A2 Shared Hosting Review (2020): Affordable AND Reliable?

A2 is an all-around excellent web host for small and large websites alike. As long as you don’t mind the lack of free malware scans, you can’t go wrong with them.

  • Starting Price $2.99/mo
  • Storage Unlimited
  • Free Domain No
  • Refund guarantee 30 days

Pros

  • Very affordable plans
  • Unlimited data transfer (bandwidth) and disk space
  • Excellent website speed and stability
  • Free daily website backups
  • Knowledgeable and responsive live chat support agents

Cons

  • No free malware scans

Disclosure: if you purchase through any links on this web page, I earn referral fees from partners. These fees do not influence my recommendations.

Review summary:

A2 Hosting is one of our top cheap web hosting service providers of all time.

The company has a transparent pricing structure and highly competitive first-term and renewal prices.

Their robust servers, both in terms of website load speeds and the ability to handle sudden traffic spikes, make A2 suitable for all types of websites.

They have unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space, and their plans are suitable for websites with up to a few thousand daily visitors.

Webmasters with more popular websites should consider alternative providers with more transparent server resource policies, such as WPX or SiteGround.

Overall, a great choice for most webmasters.

Plans and Pricing

A2 offers three shared hosting plans. Let’s take a look at how they stack up against competitors.

First-term prices (per month):

 LiteSwiftTurbo Plus
Monthly term$4.90$6.37$12.25
Annual term$4.40$5.38$10.28
3-year term$2.99$4.90$9.30
Websites1UnlimitedUnlimited
Storage (SSD)100 GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Data transferUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited

Most hosts want you to sign up for the longest term available, and A2 is no exception – that’s why you get the best price ($3.91/mo.) with their three-year plan.

Overall, we found A2’s first-term prices fair, even if slightly higher than some competitors’. For example, AccuWeb‘s first-term prices start at $3.00/mo., although their hosting comes with more stringent resource restrictions and fewer features.

Following your first hosting term, you can renew at A2’s standard prices.

Renewal prices (per month):

 LiteSwiftTurbo
Monthly term$9.99$12.99$24.99
Annual term$8.99$10.99$20.99
3-year term$7.99$9.99$18.99
Domains allowed1UnlimitedUnlimited
Storage (SSD)UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data transferUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited

As we can see, the first term is roughly 50% cheaper than subsequent terms, which is a typical discount in the hosting industry.

This discount may not be as big as the one you’ll receive at HostGator (60%), but the hosting quality at A2 is miles ahead, making the choice easy in our book. 

SiteGround offers a larger first-term discount as well (around 65%), but this comes at the expense of more costly renewals, which start at $11.95 per month (A2’s renewals start at $7.99/mo.).

Overall, A2’s pricing structure is very transparent and was obviously designed with simplicity in mind. In fact, their prices are good enough to secure A2 a spot on our list of hosts with the cheapest annual plans.

Does A2 Offer Student Discounts?

Unfortunately, there are currently no special discounts available to students.

Take a look at our rankings of hosts with the best student discounts for alternatives.

What Payment Methods Does A2 Accept?

One of the great things about A2 is that they support a myriad of payment options, including:

Most hosts only accept credit cards and PayPal. The availability of Skrill and wire transfer make it easier for some Europe-based users to pay for A2’s services.

Are Prices Negotiable?

As of right now, A2’s prices are fixed – regardless of how long you’ve been with the company. This is not an issue, however, as A2’s shared hosting packages are competitively priced, to begin with.

If you’re in the mood for some haggling, check out our list of the best hosts with negotiable prices.

Does A2 Offer Discount Promo Codes?

Beyond the first-term discount promo code, which will be applied to your payment automatically when you purchase your first hosting term, A2 does not offer any promotional codes at this time.

Does A2 Offer Discounts for Non-Profits?

They do, actually.

501(c)(3) organizations are eligible for a 20% discount on all shared hosting packages. You’ll need to contact their support team and provide a photocopy of your IRS tax ID letter to be eligible.

This is a decent discount, but not as good as what some other hosts offer – for example, both InterServer and DreamHost offer free hosting to non-profits.

Related: non-profit website hosting recommendations.

Features and Server Resources

How Much Data Transfer (Bandwidth) Do You Get?

A2’s hosting plans come with unlimited bandwidth.

