On the surface, it looks like a contest between a big burly man with great muscles, and a quick, skillful fighter. So basically, it’s Thanos Vs Spiderman all over again. HostGator is a popular Web-host with a lot of plans, and a lot of domains— over eight million of them. So you could say that HostGator packs a lot of muscle. A2 Hosting, on the other hand, could only dream of HostGator’s numbers. However, A2 hosting is known for incredible speed— making it into the top three of most “fastest” reviews online. However, asides speed and customer strength, let’s look at how both Web-hosts stack up on other parts of hosting.
HostGator was found way back in 2002, so it’s pretty old, although there are far older Web-hosts. The headquarters of the company is at Houston and their data-centers are located at Provo, Utah. In the first ten years of providing hosting service, HostGator built up a name and was known for its reliable service. The company was consequently acquired by EIG (Endurance International Group), the conglomerate that owns basically half of the Web-hosts on the internet. While some say that this has reduced the quality of hosting that HostGator provides, we say that we have to check it out first to form an opinion, so that’s what we’ll do.
A2 hosting has started operations since 2001, so they are pretty old. Unlike HostGator, though, it has kept a relatively low profile. Like we said earlier, recently A2 hosting has invested in new technology and has now carved a niche for itself. With great customer care and developer-friendly plans, speed isn’t the only thing that A2 hosting is good at. Regardless, though, does A2 hosting measure up to the giant HostGator?
Very few hosting providers are popular than HostGator— that’s how well known the Web-host is. And even though A2 hosting started in 2001, it still isn’t quite as popular as HostGator.
But does popularity matter, in the real sense? Personally, we’d prefer to make use of a small company that provides reliable and quick service, instead of the more popular ones that tend to have subpar customer support.
But you might want to go with the crowd. We just wouldn’t recommend it.
This is the crux of any hosting comparison and is one of the things to look out for in a prospective Web-host. You want to know how well their servers perform and how reliable they are. We are going to be measuring the speed and uptime of both Web-hosts to see exactly how they deliver.
A few milliseconds might make no difference to you, but those milliseconds add up and add your website’s SEO visibility. Slower websites don’t rank high on google searches, and it is obvious how low SEO could impact sales and conversion rates. So it is very important to make use of a fast Web-host— your bottom line at the end of the year might just depend on it.
We set to work by purchasing a basic HostGator plan. We tested response speeds consecutively and reached an average TTFB (Time To the first Byte) of 765ms. It’s lower than a second, quite alright, but is lower than almost half of the Web-hosts we’ve reviewed. In fact, an average response time of 765ms is probably next to average in our books. Full load speed was even slower, with our site often taking more than a second to reach full strength. Basically, if speed is your thing (and it should be), HostGator isn’t the best for you. However, HostGator has a far faster hosting option in HostGator cloud (a different plan from their shared hosting packages). The average speed for the cloud service was 432ms and we were really impressed. Load speed was really low too.
We also bought a basic A2 hosting plan and went to work testing it. A2 shared hosting plans generally get faster higher up, but since we bought the cheapest plan that we could find, we weren’t really sure that we would get to see the amazing speed that A2 hosting is known for. We were very wrong. Our dummy website delivered an average response time of 331ms. This isn’t only fast but it is super fast. A2 says that their turbo plans provide 20× better speed, but we think that that is quite impossible— we can’t imagine speeds 20× faster than the speed we got on our basic plan. The average load speed we measured was even more impressive, at 391ms. The word instantaneous comes to mind.
VERDICT; Even putting HostGator cloud service into consideration, HostGator doesn’t quite seem to catch up. A2 is really fast, and that’s that about that.
The best speed is nothing without great uptime, just as the way acceleration is as important as direction.
We already had our dummy website set up, so we went to work with Pingdom and looked at uptime statistics. We recorded 99.99% uptime with HostGator, which was fair and the highest percentage any Web-host can guarantee. That isn’t all, though. We also like to look at whether a Web-host has an uptime guarantee or not. An uptime guarantee means that customers are entitled to some level of compensation if uptime gets worse than a certain level. This helps to hold Web-hosts to their word and allows customers to be compensated for subpar service. HostGator has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This means that if HostGator’s uptime gets lower than 99.9%, customers are entitled to one month of credit. Don’t get your hopes up, though, we think it is very unlikely that such a situation would ever arise— HostGator’s uptime is just too good.
