A2 Hosting and Cloudways are two of my favorite brands in the web hosting industry. One is an industry stalwart with reliable performance: the other is a relatively newer brand sitting exclusively in a niche segment. If you’re considering a web hosting plan, I highly recommend you look at either.
There are hundreds of prominent companies crowding the web hosting marketplace. Many make bold claims about being the best. As someone who’s tried everything from the best to the worst, I have little patience for those claims.
Consider this my 100% unbiased comparison of A2 Hosting versus Cloudways.
Whether it is A2 Hosting or Cloudways, both companies hold a good record in the web hosting industry. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
What is A2 Hosting?
A2 Hosting is a web hosting company that has been around since 2005 and has been helping businesses grow since the beginning. It’s built a formidable reputation based on excellent customer support, reliable infrastructure, and dedication to providing cutting-edge technology. This company calls Ann Arbor, Michigan, home.
What is Cloudways?
Cloudways offers managed cloud hosting services with simplicity as their watchword. It was founded relatively recently (by web hosting standards) in 2012 by Aaqib Gadit and Pere Hospital. As a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider, Cloudways works with five key partners; Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services.
A2 Hosting vs Cloudways: Notable Features
Web hosting companies often provide a massive range of services. To keep things short, I will only offer the highlights that I feel make A2 Hosting and Cloudways stand out. These are not the only services or features that these brands provide.
A2 Hosting Key Features
A2 Hosting covers the A to Z of web hosting services. That includes the standard free SSL, domain name inclusion on some plans, email on all hosting plans, etc. The one thing it provides that you won’t easily see elsewhere is its “Turbo” plans.
Unlike most gimmicks, they’re willing to spell out the contents. A2 Hosting Turbo plans claim to offer speed boosts of up to 20X. Unfortunately, they don’t mention exactly 20X of what, but the specifications are impressive.
The Turbo servers come with AMD EPYC processors and NVMe drives. While the AMD processors are an apples or oranges preference, NVMe drives certainly offer increased speeds compared to industry-standard SSD drives.
Websites on A2 Hosting Turbo plans also benefit from their A2 Optimized plugin (for WordPress websites). This plugin encompasses various caching options, including Memcached and OPcache.
Cloudways Key Features
Cloudways exclusively offers access to managed Cloud hosting plans. This infrastructure is potent and robust, capable of supporting the most demanding websites. Yet beyond Cloud, Cloudways brings much more to the table.
One of the essential elements of Cloudways is that you get to choose from a series of five notable Cloud providers. On the budget side, you can consider Digital Ocean, Linode, or Vultr. If you demand the maximum performance, there are Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Cloudways lies in its Breeze caching plugin for WordPress websites. I’ve seen multiple web hosting companies try to leverage something like this, but Breeze is the only one so far that lives up to the hype. I consider it nearly on par with commercial options like WP Rocket.
Cloudways also allows account administrators to work with a team to administer their hosting accounts. This feature is something that larger companies should note. It will enable multiple users per account with managed access to specific server instances.
One thing that’s missing is email support. Yet you can easily add on email accounts thanks to their partnership with Rackspace. Each email account you add on will only cost $1. Likewise, other valuable add-ons are available from brand name partners like Cloudflare, DNS Made Easy, and Gmail.
Performance: Is A2 Hosting or Cloudways Faster?
Some will consider Cloudways and A2 Hosting in different service provider categories. Rest assured, I’ll only be comparing Cloudways against A2 Hosting VPS plans. VPS is similar to Cloud in many ways, especially where performance is concerned.
A2 Hosting Performance
A2 Hosting offers Unmanaged and Managed VPS plans. Since Cloudways is a Managed Cloud provider, I’ll be comparing it to the Managed VPS on A2 Hosting. I ran the performance tests with identical website content and without Content Distribution Network (CDN).
Surprisingly, A2 Hosting offered quick connection times marred by extremely sub-standard Time to First Byte (TTFB). While some may consider these speeds “acceptable,” it’s slightly hard considering the cost of A2 Hosting VPS plans.
The performance of A2 Hosting VPS is better than their shared hosting plans (including Turbo plans) – but not by much. That makes me wonder if paying $33.90 (introductory price, no less) for A2 Hosting VPS is worth it.
Duplicating the website over onto Cloudways, I immediately noticed a massive difference. Connection speeds were faster, but the few milliseconds were not overly significant. What made a more considerable difference was the huge boost I saw for TTFB.
