, PERL 5.10, & Node.js. Shared hosting plans also include a free SSL/TLS certificate and support for file transfer or version control with FTP/SFTP, SSH access, Rsync, Git, CVS, Subversion, & Mercurial.
You’ll need to determine which of the A2 Hosting plans is right for your website development requirements and budget. Most small business owners and entrepreneurs usually start off on a shared hosting plan and upgrade to a VPS if the website traffic scales beyond what the introductory accounts will permit. However, A2 Hosting is also excellent for transferring high traffic websites from other web hosting companies for better performance and cost savings. You can custom order the exact amount of RAM, CPU cores, processor speed, and HDD or SSD storage required on any VPS or dedicated server plan. Most of the plans also include $50 in Bing/Yahoo! ad credits, SEO promotion tools, and an abundance of add-on features for analytics, security, & website backups. Here is a quick overview of their different plans and what each one is best recommended for:
Overview of A2 Hosting's Shared Hosting Plans
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A2 Hosting has implemented scaled resource allocation on their shared hosting plans, which is part of a growing trend in the industry. Rather than configuring all of the shared hosting plans to receive the same amount of RAM and CPU processing per account, A2 Hosting now provides a greater allocation of these resources on the higher priced plans. This is helpful not only for database process intensive CMS sites, but also for multi-domain portfolio hosting. With the Lite plan, customers only receive 500MB of physical RAM, 4 GB of virtual RAM, and access to one CPU core. This is still 2x to 4x more than found on other comparable web hosting plans, but can only be used with a single domain. The Swift plan offers 1 GB of physical RAM, 8 GB of virtual RAM, and processing by 2 CPU cores. This is equivalent to many VPS plans at other web hosts. Finally, with the Turbo plan, users receive 2 GB physical RAM, 8 GB virtual RAM, and access to 2 cores for multi-site traffic requirements. You can host unlimited domains on the Swift and Turbo plans.
Another advantage of the Turbo plan is the inclusion of an advanced suite of server optimization software which is known as the A2 Optimized Site Accelerator. This is basically a pre-configured installation of Turbo Cache, APC, OPcache, and Memcached on hardware that hosts around 80% fewer domains than the other shared hosting plans. Because your sites do not share server resources with as many simultaneous clients, the pages load much faster compared to traditional hosting plans. With the most advanced developer solutions for website page caching already built into the platform, you save thousands of dollars in programming and systems administration costs without having to employ a private team to build out the solution. You also get free access to CloudFlare Plus ($8 per month) and Railgun Optimizer ($.98 per month) for your site with the Turbo plan, savings that are approximately equal to the total cost of the hosting service itself if purchased independently. We recommend locking into the Turbo plan at the 51% introductory price discount.
Linux Shared Web Hosting – Lite: 1 Website, 1 core (2.1 ghz), 500MB Physical RAM, 4 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage, Unlimited Transfer, 5 MySQL Databases
With 50% more physical RAM and 4x the virtual RAM provided by other web hosting companies on shared hosting accounts, and the limit to one domain for allocated server resource usage, your website is guaranteed to perform better on the A2 Hosting Lite plan than it would on similarly priced “unlimited” hosting services using Linux & cPanel. We consider this a win, but there is still a performance throttle on the account caused by optimization tool limitations that A2 Hosting uses to encourage upgrades to higher priced plans.
Linux Shared Web Hosting – Swift: Unlimited Websites, 2 cores (2.1 ghz), 1GB Physical RAM, 8 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage, Transfer, & MySQL Databases
The Swift plan is much more powerful and functional than the Lite plan, and at only $4.90 per month under introductory rates, it is a great deal for unlimited domain hosting. You receive around 3x the physical RAM and 8x the virtual RAM provided by other companies on similar accounts at higher prices. All of the standard features of cPanel hosting under CentOS are provided, as well as a full suite of bonus software like advanced security, traffic analytics, SEO, anti-spam, version control, and command line management tools.
Linux Shared Web Hosting – Turbo: Unlimited Websites, 2 cores (2.1 ghz), 2GB Physical RAM, 8 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage, Transfer, & MySQL Databases
The Turbo plan offers on average 6x the physical RAM and 8x the virtual RAM provided by comparable cPanel hosting plans with unlimited domains at other companies. With the inclusion of a full suite of software tools for advanced page caching and CloudFlare CDN integration, everything you need to boost website performance of CMS sites is offered “out of the box” with the exception of Nginx integration. Most other companies advertise similar plans as a “cloud” hosting solution, while A2 Hosting prices this plan very competitively to outpace industry standards.
