So in looking for new hosting, I came upon A2 Hosting. For confirmation, one of the domains I have there is www.pcgamedaddy.com.
A2 Hosting attracted me with their talk of "full" SSD hosting, which is something that was new to me since the last time I had to choose a host. They also seemed to be a very developer friendly host, plus they had things like Railgun, automatic Google Apps integration, on demand and automatic backups, and other things to make my life easier.
Between a coupon code found here at WHT and a 30 day money back guarantee, plus the multiple methods of support that include phone support, along with virtually every single feature I want in a host, I decided to try.
Before buying, I posted some things on their Facebook page, and within minutes, got a reply from their social media guy. We continued to discuss, with very short reply times, various aspects of the hosting.
I also searched online and found nothing bad that anyone had to say about them. Reviews were 99% positive. So I purchased a year of hosting.
Account setup was instant, and the welcome email was very good at explaining everything, from my temporary domain to how to access every part of my account, etc. Their control panel(which is separate from cPanel) is very good on giving status updates on server problems(which there haven't been many since I started), access to support tickets, etc. The cPanel portion of my account is pretty standard, with pretty much every option I know of cPanel to have being available to me. No need to go into further details really: it's cPanel.
I loaded up a couple of my websites, which run through Wordpress, and changed DNS, and in a couple of days, I was ready to go with everything.
My sites were faster than they were with Dreamhost, with no settings changed. Not by a ton at first, but they got better within a few hours. But the time difference for first load was around 2-3 seconds faster than my previous account.
I did have a couple of instances of downtime during those days. I don't know if it was server downtime or something related to Wordpress, but on both occasions, a refresh brought things back up.
The only real problem I had was that the database server was having intermittent outages, causing me to get messages that my site couldn't connect to the server. I filled out a support request, and after exchanging some details, they discovered that there were some database server problems and they were working on them.
Support times were fairly short, less than an hour for the first reply at 2am in the morning. I also utilized live chat multiple times, and always had fast connections to tech support through that. Every single person was very kind and very much willing to help, and they went out of their way to answer my questions and let me know what was going on.
They let me know after a couple of days that the database issues were fixed(that timeframe didn't bother me too much since it wasn't like a constant downtime issue, just once every hour or two for a couple of seconds).
Since then, I've had zero database issues, and zero downtime. According to Statuscake, I've had 100% uptime for the past three weeks or so.
Also, with Cloudflare plus Railgun, along with proper caching and Wordpress optimization, I have my site loading in less than two seconds much of the time. This is a Wordpress site with around 17 plugins and using one of the most full-featured themes from Themeforest(so it has a lot going on). Average time on Statuscake says around 2.25 seconds, with dips below two seconds every once in a while. My latest test on Pingdom is 1.23 seconds! That is amazing for a shared host Wordpress site with so much going on. I haven't even fully optimized the images and a couple of other items on this site yet!
On my previous host, the fastest I could ever get was 4-6 seconds on second and third loads. On A2 Hosting, I'm getting 3-4 seconds on first load much of the time. In short, A2 has been as fast as I could have hoped for on a site with this much going on behind the scenes(keeping in mind that I also take great care in optimizing my sites, which helps).
I have also not had any performance issues, and the amount of resources available to me are much greater than Dreamhost, according to support and what cPanel shows. A couple of image processing scripts bumped up my CPU usage, but normal usage is very low, and I have more entry processes available to me than any other host I've used.
Good support, great stability after the database issues were fixed, and loads of features, and I'm a happy customer.
As a result of the good experience I've had, I have officially decided to leave Dreamhost for A2 Hosting. So far, everything has been great!
I am wanting to post a followup review because things have indeed changed.
I am no longer with A2. I finished out my year, but didn't stay with them. My reasons are less about their hardware and more about cost and support.
I had become a beta tester for their new "Turbo" servers, and honestly, they weren't bad. But make no mistake, they are simply Litespeed servers. They might have a few other tweaks in there, but the biggest difference between their main prime package and turbo is that they use Litespeed(though they don't seem to want to mention that for some reason, which makes me think they are trying to claim some other proprietary technology is in play, but it is not).
Their servers were still fast, the uptime was great. I had very few complaints about the quality of their servers. I did have a problem with the fact that they only had PHP 5.3 available on their turbo servers, and they told me it wasn't possible to allow PHP version changes on the turbo servers, even though you can on their other servers. PHP 5.3 is at end of life, so after three months, I still wasn't able to change PHP version.
I did enjoy their support for most of the year. However, I had a few times where I had to wait a full day to get a response or more. I know some things take a while to research and work on, but the times were longer than normal. When I DID get replies, the help was great. The techs were knowledgeable and answered all questions, etc.
None of that is why I left though. I left because of cost. They were costing more than what I was getting at Stablehost, and weren't offering any performance gains over what Stablehost was offering.
I believe their turbo servers are overpriced. Again, they are simply Litespeed servers. And while there may have been additional tweaks made by A2 to make them better, it wasn't anything I wasn't already getting elsewhere.
Right now, I have three hosting accounts. I am using Stablehost, GeekStorage and WPHostingSpot, and all three are offering speeds that are at least comparable to A2, and with the coupons I used for two of them(which are coupons that carry over every year), I am paying less for the three hosts per year than I was for just A2. And not just a few dollars less.
So I believe A2 still has a great service. I think their support is very helpful, if it were only a little more consistent in speed. But even with that, if it weren't for the cost, I would have probably stayed. A2 is a good host, they don't seem to oversell their servers(at least the ones I was one), they have all the featured you could want, and they have lots of options to upgrade as you grow. It was just a personal decision of mine to split up my hosting and save some money along the way.
also, isn't it a positive for a webhost (shared server) to offer some type of spam service to help give assurance that their servers are more secure from spammers than others (i.e., use of spamexperts service)?