Make sure to read The Hidden Pitfalls of "Unlimited" Bandwidth and Storage for more.

Is There a Limit on The Number of Visitors?

A2 does not officially limit the number of users that can access your website during a given day or month.

However, when we reached out to A2’s support department and requested confirmation, this is what we learned:

“There is generally no user limit, but we recommend you do not use our shared hosting plans to host websites with more than 3,000-4,000 daily visitors. If your websites regularly receive more visitors, try our Managed WordPress hosting plans as they are more powerful.”

So while there is no official hard cap on daily visitors for websites hosted on shared hosting servers, there’s an “unofficial” cap of 3000-4000. If your websites regularly exceed this level of traffic, presumably some of your visitors will experience subpar website performance (slow load times or pages failing to load).

Keep in mind that 3,000-4,000 per day is a lot – more than the vast majority of websites will receive during their first few years of existence.

What Server Locations are Available?

A2 offers servers in the following locations:

As always, we recommend that you select the location that is closest to where the majority of your website’s readers are located. This will ensure that your website loads quickly for them.

The default server location is Michigan, and you can choose a different location while filling out the hosting registration form.

How Much Disk Storage Space Do I Get?

A2 is on our list of unlimited web hosting providers, which means that they offer unlimited disk space for your website.

Moreover, your files will be stored on an SSD drive, which will improve your website’s load speed. This is great news, as many other hosts offer SSD drives as an extra, paid add-on.

Is There an Inode Limit at A2 Hosting?

An Inode limit refers to a limit on the number of files (irrespective of their size) that you can keep on your hosting account.

A2 has a 600,000 Inode limit on all their shared hosting plans. This is very generous compared to competing hosts, most of which offer 250,000 Inodes or fewer.

In fact, A2’s limit is so high that it secured them a spot on our list of hosts with the highest Inode limits in the industry.

Related: WordPress Inode requirements guide.

Is there a limit on the number or size of MySQL databases?

PlanDatabasesMax. size
LiteFiveUnlimited
SwiftUnlimitedUnlimited
TurboUnlimitedUnlimited

Many popular hosting companies, including GoDaddy, InMotion, and Hostinger, limit the number of databases you can create on their cheapest shared hosting plans to a single database.

The fact that A2 allows you to create up to five databases on the LITE plan is a huge plus.

How Many Websites Can You Host?

You can host one website on the LITE plan and unlimited websites on the SWIFT and TURBO plans.

This is in line with what you’ll find at other affordable hosting providers, so we weren’t surprised.

For more quality hosts that allow unlimited domains, see our top affordable hosts with unlimited websites rankings.

Email Limits

PlanEmail accountsDaily sending limits
Lite251,000 / account
SwiftUnlimited1,000 / account
TurboUnlimited1,000 / account

Note that the daily sending limits are per email account. So if you create 25 email accounts on the LITE plan, you’ll be able to send up to 25 x 1000 = 25,000 emails per day.

This is more than enough for any business email, and even enough for a small marketing campaign.

Plus, the fact that you can create up to 25 email accounts on A2’s cheapest hosting plan is great. For comparison, GoDaddy’s cheapest plan only allows up to 10 email accounts, while Bluehost‘s is restricted to five accounts.

If you need to be able to send more emails, check out our ranking of hosts with the highest email sending limits.

Can I get a dedicated IP address (advanced webmasters)?

A2 offers dedicated IP addresses for $4.00/month. You can choose this as an add-on during checkout:

A2 Hosting dedicated IP

Is there a concurrent database connection limit (advanced webmasters)?

A2 Hosting has a 35 concurrent database connection limit.

If you’re an advanced webmaster and know for a fact that this won’t be enough for your website, check out our rankings of the best web hosts with high database connection limits.

Ease of Use and Interface Functionality

Does A2 Shared Hosting Include cPanel?

Yes, it does. A2 comes with the latest version of cPanel, which gives you access to features such as:

And much more.

Additionally, you can access the most important information directly from your hosting package’s client area (dashboard), which looks like this:

A2 hosting client area

From here you can quickly access the most important information such as your nameservers and webmail.

All things considered, A2 Hosting offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a shared hosting provider at this price point. Beginners will need some time to get used to the interface and feel comfortable navigating its corners, however.

