Finding the best hosting provider out there can be a challenge, especially if you’re the kind of person that’s not really familiar with how each and every one of them works and is just starting to sink your teeth into the world of hosting.
Where do you even start, what does your website actually need? These are questions you need to ask yourself in order to make the right choice.
For example, some people run simple blogs, in which case most shared hosting plans, even the cheapest ones, can do the trick. However, certain people want an entire eCommerce website and system, and here is when things can get a little tricky.
Think of this as picking your new car; how would you go on about picking the brand, the speed, the horsepower, and the features you are getting with it? The chances are high that this will be based on two things:
- Your initial needs of the vehicle, for example, takes you from point A to point B at a certain level of speed and efficiency.
- Your initial needs in terms of comfort, such as Bluetooth, an Aux Port, and the convenience of smartly tracking it in the event of theft.
The same can be said with a hosting package as well.
You want a hosting package that allows your website to load quickly. The server location is also important, as it needs to be close to the geographical location of your visitor. Ensure that the service offers a high level of support, available apps, panels, and website management tools.
You will, over time, also need to scale up the host, so having the option to upgrade the CPU, RAM, SSD and bandwidth is always a plus.
When you think about all of these things, you will realize that it is not really that simple to pick a hosting provider for your website.
What to Look For In Online Hosting Providers
By far one of the most important factors that you need to consider is the reputation the company has, and this is the case for several reasons. For one, you need a high level of customer support, as you do not physically have access to the server to reset it or change things up if it goes wrong. On the software side, sure, you can manipulate just about everything, as you are essentially just paying for space on a server and its resources. However, if things break, and they generally do, you need to ensure that the company you pick has the personnel to assist you.
You also need to ensure that the company you pick has 99.9% uptime guarantees and 24/7 customer support care that can assist you when in need.
The next thing you need to worry about is the pricing as well as the scalability. Ideally, you need to ensure that you have access to as many pricing options available, from just a few dollars to the ability to scale to managed VPS servers or even Dedicated Servers which can range in the thousands.
With today’s internet ecosystem, any business can make a “boom” in the industry, and you need to ensure that if yours fortunately does, you can scale up at a moment’s notice.
You’ll also need to look at the specific features and the level of flexibility you get with each hosting provider out there, and if you don’t get the features you need in the hosting package itself, you will undoubtedly have to pay for them further down the line. This includes things such as cache cleaners, website builders, auto-installers through the use of scrips, and things of that nature.
Ease of Use
The first thing I’d honestly like to discuss is the ease of use, as this one of the main things that can make or break a provider’s experience. Now, you may be thinking that you’re experienced and this isn’t quite that important for you, and that’s perfectly fine.
However, many people are new to the world of hosting, so having a streamlined experience makes things a lot speedier, saving me time which I can spend doing other things, such as eating bagels and watching Netflix shows. Why lose out on precious time if the user interface can be designed in a way that is easy to understand and convenient to use?
In terms of the main UI itself, ScalaHosting wins in terms of simplicity, as you’re getting a lot less information thrown your way, with easy access to all of the features on the left navigation bar on the screen.
A2 Hosting boasts a wide range of features, which can be a little tricky to understand. This has the possibility of overwhelming new users, but with a bit of tinkering and time, anyone should be able to get into it.
Pricing and Features
You get initial offers based on the amount of time you choose to have this as your hosting provider.
On A2 hosting, in the three-year plan, it’s going to cost you only $2.99 per month. However, you’d have to pay for 36 months upfront, which is inconvenient for some.
If you pay for a single month on the cheapest option, it will cost you $10.99, which will also be the price you will have to pay each month after those first 36 months pass at the previously mentioned offer.
Now, ScalaHosting does something a bit different.
Let’s review the cheapest option there so you can see what I mean.
They have a single-month trial, where you can essentially pay $0.99 for a month of the service. This is extremely convenient, as you can test things out for a month and be done with it if you don’t like it without losing out on much.
Now, if you opt-in for the three-year plan, here it will cost you $3.95 per month, which is more expensive than the $2.99 offer at A2 hosting.
In other words, if you’re in it for the long term, A2 hosting is more affordable. However, if you want to test both out for a month, you’re getting quite the deal with Scala Hosting, which is neat.
Now we can move on to what you are actually getting for your money. While some people see the price tag when deciding on what to buy, others are more interested in the kind of features they are getting.
Okay, so let’s discuss the key features you’re getting with each provider with their cheapest shared hosting offering.
|At A2 Hosting, here’s what you get.||At ScalaHosting, here’s what you get.|
|Hosting for a single website
Free and Easy Site Migration
100 GB of SSD Storage
Unlimited Email Accounts
24/7/365 phone, live chat, and email support
cPanel Control Panel
Free SSL Certificates
Free Website Builder
|Hosting for a Single Website
20GB of SSD Storage
SSD Powered Servers
1-Click WordPress Installer
7 Backups for last 7 days
|Price: $2.99 (for the 36-month plan)||Price:$3.95 (for the 36-month plan)|
So, here’s the thing. These are very similar, and the chances are high that these won’t really matter that much for you when you’re just starting out.
