Is A2Hosting Turbo Really Worth It (After 4176 Tests)?

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is A2Hosting Turbo really worth it

I get asked quite frequently what I think about A2Hosting Turbo plan. It’s advertised as being up to 20 times faster. I’m always very skeptic about such boasting. And I shared my skepticism whenever I was asked about A2 and before this research I could not really answer the question if A2Hosting Turbo really worth it.

And finally I decided to check the performance of A2Hosting Turbo and compare it with A2Hosting Lite plan to have solid data. I’ve run 4176 Full Page Load Time tests during 29 days to compare the speed of A2 Turbo and A2 Lite. See the details below.

Disclosure: There are some 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.)

 

Methodology of comparison and testing A2Hosting Turbo and Lite plans

Here’s what I did in short:

  • I bought A2Hosting Lite and A2Hosting Turbo packages.
  • I added dummy text and image content (including huge articles which are 44,000 words in total appearing on the main page).
  • On each of them I installed WordPress and packed it with 66 popular plugins (this is sort of maximum, because installing more plugins made WP admin area awfully slow and impossible to work due to exceeding allocated physical RAM on A2 Lite plan).
  • I used monitis.com monitoring service to automatically check the hosting performance for 29 days. I automatically run http uptime tests every minute and Full Page Load Time aka website speed tests every 20 minutes.

It’s important to note that I acted like a typical non-technical user. In other words, I did not tune the performance of my website using different kinds of cache options like Memcached or OPcache. I did not play with caching plugin. I simply bought the package and used 1-click WordPress A2-Optimized installation.

Short technical overview of A2 Turbo and A2 Lite (look from inside)

On A2 Lite plan I used a default WordPress A2-Optimized installation provided with this hosting plan. This A2 performance optimized installation includes A2-modified W3 Total Cache plugin, image compression plugin and some other performance optimization drop-ins. (See some details on this page.)

On A2 Turbo plan I also used WordPress A2-Optimized installation like on A2 Lite. Plus there was the default free performance optimization options included with A2 Turbo plan. In addition, I opted in for A2 Performance Plus add-on (including double CPU cores and 1GB RAM) which costs $3/mo. (See some details on this page.)

I did not use any other speed optimization or caching plugins/layers.

Here’s my check-out configuration with A2Hosting Turbo plan:
a2hosting turbo check-out configuration

For some more technical information about the A2Hosting Lite and A2Hosting Turbo I suggest reading this and this knowledge-base articles.

The process of setting up A2 Turbo plan (caching, configuration) was really very easy. Actually, it was all kind of one-click installer.

Some notes before I get to testing results

When setting up my testing WordPress site on A2 Lite plan, I’ve noticed that it could handle much more plugins than an average shared hosting. As I mentioned above, I could install and activate 66 plugins and continue working in my WordPress administrator dashboard.

However, when trying to do the same tests on another well-known hosting GreenGeeks, I could install only 53 plugins from the same list. It could not handle more than that because of constant outages when working in my WordPress dashboard due to exceeding physical RAM limits allocated on the hosting plan.

Not surprisingly, in my hosting performance contest that I publish monthly A2Hosting Lite always outperforms GreenGeeks as well as many other hosts.

Thus, A2Hosting Lite is pretty strong compared to other hosts from a technical point of view.

Let’s see below how A2Hosting Turbo is different from A2 Lite from performance point of view, and if A2 Turbo is really worth it.

How faster A2Hosting Turbo compared to A2Hosting Lite

Here are the main general results summarizing the testing of A2Hosting Lite and Turbo plans during 29 days (speed of my sites checked every 20 minutes, uptime checked every 1 minute). The monthly average speed data:

A2Hosting chart fullpage load time monthly average

A2hosting Lite monthly fullpage load time table

As you can see, on average my heavily-loaded WordPress website hosted on A2 Turbo plan was ore than 3 seconds faster than an identical website hosted on A2 Lite plan.

This is a significant and very noticeable difference. Let alone the fact that working in the WordPress dashboard of the website hosted on A2 Turbo was a flawless and seamless, whereas I had very frequent huge problems (outages) when working in the WordPress dashboard of the identical website on A2 Lite plan.