For a more user-friendly interface, check out WPX Hosting, but be prepared for their premium price ($20.83/mo.)

Is It Easy to Install WordPress?

Absolutely! Just choose WordPress under the “Auto-Install Application” section while registering your hosting account, and you’re done. 

Remember to take note of the WordPress administrator’s username and password displayed at the bottom of the page.

You can also install WordPress manually at any later time. To do this:

  1. Log into your A2 client area
  2. Choose the Login to cPanel shortcut from the left-hand menu
  3. Under the Softaculous Apps Installer section, choose the WordPress – A2 Optimized option

Now choose a username and password for your Admin account, and you’re done – WordPress will be installed automatically in less than a minute.

Overall, this is all in line with what you’ll find at other quality hosting providers.

How Can You Access Your Website’s Files?

To manage your website’s files, you can either create an FTP account through cPanel and then use the free Filezilla software to connect to your account, or you can use the built-in File Manager.

Website Load Speed Test

We set up a test website on our A2 server following our standard testing procedure.

Next, we used GTMetrix to automatically track the website’s load time for a full day, taking a website speed measurement once per hour to try and catch any fluctuations.

During this period, the average website load time was around 1.3 seconds, which is excellent (anything below three seconds is good).

Not as fast as what we observed at SiteGround (0.7-second average load time), but fast enough that any improvements in speed won’t make a practical difference to your users. Here’s a chart of the speed measurements:

A2 Hosting gtmetrix website speed test

We didn’t register any major spikes in load speed during the day; just a minor spike to 2.4 seconds around 10 AM, as you see on the chart above. Nothing to fret about at all.

Overall, A2 has all the hallmarks of a well-configured and stable server and which will suit both beginner and advanced webmasters.

Website Performance Under Heavy Traffic Test

Hourly website load speed tests like those we described above don’t tell the whole story.

We also want to see how the website performs when it experiences a sudden onslaught of traffic (as can be the case during peak traffic hours, or when a link to your website gets traction on social media).

To do this, we used the LoadImpact tool to simulate the type of activity that a website might experience when 50 people visit and browse the website simultaneously.

This puts stress on A2’s server resources, and we wanted to see whether the server would bulk under this type of pressure.

Here’s a chart summarizing our findings:

A2 Hosting Load Impact Test

These are overall excellent results. The response time remained stable throughout the entire test, which means that 50 users simultaneously browsing the website should not challenge the server’s stability whatsoever.

It’s uncommon for a budget host to perform this well in our stress tests. For example, HostGator’s shared servers weren’t able to handle even 20 simultaneous users without experiencing significant website stability issues, let alone 50.

In short, A2’s shared server passed our stability test with flying colors.

Safety and Security

Does A2 Backup Your Website?

A2 takes free daily (every night) backups of all websites on their servers.

What’s more, we were surprised to learn that you can restore your backups for free. This is in stark contrast to other shared hosting providers, many of which take free backups but charge a hefty restoration fee. For example, SiteGround charges $30 per restoration, while GoDaddy asks for a whopping $150 for the privilege.

A2 Hosting premium website backups

If you want to be able to set your own backup schedule, you can purchase A2’s premium backup service, DropSuite Offsite Backups, during checkout.

DropSuite backups are stored on an external server and the price of the service depends on how much storage space you need for your backups, as we show below:

You may also want to check out our best web hosts with free backups and restorations rankings page for more recommendations if free backups are important to you.

Does A2 Offer Free Malware Detection and Removal?

Unfortunately, A2 does not offer free malware scans. Check out our list of hosts with free malware prevention for alternatives.

They do offer a premium solution for $5.00/mo. in partnership with Sucuri – you can select it as an add-on during checkout.

If you use WordPress, you can install one of the many free anti-malware plugins available. WordFence and Cerber Security are good examples that come to mind.

This will allow you to take charge of your website’s security.

Is 2-Factor Login Authentication (2FA) Available?

As of 2020, A2 Hosting offers 2FA via one of the following apps:

You’ll need a smartphone that supports one of these apps.

You can activate two-factor authentication from the Security Settings section of your Account Details page.

2FA is a great feature that adds an extra layer of security to your account and makes it much more difficult for unauthorized third-parties to gain access to your website control panel.

Free SSL Certificates?

Yes, you’ll get one free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for every website you host with A2.