Now, keep in mind that A2 Hosting is a lot more popular and has been around for quite a while longer, so it packs quite the punch in terms of additional features. Prepare to get a little bit, well, overwhelmed.
ScalaHosting has its own SPanel, SWordPress Manage and SShield Cybersecurity, which you are only getting with the more expensive packages.
Now, while all of this is fine, there are scripts and apps that can manage WordPress already in A2 Hosting, and you also have a wide range of security options. The main point of interest for ScalaHosting is the SPanel, which comes free of charge, so you won’t have to constantly keep up with the everchanging shifts of cPanel’s pricing and limitations in terms of features for the lower-end packages.
The simple fact here is that A2 Hosting has cheaper overall packages, and has a lot more additional apps and features that you can install and opt-in to use if you want to.
Winner: A2 Hosting
Level of Customer Support and Refund Policy
Now, A2 hosting offers a hassle-free money-back guarantee that is valid for the first 30 days, which is excellent.
In other words, in one way or another, you can test out both of these hosting providers for 30 days with ease and won’t really get much of a hit in your wallet, which is always nice to see.
Now, what we are really looking out for here is what the actual support experience is like.
To test this out, I asked for a refund on each of the hosting providers or simply wanted to cancel my account so they would not charge me again in the future.
Now, here’s what kind of experience I had on A2 hosting, and what you can expect.
On the live chat box, you’ll need to enter some information.
Once I started chatting, this is the kind of experience I had.
I was instantly given instructions and did what I was instructed with ease.
The entire process, from messaging the support staff, getting a reply, and conducting the cancellation itself, resulted in 5 minutes spent. This is by far one of the best support experiences I’ve ever had the privilege of using.
We’ll move on to the other end of the spectrum, ScalaHosting.
Support worked a bit differently for me on ScalaHosting.
I clicked on Support and selected “open a new ticket”.
I had to open a ticket in order to get the same thing done. While the chat service is available 24/7, and I did receive a reply within minutes, this wasn’t live chat support, but the process of opening a new ticket.
Winner: A2 Hosting
Server availability plays a huge role depending on your specific target audience. For example, if you have a business in Europe, or want to target a European audience, if you select a server located near that region, you’ll have much fewer latency issues or lag in terms of page loading. If you can cover multiple regions at once, that’s always a plus.
A2 Hosting has several data center options.
- USA - Michigan
- USA - Arizona
- Europe - Amsterdam
- Asia - Singapore
ScalaHosting offers its web servers in the US, and in Europe.
In terms of its US Datacenter, they have:
- 68,000 square feet facility
- SSAE 16 SOC 1, Type II
- 30 inch raised floors
- 300 lbs/sq ft floor load
- Single-tenant, single-story building
- Redundant HVAC with Liebert air handlers
This is located at the Tierpoint Dallas facility, SSAE 16 SOC 1; Type II is audited and staffed 24/7.
However, in Europe, they host their equipment at the Telepoint facility that has ISO Certification for quality (ISO 9001:2008) and data security protection (ISO 27001).
A2 Hosting has locations in Asia, which gives it an advantage here.
You can choose between the native infrastructure in Dallas, New York, Sofia, or the integrated DigitalOcean data centers in Bangalore, London, Singapore, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Toronto.
Winner: A2 Hosting
Wrapping Things Up
At this point, you’re probably well aware of what you’ll end up choosing for your specific needs.
A2 Hosting is cheaper, has a lot more features, has a much higher reputation and user base, and proven uptime and performance. It is undoubtedly the better option out of these two. However, let’s assume that you do not want to commit to the full 36-month plan. In this case, if you just need a quick temporary hosting solution, or don’t want to risk too much money, the $0.99 trial is a good way to avoid having to deal with the hassle and wait time of a refund. In most hosting providers, you’ll have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is excellent, however, it will typically take up to 7 days if not more for the funds to process, and get back to your bank account. By only costing $0.99, you aren’t really losing much to try it out.
That being the case, both hosting providers do offer a lot with their packages, have excellent support, and a wide range of features.
What will ultimately tilt your focus towards ScalaHosting will be the SPanel, SWordPress Installer, and SShield, however, these are features that enterprises might get more value out of, not individuals.
A2 hosting on the other hand has the largest third-party app support I have ever seen, which should keep you busy for quite a long time and never let you feel like you are ever behind the curve or have something missing.
I would recommend Scala Hosting to someone that’s just starting out and wants to run a blog, who wants a $0.99 alternative to test things out. I would also recommend it for companies that want to ditch the high prices of cPanel, as SPanel is an extremely competent alternative.
For everything else, A2 hosting is the superior choice.