SiteGround and A2 Hosting are two services featured heavily in our best web hosting guide. As two independent titans of the web hosting industry — each fit with reasonable pricing and a long list of features — it’s hard to make a bad choice when deciding between the two. However, as we saw in our SiteGround vs. InMotion comparison, there are still differences even when the two services are excellent.
In this A2 Hosting vs. SiteGround matchup, we’re going to explore those differences. While equally matched on most counts, things like A2 Hosting’s expanded lineup of plans or SiteGround’s affinity for WordPress may make a difference to you.
We recommend reading our individual A2 Hosting review and SiteGround review in addition to this guide, though. As we saw in our SiteGround vs. Dreamhost matchup, contrasting services one-on-one can occasionally reveal differences not immediately seen when comparing them with the rest of the market.
Setting Up a Fight: A2 Hosting vs. SiteGround
Our comparisons follow the experiences we had when reviewing each individual service. Because of that, we will borrow the criteria from our web hosting reviews so we can systematically find where one service excels or falls flat.
We usually review services in eight sections, which isn’t fair for comparisons because not all of those criteria hold equal weight. For that reason, we’ve combined some sections so we’re left with only five: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and security. Each round is worth a point, and the provider that has the most points at the end will be our winner.
The round will start with us setting the expectations for each service. In round one, for example, we’re looking for built-in caching and daily backups, while in round three, we’re looking for an enclosed checkout process. Next, we’ll talk about how well each service lived up to our expectations, then give some thoughts about how they compare. At the end, we’ll declare a winner and award a point.
As a disclaimer — one that we put in all of our comparisons — we recommend reading through each section rather than just scanning which service won. That’s especially important in a close matchup like this, as we’ll declare a winner based on what we believe is relevant for most people. However, as mentioned in the intro, it’s hard to make a bad choice between the two.
Web hosting is all about features. Instead of segmenting this round to simply talk about the ad credits of iPage (read our iPage review) or the environmentally friendly approach of GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review), we found three areas where features are important.
A good web host will provide features that help you build, optimize and secure your site. Anything that falls under those three categories is essential, and anything outside of them is just a cherry on top. If a web host covers those three areas, we’re content.
A2 Hosting has so many features that it can be overwhelming. That said, the essentials are still present. That includes a data recovery program, website staging, multiple security features and unlimited solid-state storage — which, as you can read in our best external hard drives guide, makes a huge difference.
Additionally, you have access to a website builder that limits you to a single-page design. Strikingly offers a similar limitation on free plans (read our Strikingly review). Furthermore, you’re limited to only 100MB of storage. If you’re looking to use a website builder, it’s best to stick with our best website builder, Wix (read our Wix review).
While stuffed to the brim with features, A2 Hosting’s most unique offering is its “turbo” servers. It claims up to 20 times faster speed, with fewer users per server and more resources per user. While a 20-times performance increase might be a little far-fetched, the turbo servers aren’t anything to stick your nose up at.
They use an Apache alternative server software, known as LiteSpeed, which we’ve seen used to great effect with Hostinger and Hosting24 (read our Hostinger review and Hosting24 review). LiteSpeed servers have less network overhead than normal Apache servers, meaning users can get more out of the available resources. Furthermore, A2 Hosting gives you access to the LiteSpeed cache, which will drastically decrease load times.
SiteGround has equally as many features as A2 Hosting, minus the option to use LiteSpeed servers. Across its plans, you have access to daily backups, a free SSL/TLS certificate, simple Cloudflare integration and more. What stands out most, though, is SiteGround’s website builder.
Unlike A2 Hosting, SiteGround doesn’t offer its own builder. Rather, you have access to Weebly, one of the best website builders we’ve reviewed. Weebly is miles above any host-developed website builder, including what A2 offers and GoDaddy GoCentral (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review).
As you can read in our Weebly review, it has a no-nonsense approach to building a website that’s rife with features.
