Summary: If you’re in hurry or would simply want a quick answer to the A2 vs SiteGround debate, we found both SiteGround and A2 to be awesome.
As a matter of fact, after much testing and reviews, we discovered that both hosts rank exactly the same – in the long run.
However, because A2 is better than SiteGround speed wise and the company’s plans are well cheaper than SiteGround, it is A2 that we recommend.
Or, if you want to take a peek at SiteGround’s offer, do it here.
If, on the other hand, you want the long version of this brief summary and importantly, would appreciate how this conclusion was reached, kindly continue below.
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This comparison, we’re already dead certain, is going to be a tough one.
The reason is quite simple: these two hosting companies are super awesome giants who have been in the business of providing immense hosting value to website owners for sometime now.
However, despite the fact that these giants are great are what they do, a challenge always exist when it comes to the reality of comparing them side by site.
If, for instance, you’re faced with the choice of choosing either of the two options, which will it be?
What option will you opt for given all the facts about the two hosting companies (available to the public)?
Since beating around the bush isn’t an option, let’s get right to business straight on.
A Brief Overview Of A2 Hosting
Originally called Iniquinet, A2 Hosting as we know it today started out in August 2001 with this super strange name and the capacity to serve but a few clients.
However, expansion soon hit the company (then, a modest two room affair) and its founder and CEO, Bryan Muthig quickly saw the need for re-branding, which amongst other things included a change of name to A2, a tribute to the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
From then to the present day, the company expanded and brought up novel solutions, many of which became the industry standard and an benchmark of quality and speed in the hosting world.
Noticeable amongst these advancement include the deployment of SDD Hosting in January 2013 followed closely by Turbo Servers – all of which improve website speed and security in a manner that was hitherto thought impossible or at best, quite futuristic.
A Brief Overview Of SiteGround
Founded in 2004 by some university friends, SiteGround as a hosting company needs no introduction in the hosting world – thanks to its popularity and the fact that it currently hosts well over 1,700,000 domains.
That’s a lot of domains, if you ask us 🙂
The company currently employs well over 400 persons at the moment and has data centers across the world including the US, Europe and Asia.
This smart move ensures that wherever your visitors come from, they are served from the center that is nearest to them.
This latency address sees to it that wait times are minimized and speed, maximized – with all brilliance.
Without much ado, let’s get into the business of the comparison proper – and kick some ass in the process.
Which shall we be kicking first?
Recommended Reading: Top 5 SiteGround Alternatives Ranked
SiteGround Vs A2: Support
Support is the most crucial consideration when thinking of a hosting service provider.
The reason is simple and pretty straightforward: no matter how pretty well thought out your site is; no matter your experience in the web hosting world, you are bound to sooner or later, need help with your site that only the professionals can satisfactorily provide.
It becomes worse when you are only an amateur with no experience: bad support or even slow support can mean long downtimes that would ultimately translate to horrible user experience in addition to horrible rankings.
Overall, whether you are a pro or an amateur (or anything in-between), you should never compromise on this.
In terms of support, SiteGround offers support by Phone, Ticket & Instant Chat.
This ensures that your issue is sorted out as quickly as time actually permits. Usually, the chat option is instant, the phone is, in our test experience, almost instant and the reply to the first ticket offered within the first 5-10 minutes.
Usually, the ticket is updated just as the reply on your end comes, using the same first 5-10 minutes window bracket.
Overall thus, support is something that SiteGround takes very seriously.
It is also something that the company does not play with.
A2 Hosting on the other hand is also equally dead serious with support – seeing that it is the lifeline of their business.
Accordingly thus, the company also offers support via the three most popular support channels available today: chat, ticket and phone.
The implication of this is simple and straightforward: if you ever need hosting support, you have the luxury of choosing between the 3 options, depending on whichever serves you best at the moment.
During review of the these support options by A2, we found them to be quick and responsive to queries, especially the direct phone option.
Rating/Winner On Support: Tie.
Comparing A2 And SiteGround Price Wise
Right next after considering the support options a hosting company provides, it is logically sound to take a look at the price points of the services provided.
This is because, the very best web hosting service available under the sun may be prohibitively expensive to the point that it won’t make sense opting for such a service, especially when one is only starting out or if one is under a (tight) budget.
However, in considering price, it is important to also understand that price alone usually does not do the magic: it must be good price, coupled with an offer that is sensible and capable of serving your hosting needs in a smart manner.
