Today we’re going to compare A2 Hosting and SiteGround to see which is better for your needs. Both have very different approaches to marketing and conducting themselves, and to some, it might seem like A2 Hosting has the upper hand, especially when they scream about their TURBO service that “promises” 20X faster service. However, let’s dig into these companies and show you what they really offer.
SiteGround has been noted by many reviewers and customers to be one of the top hosting companies right now. They are on the more expensive side, but you pay for what you get. Aside from offering amazing service, fast loading speeds, and properly distributed servers, they are also the gold standard in terms of customer support. You’ll often get a reply within a few minutes, and they provide no-hold phone service.
A2 Hosting, on the other hand, makes a lot of promises, but it’s hard to verify most of them since dubious and vague language is used throughout their marketing. They do provide a little more information on their servers than some other shared hosts, which is nice, but it’s still hard to verify all of their claims when it comes to upgraded accounts. There have also been numerous complaints about their service and customer support.
In general, SiteGround is the best if you’re looking for top-tier customer support and amazing service and speed, while A2 Hosting is the best if you want trumped up language and a lot of bold claims, but not a lot of information to back them up.
SiteGround (Grade: A+)
- SiteGround offers some of the best customer service in the tech industry. A lot of companies claim to have 24/7 support, but that usually just means that the representatives will get back to you at some point (maybe 1 am or 9 pm or some other weird hour).
- When it comes to email and chat support, you’ll notice that most tickets are answered within 10 minutes, with many actually receiving a response in 5 minutes. Not only that, but they also have no-hold phone support, which is incredibly rare in the hosting industry.
- Chat support responds quickly after the initial reply, making it feel like they are only speaking with you (which they very well may be).
- What’s better is that the support staff is friendly and helpful. They will stay with you until the problem is fixed, ensuring that you can resolve any issue that may come up.
Speed and Uptime:
- The uptime guarantee is 99.9%, which is fairly standard, but they go a step further. SiteGround is very transparent about their uptime and they will openly display how uptime has been in the last month and the last 12 months. In general, you can expect the percentage to be between 99.95-99.99%, which is exceptional.
- There are several data centers for you to pick from. This allows you to choose where the servers are hosted, which improves speed and stability. Choose the data center that is closest to you for the best performance. American users will see that they can choose either east coast or west coast servers.
- SiteGround uses a special cache program guaranteed to speed up your website and overall performance, plus they have SSD servers that are much faster than traditional disk
- based servers since there are no moving parts. Not only that, but their servers are properly distributed so that you don’t have to compete with a ton of other people for resources.
Control Panel and Scripts:
- SiteGround uses a standard build of cPanel, which is actually great for you. Most homemade or modified versions of cPanel tend to either be slower or more confusing, so this is great. Plus, if you need help, there is a ton of documentation to assist you.
- They also use Softaculous for script installation. It’s fast, easy to use and includes over 400 scripts. You’ll have no problem installing WordPress or another CMS or shopping cart within a few clicks.
- Not only that, but their billing manager is located within cPanel, making it easy to manage your finances and bills with SiteGround. You’ll never have to worry about accidentally forgetting a bill.
Disk Space and Bandwidth:
- Disk space and bandwidth have specific limits on them, which is a good thing. This lets you know exactly how much resources you have instead of worrying about a dubious “unlimited” limit, which just means that you can’t use too many resources.
- Disk space ranges from 10GB to 30GB depending on your plan. Most users, except for those uploading large pictures or videos, should find that this is enough room for their needs.
- Bandwidth is given in estimated visitors per month, which is actually better because it gives you a good idea of how many people you can accommodate. The smallest plan allows for about 10,000 visitors, while the strongest is suggested for 100,000 visitors.
- You get a free SSL certificate along with free shopping cart installation.
- Website migration is a free service, plus you can have unlimited domains with the middle or strongest plan.
- Daily backups are performed on your website, plus you can manually initiate additional backups as needed.
- Students receive a discount as low as $1.99 a month for hosting as long as you have a .edu email address.
- There are several developer-oriented features like Git installation and WordPress staging.
- Pricing is somewhat deceptive with premium plans, like VPS and higher. There will be a setup fee that you have to pay before the hosting is initiated. Shared hosting does not have this setup fee, so you won’t have to worry about that until your website grows in size.
- The overall price is higher than other shared hosts, with the initial plan starting at $3.95 and then shooting up to $11.95 after the discount period. While this is fairly common for hosts, it is still a big increase in price.
- The bad thing about limited bandwidth is that you can go over the limit, which can be bad for your website. While SiteGround makes it easy to see how much is left, you will need to keep an eye on this.
