Before I start with the article, let me say some words about that new "Hoster Review" category:

I want to evaluate some web hosting companies for BIGACE compatibility, overall features and price models. I hope some of you find this useful, as I know that its not easy to find a good and cheap hoster, meeting the requirements for a professional BIGACE hosting. If you are related to a hoster who offers BIGACE hosting, please contact me to talk about a (review) partnership.

A2 Hosting

A2Hosting is a green web hosting company from Michigan (US), which are specialized in linux hosting.
They wrote me an email, telling me that they offer BIGACE Hosting and asked about an entry on the BIGACE Hosting page. Sure they can! And as they offered me a free test account I am going to write a short review about their offers.

Registration

That was really quick: I registered the package, entered all required information and received the first info email within a couple of minutes.

About one hour later, I got the email with all login information, nameserver and ssh access, URL to CPanel ... payment information and more. Well structured email including a link to a good "First-steps Guide" how to setup the page.

I am using INWX as domain registrar and I was pretty supprised, that they offer support for external registered domains, nice to offer for the smaller packages. And to be honest, I never saw that in Germany for that price!

Features

Well, I was positive suprised again what they offer:

  • Ruby, Perl, Python, PHP
  • Apache 2.2 with mod_rewrite
  • SSH Access
  • Cron Jobs
  • Fantastico with several popular One-Click Install Applications
  • Specialized BIGACE Hosting
  • Nameserver entries for external registrars
  • Several credits for web promotion which are worth 250$
  • SSL certificates starting at 120$/year
  • Good support and really fast email replies (at least in my case)
  • Unlimited disk space and traffic!
  • ...

There is a lot more, have a look at their web hosting offers. But they have also quite good VPS Hosting offers, where they support an impressive list of linux distros: CentOS, Fedora, Slackware, Gentoo, Debian, Ubuntu - that should be enough for everyone to find a distribution that fits your liking and needs.

The pratical test

I had to wait for a day until the nameserver records were activated (which has nothing to do with A2 Hosting), in the meantime I tried the SSH access. It works out-of-the-box and I could directly login after I received their login-info email, just 1 hour after I purchased the test package!
Even though you can't gain root control ;) you still have enough permissions to do almost anything you need for a good web hosting experience. Personally I never saw a hoster offering SSH support in that price category and thats why I originally moved to a Virtual Server - I wish german hoster would offer that!

Next thing to test was user and group permissions. A2Hosting creates both a user and group for your account, now lets test it via FTP and SSH.

  • FTP: Uploaded install.php and bigace_install_2.6.zip, both had kpapst as owner and group with the permission 644.
  • SSH: Using scp the same user/group and permission were applied, only difference (as expected) was that FTP changed the last modified date, what SSH didn't.
    SCP worked with and without applying a port, where SSH refused the connection, hmm... I don't need to understand everything ;)

After the DNS entries were live and I could reach my site, I started the installation and use the Pre-Installer to extract the files directly on the server. Worked like a charm, got BIGACE up and running within 5 minutes. The delay was caused by myself, I needed to find out how to create database/user with cPanel, which I never used before.
The files had "kevin" as group and apache as owner, what is good, so you can still delete files through FTP. Couldn't find any problems when installing extensions and updating content!

And here are some hard facts, first the screenshot of my cPanel stats, quite impressive values you can see there. I wonder when they cut off the "unlimited" hdd and traffic ;)

Second is a little stress test result which I ran from my Laptop using ApacheBench with "ab -kc 10 -t 30 http://www.mytestdomain.com/". Keep in mind that I tested from Europe to Michigan and I my working machine is running database, webserver, browser, eclipse and several other things that make it slower. Also I am using a wireless connection with max. ~60kb/s upload and ~700kb/s download and I started the test only twice, so the results are probably not representative - but good.

Conclusion

A2 Hosting seem to be a solid hoster, providing good support for BIGACE hosting with low prices. I did not check email and all the other features they offer, thats up to you! If you are now interested in further infos check out the A2 Hosting web site.

I hope you enjoyed that review. Please let me know if there is anything I missed to test or if you have experience with A2 Hosting that you want to share.