I’m not a demanding customer, in fact, I’ve been labeled as “too nice” by a customer of mine in the past, and my manager suggested that I should be coached on sharing my frustrations.
So when I write a review like this, in my mind it can go two ways: either I’m overly nice, or I’ll let out all my frustrations, even the ones I shouldn’t just to show that I’m not overly nice.
But I won’t do that.
I’ll aim to find the middle-ground to hopefully make this A2Hosting review worth reading. One thing’s for sure: I’ll rather be nice as the saying goes:
It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
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A2 Hosting has been the first web host I have ever dealt with five years ago. I was just setting up my first website and didn’t have that perspective yet on what should I expect from a web host.
From what I could tell, my site was up and running properly and I had the tools I needed. That’s all that mattered, and that was delivered by A2 Hosting.
I think I personified the average customer with my expectations. I didn’t really care about how the “cookie” was made, I just wanted it to taste good. That’s it.
So I was a customer of theirs for all these years, until a few months ago when I decided to move on to something that was a better fit for my “downsized” needs.
I had simple reasons for making the move, but this shouldn’t take away any credit from A2 Hosting. Truth is, that there was nothing they could do for me to be their customer any longer, simply because I had other plans. I sold some sites that were hosted with them. That meant, I didn’t need the service anymore.
When I started Web Factors, I knew that it was the only website I wanted to focus on and wanted to try something new when it comes web hosting.
So goodbye A2 Hosting.
With that being said, all this doesn’t mean that it can’t fit your needs. It was some good years together, and I was impressed with the service.
My First Impressions & Onboarding Experience
First impressions last a long time. It’s a cliche, but it’s true.
The first word that comes to my mind is flexibility.
When I started out with A2 Hosting, I opted for the lowest service level possible. That allowed me to create one website.
It didn’t take long till I realized that it all seems to be working fine. As I planned to launch other sites at one point I had to upgrade to a plan that allowed for more sites.
I paid the difference between the plan I had and the one above it – which is called the Swift plan. All this happened within a few hours. Before this, I contacted A2 Hosting’s chat support and I was given clear guidance on how to proceed.
This was a positive onboarding experience.
The onboarding experience of a web host is an important signal in that it can potentially be a projection of the underlying service as well. I wouldn’t say this is always the case, but I’ve found that there is generally a correlation.
If I had to compare A2 Hosting from this aspect to another supplier, I’d say that they are on the level of Bluehost. Just to avoid any confusion – this is a strong positive statement. Bluehost is a highly popular web host and there are good reasons for this.
With that being said, there is an extensive knowledge base and clean navigation inside the user account. There are also shortcuts for quicker and more efficient action.
I could talk about the details of the knowledge base, but there’s really nothing special about a good knowledge base. A lot of tutorials and frequently asked questions.
What I want to talk about instead are the three things that were the most important for me.
These three things are:
- Speed and performance
- Technical support
- Usability & resources
Speed and Performance
When it comes to speed, A2 Hosting is not faster than any other well-established web host out there. At least, with their ‘normal’ servers. There is the possibility to choose Turbo servers which promise up to 20 times the speed of some of the other web hosts.
The key here is to keep your site’s performance at a level that doesn’t affect the user experience negatively. And that my friends, is not easy to do.
We have continuous pressure to create stunning, feature-rich websites. In some ways to improve user experience, but that doesn’t come for free when it comes to site speed. Since Google made speed an important factor for ranking websites in their search results and ads, it is our interest to keep our websites light and fast as possible.
So for example, it is a positive thing that software like WordPress is getting important updates like the Gutenberg update was. But at the same time, the size of WordPress as a software increased. Not by a lot, but still will have some impact.
A recommendation when using shared hosting
If you will be utilizing shared web hosting, I would recommend keeping your website as lean as possible. Fewer pictures and videos, fewer plugins if you’re using WordPress.
In fact, plugins and themes are the number one factor in my experience for inadequate website performance.
I was able to rank pretty well in Google in the past running on A2Hosting’s shared platform (concretely the Swift plan). I was just being selective in my WordPress theme, number/quality of plugins. At the moment running with three plugins only, my speed test results are solid.
This is one of the trickiest parts to review. I had only one occasion where I was asking a technical question. I was asking whether I could use a specific application on their shared servers for a plugin.
It was possible for me to use it. Though, the feature that the plugin added was not fulfilling the promise I have envisioned. So in the end, it didn’t matter. But it mattered for me at the time, and if the answer was a no, I bet I would’ve been pissed about it. Working in a services business, this is how we behave when we are customers – we are often unreasonable.
Going back to my earlier point regarding tech support, the reason I said it’s the hardest part is as it’s very transactional in nature. One customer has a positive experience, the next one doesn’t.