Delving into this comparison on price indicates that SiteGround’s lightest and smallest hosting plan, the Startup Plan retails for $3.95 a month.
This plan, though affordable, is slightly more expensive than A2’s competing similar package – the Lite which starts at slightly less a month: $3.92.
A further look in the pricing of the mid-point shared hosting plan for SiteGround also indicates that it is also more expensive when compared to A2’s Swift offer of $4.90 vs SiteGround’s price of $5.95 for the GrowBig plan.
Higher up the apex for shared hosting sits SiteGround’s GoGeek at $11.95 a month!
This plan equates to the extra-ordinarily fast apex shared hosting plan for A2 – the Turbo plan which retails for only $9.31/month.
As the figures here clearly show, SiteGround is pretty more expensive and their plans pricier than what A2 offers.
This is certainly not a tie as there is a very clear winner here: A2!
Rating/Winner On Pricing: A2.
A2 Vs SiteGround: Comparing Data Centers Offers
The concept of available data centers in the world of hosting is something that many website owners actively ignore.
They imagine that it is simply one of the unnecessary addons a hosting company brings on in order to charge more – end of story.
This is not true, if you truly understand the concept of data centers and how it improves website speed for site users and overall, decreases latency.
This is how it works in the real world: a request by a visitor to your site on a page will have the page load faster for him or her if the files that make up your site are served from a location close to him/her.
This means that, all other things being equal, a site that is benefiting from an Asian data center will load faster for users in Asia than a similar site deploying a data center physically located in Europe or the US.
Now, when deciding on hosting, it is your responsibility to ensure that the hosting company you finally decide on has data centers (or at least, a center) in the continent (or country) where the majority of your visitors come from (or are expected to come from).
For A2, the company has data centers in the following, reflecting 4 cities and 3 continents:
- Michigan: USA.
- Arizona: USA.
- Amsterdam: Europe.
- Singapore: Asia.
SiteGround on the other hand has data center in the following cities, cutting across 3 continents and reflecting 4 cities:
- Chicago: USA
- London: Europe.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands: Europe.
- Singapore: Asia.
As can be seen above, both hosting companies have data centers in 4 major cities across the world, spanning 3 continents.
However, on closer look, it can also be clearly seen SiteGround is pro Europe, having favored 2 major cities in Europe while A2 is pro United States, also having 2 data centers in the US.
The wrap up? Tie.
However, if your audience is predominately European, you should lean to SiteGround, if the issue of data centers is very important to you.
On the other hand, if your audience is primarily American (and the issue of data centers is very important to you), then, you should naturally lean towards A2.
Rating/Winner On Data Centers: Tie.
Comparing SiteGround With A2 Speed Wise
Speed, in the modern world is everything.
Online, it is even more so.
If your website delays for a second (more than it should, ordinarily), you may miss a visitor who is not patient enough to wait.
This lost visitor, usually, represents a lost business opportunity or some lost Dollars – depending on what your site is primed to do.
This is why it is very important to have a website that loads not just fast – but devilishly fast.
The good news is that, the speed of a website is determined, primarily, by the hosting company and how efficient (or inefficient) its servers are.
For this purpose, you should be looking at an option that is really good at the speed business.
Now, this is not something that can be deduced from looking at the site directly or taking into account how fast sites hosted on them load.
This is so because, why hosting is the major contributor to speed, there are other things that could also enhance a site’s speed, beyond hosting: light, well coded plugins and a CDN being popular examples.
To get this, we completely ignored the advertisement on the respective hosting sites and used an independent service to ascertain the speed of the various hosting services directly:
SiteGround Tested From An American Data Center
SiteGround Tested From An European Data Center
As can be seen, sites hosted by SiteGround load approximately about 84ms from continental US, which is adjudged super fast.
However, testing the service using the European data center does not provide inspiring results at all as the second screenshot shows: the hosting service loads in about 146ms – a speed which is only adjudged Fast.
Having seen the best SiteGround offers in terms of speed, let’s now turn our searchlight’s beam directly to A2 and see what it also has to offer, speed wise:
A2 Tested From An American Data Center
A2 Tested From An European Data Center
As can be seen directly from the first screenshot, sites hosted on A2 servers load in approximately 23ms from the company’s American servers.
This sort of speed class is rightly classified as Turbo.
From the second screenshot, it is also clear that A2 servers are also in the Turbo category when tested from Europe.