I filled up the websites to a maximum extent on purpose to get as close to the hosting RAM limits as possible. So, when I speak about slowness and outages on A2 Lite plan please note that it is so due to the fact that my test websites were unnaturally overloaded with plugins.

During the 29 days of testing there was very god uptime on both A2Hosting plans:

A2Hosting Lite monthly uptime table

To compare the monthly average speed of the websites you can look at the following chart as well:

a2hosting chart fullpage monthly comparison

To put it simply, A2 Turbo was 1.58 times faster than A2 Lite in my tests on average during the 29 days.

Let’s look at average daily performance of the two test websites:

a2hosting fullpage chart daily

Now let’s see the average daily data of how many times A2 Turbo was faster than A2 Lite on this chart:

a2hosting fullpage load time chart - how many times faster

As you can see A2 Turbo is faster than A2 Lite in the range between 1.1 and 1.8 times with average 1.58 times as shown a bit above.

Although the performance of A2 Turbo is quite impressive, the fact that it fluctuates in quite a big range is not very good. In general, A2 Lite had more stable performance during these 29 days of continues testing.

After all, the performance is not 20 times faster on A2 Turbo compared to A2 Lite as someone could expect because such figure is advertised on A2Hosting website. But still the difference is convincing. Actually, the statement on A2hosting website reads “upto 20 times faster’ which is formally correct since 1.58 times is still within a range of “upto 20 times” 🙂

As you see, I’m a bit ribbing A2Hosting about its bold advertising, since I don’t like aggressive marketing and over promising. However, A2 Turbo is indeed faster than A2 Lite (and many other hosts as well). And it can be clearly seen.

The screenshots of the daily monitoring reports on the websites performance are below:

Is A2Hosting Turbo really worth it – Conclusion

There are the following major points I can say about A2Hosting Lite and A2Hosting Turbo plan:

  1. A2Hosting Lite is fast (see comparison with other hosts here)
  2. A2Hosting Turbo is definitely and significantly faster than A2Hosting Lite.
  3. I guess I have not got the maximum of A2Hosting Turbo, because I did not tuned the performance of my website using caching options such as Memcached, OPcache, Railgun and CDN. I just acted like a typical non-technical user to see the effect from this perspective.
  4. Initial price for A2 Turbo plan (from 1 month to 2 years) is very reasonable for this service (see prices here).
  5. But A2 Turbo‘s price after the first billing period (which can last from 1 month to 2 years) almost doubles and goes out of a typical shared hosting price range.

So, the answer to the question “Is A2hosting Turbo really worth it?” depends on if you are ready to pay extra for the speed improvement and more resources such as CPU and RAM.

From my point of view, A2Hosting Turbo is a really great deal for the promotional price which is valid for the first billing period (up to two years).

And after the first invoice, when the price increases, it depends. Perhaps, going with self-managed VPS (from A2 or other reliable and affordable VPS providers) if you know or learn how to manage it would be a good idea to get even a better performance for the same price. However, from a support and ease of use points of view A2 Turbo shared plan is obviously much more preferable choice than a self-manged VPS.

As regards speed, A2Hosting Turbo did not work for me any close to 20 times faster as someone could assume looking at A2Hosting plans comparison. But I did not expect it though. A2 Turbo being 1.58 times faster than A2 Lite on a very heavy-loaded WordPress site is a very good result anyway.

By the way, as an additional free feature offered with A2Hosting Turbo that I have not tested yet is QUIC network protocol. It lowers latency by better network communication and thus make your website or web application faster.

P.S.: A2 in general is not the cheapest hosting out there, but among shared hosts from higher pricing segment it’s one of the fastest (see my automated speed and uptime comparison tests with some other hosts’ smallest plans).

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Comments

  1. what setting and speed optimization plugin is best for a2hosting turbo server? thanks

  2. Great review. It’s difficult to find serious reviews with so many websites having a financial interest in the outcome. I feel you’ve put an effort to do an honest job.