In summary, all of A2 Hosting's shared plans include “cloud” hosting features that make them representative of next-generation data center techniques. We heartily recommend these web hosting plans to site owners, although the renewal rates are still too high for people not comfortable paying in advance for a full three year term. Because the WordPress hosting features are also included on these accounts, and there is no difference in the pricing between A2 Hosting's WordPress plans and the shared hosting accounts, site owners can take advantage of the added functionality while maintaining the ability to host other CMS scripts and not get locked into an overly restrictive managed WordPress platform.
A2 Hosting and WordPress
CMS & Ecommerce Plans at A2 Hosting
On the other hand, while A2 Hosting advertises hosting plans for popular open source CMS and ecommerce scripts like Drupal, Joomla, Magento, etc., all they are really doing with these services is keyword-based SEO advertising from the Softaculous application list. For example, they have created landing pages for Blog Hosting, CMS Hosting, CRM Hosting, eCommerce Hosting, Forum Hosting, Social Network Hosting, & Wiki Hosting with a summary of the basic information about the scripts and lists of the most popular CMS add-on modules, but they do not offer any additional support services or software tools over the shared hosting packages with these plans. This is somewhat of a duplicitous tactic, because any web host running cPanel and Softaculous can state that they also offer the same services. Many platform-specific hosts do create a custom server environment with an enhanced tool set to support the open source scripts, like A2 Hosting has done for WordPress. This can lead to some confusion in prospective users, but all of these applications should perform better on A2 Hosting's shared plans than other web hosting company services because of the way that they configure their servers through resource allocation.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Unmanaged VPS Hosting Plans
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Unmanaged VPS plans at A2 Hosting start at only $5 per month. However, users will quickly realize that this is only for a small base package of resources: 512MB RAM, 1 CPU core, 20 GB SSD storage, and 2TB of transfer. Functionally, this package may actually have less resources available for website hosting than many of the shared hosting plans. Consequently, prospective users will quickly move on to configuring their VPS with more RAM, CPU cores, storage, and transfer ability. This is where the cost will quickly increase on the unmanaged VPS plans. For example, add 1 GB of RAM and a cPanel license, and the cost of the account is already at $28.95 per month. With Turbo Boost and LiteSpeed, the cost jumps to between $50.95 to $58.95 per month, depending on the license. Users do have root access and a lot of custom configuration options on the operating system. The shared hosting plans at A2 Hosting provide much better value in comparison than the unmanaged VPS accounts, which can be more costly than many dedicated server packages at other web hosts. A top-of-the-line VPS system with 32 GB RAM, 12 cores, 250 GB SSD storage, and 9TB of transfer is actually $420.95 per month under this platform. We recommend going with the cost savings on shared hosting, managed or cloud VPS plans unless you have an actual need for the configuration options on the unmanaged framework that are not met by the other services.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting – Entry: 1 Core, 512MB RAM, 20GB SSD Storage, 2TB Transfer, & Root Access
The $5 base price on the Entry VPS plan does not include a cPanel license, but does provide the ability to install CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, or Gentoo. Installing a base Linux OS and adding Plesk or another administration script to the package like Webmin, Virtualmin, Vesta, ZPanel, etc. can save money and make this limited package a useful choice for some applications, but most site owners will get better performance and features on one of A2 Hosting's shared plans.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting – Mid: 1 Core, 1GB RAM, 30GB SSD Storage, 2TB Transfer, & Root Access
Similarly, the Mid VPS plan actually costs more than a Turbo plan under the shared hosting introductory rates but has half the available physical RAM, no server optimization software built into the platform, no unlimited storage or transfer ability, and no cPanel license. The apparent price savings under the low list cost only apply to a very basic “bare bones” system and disappears as soon as hardware upgrades or software licenses are added to the plans.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting – Top: 4 Cores, 1GB RAM, 50GB SSD Storage, 2TB Transfer, & Root Access
Users who enjoy working with bash and shell scripts on Linux can coax a lot of power out of the Top VPS plan, but adding 1GB of RAM only to the configuration will still position it as twice the price of the Turbo account under shared hosting with significantly less resources available for site owners. The price for the plan will quickly increase the more upgrades that are applied to the hardware specifications. Nevertheless, you can configure an elite VPS system under this plan if you are willing to pay the extra costs.