Sites hosted hosted on the A2’s servers and accessed from its European data center load approximately in 7ms!
Now, that is some serious ‘turbo speed’ – if you permit us to use that coined word.
Aside: It is now evident and crystal clear that A2’s claim that they are 20x faster than the competition is not just some marketing hype – there is, indeed, some (read: serious) truth to it 🙂
Rating/Winner On Speed: A2.
If you want your site to load in mere milliseconds, you should click here to sign up for A2’s TURBO hosting service now.
SiteGround Vs A2 Hosting: Security
Security is also a very important consideration when choosing hosting in 2020.
The reason is simple and quite straightforward: there are a lot of malicious players who are hell bent on ensuring that your website security is compromised.
Now, what better way to stop them than to ensure that you properly secure your site so such players are kept off in the first place?
This is where an awesome hosting service comes to play.
Getting down to the business of comparison, SiteGround does a pretty job at ensuring the security of the sites hosted with them.
As a matter of fact, the company feels so confident in its systems that it does not deem it necessary for any other proactive action to be taken by their clients in the area of website security.
Here are the measures SiteGround has in place:
- All its servers, are by default, set to PHP 7 (which can be updated to the very latest version, BTW). However, it is instructive to note that PHP 7 has all the latest security fixes that perennially plaques the hosting world.
- Apache is run in a chrooted environment, powered by suExec.
- Advanced and quite sophisticated IDS/IPS systems are in place. These systems ensure that malicious attackers and bots are locked out of your account for good.
- Further, ModSecurity is installed on all shared servers with its strict security rules updated weekly. This protects customers from the most common attacks by default.
These are the security options that SiteGround ensures for the websites hosted with them.
Let’s now turn the searchlight and beam on A2. What does the company have to offer, security wise?
A2 as a hosting company has the following security measures in place:
- KernelCare. This is a software extension that ensures all round security of a site hosted on the A2 network. The smart thing about KernelCare is that it is updated daily – and during the update period, no downtimes are recorded for the affected sites.
- HackScan. This is included free with every A2 hosting account and is a malware protection service that runs 24/7 with the singular aim/purpose of blocking attacks before they can reach the sites hosted on the A2 servers.
- Clef. This is a 2FA application that ensures that only authorized persons have access to your site. This adds a layer of security to your sites by requesting for further credentials before a password is authenticated to give access to the hosting account.
These are the primary security measures that A2 deploys.
As can be seen from the above, both hosting companies are serious about the overall security of the sites hosted with them – although, to achieve their security aims, they take different (but proactive) approaches.
Rating/Winner On Hosting Security: Tie.
Uptime commitment is something that no website administrator takes lightly (or should take lightly).
This is because, when a site is down, it is virtually impossible to get it function for the purposes intended.
This means that, a site that was put in place to make sales or advertise a product would be (unavoidably) off the air when someone types the associated URL and is interested in transacting with the site.
This leaves a very bad impression of the website administrator and all that the site stands for. However, and more importantly, a site that spends appreciable moment off air friendly gets deranked by the search engines, especially Google.
With poor organic traffic, it is extremely difficult to see how a site will achieve its purpose.
However, all the players in the hosting world today constantly abuse this: they all slap a “99.9%” uptime commitment when for some, their actual uptime is around 50% or less!
That is why, we would not only be looking at the numbers on the site but will go into the actual commitment of the site to make certain that uptime actually remains on at 99.9% level or better.
In this regard, A2 simply states that it offers a 99.9% uptime reality and it stops at that.
However, SiteGround goes a step further: it does not only assure customers (and prospective customers) of a 99.9% uptime guarantee, it also goes a long way to state that if downtime recorded ever exceeds 0.1% for any hosting year, that customer will be compensated.
Now, this is the type of guarantee we love to hear; for somehow, it assures customers that the company is indeed very serious about keeping its word.
Accordingly thus, the winner will be SiteGround – for the singular fact that it backs up its statement with actual commitment, one that they can be held accountable to (especially since it is very easy to monitor a site’s uptime individually and privately).
Rating/Winner On Uptime Commitment: SiteGround.
Money Back Guarantee
Money back guarantee (aka the refund policy).
This is the part where you have to make certain that you’re sure to get back your money if the hosting you opted for isn’t very great (in the first place).
An awesome money back period keeps you relaxed – and makes it super clear that the company is interested in giving you value for your bucks.