    I’ve used the Turbo Plan for almost two years because my website is heavy on graphics and I wanted the speed. I also set up all the caching options so the front end is very snappy (much better than what I was using before that). However, the back end is so slow it’s almost painful. Creating a post takes much longer that it should as I wait for the bloody drafts to save and reload. For now it’s a pain I can live with because the front end is so quick to load.

    • Hi Jared,

      I think I need to write a post about a slow backend. It can become a pain on any hosts.

      Now in brief.
      The first three reasons why the backend is slow are:
      1. A big number of plugins (or CPU) intensive plugins. It results into RAM/CPU load. Just make sure you don’t have plugins that you don’t use.
      2. Your database needs optimization. If you don’t have database knowledge, get acquainted with WP-Optimize plugin.
      3. Large posts. The larger your posts are the slower it becomes to edit. WordPress did some improvements in this regards, but still it’s a pain in many cases. Just use an external HTML editor (if you edit your post in HTML) and then copy/paste to WP editor to save/update the post. For example, I use Notepad++

      If this does not help, perhaps it’s worth adding more RAM to your plan (but you need to make sure the RAM is the bottleneck, not CPU). A2 allows to monitor your server resources usage (see my article here). It may help identifying your performance hog.

      If nothing helps, then it means that you have overgrown a shared hosting. And VPS or cloud solution is your next step. However, since your front end is fast, there are good chances that A2 Turbo has enough resources to handle you needs. And my suggestions above are likely to help.

      Hope it helps.

      • Sorry for the long wait before a response – been a little swamped lately. I appreciate your suggestions. I dropped some plugins, which has helped.

        After some experimenting, I think the primary culprit in my case is the theme I’m using for my main website. I have another website that I setup for my daughter for her classroom news and found that the backend speed is very good (she runs the site, so I hadn’t check out the speed until recently). I’m using a different theme for her site. My site uses the Total Theme (which relies on the WPBakery Page Builder). On top of that you have to run the Classic Editor Plugin for it to work properly.

        While both site front ends are great in terms of speed, I think I’m paying for the ability to customize so much. While I know basic CSS, I know no php, so I rely on the page builder to customize the site beyond what a regular blog can do. I’m willing to put up with the slower speed because of this, especially since the changes I made have brought the backend up from hair-pulling slow to mumbling-under-my-breath-for-it-to-hurry-up slow, which isn’t driving me crazy.

        A side note: All in all, I have been very happy with A2 Hosting. I was sloppy in setting up some email addresses on a phone (I tend to create complex passwords, and I couldn’t cut and paste) and getting a password wrong three times in a row triggered a block to my IP address, as it appeared to be a blunt force attack. A call to their support white listed me again, but sure enough, a few minutes later I triggered another one. Another call fixed that, and they were very patient having to deal me twice, and assured me not to worry if it happened again. Slowing down, and double checking every stroke, I managed to activate the four address without further incident.

        • Hey Jared,

          I’m glad that you could resolve speed issue to some satisfaction by eliminating some plugins. As regards using a page builder, well yes, it can be a pain and a resource hog. There is actually no receipt how to deal with the heavy theme on a backend. Just using a more powerful server configuration.

          However, if you have not tried yet, optimize your database tables. Sometimes it makes wonders (if the bottleneck is in database transactions which can be a case indeed when working in a backend). If you don’t know what it is, install a WP-Optimize plugin, and use its two features – removing all unnecessary data and compacting/de-fragmenting MySQL tables. This does not require technical knowledge and can be done merely with a button click. After that you can uninstall the plugin. Don’t forget to make a database backup before manipulations just in case.

  3. Hey

    I am really interested in the Turbo plan. I am with CloudWays right now, DO 2 Cores and 4GB RAM, and everything is going fine for my WordPress sites. I have heavy traffic, around 500k visitors a month, so I am wondering if the Turbo plan can handle this amount?

    Also, my main concern is the number of visitors that may enter my site at the same time so my sites won’t go down. As for example, sometimes I get up to 1000 visitors within 1 minute on my site ( peak times only). So can the Turbo plan handle this?

    It’s pretty fine on my current host though.

    • Isa, thanks for your question.