We’d really like to say A2 hosting backs up their great speed with impeccable uptime, but that would be wrong. A2 hosting often has long periods of downtime, with servers down for 4 hours in June 2018. During our testing period, it performed passably well, with an uptime of 99.96%. Even at that, it is still behind the industry-leading hosts such as HostGator or BlueHost. Like HostGator, A2 hosting also has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. There are two conditions where this guarantee doesn’t apply though;
- During scheduled maintenance
- When outages are because of circumstances that A2 hosting cannot control.
Customers are entitled to downtime compensation when downtime experienced is more than 0.1% of an entire month. The compensation gotten is service credit that is equal to 5% of the amount paid for that month. If downtime is higher than 0.1%, customers receive 5% credit for each hour that downtime is further experienced. To receive downtime compensation, your claim must be verified by A2 customer service.
VERDICT; HostGator has better uptime, while A2 hosting has better speed. Just as we expected, no surprise there.
Ease of Use
No one wants to rack their brains trying to figure out the easiest thing about a Web-host. Not beginners, not regular users, and not advanced users. Everyone, presumably, wants a level of ease guaranteed when controlling their website. Let’s see how easy these Web-hosts make managing domain names.
HostGator makes use of cPanel, so its user interface is pretty simple to use. cPanel isn’t only great because it is simple to use, it’s also great because it is the standard interface used by most Web-hosts. This means that new users will not have to get used to a different interface. The interface has direct access to most of the features that customers would need like billing, domain name management, plan details, and tech support. There is access to the Mojo marketplace, one-click installations support and access to Google analytics.
All plans come with free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, so that’s one less upsell that customers have to pay for. Plans also come with $100 worth of ad credits. New websites will find this invaluable. HostGator also has a proprietary website builder called Gator by HostGator (an apt name, perhaps), which is one of the best website builders we’ve reviewed. Gator by HostGator also has eCommerce support so new users don’t have to bother about setting up payment pathways, and all other technical stuff. There are also advanced features for advanced users to PHP, MySQL, and SSH. For users moving over from another Web-host, HostGator offers a single site free transfer service. This makes it easier for users changing Web-hosts to set up their accounts easily, without wedging a hole in their pocket.
Since not all Web-hosts have free site migrations, we were pretty impressed with HostGator. The user experience was sleek and easy, and we rarely had any reason to rack our heads to discover the use of something. We don’t think there are any webmasters who would find using HostGator difficult.
A2’s hosting backend looks, to us, somewhat outdated and could probably take some lessons from HostGator on being intuitive. They make use of cPanel too, and as typical of cPanel, it is really to use. A2 Hosting is very compatible with all content management systems. It has one-click installations so apps like WordPress, Joomla, Magneto, and Drupal can be installed with one click. There are also some special features that come with higher-tier plans like the A2 Optimized WordPress plugin that comes with Turbo plans. A2 hosting has a proprietary website builder called Sitebuilder (we are not entirely sure whether this simplicity is a stroke of genius or whether it shows an alarming lack of imagination). If you’re looking to customize your website yourself without having to know a single HTML tag, then A2 hosting features have got you. However, this service isn’t rendered for free. You have to pay to make use of A2 hosting’s Sitebuilder. A2 hosting plans are also compatible with Cloudflare CDN. So speed will never ever be a problem with A2 hosting.
A2 Hosting is also known for packing, in its plans, developer-friendly tools that offer admin-level access to webmasters. You have access to multiple versions of MySQL, PostgreSQL, Python, and ASP.NET.
A2 hosting also offers free Site migration.
VERDICT; It really comes down to personal experience, and having bought the plans of both Web-hosts, we can say that we have experienced both. HostGator impressed us with a clean interface and intuitive backend. A2’s backend, though, was cluttered and somewhat unappealing. HostGator takes this us for us.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all bought something that we wished we hadn’t. We’ve all that feeling of regret. We’ve all wished that there was something to be done— some way of getting a refund. And above all, we’ve all wished that something like that never happens to us again.
