Is A2 Hosting Startup Plan Fast Compared To Other Great Hosts? 200K Tests

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a2 speed quality 2020 Title

This is one of the articles that requires quite efforts to put together. After I get data for a whole year of non-stop automated speed tests of A2 Hosting (Startup plan), I wanted to present the performance analysis of it and some other hosts.

For year 2020, unlike several previous years, I selected just four hosts including A2. Since 2021 I will focus on these a few hosts as I found that my reports are used to contain too much information. Hopefully less will be more in this case. Less analyzed hosts, but more attention from you, my readers 🙂

Although this article still contains lots of charts, it’s not really complicated. At the same time it has unique information on the detailed real-life A2 Hosting speed performance (the smallest Startup plan) in comparison to three other hosts. This research summarizes more than 200K hosting speed tests and more than 51K speed tests of A2 Hosting alone.


Contents

By the way, here’s a disclosure: There are affiliate links on this page. In other words, I get paid if you click on the links and make a purchase. All such links open in new window/tab; no software/program will be installed to your computer. (This is a standard notice required by hosting companies.)
Please note that I recommend not all hosts that I test and mention on this page. For my recommended hosts see this page (A2 hosting is in that list).

 

How I tested the speed of A2 Hosting Startup plan and other 3 hosts

You may already know that I run a monthly Hosting Performance Contest. I summarize the average monthly performance of multiple hosts there. For the report that you are reading right now I analyze the daily data. Thus, I’ve got average daily speed data, including the speed performance of A2 Hosting Startup plan for 2020, analyzed the data and presented in different forms for you.

In short, the methodology of hosting performance monitoring is the following:

  • I bought anonymous accounts at 4 hosts (A2, HawkHost, GeekStorage and GlowHost). I bought the smallest (cheapest) shared hosting plans. Only US server hosting locations.
  • Installed WordPress and added some content. Each tested host got the clone website.
  • Used monitis.com (my monitoring service for 2020) which tested the speed of the installed WP websites.
  • Put together the daily reports on the 4 tested hosts’ speed in a table. Daily averages recorded.
  • Analyzed the data sets using visualizations (charts, histograms). Data visualization like I do helps to get insights which are stay hidden when simply analyzing the averages.

I’ve got more information about the methodology of the monitoring here.

Getting just historical speed data or average values is not enough if you want to look deeper how A2 Hosting (Startup plan in my case) and other hosts performed. That’s why I use additionally two main data grouping approaches in this research:

  • Sorting the speed values to show you how slow and fast a hosting was during the whole year of the monitoring.
  • Uniting the speed values into the groups to show you what typical speed a host has. I use histograms for visualizing this.

Okay, let’s get from a theoretical to a practical part.

 

Is A2 Hosting Startup plan fast? Speed overview during one full year

Speed of A2 Hosting (Startup plan): line chart by days in a chronological order

To warm up let’s see the speed chart of my test website hosted on A2 Startup plan. It’s in a chronological order. There are 144 speed tests performed every day. And this chart below displays daily averages.

A2 line chart daily chrono_2020

As you can see, the speed of A2 Hosting (Startup plan) is great and fluctuates within very reasonable range. The last month reveals noticeable speed improvement because I moved to a more advanced plan which has more server resources (Drive).

Speed of A2 Hosting Startup plan compared to other hosts: line chart by days (chronologically)

This is the chart where the speed of SiteGround and other 14 hosts are displayed daily and chronologically during the whole year:

A2 others speed daily lines chrono 2020

Compared to other hosts, A2 Hosting Startup plan shows a very decent speed. Comparable to the fastest tested hosts.

Average speed of A2 Hosting (startup plan) by months chronologically

Daily data does not emphasize all important aspects of speed performance. Let’s see monthly average speed values of my websites hosted on A2’s Startup plan:

A2 monthly line 2020

Monthly average speed values smoothen daily fluctuations and reveal speed performance of A2’s Startup plan in a clearer way. The improvement of the performance in December is noticeable. As I mentioned above, it’s connected with moving to a more advanced “Drive” plan so that I could host more than one website. Previous monthly performance of A2 (Startup plan) you can find here.