- If the website goes over the data limit, then it might be frozen until the next month. This can be a big problem, so be ready to upgrade your plan or speak with SiteGround if your website is approaching the limit.
A2 Hosting (Grade: C+)
- While some of the claims about their TURBO service are dubious, A2 Hosting does indeed offer fast hosting.
- Benchmark tests show that A2 does deliver on the promise of fast hosting. While it’s typically not the fastest host, it will often land in the top five. This is good for anyone who wants to have the page load as quickly as possible.
- Has several optimized services that improve speed and cache rates.
- Has services to help websites load if the server is offline. While full functionality cannot be promised, this at least gives customers something to look at if the website goes down.
- A2 Hosting allows you to pre-install WordPress on any domain, which is great for beginners. Installing a script is usually easy enough, but this makes things even easier.
- You can choose either a standard installation or “A2 Optimized” WordPress installation. The optimized version automatically puts a few add-ons into your installation.
- These addons add CAPTCHA support and some extra cache features, which can speed up your website. While these add
- ons are available to anyone, this is a free feature that gives you some essential tools for your website.
Script Installer and cPanel:
- There is a standard loadout of cPanel, which is good because most modified versions of cPanel are difficult to use, especially due to reduced documentation.
- A2 Hosting uses Softaculous script installer, one of the preferred script installers with cPanel.
- Aside from popular CMSs like WordPress and Drupal, there are hundreds of other available scripts for you to install.
More Info on Resources:
- While still vague on some areas (covered later), A2 Hosting does provide more information about their servers and what resources are available based on your plan.
- For example, the entry-level plan offers servers with 500MB of RAM, while the middle one has 1GB and the largest one offers 2GB of RAM.
- They also tell you about how many CPU cores you get depending on the plan. The initial plan only gives you one core at 2.1GHz, but the other plans give you two cores at 2.1GHz.
- All other resources are listed as “unlimited,” which always sounds great, but is vague and often means fewer resources than hosts that outright tell you about bandwidth and disk space.
Extra Charges and Upsells:
- All of the hosting plans literally double in price after the initial period. This isn’t entirely uncommon, but a 2X increase is fairly dramatic.
- There are numerous upsells and extra charges for features that are free at some other hosts. Some of the upsells are small, like less than $1 a month, while others are over $20.
- Some of the upsells include: dedicated IPs (about $2/month), priority support ($19.99), A2 Website Builder ($6
- $16 depending on which one), Turbo Boost ($11/month) and Railgun HTML loading ($2/month). This is not a comprehensive list, as there are more upsells.
- There are also setup fees for premium accounts and VPS hosts.
- Some of the upsells are free with their strongest account, like Turbo Boost, but only a few are free.
Customer Support Issues:
- While 24/7 customer support is available, as with most hosts, the wait times are often long. They aren’t the worst in terms of wait times, but it might be several hours before you hear anything.
- Some users have reported that during outages, customer support can become unavailable or they do not provide useful advice.
Dubious and Vague Language:
- Like with many shared hosts, most of the resources are listed as “unlimited.” This includes disk space, bandwidth, databases and email addresses. As you may already know, unlimited simply means you don’t have a hard limit, but you aren’t told exactly how much resources you have.
- A2 Hosting has a feature called Turbo Boost that is free on their strongest plan and available as an upsell with other plans. Accordingly, this boosts your speed by 20X, but it’s hard to verify this claim. They say it’s from the extra cache and putting you on less crowded servers, but there’s no evidence showing that it’s really this much faster. Loading speeds do improve, but most benchmarks don’t show this dramatic a change.
- You will also see A LOT of marketing terms that either make them sound much better than they are or describe features that make no sense. A few of these are: Perpetual Security, A2 Optimized, Memcache, Railgun Optimizer and much more. Very few hosts use this type of excessive marketing.
- Most customers will buy their domain from a domain name service (DNS) and then point it towards the host. This is very common for most users because they can often get the domain cheaper from another service.
- Many users have noted that the instructions provided by A2 Hosting aren’t comprehensive and are quite confusing.
- For example, in the email, you’ll be told that DNS pointing instructions are found at their website, but then the website will say that instructions are in your email, so it sends you in circles.
- They allow you to install scripts either from Softaculous or their proprietary “A2 Customized Installers.” The latter is pushed hard by the control panel, but it’s a little difficult to use and can be confusing.
A2 Hosting is a pretty good host in some regards. They do have fast hosting, and there are a good number of available features. However, you’ll quickly get tired of their trumped up language, huge promises, and numerous problems.
SiteGround is the winner of these two. Not only do they have some of the best customer support in the hosting industry, but they are also very fast, have even more features, are much more straightforward in their approach and are wonderful to their clients. So, if you want the best hosting around, consider checking out SiteGround and see just how great they are.