In all the excitement of creating a website, making it look just right and ensuring that viewers have a great experience there, web hosting is often forgotten. But what’s the use of a spectacular website if it’s not available 24/7?
Choosing the right web hosting provider shouldn’t be an afterthought, and that’s where we come in. Here’s a comparison between two of the top hosting services: GoDaddy and A2 Hosting We’ve done the research to provide you with enough information to decide if either service is the right one for you.
Both GoDaddy and A2 Hosting are respected companies that operate in somewhat different spheres. A2 Hosting has been in business since 2005 and GoDaddy was founded in 1997.
In size, GoDaddy is roughly ten times larger than A2 Hosting, hosting about 730,000 websites to A2’s just over 63,000. A2 Hosting’s focus is on web hosting, while GoDaddy is best known for domain registration, and also deals separately with email and marketing as well as web security. GoDaddy also offers a Pro program specifically for developers.
Uptime and Reliability
Uptime. Uptime and reliability are two aspects of web hosting that draw heated comments from users if their websites are not always available. GoDaddy and A2 Hosting offer the industry-standard guarantee of 99.9% uptime; both service providers have consistently hit this mark with A2 having the slight edge with 100% uptime over the same period as GoDaddy’s 99.94% uptime.
Performance. GoDaddy ranks highly for speed in measurement tests by third party experts. However, reviews from users are mixed, with stories of very slow speeds and people who are delighted with how fast their websites load. GoDaddy uses Solid State Drive servers but limits the amount of SSD storage for each of its hosting plans.
All three of A2 Hosting’s plans are powered by Solid State Drive Speed Boost servers, which they claim perform up to 20 times faster than their competitors’ regular servers. And, unlike some of those competitors which offer this fast service only on certain website features, A2’s covers all files, the operating system and databases.
In addition, A2 Hosting contracts with a third party company to track their uptimes and speeds which are displayed on the web for all to see.
Reliability. One aspect of a web hosting service’s reliability is multiple data centers so the companies can switch your website between them in case of failure at one. Centers in different countries are a bonus! GoDaddy’s data centers are in the United States (7 centers), Amsterdam and Singapore.
A2 Hosting’s data centers are also worldwide, with servers in Washington, DC and California in the United States, in Australia and in Germany. Both companies use redundant power and cooling and onsite monitoring to keep reliability high.
Opinion on GoDaddy and A2 Hosting Performance
A2 Hosting and GoDaddy pretty much tie in processing speed and reliability, so we make A2 Hosting the leader here for using its SSD servers for all aspects of its web hosting.
Compare Key Features
Note: The features that a web hosting service offers can often be a deal-breaker in your decision. Not a feature, as such, but of interest is that A2 Hosting has a commitment to be eco-friendly. Since 2007, A2 has been carbon-neutral, encouraging its staff to telecommute, recycling old servers, planting trees and reducing trash.
Domain Registration. Domain name registration is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of GoDaddy, so it’s not surprising that you can purchase your website’s domain there along with its web hosting plan.
GoDaddy provides one free domain name with any annual (or longer) plan for the length of the initial contract. With A2 Hosting, you can purchase your domain name directly from them. Both service providers allow you to transfer in an existing domain name.
Website Builder. Both GoDaddy and A2 Hosting provide a website builder for you to create your website. GoDaddy’s (aptly named) Website Builder has a monthly fee attached to it while A2 Hosting’s RVSiteBuilder is free with all its hosting plans. Website Builder is highly popular and has some high-end features to create an attractive website.
Databases. Both GoDaddy and A2 Hosting offer SQL Databases with all their plans. GoDaddy limits how many databases you’re allowed with every plan while A2 Hosting just limits the databases for its lowest plan.
WordPress Hosting. A2 Hosting and GoDaddy have excellent WordPress managed hosting.
In late 2014, A2 Hosting introduced A2 Optimized, a WordPress plug-in which provides auto configuration for WordPress sites to ensure the fastest (6x) page loads possible. Along with this speed comes better security for WordPress sites.
A2’s WordPress hosting includes the ability to fully manage multiple WordPress sites from a single dashboard and mass spam comment removal. Managed WordPress hosting plans are the same price as regular hosting plans.
GoDaddy allows you to create your WordPress site in the GoDaddy environment or to bring in your existing WordPress site. The managed WordPress hosting gives you free daily backups (with 1-click restore) of your WordPress sites and interactive walkthroughs and training videos.
There are 4 WordPress plans with GoDaddy. The Basic plan with one WordPress website starts at $3.99 monthly and the top-tier plan, the Developer, handles 5 websites and up to 800,000 visitors for $13.99 per month. The top two plans include a SSL certificate (a $70 value). As with the regular hosting plans, a free domain is provided with contracts of twelve months or more.
eCommerce Solution. A2 Hosting and GoDaddy approach eCommerce differently.