In summary, A2 Hosting's unmanaged VPS plans are about as close to a “bare metal” hypervisor framework as you will find on the market these days, with the ability to install the different Linux operating systems from provided snapshots. These accounts provide good functional value if using an open source alternative to cPanel. However, be prepared for a lot of complex systems administration work, plus managing platform security, firewalls, and server extension installations through the command line. Adding any level of additional hardware resource upgrades or software license will increase the cost of the plans significantly. Because of these reasons, we view the unmanaged VPS plans at A2 Hosting as more of a niche product with a major appeal to geeks but that can often be outperformed and undercut in pricing by other hosting plans when all of the requirements are factored together.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Managed VPS Hosting Plans
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With a Managed VPS plan at A2 Hosting, customers receive the same base installation of CentOS and cPanel that the company uses on its shared hosting accounts. You can add the Turbo Boost upgrade to any plan at $14.53 per month, with 20x faster speeds based on software configuration optimization and under-sold server resource usage. The Turbo Boost + Turbo Cache upgrade is $19.80 per month, with the pre-configured application of APC, OPcache, and Memcached. The Turbo upgrades also include HTTP/2, SPDY, ESI, and Websocket proxy implementation. All of the Managed VPS plans include free integration of the CloudFlare CDN, as well as reseller tools and all of the platform features available on A2 Hosting's shared accounts. Under this framework, A2 Hosting technicians will manage all of the platform required security updates and systems administration, making it an easy-to-use turnkey approach to advanced web hosting for high performance applications.
Managed VPS Hosting – Power+: 4 vCPUs, 4GB RAM, 75GB SSD Storage, 2TB Transfer, cPanel, & Root Access
At about 12x the resources of a shared hosting plan available at other companies, site owners can take advantage of A2 Hosting's free migration services to upgrade to a VPS account using the Power+ plan. Most CMS websites will perform optimally with this configuration under normal traffic requirements. However, the $49.99 per month renewal rates and $32.99 per month introductory pricing mean that many users may still find more value on a cloud hosting platform with similar server resource allocation.
Managed VPS Hosting – Prestige+: 6 vCPUs, 6GB RAM, 100GB SSD Storage, 3TB Transfer, cPanel, & Root Access
The Prestige+ VPS plan is functionally equivalent and in many ways more powerful than other dedicated server plans currently on the market. It is also fairly expensive at $46.19 per month under introductory rates and $69.99 per month on renewal. Because most comparable dedicated server plans running the same hardware configuration are often 2x the price, we consider this a good deal and it is highly recommended for profitable sites like ecommerce stores or popular blogs that have the traffic requirements to support the investment.
Managed VPS Hosting – Pinnacle+: 8 vCPUs, 8GB RAM, 150GB SSD Storage, 4TB Transfer, cPanel, & Root Access
The Pinnacle+ VPS plan provides the resources of an octa-core CPU running with 8 GB of RAM and 150 GB of SSD storage. At $65.99 per month under introductory rates, and $99.99 per month thereafter, site owners receive a lot of power at about a quarter of the price of a similar dedicated server plan. The same hardware is billed at $144.95 per month under the unmanaged VPS pricing with a cPanel license. This makes it an extremely good deal, especially when locking in at introductory rates, but we would not recommend paying more than a year upfront for the plan because the industry changes so quickly in this market sector.
Site owners with advanced requirements save significantly by using A2 Hosting's managed VPS platform over other services. Unless you specifically need to run other Linux operating system distributions, we would recommend this plan over the unmanaged VPS accounts. The cPanel licensing is cheaper under these plans and you receive all of the advantages of A2 Hosting's proprietary CentOS install with the add-on tools and optimization software. This alone can save thousands of dollars in dedicated systems administrator costs vs. a do-it-yourself approach. These plans are also cheaper than many dedicated servers with more allocated resources available. Take advantage of the Turbo upgrade for the best performance and page load speeds currently available on the market from a VPS platform. These plans are ideal for business sites requiring a higher level of service and reliability.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Cloud VPS Hosting Plans
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The Cloud VPS plans at A2 Hosting are based on the SwiftServer platform and provide a hybrid approach between the managed and unmanaged VPS accounts. The virtualization platform is built on KVM and a CloudStack infrastructure with the ability to install CentOS, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, Slackware, Ubuntu, or Gentoo. To use cPanel on these accounts will require the purchase of a license directly from the vendor. The base provision of HDD storage on the Cloud VPS accounts is a major downside, as site owners will pay about $3 more per 10GB of storage for the SSD upgrade. This is around 2.5x to 3x higher priced than other services for SSD storage, where many companies currently provide the upgrade option for free SSDs standard on all accounts.
Cloud VPS Hosting – Start: 2 Cores (600 MHz), 512MB RAM, 10GB HDD Storage, Unlimited Inbound & 2TB Outbound Data Transfer
Some users prefer KVM because it provides “true” virtualization with an independent kernel and more isolation than OpenVZ for better security. Others claim that KVM requires more server resources in configuration options accordingly in order to run as effectively as OpenVZ. One difference is that you can choose the CPU processing speed as well as the number of cores, RAM, and storage options dynamically with the Cloud VPS plans. CloudStack also provides better support for Software Defined Networking (SDN).