Money-back policies are a lifesaver, and generally, it’s the longer the better. The industry standard for Web-hosts is 30 days, but HostGator does one better— or fifteen ones better, with a 45-day money-back policy. It isn’t much, but it’s honest work. We are usually impressed by anything above average, and a 45-day money-back policy is truly impressive.
What is more impressive that a 45-day money-back policy, though? 50 days? 60 days? Double 45 days and round up at 95 days? 100 days? 200?
A2 hosting has an impressive “anytime” money-back policy. So even if you pay for a three-year plan in advance and after a year get pissed off by the type of performance you’re getting, you can request for a refund and get prorated refunds. That is, you get a refund equal to the remaining term of your plan. As usual, there are non-refundable payments like payments made for “free additional services” like domain names, etc.
VERDICT; A2 hosting blows HostGator straight out of the water with its “anytime money-back” policy. A2 hosting takes this one for us.
Customer support is one of the most important things to look at when considering choosing a Web-host. This is because, no matter how great you are at web hosting, or how bad you are, or how simple your needs may be, the chances of you needing the help of support is very high. When the day comes, as it is more than likely that it will, you won’t want to be advised by people who are even less qualified than you are. You’d want to be able to access support quickly, and more importantly, you’d want to access support that can actually help you.
HostGator offers 24/7 phone, chat and email support. Most people prefer making use of the live chat channel, so we decided to check that out first. On our first few tries, we got connected to a live rep in a relatively short period of time. However, and this did not happen very often, we were sometimes forced to wait for more than twenty minutes before getting a hold of a live rep. It got dicier when we actually got talking to the reps we contacted. Some were quite knowledgeable and answered our questions well, while some had to take their time. For us, it was more like a gamble; you could be lucky to connect to a customer rep who can solve your problem effectively, and you may be unlucky as well. There is really no method to the Russian roulette that is HostGator’s customer support.
A2 hosting offers everything from a phone to a Skype to a live chat to a ticketing platform and they are all available 24/7. There is also a very instructive and easy to understand knowledge base that ensures that users rarely have the need to speak to an actual live rep. There is a search function on the knowledge base that allows you to search for solutions to difficulties easily. A2 hosting calls their customer support the “Gurus crew”, and we were really interested in seeing how efficient this group of gurus would be. To a large extent, we weren’t disappointed. As we did with Hostgator, we tried contacting their live chat platform first and got connected with a live rep in less than five minutes. Unlike with Hostgator, this time was pretty stable. Once we got a hold of the live reps, we asked them questions and they were friendly, and very knowledgeable too. The story was the same on the other channels we tried. In fact, we only see one room for improvement in A2 hosting’s customer support and that is wait-time. Asides that, we don’t have the tiniest criticism. Our experience was almost perfect.
VERDICT; As a rule, we try not to depend too much on customer support. This is because so many Web-hosts do not see customer support as an area to invest in. It was refreshing to see A2 hosting take a different path, though. A2 hosting wins this one.
All Web-hosts take security seriously— presumably. The only difference is if you’re forced to pay for extra security features and whatnot. What of backups? Are they regular and free? In the case of a hack or a virus attack, what measures are in place to help or protect the customer from further attacks? A Web-host with great security, in the end, will save you a lot of money and even if you never get attacked by hackers or viruses, it is comforting that whatever happens, your website is in safe hands. All Web-hosts provide the bare minimum security, but the best go above and beyond. Let’s see how above and beyond these two Web-hosts are willing to go.
HostGator provides free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt on all plans, so that’s one less thing customers have to worry about. There is Codeguard basic too, for extra security, but that only comes free with higher-tier plans. Folks on basic plans have to pay $2 for access to this security feature. It comes with 1GB daily backups for a maximum of five websites. The feature also acts like a malware scanner. HostGator also allows customers to add Sitelock monitoring to their sites. This service works by looking for potential breaches and reporting on then so that they can be fixed quickly. They also offer the services of the Spam assassin feature on email plans to allow users to secure their emails from spams and suspicious-looking emails. HostGator is secure from DDoS attacks via UDP flood. There’s also an extensive firewall put in place to secure their servers from various kinds of attacks. So, in the case of heavy flooding, HostGator’s servers are protected. On HostGator’s website, they say they use additional “confidential methods” to protect their servers. Whether that is just a marketing tactic, we wouldn’t know. But seeing that, in recent times, HostGator hasn’t experienced massive security breaches, they must be doing something right.