Given that the Cloudways plan I migrated to was half the price of the compared A2 Hosting plan, I was pretty shocked. In terms of pure speed, Cloudways has my thumbs up.
Ease of Use
Having the best infrastructure in the world doesn’t help if the system is too complex for the average person to use. That’s why usability is an essential aspect of web hosting. Unfortunately, many users brush this aside and focus on performance or freebies.
A2 Hosting Ease of Use
A2 Hosting makes the customer journey a breeze, starting from when you land on their front page. Their website is easily navigable, and sales support will provide a fantastic experience, helping you choose what’s best for your needs.
If you’re migrating here, submit a ticket, and their team will move your website faster than two shakes of a cat’s tail.
Their VPS plans run on the very familiar cPanel system that most website owners should be able to handle easily. However, you should know that the VPS version of cPanel on A2 Hosting comes slightly stripped-down. For example, they don’t include any resource monitoring features. Your only recourse is to resort to an external server monitoring service, like New Relic.
Cloudways Ease of Use
The Cloudways system is proprietary, but you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to manage things. Even for migration, the automated tool they include for WordPress websites works quickly and flawlessly. It took me minutes to migrate four websites onto two different Cloudways servers.
The management dashboard is well-segmented, allowing you easy access to the most potent features needed. That ranges from server restarts to backup and package management and configuration. It’s easy enough for anyone used to GUI control panels.
If you’re hosting a website, I can guarantee you will need to deal with customer support at some time. Different companies offer different levels of support, but the critical issue is whether they can resolve your problems promptly.
A2 Hosting Customer Support
A2 Hosting has a varied team when it comes to customer support. Being a customer of theirs for over two years, I’ve interacted with the good and the bad. The good ones will resolve your problems quickly and effectively.
Unfortunately, the bad will leave you frustrated and angry. I recall once that I gave up on a support agent who was not reading emails correctly and worked to resolve the issue myself. A negative support review escalated the case to a support manager, who condescendingly regretted my poor experience.
Cloudways Customer Support
Having yet to experience the need for customer support at Cloudways, I instead trolled the airwaves for what others have said. Trustpilot reviews indicated most users are happy with Cloduways (89%), with a small number complaining about slow support ticket resolution.
Plans and Pricing: A2 Hosting vs Cloudways
Both A2 Hosting and Cloudways offer similar pricing models that scale up based on the resources needed. The main difference is that Cloudways prices somewhat vary depending on the infrastructure partner you select.
A2 Hosting Pricing
Managed VPS plans at A2 Hosting are expensive. There’s no other way to describe them. Unlike some VPS providers that offer low-capacity VPS, the minimum specifications on A2 Hosting Managed VPS start from 2 CPU core, 4GB of RAM, and 150 GB of SSD storage.
Don’t be fooled by this in the context of shared hosting. These resources are dedicated to your sole usage. That makes the minimum Managed VPS plan here supremely powerful in overall capacity.
However, this capacity comes at a price, and the lowest you’ll find at A2 Hosting is $33.99/mo for new signups who are willing to sign on for a 36-month contract. That means a first bill that exceeds $1,200 – a whopping fee by any consideration.
Many considered managed Cloud hosting expensive, but Cloudways plans start at a very modest $12/mo. Naturally, that scales up as you add more resources. If you opt for one of the premium providers like Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, prices will start at over $30/mo.
Yet Cloudways is very easy to scale. It just takes a moment to change your settings in the dashboard. The catch is that scaling down isn’t so simple (unless you opt for Google or Amazon) and needs some technical finesse with site cloning.
Cloudways is a pay-as-you-go service, so you don’t need to cough up your hosting fees in advance. They’ll invoice you each month and either deduct your payment card on file or Cloudways balance funds (if any).
Verdict: Should You Choose Cloudways or A2 Hosting?
Resources are expensive, but the reality is that most people won’t need that many. If your website consumes as many resources as you provide, something is wrong somewhere. My test website on Cloudways runs on their $26/mo plan and sees average monthly traffic of around 50k unique visitors.
Yet it performs better than my previous A2 Hosting VPS plan despite costing around half of what I used to pay. If you need fast and robust hosting, I highly recommend Cloudways. Don’t be fooled by “Cloud hosting.” The Cloudways platform is so simple that almost anyone can use it.