There are many web hosts vying for your dollar, so it takes a special service to stand out from the crowded field and prove itself worthy of your money. Web host A2 does so thanks to its impressive packages, terrific uptime, and wonderful customer service. In fact, A2 could easily rank among the best-of-the-best of web hosts if it offered more Windows-based server options and prices more in line with the overall Editors’ Choice winners for web hosting, DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds.
Shared Web Hosting
A2 offers three tiers of Linux- or Windows-based shared web hosting: Lite, Swift, and Turbo. Lite (starting at $7.99 per month) has unlimited storage and monthly data transfers, but you’re limited to a single domain and just 25 email addresses. Swift (starting at $9.99 per month) builds on Lite by offering unlimited email addresses and domains. Turbo (starting at $18.99 per month) tops the other two by adding pre-configured site-caching for faster load times.
These are featured-packed plans, but they’re a step behind what’s offered by HostGator. The Editors’ Choice for shared web hosting services boasts unlimited storage, monthly data transfers, and email addresses with each shared hosting plan. If you want to explore shared hosting, HostGator is the place you should start.
VPS Web Hosting
As with its shared hosting plans, A2 offers three Linux-based virtual private server (VPS) packages. Unmanaged VPS (starting at $5.00 per month), a tier designed for experienced developers who like working with the command line, has a scant 512MB of RAM, 2TB of monthly data transfers, and 20GB of storage. Managed VPS (starting at $49.99 per month) raises the RAM to a far more reasonable 4GB and storage to 75GB. It also adds HostGuard Management, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty with under-the-hood happenings. The top-tier Core VPS (starting at $49.99 per month) has the same specs as Managed VPS, but it grants root access for complete website control.
Still, Hostwinds remains the Editors’ Choice for VPS hosting. It has you covered with 10 tiers of VPS hosting in its Budget VPS, Premium VPS, Windows VPS, SSD Windows VPS, and SSD Linux VPS offerings.
For example, Tier 1 Premium VPS starts at just $13.50 per month (for 1GB of RAM, 50GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email), while Tier 10 scales up to $105 per month (for 15GB of RAM, 200GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email). The SSD Linux plan starts at $13.50 per month (for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email) and maxes out at $129 per month. For that, you get 18.5GB of RAM, 130GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email.
One unusual VPS note: Hostwinds also has Minecraft (yes, as in the video game!) VPS server hosting. Like the standard VPS hosting, Minecraft hosting has a slider that lets you quickly select a pre-configured server. The entry-level tier ($8 per month) is designed for a maximum of 10 people; the high-end tier ($160 per month) can host a maximum of 350 people.
Hostwinds also offers a choice of Linux- or Windows-based hosting, which is something that A2’s VPS services lack. Hostwinds’ flexible, powerful VPS plans outshine those of its rivals.
Dedicated Web Hosting
A2 has four Linux-powered dedicated server packages, ranging from the basic $9.31 per month Semi Dedicated Server to the $141.09 per month high-end Core Flex Server. Semi Dedicated Server has unlimited storage and monthly data transfers, but it’s locked to two CPU cores and 8GB of RAM. Unmanaged Flex Server, Managed Flex Server, and Core Flex Server all have at least two CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 10TB of monthly data transfers, and two 500GB hard drives. They mainly differ in their abilities to let you obtain root access and use HostGuard Management.
Those are attractive offerings, but the feature-packed Hostwinds is the Editors’ Choice for dedicated web hosting. Hostwinds gives you a choice of customizable or prefab Linux- or Windows-based dedicated servers. Both prefab and customizable server prices start at $99 per month, but either kind of server can cost much more, depending on how you configure them. You can outfit the configurable servers with up to 3TB of storage (per drive bay, with a maximum of four drives), 128GB of RAM, and unlimited monthly data transfers.
WordPress Web Hosting
If you want to go the WordPress route, A2 has you covered. Its three Linux-based WordPress plans—Lite, Swift, and Turbo—are identical to the company’s shared web hosting plans. In fact, even the pricing is the same. The advantage of using A2’s WordPress hosting plan is that the optimized environment enables faster page loading than its normal shared hosting package (the company claims that it’s 6X faster than traditional hosting).
A2’s WordPress boasts unlimited storage and monthly data transfers at each tier, something that 1&1 does not offer. That said, 1&1 gives users the option to build their sites in either Linux- or Windows-based environments, which may prove incredibly important depending on a site’s particular needs. As a result,1&1 remains the Editors’ Choice for WordPress hosting.
Reseller Web Hosting
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, check out A2’s reseller hosting packages. The plans, starting at $19.99 per month, boast unlimited email and up to 200GB of storage and 2000GB of monthly data transfers. A2 offers a nice mix of Linux- or Windows-based servers, too, in the shared, dedicated, and VPS categories. In addition, A2 lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it supplies 24/7 tech support.
That said, A2’s reseller packages aren’t quite as robust as Hostwinds’ offerings. The category’s Editors’ Choice winner has a variety of excellent packages that are sure to please anyone thinking about getting into the reseller business.
E-commerce and Security
If you plan to sell products, A2 has you covered with numerous e-commerce tools. You can use AbanteCart, PrestaShop, OpenCart, or another tool to construct an online store. All offer a one-click setup that lets you get started fairly easily. Magento, a common and popular ecommerce app, lets you easily drag and drop elements to create a store.
Naturally, you’ll need a Secure Socket Layer certificate to go along with that store. It encrypts the data between your shop and customers’ browsers for safe online transactions. A2’s SSLs have a $49.95 per year starting price for a one-year certificate and 256-bit encryption.
Website uptime is a vital element of web hosting. If your site goes down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. It’s in your best interest to find a reliable web host that can keep your site up and running. Otherwise, customers may go elsewhere—and they might never come back.
To evaluate reliability, I use a website-monitoring tool to track my test site’s uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least 1 minute. The data reveal that A2 was incredibly stable during my testing. In fact, it didn’t go down once! As I’ve learned from my uptime tests, a website is usually down for for at least a few brief periods over the course of a month. Based on my testing, you can count on A2 to be a rock-solid foundation for your website.
Excellent Customer Service
If you’re ever in need of technical assistance, A2’s aptly named Guru Crew is available to lend a helping hand. Available 24/7 via phone or live chat, the Guru Crew is one of the best customer support teams I’ve encountered in the web hosting space.
I contacted the team on a weekday morning to learn which plans offer Windows-based hosting and how to install WordPress. I waited just a few seconds before a Guru Crew member fielded my questions. A2’s customer service squad ranks up there with GoDaddy’ as the best in the business.
A2 offers an Anytime Money Back Guarantee that grants you a full refund if you cancel your account within a 30-day window. Sure, many web hosts offer that type of refund, but A2 one-ups them by offering a prorated refund if you decided to pack it up after 30 days.
A Very Good Web Host
A2 has nearly everything you’d expected from a quality web host, including terrific uptime and knowledgeable and friendly customer service representatives. The hosting packages are notable, too, though they’re relatively pricey when compared to other major players in the field. Editors’ Choices DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds offer slightly more complete packages, but A2 has a lot going for it, too.