GoDaddy bundles together a website, hosting and QuickCart (their own proprietary shopping cart) for a monthly fee. With unlimited products, your own coupons and the ability to open a store on Facebook, GoDaddy provides a one-stop shop for your complete eCommerce needs.
A2 Hosting doesn’t have its own eCommerce solution but offers partnerships via 1-click setups with highly popular eCommerce services, including Magneto, OpenCart, PrestaShop and AbanteCart. With this method, you have to put the bits together yourself.
Backups. We just have to say upfront that, no matter what your web hosting service provides for backups, you still need to regularly backup your website yourself. Just in case.
That said, both GoDaddy and A2 Hosting do provide some backup services for you.
A2 Hosting provides Server Rewind, a file recovery program, which is free with its top two plans. Server Rewind periodically takes snapshots of your website, but not your databases, and you can access these from your control panel.
GoDaddy charges for its backup and restore services. For the fee, you receive an automatic daily backup with a set amount of data storage available for the backup.
Hosting Security. Both web hosting providers take security extremely seriously. GoDaddy removes the worry of malware on your website by offering SiteLock at a monthly fee to scan your website daily to identify and remove malware. You can also purchase a SSL certificate to ensure the protection of sensitive data entered into your site.
A2 Hosting has a free Perpetual Security service with all its hosting plans. Protection includes 24/7/365 security monitoring, virus scanning, a dual firewall and other server protections. Of note is HackScan, a free protection that blocks hacks before they do damage to the clients’ websites. SSL certificates are also available for purchase.
Control Panel. These web hosting services use cPanel to support their Linux users but each panel looks and works differently. A2 uses the standard cPanel and its navigation will be easy to pick up for those already familiar with it. GoDaddy has customized the standard cPanel; in look-and- feel it matches the GoDaddy styling and users report that it’s well laid-out and easy to navigate.
Those who choose the Windows web hosting option with GoDaddy use the Odin Plesk control panel.
Opinion on GoDaddy and A2 Hosting Key Features
A2 Hosting beats out GoDaddy here for its free features, notably backups, website builder and SQL databases. GoDaddy is better, however, for its integrated eCommerce solution.
Hosting Plans & Pricing
Note: It’s always difficult to write about pricing as prices are subject to change, discounts are offered regularly, and promo prices are only good for the initial contract and then revert to the, often much higher, regular price. Always read the fine print for pricing and keep in mind that the longer the contract, the less the cost-per- month usually is.
GoDaddy. GoDaddy offers three Linux web hosting plans, the Basic, Deluxe and the Ultimate, and the default contract for each is 36 months.
The Basic at $3.99 a month for the discount price is recommended for a starter website as you’re limited to just one site and 100 email addresses. If you have several sites, consider the Deluxe at $4.49 per month (discount price) with unlimited websites and 500 email addresses. Those with an eCommerce store or with really heavy traffic should look at the top plan, the Ultimate at $7.99 monthly. All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and a free domain with a 12- month-or- more contract.
The Windows web hosting plans with GoDaddy are similar but include various numbers of SQL and MYSQL databases in each plan. The Economy plan for one website starts at the discount price of $3.99 a month and the Deluxe plan with unlimited websites, bandwidth and storage comes in at $4.49 a month (discount price). Unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth and databases are available with the Ultimate plan at $7.99 monthly. All plans come with a free domain with an annual (or longer) contract.
GoDaddy offers VPS, Cloud and dedicated web hosting plans through the Pro section of its website.
A2 Hosting. A2 Hosting also has three Linux hosting plans and they’re similar to those of GoDaddy. For a single website, the Lite costs $3.92 a month (36 month contract) with 5 databases and 25 email addresses. The Swift plan at $4.90 per month has unlimited websites, databases and email addresses. Turbo speed, 20x faster than normal, is the hallmark of the Turbo plan at $9.31 monthly, which also comes with the A2 site accelerator. All plans have unlimited storage and Perpetual Security. A2 Hosting doesn’t offer Windows hosting.
A2 Hosting also offers VPS and dedicated Linux web hosting plans, with managed and unmanaged options for each.
Refunds. GoDaddy and A2 Hosting both have money-back policies. With GoDaddy, if you’ve signed up or month-to- month service, you must request your refund within 48 hours; with annual contracts you have 45 days to ask for your money back. You have to give a reason for your request. The money-back policy at A2 Hosting isn’t quite so liberal. You have just 30 days to request a full refund; after this period, you’ll get a pro-rated amount back.
Opinion on Hosting Plans Pricing
As sometimes happens, it’s a tie when considering the discount prices GoDaddy and A2 Hosting. Their refund policies are similar as well.
Ease of Use
Control Panel. If you’re familiar with the standard cPanel, you’ll be right at home using A2 Hosting’s control panel, based on the standard cPanel. GoDaddy has taken the standard cPanel and tweaked not only how it looks but has added custom icons; user reviews have been extremely positive about these changes.