SiteGround’s uniqueness comes through with its WordPress plans. Although we’re used to seeing features, like staging, in more costly managed WordPress hosts (read our Kinsta review for an example), SiteGround charges the same amount for its WordPress plans as it does for the normal shared ones.
Furthermore, you have access to SuperCacher, which performs the same function as the LiteSpeed cache at A2 Hosting, but on normal Apache servers. As we’ll see in round four, that makes the services perform very similarly when it comes to speed, but SiteGround is able to do so at a far lower price point.
Round One Thoughts
A2 Hosting has more features than SiteGround — all of them useful. However, those features aren’t nearly as important as SiteGround’s included website builder. Both are excellent in this round, but for our money, SiteGround is the winner.
Pricing is usually an issue for web hosting services (read our Arvixe review for an example). Thankfully, it’s not too much of a problem here. Even so, we’re going to talk about the price of A2 Hosting and SiteGround in this round, as well as how clearly they communicate that price throughout the checkout process.
While A2 Hosting isn’t quite as clear as DreamHost or 1&1 IONOS when it comes to pricing (read our DreamHost review and 1&1 IONOS review), it’s close. Each product page shows the available hosting tiers, as well as the price, should you purchase the longest term.
Below that is a table that shows not only the price you’ll pay for each duration, but also the price you’ll pay upon renewal. The multi-year discounts and tiered structure of most web hosts can be confusing (read our MDDHosting review for the exception), but A2 Hosting makes it simple to digest what its rates actually are.
The rate isn’t bad, either, especially with the initial discount. That said, it’s clear A2 Hosting is charging a premium for its LiteSpeed servers. Compared to Hostinger and Hosting24, which charge no more than a standard shared plan for LiteSpeed servers, the rate is too high (read our Hostinger review and Hosting24 review).
A2 Hosting makes up for that downside by offering an excellent refund policy. If you don’t like the service, you can get your money back, anytime. For the first 30 days, you’ll receive your entire payment back. After that, you can get a prorated refund based on the duration you purchased and its remaining time.
SiteGround, like A2 Hosting, is clear about its pricing. Most of what we see with, say, Bluehost is present, meaning it offers multi-year plans, and you get a discount for your initial term (read our Bluehost review). However, unlike Bluehost, it also offers a monthly plan, and the price doesn’t change based on the duration you purchase.
You can purchase a month, or between one and three years, for the same introductory and renewal rate. The only difference is a $14.95 setup fee applied to monthly plans. While annoying, we’d take a $15 setup fee any day over being forced to purchase multiple years.
The price is impressive, too. While SiteGround doesn’t get as cheap as Namecheap (read our Namecheap review), it’s in-line with the rest of the market. Furthermore, the WordPress plans are the same price as the standard shared plans, while coming with features like staging and SuperCacher.
Up the range, though, the price starts to lose its luster. VPS and dedicated plans are fairly expensive, likely compensating for the inexpensive shared options. The money-back guarantee isn’t great, either. SiteGround only offers 30 days on shared plans, 15 days on cloud, and nothing on dedicated. If you want a larger safety net, be sure to read our InMotion Hosting review.
Round Two Thoughts
This round is interesting, as there’s no clear winner. A2 Hosting is more expensive than SiteGround, but offers a clear pricing structure with a more generous money-back guarantee. SiteGround, on the other hand, is cheaper — but only on the shared end of things — and comes with a worse money-back guarantee, to boot.
The winner for you depends on what type of hosting you need and what you’re willing to pay. Given how inexpensive the shared plans are with SiteGround, though, we’re going to give it the win.
Ease of Use
There’s a lot that goes into web hosting, from choosing a plan to checking out to setting up your site. Making that process seamless is somewhat of an art — something that’s expertly shown off by Dreamhost and A Small Orange (read our A Small Orange review). In this section, we’re going to evaluate how quickly A2 Hosting and SiteGround get you through the process.