On the other hand, a ‘not too clear’ or a shady refund policy is an indication of a dubious company or at best, a company that is more interested in its fortunes than providing value and service to its customers.
This is why. the refund policy of a company (especially, a web hosting company) should be taken dead serious.
Towing this line, a close look at the refund policy of SiteGround indicates that, the company offers a 30 day refund window for all shared hosting plans and a 15 day window for all cloud hosted plans.
While this certainly does not reflect the best the industry has to offer, it is still something that is, in our estimation, in the ‘average league’ – for this period is long enough for you to figure out if the service you paid for is worth your money or not.
A2 on the other hand also offers 30 days, unconditional money back guarantee that goes without any questions.
However, there is an interesting twist to this very policy of the company: you can still cancel anytime – after the expiration of the first 30 days and still qualify for a prorated refund.
Given the edge that A2 has presented over SiteGround, we sincerely think (and are sure you’ll also agree) that the company has the edge here over SiteGround.
Rating/Winner On Client Friendly Refund Policy: A2.
Free SSL Availability
The internet today is a wild and crazy place where danger is always hovering in the air!
What this means is that, online, the concept of ‘too much security‘ does not exist.
What this (further) means is that, there is no protection that you’ll offer to your site that will be in excess, given the fact that it will ultimately be for your own good in both the short and long run.
This is why, we deem the provision of free SSL certificates an integral part of the overall security architecture of a hosting company.
But, you may ask: what exactly does an SSL certificate achieve?
The answer is as simple and as straight to the point as can be: an SSL certificate encrypts the communication to and from your website, making it impossible for hackers and the bad guys to intercept communication originating from either the server end of the website or the front end of it.
This reality further ensures peace of mind as passwords and other sensitive information are kept safe and private.
Fortunately, you do not need to pay for a basic SSL certificate today as major players like Let’s Encrypt have entered the playing field, partnered with hosting companies that are pro security and are offering free certificates – across board and account.
Sadly, many hosting companies today have still not made this offer free for their clients and instead, prefer to charge them extra for it.
This is sad.
The good news however is that, in terms of this, both A2 and SiteGround offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for all their customers and clients across board!
Rating/Winner On Free SSL Availability: Tie.
Free Website Migration
It is not always true that one is in search of a brand new hosting company for a brand new website.
Sometimes, a site already exists and is hosted on another (bad) host.
Our guess is that, you may also be with a ‘not too good’ hosting company at the moment and may be looking to change.
In such an instance, what you’re essentially looking at here is whether any of the two hosting companies being compared here offer free website migration.
Usually, this is made easier if the host you intend to transfer from offers cPanel for its file hosting (as both A2 and SiteGround use this system).
It also makes a lot of sense if this service is offered free of charge by the hosting company you are transferring to.
Things are sweet and utterly amazing when this service is free and offered by professionals of your intending host because:
- No downtime is recorded. Your website remains online all through the process.
- All your files are moved. No files are left behind.
- Your emails are also moved – together with their content.
- Importantly, you get the pleasure and satisfaction that all will be done smartly and according to standards.
A2, gives you the option to do this yourself – an option that is not a very welcome idea if you do not know your way around the hosting environment or are too busy to get your hands dirty.
SiteGround on the other hand, is exceeding happy to offer you this service for free – without you having to lift a finger.
Further, the company goes a long way to ensure that you are aware of what is covered by this offer:
- Professional migration.
- Website health check.
- Built in SiteGround optimizations.
- Email transfer option.
- Website management tools.
Sincerely, this way above the call of duty (as it is said in the military) – and certainly, represents one of the very finest free website transfer policy we’ve seen in the hosting world today.
Accordingly thus, SiteGround takes the day here, when it comes to this reality.
Rating/Winner On Free Website Migration: SiteGround.
Full website backups are one of the things no smart website administrator ever plays with.
The reason is as simple as ABC – in the event that something goes wrong with your website, the saved copy can easily replace the one that has gone either bad or has been corrupted.
In theory, this works brilliantly. In practice, it is even better 🙂
However, some hosting companies completely neglect this bit and to a large extent, simply leave the client to their own doom – should that day ever come.
The good thing is that, both SiteGround and A2 offer backup service for their clients: however, the real issue is this: are these backups constant and automated?
A close look at A2 shows that backup at the cPanel level is supported, However, it is not automated – and will ultimately leave the novice completely confused and in the dark, as far as backing up is concerned.