Cloud VPS Hosting – Median: 2 Cores (600 MHz), 1GB RAM, 10GB HDD Storage, Unlimited Inbound & 2TB Outbound Data Transfer
A2 Hosting's OpenVZ plans under the unmanaged framework are less than half the price of the Cloud VPS plans while offering more resources like default SSD storage and a greater number of provided software tools in the packages. Site owners get a better deal and more allocated server resources on shared hosting with the Turbo Server upgrade when the price of these Cloud VPS plans is compared to the number of included add-on features.
Cloud VPS Hosting – Ace: 2 Cores (600 MHz), 1GB RAM, 25GB HDD Storage, Unlimited Inbound & 2TB Outbound Data Transfer
In summary, unless you believe that KVM & CloudStack have significant performance benefits over OpenVZ or need to regularly change VPS resource settings in real-time, there are not a lot of reasons to choose these Cloud VPS plans over the better and cheaper resource provisions made available on the shared hosting or unmanaged & managed VPS plans.
The Cloud VPS plans use KVM and CloudStack for high-availability failover, while also allowing users to adjust resources and billing in real-time. The CloudStack framework offers enhanced snapshotting functionality, multiple backups of website files, and more secure storage options on the network. The Unmanaged VPS plans are built on OpenVZ and have a greater number of platform optimization features pre-installed on the OS, but you cannot adjust the account plan resources while the VPS is running. Ultimately, there is more flexibility to customize the VPS on the Cloud plans, but no access to the pre-installed software tools present on the other plans when using the alternative OS distributions.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Reseller Server Hosting Plans
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A2 Hosting's reseller plans run on CloudLinux, a distribution of CentOS, with all of the registered client sub-accounts licensed to use cPanel independently for domain management and server settings configuration. Client accounts will include all of the platform features found under the A2 Hosting shared plans. A free WHMCS license is included with all of the reseller accounts except for the Bronze package. The reseller plans also include the ability to upgrade all hosted sub-accounts to the Turbo Server platform together at only $6.60 per month ($10 per month on the Platinum plan). This is a great deal considering that the Turbo upgrade can also be resold as a premier service to all of the clients hosted by a business. Along with the other package tools is included a eNom domain reseller license which provides the ability to mark up .com, .org, .net and other gTLDs to clients.
Under the A2 Hosting reseller plans, each of the clients registered with a unique cPanel account is allocated the same server resources of a Swift plan under shared hosting: 2 cores, 1 GB of physical RAM, and 8 GB of virtual RAM. Because of this, there is no real incentive to sign-up for a higher tiered plan unless you have the traffic and business to support it. A2 Hosting provides seamless upgrades on the platform without any need to manage migrations. Each plan includes a single dedicated IP address, though you can always resell additional ones to ecommerce clients under monthly billing using the administrator tool set. These reseller plans are an ideal way for web professionals, small businesses, freelancers, web designers, graphic artists, programmers, web developers, and social media marketers to invoice web hosting and domain registration services to customers.
Reseller Hosting – Bronze: 40 Accounts, 30 GB RAID-1 SSD Storage, 400 GB Transfer, CloudFlare CDN, CloudLinux, WHM & eNom
The lack of an included WHMCS license is the only downside to the Bronze plan, as many people sign up for a reseller account with the main incentive of using the WHMCS platform for billing web hosting services. Since each of the reseller plans provides identical server resource allocation to the Swift plan under shared hosting which costs $4.99 per month ($9.99 under renewal rates), there is the ability to make around $380 base profit per 40 clients billed at $9.99 per month with only $13 to $20 expenditure and the additional mark-up on domain name sales along with web services. The data transfer limits on the account guarantee that the servers don't get oversold with “unlimited” hosting sub-plans.
Reseller Hosting – Silver: 60 Accounts, 75 GB RAID-1 SSD Storage, 600 GB Transfer, CloudFlare CDN, CloudLinux, WHM, WHMCS, & eNom
The A2 Hosting reseller accounts are not altogether cheap, but the Silver package does cost less than the combined price of the licenses for cPanel, WHM, WHMCS, & eNom. We would recommend starting out with this plan over the Bronze version to take advantage of the bulk discounting available on the available WHMCS license. CloudLinux is also a valuable upgrade package ($14 per month), included free on all of the A2 Hosting reseller accounts. A basic estimate is the ability to bill $600 in web hosting services on a $20 cost, though web masters will need to monitor web traffic, optimize CMS websites, and quickly migrate high traffic clients to VPS plans.
Reseller Hosting – Gold: 80 Accounts, 150 GB RAID-1 SSD Storage, 1 TB Transfer, CloudFlare CDN, CloudLinux, WHM, WHMCS, & eNom
The Gold plan is one of the best values available on the A2 Hosting reseller platform, where you can bill $800 per month in web hosting services on a $24.41 to $36.99 monthly investment. This proves how profitable the web hosting industry can be if you over-sell server space and host low traffic websites that use just a fraction of the available resources for each plan. Because of this, the account is limited to 1TB of data transfer per month. Some web design companies take the path of even higher mark-ups to monthly clients, billing at up to $20 per month or adding higher cost maintenance services to provide custom managed hosting plans to CMS site owners.