      From a performance point of view, your current plan is definitely better (and much more expensive by the way) than A2 Turbo.
      And after all, 400K visitors per month (not to mention the peaks) is a huge overkill for a shared hosting, even if it’s a high-performance one such as A2 Turbo.

      A2 shared hosting is known for handling the traffic peaks very well, but in your case you need a VPS or a cloud solution you are using now. A2 has a VPS option which suits you, but it has a similar price to what you are using now. So, if you are happy with what you have now, I don’t think it makes sense to switch.

      However, if you want to cut the hosting costs, you’ll need do load testing. You can try using a cheaper plan, clone your websites and other applications to there and do a load testing simulating a number of concurrent users you need. And see if the cheaper configuration can handle it. Using a CDN, WordPress caching solutions and server-side caching is highly advisable if you want to cut the hosting costs. There’s no other way to make sure if a new configuration can work for you other than testing like that.

      Hope it helps.

      • Thanks a lot for your reply and time!

        I am happy with my host, but just trying to find a cheaper option, if any. My main concern for the hosting plans, even VPS or Cloud, is that once I have a lot of visitors visiting my site, the account has to go down for a few minutes, except my current hosting it’s handling the traffic perfectly.

        Because I have big social media accounts (over 1M followers) so within the first 1-2 minutes of sharing the link of the new article, I get around 1,000 clicks so that’s causing me troubles sometimes.

        Also, CloudWays is using NGINX, Varnish, Apache, and Memcached in their servers, which I think is hard to find in another hosting.

        So I may end up staying with CW. But do you recommend any Cloud/VPS hosting that could be better and cheaper than my current plan according to your experience? or my current hosting is the best so far?

        • BTW, I was thinking about Hostinger, but I found mixed reviews about them. Some praise them, and some call them scammers. But their servers seem similar to mine now, and with a good price.

          • Isa, I would not recommend switching. The description of the servers that the hosts advertise may be very different from actual state. And this is not about the scam first of all, but about the management of the servers and marketing approach.
            Moreover, “Cloud” is the term that different hosts use differently. It’s more about marketing. Your current host is a more solid option.

        • Isa,
          Cloudways is built upon the server facilities of DigitalOcean, Linode and other cloud hosting providers. CW adds up some price to the initial price of these services for offering easier infrastructure and better support. You can reduce the pricing by going to these providers directly. But then you will need to do more technical job yourself or hire a server administrator.
          Alternatively you can simply try less expensive option within CW. But as I noticed in my previous comment, you will need to do load testing to make sure that the cheaper option will work well for you.
          I’d suggest staying with your current host since it works well for you. Its pricing is not high. It’s not very likely that you will find a cheaper option unless it will be less powerful option (less CPU, RAM etc). Or you will need to do more technical job if you go to DigitalOcean, Linode etc from the list.
          Alternative options with a similar server capacity will not save you decent money unless you take more risks (not handling peaks, slower speed etc).
          CW is great from a technical point of view. The weakest point of this hosting is customer support (since customer support is the most vulnerable part of CW’s business). And as long as you are satisfied with it, I would not look for another host (maybe a cheaper plan though, but it needs testing as I noted earlier).

  4. I switched to A2 early in 2018 partly to improve speed. It was faster initially. Now, with no changes it is incredibly slow to load. I would absolutely recommend NOT going with A2 under any circumstances. I suspect that they put you on a faster server initially, then switch you to something else to save money. Truly, this is horribly, horribly, horribly slow. Almost unusably slow. Buyer beware.

    • Hi Les,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I suggest you checking out your internal reasons of slow website (You can find quite a lot of information on the Internet, database cleanup/optimization comes first to my mind. Besides make sure that your website is slow from multiple locations and this is not your network issue – you can use webpagetest.org for that). Even without changing something on your website it can become slower because of internal activity especially if you have some plugins.

      Your assumption that they put you on a slower server is very-very unlikely. You can see the history of my website speed with A2 since 2016 on this page.
      I have not made any changes on my website since the very beginning (although I don’t use any plugins that make your website slower within time). And as you can see, the speed gradually changes from 0.9 sec in mid 2016 to 2 sec in late 2017 and then it’s getting to 1.3 sec in mid 2018. This is really not bad.
      The A2 server I’m using is filling in within time, which is acceptable, and then they re-optimize the server to make it faster. No shady practice as you assumed.