Average speed of A2 Hosting (Startup plan) and other hosts compared by months (chronologically)

The following chart makes it easier to evaluate and compare the performance of the hosts from a bird’s eye view:

A2 others monthly lines 2020

As you can see, the line of A2 Hosting (Startup plan) goes at the bottom part of the bunch of the other hosts’ lines. This means that A2 (even on its cheapest plan) has a relatively very good speed.

In the next chapters I will compare the speed of A2 (Startup plan) with other hosts one by one, and you will see a more precise comparison.

A2 vs other hosts: average yearly speed comparison

Here is the most generalized chart in this article. It’s average yearly speed of A2 Hosting (Startup plan) and three other hosts:

A2 others year bars 2020

As you can see, A2 demonstrates quite good speed. Also, keep in mind that this is a real-life speed. And a couple of tenths of a second does not play a big role in real life.

 

Comparing the speed of each host individually with A2 Hosting (Startup plan)

Comparing how fast A2 Hosting and GeekStorage are

Monthly charts of GeekStorage and A2Hosting speed (chronologically)

Here are the average monthly speed values of the two hosts compared.

A2 vs GeekStorage monthly line 2020

Both hosts are very fast. A2 (Startup plan) was noticeably faster on average than Geekstorage (Economy plan) during the first half of the year. The other part of the year the performance of the both hosts on average was similar. A2Hosting wins.

Daily charts of GeekStorage and A2Hosting (Startup plan) speed (chronologically)

Here is the chart representing daily average speed values of GeekStorage and A2Hosting:

A2 vs GeekStorage daily line 2020

As you can see on the chart above, GeekStorage has a little bit more stable from day to day, but A2 wins in speed. Also, there was a sharp speed increase of GeekStorage in the end of June that made the cheapest plan of GeekStorage comparable to A2’s Startup plan

GeekStorage and A2Hosting speed ordered by value

For this chart type I used average daily speed values ordered by value. It allows seeing clearly how the hosts performed starting from the fastest days and going to the slowest days.

An ideal host would have a horizontal line (or bars)which go as low (i.e. fast) as possible. In other words, it means being fast and stable (i.e. the fastest days which go on the left of the chart are not very different from the slowest days which are displayed on the right).

Let’s see how the speed of A2’s Startup plan and GeekStorage’s Economy plan compare when ordered by value:

A2 vs GeekStorage daily ordered 2020

The daily speed values of A2 are presented as a line. Please note that the fastest (the left part of the chart) belongs to A2’s Drive plan (I moved to this plan at the end of November). The speed of the host to compare (GeekStorage in this case) is presented with bars.

The fastest and the slowest days of the both hosts are comparable. And half of the time both hosts showed more or less identical speed. But half of the year A2 was noticeable faster. We could easily see this pattern even on a chronological chart. No big surprises here.

The right hand side tail of A2 is steeper which means that there were not many days when A2 was slow.

As a resume, A2 Hosting’s Startup plan showed better speed if looking at the whole year than GeekStorage’s economy plan.

GeekStorage and A2Hosting speed comparison histogram

This type of chart is a further analysis of the previous section.

Let’s break down the speed range into several intervals. And for each host calculate how many days get into each interval. This way we will see the comparison of the hosting speed in a generalized way so that it may give us more insights.

For a starting example, have a look at the A2Hosting’s Startup plan speed histogram:

A2 histogram 2020

The image above is self-explanatory with the notes on it.

Here are just a couple of additional general points:

  • The more bars are located on the left hand side, the faster the host in general. A2 looks pretty good here (the tail on the right is insignificant).
  • The less number of bars and the taller the bars mean a host has more stable speed (i.e. more days get into one speed interval). The high bar demonstrates concentration of speed in one interval which is very good.

Further in this article I will be combining the speed histograms of A2 Hosting and other hosts.

And here’s GeekStorage (Economy plan)’s and A2 Hosting (Startup plan)’s speed histograms combined:

A2 vs GeekStorage histograms compared 2020

As we can see, the bars of GeekStorage are divided into two sections (there are two sections with the high bar in each section). It is just another presentation of the fact that GeekStorage’s speed sharply changed (increased in this case).