Reseller Hosting – Platinum: 100 Accounts, 200 GB RAID-1 SSD Storage, 2 TB Transfer, CloudFlare CDN, CloudLinux, WHM, WHMCS, & eNom
Developers who bill $1000 to $2000 for hosting services per month on the 100 account Platinum plan will have no problem investing the $40.91 to $61.99 monthly fees to A2 Hosting for this reseller service. This can be a very efficient way for team organizations to manage many client development accounts and maintenance contracts under a single framework. Similarly, white label hosting companies can use this plan as they scale to larger amounts of customers. If you outpace the limit of 100 cPanel clients, simply sign up for a second reseller plan to keep the same pricing structure and avoid more costly upgrades to dedicated servers.
Generally the success of the reseller plans will depend on the business acumen of the company using the service. It is not easy to break into the web hosting industry on reseller plans, but a good brand and successful marketing strategy are the first steps. Web professionals can generate profit using reseller hosting plans if they support a lot of local clients in the community who need help getting online. Freelance clients normally prefer to host their own websites at companies independently. However, if you can integrate web hosting, domain registration, and other web services into a single business website with ecommerce, it is easy to use WHMCS to manage the accounts for monthly billing.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Dedicated Server Hosting Plans
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|Semi Dedicated Server||$9.31/mo||$18.99/mo||View Details|
|Unmanaged Flex Server||$99.59/mo||$119.99/mo||View Details|
|Managed Flex Server||$141.09/mo||$169.99/mo||View Details|
|Core Flex Server||$141.09/mo||$169.99/mo||View Details|
A2 Hosting has a complex array of dedicated server plans based around four main platforms. Beginning with the cheapest or most basic hardware specifications, A2 Hosting offers a number of different upgrade options under each platform as branded higher tiered plans, as well as the ability to custom select additional changes to the CPU, RAM, storage, and data transfer limits to build unique server hardware solutions. Many of the dedicated server plans offered by A2 Hosting are based around hybrid virtualization techniques, i.e. more powerful versions of their SwiftServer, Turbo Server, and Turbo Cache platform installations, with less reliance on fixed rackmount hardware. Discounting the Semi Dedicated Server plans which are essentially the same as a managed VPS plan, the main difference between the A2 Hosting dedicated server plans is that:
- with the Unmanaged Flex Server you have a choice of many different Linux distributions for the operating system installation with root access;
- on the Managed Flex Server you get a free cPanel + Softaculous license run on CentOS with no root access; and
- with the Core Flex Server you receive a CentOS server with free cPanel + Softaculous licenses with root access.
All of the other account features are generally standard with what is provided under cPanel on the shared and VPS plans running on the SwiftServer platform, with the paid upgrades to Turbo Server, Turbo Cache, and CloudLinux providing additional features and performance optimization. Windows hosting is only offered on the Semi Dedicated account plans. With the Unmanaged Flex Servers you can choose between CentOS (+/- cPanel & Softaculous licenses), CloudLinux, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, and Gentoo.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Semi Dedicated Server: Dual-core (2.1 ghz), 8 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited HDD Storage & Transfer + Free cPanel
The Semi Dedicated Server plans are based on the Turbo server and shared hosting framework with a dual-core CPU (2.1 ghz), 1 GB physical RAM, 8 GB virtual RAM, cPanel, unlimited storage, and unlimited data transfer. These plans are cheap, starting at $9.31 per month (renewal rates: $18.99 per month), and function similar to a managed VPS plan. You can dial up resources to support 8 vCPUs, 8 GB RAM, 150 GB SSD storage, and 4 TB data transfer at prices that max out at $65.99 per month ($99.99 renewal rates). A2 Hosting runs at least 3 different virtualization platforms, and these servers are based on their proprietary SwiftServer installation. The Semi Dedicated plans also support both Windows and Linux hosting in a number of different hardware configurations at similar prices. While the prices are decent on these hybrid plans, they do not provide an actual rackmount dedicated server hardware unit, and there is no root access for server administration on the accounts.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Unmanaged Flex Server: Dual-core (3.1+ ghz), 8 GB RAM, 2×500 GB RAID-1 HDD Storage, 10 TB Transfer, Choice of Linux OS & cPanel