We definitely expected this, as the vast majority of shared hosting companies offer free certificates nowadays.

Additional Services and Freebies

Free Domain?

Unfortunately, A2 Hosting does not offer free domains with their shared plans. This was disappointing, as many competing hosts – including DreamHost and AccuWeb – offer a domain with their annual and 3-year plans.

However, you can purchase a domain from A2 while registering your hosting account. Prices vary depending on the domain extension – some examples:

TLDAnnual price
.com$14.95
.net$14.95
.org$14.95

These are relatively high prices by market standards; for example, you can buy a .com domain for around $10 per year at Namecheap.com.

If getting a free domain with your hosting is a priority, check out our list of the best affordable hosts with a free domain.

Free Website Migration?

Yes; like almost all budget web hosts, A2 Hosting offers free website migration to newly registered users.

The service involves migrating an entire cPanel account from your previous hosting provider to your new A2 server. If your old server doesn’t use cPanel, you’ll need to handle the migration process on your own.

Refunds and Cancellations

Does A2 Offer a Money-Back Trial Period?

A2 Hosting offers an industry-standard, 30-day refund guarantee. Simply cancel during this time window to receive a full refund.

See further below for our own experience requesting a refund from A2.

What’s more, refunds are processed automatically as soon as you cancel your hosting package from your A2 control panel.

We found this refreshing, as many hosts require you to get in touch with their billing department within a week or two from cancellation to receive a refund.

This not only takes up your time but also makes it possible for you to miss out on the refund altogether if you forget to request it on time. Big thumbs up to A2 for automating the process.

We were also happy to learn that the money-back guarantee applies to all shared hosting plans, regardless of term length. Some hosts, such as GoDaddy, only issue refunds on annual and longer plans.

If a 30-day guarantee is not enough for you, check out our list of hosts with the longest money-back guarantee.

Can You Refund Unused Subscription Months (Pro-Rated Refunds)?

A2 is one of the few hosts that do offer pro-rated refunds, which is a significant plus.

One thing to keep in mind is that the pro-rated refund amount will be calculated based on the full, undiscounted price of your hosting package.

For example, let’s say you purchased their 3-year plan at the discounted first-term price of $3.91/mo. ($140 total). The regular, undiscounted price of this hosting package is around $8.00/mo.

If you cancel after 10 months and request a pro-rated refund, an amount equal to $8.00 x 10 = $80 will be deducted from your refund, so you’ll receive $140 – $80 = $60 back.

This isn’t ideal, but it’s how pro-rated refunds work at most hosts that offer them.

Also, keep in mind that refunds requested after 120 days are always credited as a PayPal balance. We found this somewhat odd, but we can live with it.

You may also want to check out our guide to hosts with pro-rated refunds.

Our Money-Back Request, Documented

Once we were done creating this A2 Hosting review, we put their money-back guarantee to the test.

We logged into our A2 account, navigated to the “Account Details” section of our hosting package, and selected the Request Cancellation option from the left-hand menu:

A2 Hosting Cancellation Form

We entered “Hosting service no longer required” as our reason for canceling and made sure to select Immediate as our Cancellation Type – this last part is critical!

As soon as we confirmed cancellation, we connected to A2’s live chat support to confirm our refund, and here’s what we learned:

We process immediate cancellations within 1-3 business days, and any appropriate refund per our Refund Policy is processed at that time also. You’ll receive an email confirming the cancellation and refund. Refunds can take up to 7 business days to post with your original payment method.

Here’s a screenshot of their consultant, Georgiana, saying as much:

A2 Hosting Automatic Refund Chat

Exactly two days later, we received an email from PayPal confirming our refund:

A2 Shared Hosting - Refund Confirmation

Live Chat Customer Support Quality

As is the case with every hosting provider that we review, we contacted A2’s live chat support and asked them a plethora (over 40) of questions about their hosting.

We do this to get an understanding of their services, but also to get a feel for how knowledgeable and responsive their live chat representatives are.

Queue times were shorter than a minute. 

Overall, we were very pleased. The customer service agent we spoke to was fluent in English and responded to our questions quickly, without having to consult colleagues about more technical questions.

We received satisfactory answers to all questions in less than an hour.

The support agent’s answers felt a little blunt at times, but this didn’t have a significant impact on the overall experience.

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