SiteGround, on the other hand, is more proactive with its data backups. Deploring a 7 day a week and 30 days a month backup policy, all accounts with the company are backed up automatically via the backup tool – built into the cPanel panel.
With this tool, what you need do is to simply download a copy of your backed up site – which can be from any point within the 30 day mark – and restore.
This ensures absolute peace of mind – and is an assurance that should things decide to go south, there is already a solid ‘plan B’ in place.
Rating/Winner On Constant (Automated) BackUps: SiteGround.
cPanel is a sort of hosting software that makes life very easy for hosting clients: it makes everything a breeze and ensures that life is not a moment harder than it should be.
From updates to software installations and every other thing in-between, a cPanel sees to it that nothing is left in the life of an account that hosts a live website.
However, some hosting companies make it a point of duty to ignore this all important protocol and instead, choose to run propriety software in its place.
While this may sound like a brilliant idea on the surface, it is actually a very sad one: the major reason being that you lose out on all the standard benefits of a cPanel and importantly, have challenges when you wish to transfer away to a hosting company that deploys cPanel hosting.
Look at it this way: why on earth would a manufacturer of a vehicle create a special lubricant for a car it has manufactured and insist that the car must run on such a lubricant?
Isn’t that singular action deliberately akin to reinventing the wheel and making life (extremely) difficult for all in the process?
We sincerely hold that this is the case.
The good thing here is that, both hosting companies under consideration here actively use cPanel for their clients.
If you are thus to host with any of the companies under review here, you certainly would have no challenge whatsoever – if this is your main or primary consideration.
Rating/Winner On cPanel Availability: Tie.
No one wants to sweat it out, if this can be avoided.
Fortunately, this is true for all faucets of life as it is for the web hosting world.
If you are a beginner in the business of hosting websites, it is very important to make certain that you choose a host that is beginner friendly; one that will ensure that you navigate your hosting panel and work around it with the assurance and mastery you need to keep your websites online.
Sadly, this is what many hosting companies today neglect: many, focus on offers that ensure that they make maximum money from clients (especially, during the sign up phase) and sadly, turn out to make their lives a living hell afterwards.
The good news is that, both SiteGround and A2 are completely newbie, amateur or beginner friendly.
As a matter of fact, these companies rank so high on this metric that it is difficult to see any other hosting company competing (successfully) with them on this metric.
Rating/Winner On Beginner Friendliness: Tie.
This has been a tough one – and sincerely, a closely contested comparison.
Afterall, both hosting companies are awesome and two of the very best the hosting world affords today.
However, a winner ought to emerge – a winner that will indicate that we knew what we are doing and as a matter of fact, are experts at this business of web hosting comparison.
To get to this point (of reaching a clear winner that won’t be contested), we tested the two hosts and reviewed them against themselves on the following points (attached next to the points is what the results look like – in summary):
- Support: Tie.
- Price: A2.
- Data Centers: Tie.
- Speed: A2.
- Security: Tie.
- Uptime Commitment: SiteGround.
- Money Back Guarantee: A2.
- Free SSL Availability: Tie.
- Free Website Migration: SiteGround.
- Constant (Automated) Backups: SiteGround.
- cPanel Availability: Tie.
- Beginner Friendliness: Tie.
As can be seen from the above:
- A2 and SiteGround landed in a tie on 6 points.
- SiteGround currently has an edge over A2 by 3 points and
- A2 also has an edge over SiteGround by 3 points.
What this means is that, technically, there is a tie – A2 is as good as SiteGround.
However, that is what the tests and review says (and they are as impartial as can be). Further, the review itself is written with a very clear mind without the thought of any pecuniary benefit.
As experienced hands and professionals in the business of hosting (having covered this industry for years and possessing an eye for detail), we must use our professional discretion and superior knowledge to decide.
If you value speed, appreciate a great price and the assurance that if a service is not so great, you can always get your money back, then, A2 hosting is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you are someone that values the assurance that a hosting hand will always be there for you (even for minor tasks like backups), then, you should, by all means, opt for SiteGround hosting.
Personally though, we strongly believe that given the myriads of metric A2 wins over SiteGround (and just how important they are – using speed as an example), we would recommend A2 hosting without even thinking twice 🙂
Wanna follow our final recommendation?
Click here to sign up for A2 hosting and experience the power and speed of turbo hosting directly for a very fair price.