To put it simply, A2 has been comparatively more stable and faster in general in 2020.

GeekStorage and A2Hosting speed comparison histogram (condensed)

In this section I’d like to use hosting speed histograms too. But unlike the previous histograms, these ones have lots of speed intervals. It’s not convenient to distinguish each bar on the charts. But the overall image of the distribution of the bars can give you good insights about hosting speed.

Let’s have a look at the speed histogram for A2 Hosting’s Startup plan for example:

A2 histogram condensed 2020

The following notes will help you “to read” other histograms in my article:

  • The more normally distributed the bars (i.e. the more distinguishable “the cloud” of the bars), the more stable speed is. A2 has one very well-distinguishable cloud and it’s close to the left, and this is brilliant.
  • If a host has multiple big “clouds” of bars, then it means that the hosting probably changed the server management or did something else which resulted in long-term hosting speed change. A2 has one cloud which is great.
  • If a “cloud” of bars is too much horizontally extended, then it means that the hosting speed fluctuates quite greatly. This is not a case for A2.
  • And of course, the more the bars are located to the right, the slower the hosting is. This is also not about A2.

A2 has one main “cloud” and this is perfect. Small cloud on the very left shows very fast speed which last for not many days. The tiny “ripples” to the right of the main cloud show that there were single days of slower performance.

And here are GeekSrtorage (Economy plan) combined with A2 Hosting (Startup plan) speed histograms:

A2 vs GeekStorage histogram condensed 2020

GeekStorage has a pretty good average speed. But A2 is significantly faster. Also, A2 Hosting has one “cloud” of values, whereas GeekStorage has two. And the one cloud on the right is slower (as we saw it was the Geekstorage’s performance in the first half of the year).

Thus, A2Hosting (Startup plan) has much more stable and faster performance in general than GeekStorage (Economy plan). However analysis of the second half of the year shows that Geekstorage increased its speed and both hosts became very fast and comparable.

Comparing how fast A2 Hosting (Startup plan) and HawkHost (Primary plan) are

Monthly charts of A2 Hosting and Hawkhost speed (chronologically)

Here are the average monthly speed values of the two hosts compared.

A2 vs HawkHost monthly line 2020

Looking at both monthly charts it’s clear that both HawkHost (Primary plan, the most affordable one) and A2 Hosting (Startup plan, also the most affordable) are very fast in general with a little difference.

Daily charts of A2 Hosting and HawkHost speed (chronologically)

Here is the chart representing daily average speed values of A2 and HawkHost (on the both hosts I use the most affordable plans):

A2 vs HawkHost daily line 2020

Fluctuations of speed of A2 and HawkHost are a bit different. A2 has a base speed, and fluctuations take place from time to time. HawkHost’s speed changes more gradually, but is base speed also sort of shifts. Finally, both hosts have very similar average speed.

A2 Hosting and HawkHost speed ordered by value

A short explanation of this chart type’s particularity is above.

And here’s the chart with the ordered values of speed of HawkHost (Primary plan) and A2 Hosting (Startup plan):

A2 vs HawkHost daily ordered 2020

This chart confirms the point I made in the previous section. HawkHost’s speed values are more evenly distributed from the slowest values to the fastest values, whereas A2’s speed values are more aligned to a central value. Since the speed ranges are not significant, in this particular case it does not matter a lot. Both hosts show great speed performance.

A2 Hosting and HawkHost speed comparison histogram

The explanation of what this chart shows is in the section above.

And now let’s look at the combined histograms representing the speed of HawkHost (Primary plan) and A2 (Startup plan):

A2 vs HawkHost histograms compared 2020

The distribution of speed is great for both hosts. Both are fast. HawkHost’s speed is more concentrated in the three speed intervals. A2 is more concentrated in one interval (which is better than HawkHost), but at the same time A2’s distribution tail is longer (HawkHost is a bit better here). HawkHost shows slightly more stable speed in general.

A2 Hosting and HawkHost speed comparison histogram (condensed)

I explained the purpose and the particularities of such histograms in short above.