If you could describe A2 Hosting’s website in a single word, it would be “dense.” There’s a massive lineup of plans, each with subtypes, with information about those plans spanning every corner. However, unlike GoDaddy, A2 Hosting makes everything digestible (read our GoDaddy review).
Checkout is similarly complex, but unlike HostGator, A2 Hosting doesn’t have preselected add-ons (read our HostGator review). You can leave everything as is, minus the “auto-install application” and “server location” tab. The former will allow you to automatically install, say, WordPress, while the latter allows you to choose the server on which your site will be hosted.
After that, you’ll land in the client area. A2 Hosting makes the massive amount of information in the client area easy to understand. You can quickly view your services, invoices, support tickets and more, all through a streamlined interface. There’s also a tab that’ll take you directly to cPanel, which we like to see.
cPanel is good, although not made of the stuff worthy of our best web hosting with cPanel guide. It’s a mostly stock build, which isn’t a bad thing, but not as impressive as the cPanel at JustHost (read our JustHost review). That said, A2 Hosting allows you to do everything in cPanel that you can do in the client area, which is convenient.
SiteGround has far fewer plans than A2 Hosting, which makes navigating the site a breeze. There are minimal tiers within each hosting type, as well as a short comparison between the tiers. Rather than using technical aspects to compare, SiteGround simply lists the differences in storage space and approximate number of visitors a site can handle.
If you understand or care to look at the technical differences, SiteGround has a detailed comparison chart so you can indulge the left side of your brain. Checking out is similarly easy, with SiteGround simply asking you to enter your billing information and set your login credentials.
Things turn down after that. SiteGround isn’t broken, but it is out of date. The client area is squished to the screen’s center, sporting an overall archaic aesthetic. While the main navigation works fine, finding some functions in the client area proves to be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Accessing cPanel, for instance, requires you to find a link buried within multiple other options.
cPanel is just as dated. Although it uses the icon-based layout of modern implementations, those icons and the text that surrounds them look like they are from the previous decade. That doesn’t make it difficult to use, but it certainly makes it less attractive.
Round Three Thoughts
SiteGround is as usable as any other host, but — as we’ve said in other comparisons and in our review — a facelift goes a long way in making a control panel more exciting. While A2 Hosting is less streamlined when it comes to choosing a plan, the process isn’t too painful — and with the excellent control panel, finding a plan is worth it. That’s enough for A2 Hosting to get on the board in this round.
Speed and Uptime
Round four is the easiest to evaluate because it’s purely based on the numbers we’ve gathered. Our speed testing process consists of purchasing a subscription with the lowest tier of shared hosting, installing WordPress with the default template and no content, and running it through two benchmarks: Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact.
In this round, we’ll compare the results we gathered for A2 Hosting and SiteGround, as well as compare their uptime guarantees.
A2 Hosting is one of the fastest services we’ve tested, with the exception of Pagely, which, at the right price, will make your site one of the fastest on the web (read our Pagely review). Pingdom gave A2 Hosting 96 out of 100, which is exceptional. In total, the site took less than 300 milliseconds to load, 82 of which were dedicated to DNS resolution.
As you can see in the chart above, very little time was spent on the “wait” metric (noted in yellow), which shows A2 Hosting’s “turbo” functionality in action. Between the LiteSpeed servers’ decreased overhead and the cache that goes along with it, A2 Hosting makes your site load as fast as possible.
Pingdom tests a single point, though. To see how the site would perform under load, we turned to Load Impact, which sent 50 virtual users to the server within five minutes. A2 Hosting is one of the best performers we’ve had in this test. Every user loaded within 10 milliseconds of each other, making for a fast and consistent response time.
A2 Hosting falls flat when it comes to its uptime guarantee, though. Their 99.9-percent guarantee says for each hour your site is down below the 99.9 percent uptime for the entire month, you’ll receive a credit of five percent of your monthly fee. However, that credit can only reach one–month’s-worth of fees.
