A2 Hosting Shared tier impressions

Update: 27 December 2019 – Have now received confirmation of a refund from A2 Hosting.

At the same time of setting up my Digital Ocean droplet as part of the Early December site move, created an account with A2 Hosting on their shared “turbo” server (with “Performance Plus” add on), drawn in by the positive reviews on Webhostingtalk and their up to “20x faster” marketing along with their 66.6% off Black Friday Specials

I copied NUI.NZ to both a Digital Ocean Droplet and to my account on A2 Hosting (both at their respective Singapore data centers) to begin comparing the two. After some testing, discovered that the Digital Ocean droplet performed faster for my use case in terms of responsiveness, speed and consistency.

  • NUI.NZ on Digital Ocean loaded up in 3.2 seconds on Average.
  • NUI.NZ on A2 Hosting shared turbo loaded up in 3.9 seconds on Average (with Caching enabled and A2 Optimisation plug in installed) but was bursty / less consistent and felt so much less snappy and responsive overall.

A2 Hosting’s marketing had led me to believe that I would have access to 2 CPU cores and 3GB of RAM on a burst basis versus the 1 CPU and 1GB set up with my 5 USD/month Digital Ocean VPS droplet.

Additionally, setting up their A2 Optimisation plugin they had developed for WordPress and then clicking “Optimize all” will crash even a shiny new and fresh install of WordPress into the white pages of death. If the aforementioned didn’t crash it, enabling Memory Cache on the WordPress instance will most certainly crash it. After much frittering around I did manage to get the plugin to work but only in rather limited situations I’ve found. It is my belief A2 Hosting should seriously consider removing the plugin as it is I believe impacting their brand.

I’m also a little bit disappointed with how they have structured their so called “any time” refund policy. Within 30 days, you can get a full refund, after 30 days however, what they will do is re-bill you at the regular rate for the rest of the paid up period then give you what is left. I struggle to think of anyone who will be (willingly) paying regular rate given the performance I’ve seen of their shared hosting product. I have to admit, this has darkened my regard I have towards the A2 Hosting brand.

I have now requested a cancellation and refund under A2 hosting’s 30 day risk free policy. Given prior experience with Shared hosts and my impression of some of the way A2 Hosting do things, I don’t have enough faith to see out the full 3 years with them

I have to admit, over the years, I’ve started really souring of Shared hosting in general and believe it should be left for only of the most insignificant of web projects (Personal websites). Sure, if you are a largely a neighbourhood bricks and mortar (Vet Clinic, Dentist, Hairdresser, etc) business and just need a site with a handful of static pages (and may be a blog, but would argue at a stretch) then Shared Hosting may be Okay.

If on the other hand you’re a business who is almost entirely dependent on the web, it should go without saying you shouldn’t be using budget shared hosting… ever. Unfortunately, I see many businesses and online only retailers for what ever in their right signing up for shared hosting, installing Woo Commerce / Presta shop and once their site goes down or goes slow, they are seen screaming to high heaven on all the support channels and web hosting forums begging for a resolution.

A2 Hosting Shared tier impressions

More site Maintenance.

In the latest round of website maintenance issues… In the latest version of Chrome, v79 for Android, it was found the Tiled Galleries weren’t displaying / resizing properly anymore and were ending up being cut off on the right hand side. The funny thing was that the Desktop and iOS variants of Chrome (v79) were unaffected. Similarly, all the other browsers (Such as Brave and Firefox) on Android would display the same galleries fine.

Decided to try and debug it. After much blooming mucking around trying to get Chrome PC DevTools to recognize my phone. Managed to start walking through the code and identify where it was flipping out… but not necessarily understanding why.

PC Desktop Chrome v79 Devtools Debug freaking out and closing the USB Debugging connection

All I know was at the highlighted line, it would skip right out without error. Often at the same time it would cause my USB Debugging / ADB connection to the phone to die, requiring me to revoke all Debugging access permissions on my phone and then trying to re-authorize the connection to get it going again.

The section of code checks if all the images have been loaded up prior to executing the actual resizing / re-scaling of the Tiled Gallery images.

Anyway, have since identified and implemented a workaround in code and I am now testing it out on all the browsers I have access to. I am thinking however that this isn’t anywhere near the last of the challenges I will be facing while maintaining my own web presence and services going forward (as opposed to relying on Facebook / Instagram for that). Facebook have whole dedicated teams to troubleshoot shit like this.

More site Maintenance.

Site Move + State of the web.

Moved NUI.NZ again. This time to cheaper self managed hosting at Digital Ocean. Was on Cloudways who turned out to be excellent, though couldn’t justify spending almost 40 NZD a month on what essentially was a personal homepage hosting a bunch of personal photos. New arrangement will probably save me around 300 NZD per year.

I’m probably increasingly one of the last few netizens in New Zealand who still bothers to maintain a fully fledged personal website as the primary means of staying in contact with Friends and Family, particularly where I host my own photos (and video clips) on my own domain rather than putting it on one of the many proprietary services.

I have trouble with supporting the like’s of Facebook given their track record behaviour. After all they are a business whose first and foremost aim is to maximise profits and believe that it is not a good idea for us collectively allowing them to so much power over our communication lines between friends and family and subsequently our lives in general. They aren’t some benevolent organisation, being a for-profit entity, they are ultimately answerable only to their shareholders

Giving the increasing complexity of maintaining a website along with Web development becoming an increasingly specialized field… we are seeing more and more personal websites simply become single page landing sites which contain little more than a series of links to one’s social media accounts on the proprietary platforms owned essentially by Advertising companies.

Site Move + State of the web.