One-click Installer. GoDaddy provides 1-click installation for over 125 apps for its Linux users and for over 50 apps for Windows hosting subscribers. However, there’s not a list on the website of all of these apps. There’s also 1-click set-up for GoDaddy registered domains. A2 Hosting also offers 1-click setup for popular apps, including WordPress themes and plugins, as well as for the eCommerce solutions it has partnered with.
Website Navigation. It’s extremely easy to find information on the A2 hosting website. In particular, a comparison of all the features of all the plans is clearly and cleanly available in a table on one page. In contrast, GoDaddy’s website is more cluttered and you have to go through several screens to find out all the info on the plans.
Opinion on Ease of Use
GoDaddy takes the lead here for its easy-to- use adaptation of the standard cPanel interface as well as the number of 1-click apps that are available.
Technical and Customer Support
Customer support is one of those features of web hosting you don’t think about until you need it – and then it becomes vitally important.
GoDaddy. There’s only two ways to contact GoDaddy customer support – phoning them or using their live chat option. And the phone number isn’t toll-free so you’re paying for the waiting time. All GoDaddy’s support personnel are in Arizona and Iowa, United States.
Reviewers say that the quality of customer service is generally high, with the best results for simple and straightforward queries. You can also find information in GoDaddy’s knowledgebase or view their video tutorials.
A2 Hosting. A2 Hosting has a US-based Guru Crew to support you, all of whom are experts or developers themselves. You can contact the Guru Crew by phone, email, by submitting a ticket or by live chat, 24/7/365. Priority support for a faster ticket response is available for a monthly fee. Reviewers are enthusiastic about the quality of the customer service from A2 Hosting, and the company received a rating of A+ from the better Business Bureau in January 2015..
Opinion on User Support
A2 Hosting’s customer support is more readily available than that of GoDaddy and has received many more accolades for both knowledge and friendliness.
Note: Customer reviews give only one part of the picture of any web hosting service – but that part is the inside story. If you keep in mind that there are always more negative reviews than positive ones out there, customer reviews are very useful for identifying the problems that people are having as well as what they particularly like about the service providers.
Negative Reviews for GoDaddy and A2 Hosting
GoDaddy. Most of the negative reviews for GoDaddy have been for extensive periods of downtime and “website not available” problems, as well as the limited ways to reach the sometimes questionable customer support. In addition, people have taken exception to the fairly hard upselling techniques on the GoDaddy website.
A2 Hosting. The complaints about A2 Hosting centre around the lack of free telephone support outside the United States and the difficulties in reaching billing support when people want to cancel their contracts.
Positive Reviews for GoDaddy and A2 Hosting
GoDaddy. GoDaddy has good reviews from people who want a basic website and have limited dealings with the company. People consider its prices to be competitive and love that it’s a one- stop-shop for getting a website up and running quickly.
A2 Hosting. Without question, A2 Hosting gets rave reviews for its customer support, both in the friendliness and the knowledge of its support team. People also love the speed of the SSD servers and the clear and simple pricing of the plans.
Opinion on User Reviews
A2 Hosting’s reviews are more positive and less negative that those of GoDaddy. The very positive reviews of A2 Hosting’s customer support show how well it treats it subscribers.
Which hosting is best for you?
Both of these hosting companies have their advantages and disadvantages.
Reasons to GoDaddy over A2 Hosting:
- Convenient one-stop- shopping for all your website needs
- Large established company with proven track record
- Windows web hosting is available
- Room to grow with professional hosting packages available
- Extensive list of 1-click installations
- Integrated eCommerce package
Reasons to Choose A2 Hosting over GoDaddy
- Excellent customer support
- Fast website loading times
- Extensive security suite is free with all plans
- Free website builder
- WordPress accelerator feature for convenience, speed and security
A2 Hosting is well-suited to those who are just starting out in the website building world and anticipate needing some support from their web hosting company. At the other end of the scale, the Turbo plan would be of interest to those to whom the speed of the website is of prime importance.
GoDaddy’s package of domain name, website builder and hosting will appeal to the novice who wants everything in one place, even though some of these features come at an extra cost.
For eCommerce clients, it’s a toss-up: GoDaddy’s integrated package with their proprietary shopping cart versus A2 Hosting’s 1-click link to some of the most popular eCommerce solutions.
Both A2 Hosting and GoDaddy are good options as web hosting providers; however, if neither of these fit your needs, take a look at InMotion Hosting, a company that has earned a solid reputation as a great web host for businesses. You can take advantage of its 90-day money- back guarantee to explore all the 300+ apps available in the 1-click installation library.
Do you have any questions about GoDaddy or A2 Hosting? Have you had experience with either web service provider or did you choose to go with another company? Leave your comments and let us know.