The Unmanaged Dedicated Server plans at A2 Hosting are also based on the SwiftServer platform and are configured to provide root access for custom server configurations with a variety of Linux operating system installations available in snapshots. These hardware configurations start at a dual-core CPU (3.1+ ghz) with 8 GB of RAM, dual 500 GB RAID-1 hard drives, and 10 TB of data transfer per month. Plans then scale up to 12 cores (2.1 ghz), 16 GB of RAM, dual 1 TB RAID-1 hard drives, and 20 TB of data transfer. The pricing for the Unmanaged Dedicated Server plans ranges from $99 to $299 per month. The lower end units use Intel Core i3 CPUs while the upper tier hardware is based on Xeon E5 chips, with significant benchmark performance differences between the models. The Turbo Boost and Turbo Cache upgrades on these configurations is expensive at $34.86 to $41.50 additional per month. Similarly a cPanel license costs $33.16 extra per month, $49.76 extra for cPanel + CloudLinux, $35.65 for cPanel + Softaculous, and another $83 per month for the R1Soft CDP Backup service. These prices are a big negative on the service, but can easily be routed around using open source tools for server management.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Managed Flex Server: Dual-core (3.1+ ghz), 8 GB RAM, 2×500 GB RAID-1 HDD Storage, 10 TB Transfer, CentOS/CloudLinux + cPanel
The main difference between the Managed Dedicated Server packages at A2 Hosting and their other dedicated server plans is the free inclusion of the cPanel license, performance optimization software, and automated security updates on the platform. These plans are also based on the proprietary SwiftServer installation and include Softaculous for “one-click” open source script installation. CloudFlare CDN and firewall services are also provided in the plan. The Turbo Server upgrade costs are the same as on the Unmanaged Server plans, and the hardware configurations are similar. Plans scale from dual-core servers (Intel Core i3 @ 3.1ghz) with 8GB of RAM, 2 x 500 GB RAID-1 HDD storage, and 10TB of data transfer per month to 12-core systems based on Intel Xeon E5 chips clocked at 2.1ghz, with 16GB of RAM, 2 x 1TB RAID-1 HDD storage, and 20TB data transfer. You can also upgrade the system RAM to 512GB on the 12-core units. An eNom domain reseller account license is included but WHMCS is not offered and would need to be purchased directly from the vendor on a monthly license. Similarly, you cannot use Railgun Optimizer on these plans or install an operating system other than CentOS and CloudLinux. For root access you need to upgrade to the Core Flex Server platform.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Core Flex Server: Dual-core (3.1+ ghz), 8 GB RAM, 2×500 GB RAID-1 HDD Storage, 10 TB Transfer, CentOS/CloudLinux + cPanel
The Core Flex Server platform is basically the provisioning of elite hardware with the base package of cPanel, Softaculous, and high speed SwiftServer options along with default root access for the administrator. Again, you will not be able to install an OS other than CentOS or the paid CloudLinux upgrade ($16.60 per month), and the Turbo Boost package upgrade costs $34.86 per month or $41.50 per month with Turbo Cache. The hardware specifications range from dual-core Intel Core i3 (3.1+ ghz) chips with 8GB RAM, 2 x 500 RAID-1 HDD storage, and 10TB data transfer per month, to 12-core Intel Xeon E5 CPUs clocked at 2.1+ ghz with 16GB of RAM, 2 x 1TB RAID-1 HDD storage, and 20TB of data transfer. The higher end units can be provisioned with up to 512GB of RAM. You will need to purchase the Turbo Server upgrade to take advantage of HTTP/2, SPDY, ESI, and Websocket proxy configuration options. All of the other features and options are the same as on the shared, VPS, and managed server platforms.
It should be noted that 2 x 1TB RAID-1 SSD upgrades (solid state drives) are available on all of the dedicated server plans but provided for free on the semi dedicated servers. This provides an additional cost that most users consider essential for 2017 and many web hosts implement by default on dedicated server plans. In many ways, the A2 Hosting dedicated server plans are unnecessarily complex to configure because of a large overlap between the available features and customization options available on each plan. In the end, the difference is simply which operating system you can install, whether root access is provided, and what the price is per month for the given hardware configuration. Nevertheless, the plans are priced competitively with industry standards for similar services and provide all of the options that developers & high traffic site owners are looking for in a long term lease of hardware at a Tier-1 data center. We would not hesitate to recommend the plans for elite hardware configurations, but many of the same resources are available on the VPS plans at cheaper prices. Use A2 Hosting's dedicated server plans to support popular websites and mobile apps with custom development requirements if your project's budget will support it, and upgrade to the Turbo Server plan for the best performance.
Overview of A2 Hosting's Windows Hosting Plans
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A2 Hosting has a limited number of Windows hosting plans available on the shared and semi-dedicated platforms. These plans are excellent for ASP.net development and also run on the proprietary SwiftServer platform that A2 Hosting has implemented. Technicians at the company data centers will manage security upgrades of the operating system and installed server extensions as part of the cost of the plans. They will also provide a free website migration to the platform from other web hosting companies. The Windows servers support ASP.net (2.x, 3.x & 4.x), Microsoft SQL Server (2014), Windows Server (2012), MySQL (5.6), PHP (5.3-7.0), Access Database, Classic ASP, MVC (4/5), and Silverlight (4/5).