      Look for internal reason of your website slowness. Otherwise, if you decide to switch the host, then the problem will persist.

  5. When you say 66 plugins etc that is a crazy high amount. 15 is probably my absolute max rec. What page size was used in the testing? Google recommends 1-2MB max for a quick loading page.

    Sure wished the test was swift vs tubo. Im currently looking for that information as I have both plans in my shopping cart 🙂

    • Cal,

      I installed practically the plugins in a row from the “popular” tab when adding new plugins in WordPress. Some of them were lite and some of them where pretty heavy. One heavy plugin may eat up resources as much as a dozen of liter plugins. If your plugins are heavy (like gallery carousels, parallax effects, page builders etc) then you can’t have many of them.

      In my testing websites there were the same 66 plugins on each WP installation.

      I can’t say right now the exact page size which I tested (need to look at my PC archives to find the saved pages, probably I saved it somewhere). But I think it did not exceed a few megabytes. The performance bottleneck of the tested configurations was surely the amount of plugins, not the page size. The page size without installed plugins is less than 0.5 MB.

      As regards A2 Swift vs Turbo vs Lite, according to the A2 specification, basic configuration of Swift has two as much RAM and CPU cores compared to Lite. And basic configuration of Turbo is two much more RAM than Swift.
      And although I don’t have exact tests Swift vs Turbo, you can have some estimation. Also I have an article in which I review the performance of A2 Swift.

      Hope it helps.

  6. Hi
    Valuable insights! I don’t understand if with the Turbo plan you should use their own cache ,speed setup or your own cache ( e.g. Cache enabler) as a plugin with a CDN (key)? Is it complicated to set up the Turbo plan cache?? ( they use W3 ..??)
    Thanks

    • Hi Howard,

      It’s better to use caching option offered by A2 Hosting. it’s more efficient since it’s specifically tuned for A2. And it’s just 1-click install. You don’t need to set it up like if you go with a standard caching plugin (e.g. Caching Enabler).

      As regards setting it up with a CDN, I think it’s not more complicated than if you go with a standard caching plugin. You can contact A2 support to know more details for your particular case if you doubt.

  7. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this benchmarks. I think the non-turbo plan is better for small business owners and an extra $10 as @Bright Joe says isn’t really worth.

    • Hi Khaled,

      Of course, if your site performes pretty well on a cheaper plan, then it may be not justified going with A2 Turbo just to win some loading time.

      If a small business site do not have a lot of traffic or heavy content, then I agree that cheaper plan can be a better option considering the costs, even if it’s not as fast as with A2 Turbo.

      Thanks for your comment.

  8. Hi Michael,

    This is quite interesting. I was literally gonna choose Turbo for an extra $10 because I wanted to pay monthly. However, I thought to myself if it’s really worth another $10. I think I would be fine with the SWIFT plan which is quite similar in specs to the Turbo.

    Thanks for this in-depth review and analysis mate!

    • Hi Bright Joe,

      If the tech specification of the Swift plan and your website performance is fine on this plan, then of course the swift is better because it’s cheaper.

      However, Turbo plan includes RAM-based caching, which is not availalbe on simpler A2 hosting plans. Most shared hosts simply do not have this option. It can be a good advantage in some cases, e.g. if your site has a lot of traffic. An alternative is to go with a VPS-grade hosting which is more expensive or requires linux-management skills.

      A2 plan is a good optin for those who has outgrown shared hosting but not ready to go with a managed VPS or managing its own vrtual server.

      Anyway, I agree that paying monthly looks expensive compared to most other shared hosting plans.

  9. Hi Michael,

    Interesting research and review. I liked the A2 hosting and I know their servers are fast and secure.

    Thanks for your updates!

    PS: I’ve shared this post on Twitter! 🙂

  10. Another great update thanks Michael, will share as I am sure many bloggers would love to know the stats behind the newer technology.

  11. Good research, as usual, Michael! I’ve been considering getting A2 VPS with Turbo. Have you got a chance to test their VPS setup?

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