SiteGround performed as well as A2 Hosting in our Pingdom test, despite the fact that it took nearly three seconds for our site to load — more on that in a minute. Even so, Pingdom rated the site 96 out of 100, likely due to SuperCacher. That’s one of the reasons SiteGround made our best web hosting for WordPress guide.
The load time was long, but most of that was dedicated to DNS resolution, which isn’t SiteGround’s fault. Because of that, our site still clocked in with an excellent score. You can see that the wait time was around 200 milliseconds, which is three to four times less than what we’d expect for inexpensive shared hosting.
Our Load Impact test was the same: 50 users within five minutes. SiteGround performed well, though not as well as A2 Hosting. There was a large spike in the beginning and more inconsistency throughout the test. Compared to other hosts, though, SiteGround’s Load Impact performance is excellent.
SiteGround’s quality uptime guarantee makes up for any inconsistency. Like A2 Hosting, SiteGround guarantees 99.9-percent uptime, but the compensation is more generous. You’ll receive a free month of hosting if your site dips below 99.9-percent uptime. Additionally, for each full percentage point below 99 percent, you’ll receive an additional month.
Round Four Thoughts
We said in the beginning of this round that it’s the easiest one to evaluate, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case here. A2 Hosting and SiteGround are equally matched when it comes to speed. Because of that, we’re going to bring in some additional factors to declare a winner.
SiteGround provides similar performance to A2 Hosting, but it does so for less money. Additionally, it has a more generous uptime guarantee, which is enough to give it the win this round.
Security and Privacy
Lastly, we’re going to compare A2 Hosting and SiteGround in security and privacy. Although privacy is not normally a topic for our web hosting reviews, it is very important because hosting monoliths, like Endurance International Group, mine data for profit. In this section, we’re going to look at how well A2 Hosting and SiteGround protect your site and your data.
A2 Hosting protects your site through its Perpetual Security initiative. Across every hosting plan, A2 Hosting includes a package of website security features designed to protect you from present and future threats. That starts with KernelCare, which updates the kernel each day without any downtime.
Additionally, you have access to HackScan, which scans and defends your site from malware. That said, HackScan only notifies you of a threat on your site. If you become infected with malware, A2 Hosting provides an extensive guide on finding and removing it from your site.
A2 Hosting doesn’t include domain privacy, either. At less than $10 per year, A2 Hosting doesn’t charge as much as, say, HostGator for domain privacy, but it would’ve been nice to see it included for free. If that’s what you’re after, be sure to read our Midphase review and WestHost review.
SiteGround is much more direct about privacy. Like A2 Hosting, they can share your personal information with law enforcement agencies and third-party vendors, but not for the sake of profit. This information sharing is likely to provide additional services, such as using Google Maps, on your website.
As for security, SiteGround isn’t as impressive as A2 Hosting, but it’s still very good. On shared servers, the accounts are isolated in separate directories, meaning that if one site is infected, the rest will remain unphased. Additionally, your account is protected with a web application firewall, daily backups, AI-driven anti-bot system and DDoS protection.
What SitGround is missing when compared to A2 Hosting is a malware scanning tool. SiteGround offers SG Site Scanner, but it’ll run you $20 per year. That said, unlike HackScan, SG Site Scanner will check your domain daily against blacklists.
Round Five Thoughts
SiteGround came out with four wins, making it the champion of this comparison. For features, pricing, speed and security, SiteGround is one of the best web hosts around. It has some of the best customer service, too, which is something we didn’t touch on.
That said, SiteGround just barely won the four rounds it claimed. A2 Hosting is equally as impressive, and you could make a solid argument for it in any of the rounds it lost. If you check our web hosting archive, you’ll see it’s featured just as often as SiteGround, and for good reason.
Do you agree that SiteGround is the rightful winner? Are there any rounds you’d give to A2 Hosting instead? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.
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