Shared Windows Hosting – Lite: 1 Website, 1 core (2.1 ghz), 500MB Physical RAM, 4 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage & Transfer, 5 MySQL + 5 MSSQL Databases
With only support for a single domain, the Lite plan for Windows is under-powered, but can be useful as a cost-effective solution for small business owners with custom web application requirements which do not need more resources. All of the Windows hosting plans include Plesk for domain management and server settings control.
Shared Windows Hosting – Swift: Unlimited Websites, 2 cores (2.1 ghz), 1GB Physical RAM, 8 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage, Transfer, MySQL & MSSQL Databases
At less than a dollar more per month under the introductory pricing, site owners can manage unlimited domains on Windows for only $5.88 per month. This is an excellent plan and we would highly recommend it for ASP.net developers who need a reliable environment for production websites as well as maintaining sandbox environments for testing code.
Shared Windows Hosting – Turbo: Unlimited Websites, 2 cores (2.1 ghz), 2GB Physical RAM, 8 GB Virtual RAM, Unlimited SSD Storage, Transfer, MySQL & MSSQL Databases
The Turbo upgrade will guarantee less domain traffic on your server which means that websites will perform faster by having access to more shared resources on the hardware. With 2 GB of physical RAM and 8 GB of virtual RAM, most complex ASP.net software applications and multi-domain portfolios will perform optimally under this plan.
If your Windows web hosting requirements outpace the services provided by the shared accounts, A2 Hosting does not have an option for VPS or dedicated servers running the Microsoft operating system. You can, however, contact the company about custom configuring a server or setting up a semi-dedicated plan with higher resource allocations as an option before migrating to another web host. These plans are intended as an affordable way to host multiple ASP.net sites under shared hosting resources, but will also run PHP scripts effectively.
Managing your account with A2 Hosting is simple. They have a well built AMP (Account Management Panel) with easy access to your registered account features, service plans, and available platforms. If you have multiple hosting plans with them, you can conveniently manage each hosting account you purchase using the provided menu buttons. It's worthwhile to point out the ease of access to their customer support services and the ability to open an issue ticket on the website. A2 Hosting is famous for their technical support and usually provide quick turn-around on any questions submitted through the issue ticket system. Below is a screenshot of their AMP.
Review of the Control Panel
A2 Hosting builds most of their service plans around cPanel, CentOS, and WHM. Unless you install a custom Linux operating system under the unmanaged VPS or Dedicated server plans, you will be able to use cPanel to manage domain names and server settings. Windows hosting plans use Plesk as an alternative. cPanel is the most commonly used web hosting management tool in the industry, and provides everything you need for web development. A2 Hosting also offers Softaculous integrated with their cPanel accounts for “one-click” installation of popular open source scripts. The A2 Hosting cPanel is standard with minimal theme customization, and no special offers, advertisements, or marketing promotions. There is no custom design mixed into the GUI, except for the A2 Hosting banner and green tinted background. In the screenshot below, you can see cPanel as it appears when you first launch the administration section. These default settings can be further adjusted by the user in order to create a unique management console for web development and domain settings.
Servers: A2 Hosting’s main data center is located in Michigan. It is centrally positioned so customers all across the US can have access to high speeds with low latency. They also have 2 other data centers for customers residing in Europe (Amsterdam) and Asia (Singapore). Each data center is redundant and SSAE16 certified. The company uses a wide range of different hardware configurations across the various segments of their operations, including three different virtualization frameworks. Their hardware includes primarily rackmount servers based on Intel Core i3 and Xeon E5 CPUs, ranging from dual-core to 12-core units, with DDR-3 RAM, and a choice between HDD & SSD storage.
Network: A2 Hosting optimizes their entire network on multiple levels using proprietary solutions to reach the highest standards of performance in the industry. The company's data centers use multi-homed network connectivity from Level-3, Savvis, Global Crossing, and Cogent Communications as service providers for high-speed fiber optic connections internationally. Some of the protocols they have implemented to improve local network speeds and page load times include HTTP/2, Websocket, ESI, SPDY, APC, Memcached, Railgun, and Anycast DNS. Most of these extensions are provided under optimal settings for the server architecture under their SwiftServer, Turbo Server, and Turbo Cache platforms.
Performance: In general, A2 Hosting hosted websites will load very quickly and reliably. We continually test and monitor the performance of A2 Hosting with Pingdom site monitoring tools to get a more technical measure of performance data. The results below are dynamically pulled from Pingdom:
Hosting Type Tested: Shared
Hosting Plan: Lite
Location Tested: North America
Description: Performance stats of the last 30 days from our A2 Hosting test account.
