Let’s check out A2 Managed WordPress hosting and see why it should be your top choice for a blazing fast website.
At some point in time, you need to upgrade to a better host. But the sheer number of web hosts makes this switch really confusing.
In addition, the availability of web hosts billing less than a dollar to hundreds of dollars per month further complicates the decision.
But before going deep with A2 Managed Hosting and why it’s a good choice, we should brush up on the basics.
There are generally two types of hosting for WordPress starters:
As evident by the name, Shared Hosting is about many websites residing on a single server. Usually, this is the most economical option that entry-level bloggers opt for their first websites.
However, these hosting plans can not provide top-of-the-line security and performance due to the obvious dirt-cheap price tags.
Typically, you get discounted introductory plans, and even the renewals stay well below the $100 mark for an entire year.
These are best for personal projects, low-traffic websites, and for the people who can do a little DIY. And since there is no restriction about the CMS being used–even the best optimization strategies fail after some point.
Managed WordPress Hosting
These hosting providers take care of the performance tweaks, security updates, etc., allowing the website owner to focus on the core business.
And since you get excellent support, these are relatively priced higher than shared hosting subscriptions.
Besides, the server performance is often better, considering they host only one CMS (WordPress, in this case).
Except that, there is little difference that one can know. And though not clear from the name, managed WordPress hosting also shares resources, and there can be several websites on a single server, just like it was with shared hosting.
Finally, it’s better to choose a good web host and avoid the temptation of rock-bottom pricing to ensure a smooth user experience.
Ergo, we will take a look at…
A2 Managed WordPress Hosting
A2 Managed WordPress hosting takes performance very seriously and has various plans with flexible pricing.
We’ll see some of the features before doing a hands-on and some performance tests.
Although the exact features depend on the subscription, a few noteworthy goodies involve:
- Industry-leading NVMe SSD Storage
- Free Site Migration
- Free Site Staging/Cloning
- 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
- Free Professional Email
- Easy Maintenance WordPress Toolkit
- Daily Backups
- LiteSpeed Web Server
- WordPress LiteSpeed Cache
- Smart Updates
- 1-Click Maintenance Mode
- 1-Click Search Engine Indexing
- Brute Force Protection
- DDoS Protection
- SSH & FTP Access
- Optional WordPress-CLI
- Spam Filtering
- Latest HTTP Protocol
- Imunify360 Enterprise Security
You can find the complete list of features on the compare A2 managed WordPress hosting page.
Although the features are mostly self-explanatory, some need to be highlighted as to how they provide value to a professional blogger.
This refers to when you can make a dummy website for testing a new theme, a plugin, or anything else before going live. Mind you, not all hosting providers give this service for free, and there are separate plugins one needs to purchase for staging.
But you get this free with A2 managed WordPress.
LiteSpeed Web Server
While most of the web hosting space still runs on Apache web servers, A2 managed WordPress relies on the latest web server technology–LiteSpeed–for even the base tiers.
Put simply, LiteSpeed is great for running PHP-based applications like WordPress. Besides, it has full support for HTTP/3, excellent DDoS protection, server-level cache, and a few more attributes that make it the best choice for WordPress websites.
LiteSpeed WordPress Cache
This is an excellent free WordPress cache plugin that you can ideally use on any web server and host.
However, couple this with the LiteSpeed webserver, and you get exclusive features for further optimizations, like WordPress Rest API requests caching, different caching for desktop and mobile platforms, schedule purge for specific URLs, HTTP/3 & QUIC support, etc.
Use Any Plugin
Some managed WordPress hosts restrict their user base to a small pool of approved plugins owing to performance bottlenecks.
However, A2 doesn’t stop you from using anything that’s good for your business. Still, it maintains a list of plugins that one should avoid for a top-functioning website.
Hotlinking is when someone uses your server assets (mostly images) on their webpage without your permission. Depending upon the hotlinker’s website traffic, this can take a toll on your hosting resources without any benefit to you. Though there are server-level configurations one can do to stop this, it always carries a risk of misconfiguration.
However, A2 hosting helps you achieve this with just a toggle avoiding any possibility of malfunction.
Updates are meant to improve the performance, but it’s not uncommon when they accidentally break things creating interruptions.
Catering to these exact situations, Smart Updates clones the website and tests the WordPress and plugin updates, then runs the checks on the updated cloned website. Subsequently, you can verify the results and proceed with the updates accordingly.