A2 hosting has HackScan, a virus scanning service that scans for viruses 24 hours a day. There also have scalable data centers, which means that your servers are protected in case of DDoS attacks. Free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt are also provided on basic plans so that’s one extra layer of protection that users don’t have to pay for. A2 Hosting customers also receive free KernelCare, a feature that automatically runs rebootless Kernel updates daily. There’s also an optimized plug-in for WordPress that auto-hardens websites and prevents hacks. The plug-in comes with a unique WordPress login URL, reCAPTCHA and automatic WordPress updates. Other aspects of A2 hosting’s security include a firewall, brute-defense force, and virus scanning. A2 hosting also provides automatic backups, and you can also backup your data offsite with the addition of a plug-in to your site. This service, though, isn’t free.
VERDICT; A2 hosting provides free automatic backups, and that is really all we need to know. They win this one for us.
We don’t know about you, but whenever we want to buy something, the first questions (or one of the first questions we ask, at any rate) is whether we can afford it. Or whether it is worth the $ signs we are forking out for it. And most times, if the answer to those kinda questions is negative, we end up not purchasing that product.
It doesn’t change with Web-hosting plans. You don’t just want to overpay for a service that isn’t worth it. You want to pay exactly the price that the value offered is worth— and more importantly, perhaps, you don’t want to pay more for a service that another provider is offering for less. So let’s see which Web-host gives the most value for the lowest price
To make it easier to compare, we’re going to be looking at only the shared hosting plans that they have to offer.
HostGator, like most Web-hosts, has three shared hosting plans. These are the Hatchling Plan, the Baby Plan, and the Business plan. The Hatchling plan comes with the following features
- A single domain,
- One-click installations,
- Unlimited disk space,
- Unlimited email accounts,
- Unmetered bandwidth and subdomains,
- A free SSL certificate
The plan costs $2.75 per month (with a 60% discount) However, this price is only available if you’re paying three years in advance. If you’re paying for lower than three years, you have to pay the regular price which is $10.95. After the first three years, you can renew the plan at $6.95 per month. This means that you’re looking at a honeymoon period of three years. After that, you’re on your own. You should perhaps consider whether or not you can afford the renewal fee before purchasing a plan, if not you’ll be forced to pay through your nose or move to another Web-host after three years.
The second plan is the Baby plan and it comes with the following features
- Unlimited domains, a free domain
- All the features of the Hatchling plan.
It costs a discount fee of $3.95 per month. However, the same conditions as with the Hatchling plan applies. The real monthly fee is $11.95 and renewals cost $9.95, as well.
The next is the Business plan and it comes with all the features of the Baby plan plus a free dedicated IP and free SEO tools. The plan costs $5.95 per month, but renewal costs $14.95 per month. If you plan on paying per month, you best be ready to fork out $16.95 per month.
Apart from their shared hosting plans, which doesn’t really perform that amazingly, HostGator has another branch of plans called HostGator cloud hosting. We’ve gone through tonnes of review and checked out the plan ourselves, and there’s one thing that’s certain; the cloud hosting plans are way better than the shared hosting plans. The plans have the same names as the shared hosting plans but are more expensive and according to HostGator, come with times four the resources and are twice as fast as the shared hosting plans.
The Hatchling plan comes with;
- a single domain
- 2GB memory
- 2 core CPU
- free SSL certificate
- and free domain
The plan costs $4.95 per month (renews at $8.95 per month).
The Baby plan comes with the following features
- Unlimited domains
- 4 GB memory
- 4 core CPU
- free SSL certificate
- free domain
The plan costs $6.57 per month and renews at $11.95 per month
The last plan, which is the Business plan comes with the following features
- Unlimited domains
- 6 GB memory
- 6 core CPU
- Free SSL certificate
- Free upgrade to positive SSL
- Free Dedicated IP
- Free SEO Tools
- Free Domain included
The plan costs $9.95 per month and renews at $17.95.