NOTE ABOUT TEST STATS: Keep in mind the above data is not fully representative of all the websites hosted on A2 Hosting. There are too many factors that influence performance stats – including the specific server the site is hosted on, the web hosting plan chosen, the optimization of the actual website, scheduled maintenance, geolocation, etc. Our tests are performed on low-end shared hosting accounts for each web host reviewed to showcase the most modest performance stats.
Helpful FAQs About A2 Hosting
Here are some frequently asked questions you may have about A2 Hosting:
You can purchase a web hosting account from A2 Hosting by visiting their website, www.a2hosting.com. You can also order over the phone or via their sales department at 888-546-8946. We recommend ordering online as it is easier and faster. You can also see a full breakdown of their prices and features.
A2 Hosting accepts an impressive variety of payments. They accept all major credit cards, PayPal, 2CheckOut, personal or business check, money order, and bank transfer. Please note: It's not recommended to pay by check as this method of payment will be nonrefundable.
You can cancel your account at any time. To do so, you will simply need to fill out and submit their official cancellation form found on their website.
Some Things to Consider Before You Purchase…
As with any web host, there are some things that could be improved. We’ve discussed many of the pros for A2 Hosting, but here’s a further explanation of the cons:
High Prices for High Performance: To truly get the high speeds that A2 Hosting boasts on their website, you’ll need to purchase the higher tier plans such as Turbo Server and Turbo Cache. Unfortunately, these do raise the monthly price of your plan. It is expensive, but you are essentially paying a higher price for better performance, while also saving money on custom development and system administration costs by using a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) offering. Basic hosting plans without SSD storage options provide sub-standard performance in the current environment. We would not recommend ordering hosting plans based on HDDs when page speed is so important to user satisfaction and SEO.
Deceptive Advertising on CMS Plans: A2 Hosting advertises many custom hosting packages for open source scripts such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, etc. but does not provide any platform-specific tools for these applications except for the managed WordPress plans. It does not make sense to advertise these services just because it is available to install them on the hosting platform using Softaculous, especially when compared to the amount of time and effort small companies take in building custom platform solutions for these apps. However, due to the server optimizations provided across all of the A2 Hosting services, many of these scripts will perform well on their hardware plans.
Frustrating Checkout: Although not a major negative factor, the A2 Hosting ecommerce functionality and especially their check-out procedures could be improved. As noted on the dedicated server plans, they often have many overlapping products without clear distinctions between the services in the promotional literature.
DID YOU KNOW? A2 Hosting was one of the first web hosts to implement SSD (Solid State Drive) hosting!
Additional Features Worth Mentioning
A2 Hosting makes a major effort to be “developer friendly” in provisioning their web hosting platform for support of the latest standards for web publishing and software application programming. This makes a big difference in the quality of services provided by the company, especially compared to other companies where the main focus is sales, marketing, brand identity, and profit. Innovation in web standards also relates to advancement in data center management techniques and an overall better service product. Some of the web programming languages supported by A2 Hosting are PHP (5.6-7.0), Perl (5.10), Python (2.6-3.2), Ruby (1.8), ASP.net, Node.js, IonCube, HHVM, and PHPNG. They also offer VPS and dedicated server plans based on the Linux distributions CentOS, CloudLinux, Fedora, Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, and Ubuntu, as well as FreeBSD and Windows.
Lowered Base VPS Pricing to $5/month: Their Unmanaged VPS hosting plans now start as low as $5/mo. This is nearly a 50% price cut. Although most users will add hardware upgrades that increase the monthly price on these plans, the cost difference between other hosting companies is significant.
A2 Optimized WordPress Hosting: A2 Hosting added new hosting features exclusively for WordPress sites. This includes special plugins, WordPress security hardening, and optimally configured caching. Developers can also use command line tools and version tracking software easily on this platform.
Free SSDs on Most Plans: A2 Hosting now includes free SSDs with their shared, reseller, VPS, and managed WordPress plans. Customizable SDD configurations start at $6/month for Cloud plans. All of the dedicated server plans also offer paid SSD upgrades.
Alternative Server & Database Protocols: Some of the database formats and alternative server protocols offered on A2 Hosting plans for developers are not available on other web hosts. A2 Hosting plans currently support Apache 2.2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL, Nginx, Tomcat, and Zend Server.
Version Control for Web Development: A2 Hosting makes it easy to use version control in web development with integrated support for Git, Subversion, CVS, and Mercurial. Distributed teams using Agile and Scrum methodologies for project management will have no problem collaborating on the service.
Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?
As we reach the conclusion of our A2 Hosting review, we hope that it helped you decide whether or not you should host your site with them. Every site is different and you’ll need to determine if this web host best suits your needs. For further information about A2 Hosting, visit wwww.a2hosting.com.
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