No matter what your plans are – maybe you want to start a blog to write about your life or make money with affiliate marketing, showcase your freelancer services, or promote a product you want to sell – you will have to pick a web hosting company to build your website. If you are new to the whole world of creating websites, you are probably looking for a reliable and reputable hosting plan. Something that is easy to use, yet powerful enough for your needs.
When I started working on websites for clients, we mainly used two of the biggest web hosting companies for beginners out there: Bluehost and A2 Hosting. That is why I want to share my experience with you and explain, why I only recommend one of the two for your first website.
What Makes a Great Web Hosting Company for Beginners?
Let’s start by looking at the features that make a great web hosting company.
Webhosting companies are, in the best cases, well-established and offer all the necessary features.
Beginners are also often interested in affordable shared hosting plans which include enough features for every newbie to get along with. If they are affordable you can’t do much wrong. In case you find out after a couple of months that this is not the right path for you, you haven’t invested too much money in it.
They should also offer great customer service, which can help you out with any rookie questions or struggles you might have.
Moreover, beginner web hosting providers should be compatible with common Content Management Systems, like WordPress. Especially, if you want to start a blog, this might be your go-to system.
Just in case you want to sell products on your website, there are also free shopping carts and plenty of eCommerce plug-ins available via WordPress. So you don’t have to take care of that yourself and find your own solutions.
And before you ask: Yes, you can stay with most of these beginner web hoster even as an advanced website owner. In case you need a more extensive plan, i.e. more websites, storage, etc., you can simply upgrade anytime.
Who Are Bluehost and A2 Hosting?
Bluehost is a well-established hosting company that has been around since 1996. It is one of the 20 largest web hosts out there and potentially the most famous one. It is popular for its cheap and flexible pricing plans.
A2 Hosting is slightly newer and not as commonly known as Bluehost. I can’t really tell you why it is not as popular (marketing?!) because its uptime and speed performance is truly outstanding. That’s why many professionals use A2 for their advanced needs, too.
Key Facts and Features of both Hosting Companies
I don’t want to dive too deep into technical details here. But let’s have a look at the most important facts and numbers that are of interest to you, even if you are a beginner.
Bluehost was a long time known for its fairly slow service. However, they have made a few improvements and now manage to reach a load time of 510 ms. This is indeed a very good result.
A2 Hosting claims that they are 20 times faster than its competitors. And it’s true. They really manage to achieve an incredible load time. When Hosting Facts tested the speed, A2 averaged 392ms during the test period. That’s like instant page loading. It also makes it the fastest WordPress hosting out there at the moment.
Bluehost is known for its reliable uptime. Although there is no guarantee, statistics at Hosting Facts show that it is regularly 99.98% or better.
A2 Hosting goes one step further and guarantees its customers an uptime of 99.9% or more. In case your website is not reachable because of any network issues with A2, they will refund 5% of your monthly fee for every hour it wasn’t up.
3. Customer Support
Both Bluehost and A2 Hosting have several ways how you can reach them 24/7/365 in case you have any questions or problems with their service. This includes:
- Live Chat
- Email Support
- Phone Support
- Forum Support
In addition to this, you can also scroll through their knowledge databases and read about topics you are interested in. You will even find video guides that help you through the most important processes.
Since I’m not exactly a techie, I have questions that I can’t solve on my own every once in a while. That’s why I have used both customer services extensively in the past. Here is my experience:
A2 was kind enough to do the entire migration for free from my former hosting company to their server because I had no clue where to start. During the process, the website was never offline and everything worked absolutely fine, no issues at all. I have to say that I was very pleased with their support – it was fast, friendly, and competent.
I honestly can’t remember a single negative incident with the A2 customer support, only positive experiences.
I have read quite a few negative reviews about Bluehost customer service on the internet before and, unfortunately, can only confirm them.
When I transferred a website to their hosting service, they made several serious mistakes which resulted in my website being offline for 48 hours (everyone who works in this industry knows how fatal this can be for a website or business). On top of that, they damaged my database and weren’t able to fix it. WHAT A NIGHTMARE!
Within those two days, I talked to about 20 customer agents because the chat constantly broke (“Sorry, we currently experience network issues.”) It’s more likely that they ended the chats because they knew they messed up and didn’t know how to help me.
End of story: I went back to my old host, who still had the original database saved, and was able to bring back my website within 1 hour. Thank goodness!
I asked Bluehost for an explanation and reimbursement. 3 agents confirmed that someone will get back to me asap. Of course, I have never heard from them again. All I heard within those two days were lame excuses and even lies.
I have never experienced such incompetent and useless customer support before. It was quite shocking to see how they don’t care about their customers at all although it was clearly their fault and they even managed to destroy my database.
So from my personal experience, I can only recommend Siteground here and advise you to stay away from Bluehost.
4. Plans and Costs
Both web hosting companies offer several plans for their shared hosting service. To make it more comparable, let’s look at their basic versions only.
|Price||No monthly options -|
3.95 USD per month for 1 year
|4.90 USD on a monthly basis
4.41 USD per month for 1 year
3.92 USD per month for 3 years
|Included Domains||1 free domain for 12 months||No included domain|
|Data Storage||50 GB||Unlimited|
|Free SSL Certificate||Included||Included|
|Money Back Guarantee||Within 30 days of Signing up||Anytime|
Just in case that is of any importance to you:
Both Bluehost and A2 Hosting, offer payments via PayPal or credit card. Bluehost offers checks and money orders in addition to that; A2 gives you the extra options of Skrill and wire transfer.
Downsides of Bluehost and A2 Hosting
Ok, I guess this sounded all great so far. But there are disadvantages, too, right? There always are. So let’s see what might be a downside for you:
- As explained, I experienced an absolute nightmare because of their terrible and absolutely unacceptable customer service. Reviews of other users on the internet confirm this.
- Although the speed significantly improved, the shared hosting has still room for improvement.
- Unless you buy a 3-year plan, A2 is more expensive than the average web hosting company.
- You don’t get a domain name included and therefore have to pay extra for it.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Both Bluehost and A2 Hosting are stable hosting providers. They both provide a good range of features and are known for their reliable performance. On top of that, they have extensive systems to keep your site safe and protected.
They also both have easy-to-navigate websites and allow you, to install hundreds of useful applications with one click. On top of that, both use cPanel as a control panel, which is particularly easy to use for beginners.
What makes the big difference here is their customer service. While A2 has very friendly, quick, and competent customer service, Bluehost is quite the opposite. As I explained before the customer service experience with Bluehost was an absolute nightmare. I was lied to and their agents even managed to destroy my database.
Especially as a beginner, you need to have reliable customer service. You need to trust them and they should be able to help you, not cause further damage.
Although Bluehost’s uptime and speed are alright, I, therefore, cannot recommend them as a web hosting company. Since you have many other choices, I advise you to pick a different provider.
In my opinion, A2 Hosting is a great choice for beginners. Although they are a bit more expensive, their uptime and speed are outstanding, and so is their customer service.
If you have decided for A2 Hosting, click here to head over to their website now to get the best deal!