And here are A2 (Startup plan) combined with HawkHost (Primary plan) speed histograms:

A2 vs HawkHost histogram condensed 2020

A2’s speed looks a little bit healthier (there’s on clearly visible cloud of values). At the same time HawkHost used to be fast (left part of the chart) more often than A2. Anyway, both hosts have brilliant performance but with lightly different flavors.

Comparing how fast A2 (Startup plan) and GlowHost are

Monthly charts of A2 and GlowHost speed (chronologically)

Here are the average monthly speed values of the two hosts compared.

A2 vs GlowHost histogram condensed 2020

Monthly average speed of GlowHost (Unlimited single domain, the most affordable plan) is not really impressive at all, although the host is pretty well-known and it’s well-established business. It’s just very slow.
GlowHost can be compared neither with A2, nor even smaller (and generally very affordable) hosts like HawkHost and Geekstroage. I keep this host in comparison as an example of what the performance of a well-known and here and there promoted host can be.

Daily charts of A2 and GlowHost speed (chronologically)

Here is the chart representing daily average speed values of A2 and GlowHost:

A2 vs GlowHost daily line 2020

The daily chart shows that Glowhost has similar speed stability as A2. But GlowHost was much slower and this is the problem for this host.

A2 and GlowHost speed ordered by value

A short explanation of this chart type’s particularity is above.

And here’s the chart with the ordered values of speed of GlowHost and A2:

A2 vs GlowHost daily ordered 2020

Before all, there is a gap of GlowHost values. It’s so because in December I turned off monitoring for GlowHost (as I did for several other hosts in order to move to a new monitoring system in 2021).

Anyway, even without one month of data, GlowHost shows similar to A2 distribution of speed values. The killer difference is speed, of course.

A2 and GlowHost speed comparison histogram

The explanation of what this chart shows is in the section above.

And now let’s look at the combined histograms representing the speed of GlowHost and A2:

A2 vs GlowHost histograms compared 2020

This chart does not help us much since GlowHost is too slow compared to A2 to be analyzed here. All Glowhost’s speed values go beyond the chart (slower than 2 seconds every day).

A2 and GlowHost speed comparison histogram (condensed)

I explained the purpose and the particularities of such histograms in short above.

And here are A2 combined with GlowHost speed histograms:

A2 vs GlowHost histogram condensed 2020

The detailed histogram speaks quite a bit. The distribution of GlowHost daily speed values is not really bad (although A2 looks better as its values are more condensed). But the slowness of GlowHost is very obvious without any excuses.

 

Roundup of A2’s and other hosts’ speed performance

In this chapter I will just put the charts of each type together for more convenience for bulk comparison of the hosting speed performance.

Monthly hosting speed charts (chronologically) in one place

A2 vs all hosts monthly line 2020

Daily hosting speed charts (chronologically) in one place

A2 vs other hosts daily line 2020

Hosting speed ordered by value in one place

A2 vs other hosts daily ordered 2020

Hosting speed comparison histograms in one place

A2 vs other hosts histogram 2020

Hosting speed comparison histogram (condensed) in one place

A2 vs other hosts histogram condensed 2020

 

Conclusion

The in-depth analysis of the most affordable Startup plan of A2 Hosting has shown that A2 strongly focused on speed in 2020. There were some speed fluctuations, but most of the daily averages stayed in one small speed interval. Compared to other hosts, A2 had the best speed values distribution.

Another prominent point is that moving to A2’s Drive plan noticeably improved the speed of my website (in December). A2 Hosting is one of the hosts that I recommend (here’s my short review ).

Two other hosts which I included in this report (HawkHost and ). GeekStorage) are also one of my recommended hosts.

GeekStorage (Economy plan) increased its speed since July and caught up other top hosts with speed. HawkHost (Primary plan) has awesome speed which is comparable to A2’s Startup plan’s speed.

Both GeekStorage and HawkHost are small hosts, but their performance is nevertheless very good.

GlowHost on the other hand, is a bigger host. But its performance is far from being okay. I keep this host in comparison to demonstrate that even well-known and well-established hosts may perform poorly.

You can download a PDF version of this article (1.02 MB KB):


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