All hosts keep backups for their commercial use to restore access in case something goes wrong on their end. But generally, a user doesn’t have access to them.
Though there are countless backup plugins in the market, most are paid or have a restricted free tier.
In contrast, A2 managed WordPress hosting comes with daily backups and 1-click restore.
Besides, all plans except the base subscription come with offsite backup as well.
There are way more features than mentioned here, but this is just to make A2’s case as one of the premium WordPress hosting providers.
Next, we move to the hands-on, followed by load testing.
The first step is to choose the appropriate plan and register for the service. For this demonstration, we have opted for the Fly managed hosting.
Subsequently, this asks for the domain name. You can either use your elsewhere-registered domain, initiate a domain transfer to A2, register a new one, or go ahead with a free dummy.
Since this was just for illustration, we proceeded with the last option to get geekflare-fly.a2hosted.com.
Next, you get the data center choice. As of this writing, we could select from a decent choice of Arizona (US), Michigan (US), Singapore (Asia), and Amsterdam (Europe). This is important since the closest the servers are to your target audience, the faster they perform.
However, you can always opt for a content delivery network for optimal loading times around the globe.
Next, you choose the cPanel (discussed later) username and generate a secure password.
Afterward, you see the payment screen with tax calculations for your region. Subsequently, fill in the additional details and complete the purchase.
Ultimately, you’ll get the purchase details and the login credentials in the welcome email.
Setting Up WordPress
You need to get into cPanel to start with WordPress. For this, you can either login directly or via the A2 hosting client area.
Next, scroll down to the domain section, and click WordPress Toolkit.
This is the console to manage WordPress website(s) and do operations like staging, backup/restore, updating themes and plugins, etc.
We had this demo website ready for testing. One can start similarly by clicking the Install under Installations in the top left.
This brings in a pop-over where you set the website details like the title, username, password, etc., before tapping Install at the bottom.
Don’t bother with the lock icon in red; that’s just my personal password manager.
This typically completes within minutes, and your brand new WordPress website with a default theme and plugins gets up and running.
You can see the SSL is preinstalled, indicated by the lock icon against the domain name in the address bar.
Finally, you can visit yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin to get to the login screen for entering into the WordPress dashboard to add WordPress themes and plugins and get on with making some good money as a professional blogger.
Frankly, no matter how convenient the process was until now, this is almost similar to all managed WordPress hosting providers.
The real deal is how the vanilla website behaves out of the box. Please note that we haven’t done any optimizations at this point. Besides, there are no additional themes and plugins installed.
So to check this newly created website, we headed straight towards Geekflare Website Audit Tool powered by Google Lighthouse.
This is very straightforward. You just need to enter the URL, which is examined by Google Lighthouse on 50 crucial parameters. Additionally, this Geekflare tool gives you actionable advice on how to work around each bottleneck.
Evidently, the numbers were exceptional, even for a brand-new website. Most important is the Performance Score, which indicates superior server performance.
Next up is some testing to see how it performs in real life with test traffic and spikes. Besides, we’ll see how much it can handle before reaching capacity.
For this, we signed up with some cloud-based load testing tools. Notably, we used K6 and Loader.
Let’s take K6 first.
We have sent 50 virtual users gradually over roughly 12 minutes of the test duration.
The test was completed successfully, with the response time remaining below 200ms all the way, which is a good sign. The uniformity of the graph (the turquoise-colored) shows the potency of the server that it can handle 50 concurrent users without any performance issues.
In addition, the HTTP failure rate (just 103 out of a total of 11,499) was less than 1% which is nothing to frown upon.
Subsequently, we’ve deployed Loader to check the traffic limit it can handle.
In this test, we sent 1000 virtual users in a minute, and the A2 managed WordPress hosting server behaved normally while returning with an average response time of 170 ms (<200ms).
The initial spike (the blue one) was the only moment it took to adjust, and even that sudden load wasn’t a concern with the response time of 288ms–highest throughout the test duration.
Conclusively, it can easily serve about 1000 visitors in a minute which is a fairly good number.
If you’re wondering, yes, we went higher but found the results as suboptimal, with response time higher than the usually prescribed 200ms and an undesirable failure rate.
A2 Hosting is a veteran in the hosting industry present from around the same time as WordPress itself.
So, do we recommend A2 managed WordPress hosting?
Yes, without any second thoughts. It’s great for its price and has excellent optimizations and security protocols in place. And it’s covered with a rare money-back guarantee which refunds beyond the generally seen 30 or 60 days period.