Generally, the cloud hosting plans have exactly the same problem as the shared hosting plans. The initial fees are cheap enough, but renewal fees are oftentimes two of the initial fees. While this is a common problem with Web-hosting plans, we won’t cease to list it as a con. This is because we’ve reviewed Web-hosts that do not need to pull this “marketing tactic”.
A2 hosting has three levels of shared hosting plans. They are the Lite, Swift, And Turbo plans. The Lite plan is the cheapest plan and costs $2.96 (renewal costs $7.99). The plan comes with the following features;
- 1 website
- Unlimited storage
- 25 Email accounts
- Free and Easy site migration
- Free SSL certificate
The second plan, which is the lite plan, costs $3.70 monthly (renewal costs $9.99). The plan comes with the following features;
- Unlimited websites
- Unlimited Email accounts
- Free and automatic backups
- And all the features of the Lite plan.
The highest shared hosting plan is the Turbo plan and it costs $7.03 monthly and $18.99 upon renewal. The plan comes with the following features;
- Turbo speed (up to 20× faster than regular servers)
- all the features of Lite and Swift plans.
The same complaints we had about HostGator is visible here as well. We have a piece of advice though; bloggers/small business owners who cannot afford the renewal fees should stay far away.
VERDICT; Comparing prices is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of writing articles like this. On a whole, though, we believe that A2 hosting had a better deal for us. However, if you want superior performance and are willing to pay a little bit more, you should probably opt for the HostGator Cloud hosting plan.
All Web-hosts (or most— some are utterly ordinary) have that extra feature that makes them stand out. Let us see if these Web-hosts have any interesting extra features.
For HostGator, we could find the following;
- Better performance with Opteron 6000 series CPU combined with DDR3 ECC RAM
- Support of multiple languages including Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, and Perl.
- Access to Google analytics and Mojo marketplace
- HostGator has only one database— MySQL
- Unlimited FTP and email accounts.
- $100 in free advertising credits
For A2 hosting, we could find the following;
- A2 Hosting is very interested in maintaining a sustainable environment. In fact, their headquarters in Michigan is Ann Arbor, a place reputed to have 50,000 trees and 150 parks. A2 hosting has also partnered with Carbonfund.org to battle global warming and help develop renewable energy and support reforestation. They also run a program called “future serve” that helps to offset emissions from their servers.
- A2 hosting has Windows-based servers
- All shared hosting plans are limited to 35 concurrent HTTP plans— we aren’t sure if this will be enough for everyone
- Built-in server-side caching.
- A2 hosting has great developer options; with users having access to Apache 2.4 FTP/SFTP access to your server environment, PERL 5.10 Node.js, MySQL 5.6 databases, PHP (5.x and 7.x) Python (2.6, 2.7, and 3.2), PostgreSQL 9.6, and Free SSH access.
- A2 hosting offers free Cloudflare CDN on all plans
- A2 hosting has multiple data centers around the world
VERDICT; A2 hosting’s crop of extra features are definitely more impressive than HostGator’s. They win this one for us.
Just to recap, let’s go over the major differences between HostGator and A2 hosting.
- A2 Hosting is faster than HostGator— although, HostGator’s cloud hosting option has similar speeds to A2 hosting
- A2 hosting has better customer support
- A2 hosting has a better money-back guarantee period
- A2 hosting has “green” hosting initiative, HostGator doesn’t
- Hostgator has a more reliable uptime than A2 hosting
A2 Hosting vs. HostGator – Our Pick
It’s been as tough a matchup as any, with both sides being simultaneously amazing and ordinary with regards to performance. However, A2 hosting took a comfortable lead in customer support, money-back guarantees, and security. Unfortunately for HostGator, being easy to use isn’t the only requirement of a Web-host, so they lose this duel for us. However, we think it was so dicey that it could really have gone either way.
So, HostGator Vs A2 hosting? The gator isn’t fast enough.