Looking for a reputable Web host with a small-business feel can be complicated, especially when there are many being purchased by larger conglomerate companies that are snapping up many companies.
I admit, I was a bit hesitant when it came to A Small Orange. They started with such a customer-centric philosophy that I was worried being purchased by EIG would change the reputation they’d developed for giving high quality hosting at reasonable prices.
I have to say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised. All of their work to address their customers’ needs paid off even despite the sale of the company, and we’ll took a look at why I was impressed by A Small Orange.
Host: A Small Orange
Brief History of the company
Started in 2003 by Tim Dorr, A Small Orange is a Texas transplant, starting in Atlanta and later moving to Austin. The company’s founders wanted to give customers quality service and support with an excellent, affordable price and plan structure.
They say they have focused their mission on providing service, not servers, knowing that their customers have a variety of different options for their hosting needs.
They have grown from a small company to a business with more than 100 employees, tens of thousands of customers, and a reputation for quality, hosting more than 45,000 Web sites from around the world.
Their customer care provides up-to-date information on their regularly updated blog, giving them marketing and small business tips, in addition to hosting information.
A Small Orange Plans and Pricing
A Small Orange prides itself on their homegrown hosting, even though it’s owned by powerhouse Endurance International Group (EIG).
While their sister brands, which include Bluehost and HostGator, haven’t gotten the best reviews for their shared hosting, A Small Orange has provided their customers with a solid shared hosting plan.
Customers who subscribe with a shared plan at A Small Orange have a wide variety of free and included options:
- 99.9 percent uptime guarantee
- SSD servers
- Unlimited Web sites, e-mail accounts, and mailing lists
- Round-the-clock service
The most-loved small plan ($5/month) offers 5GB of storage, 50GB of bandwidth, and a free .com domain.
The medium plan ($10 per month) includes 15GB of storage and 150GB of bandwidth, along with a free .com domain. The large plan ($20 each month) includes 30 GB of storage and 500GB of bandwidth.
One of the favorite plans is the tiny plan, which costs $2.92 each month, and gives customers 500MB of storage and 5GB of bandwidth for one site.
All of the shared plans run solid-state-drive storage in redundant RAID 10 arrays. Servers are Intel Xeon E5 Dual Hex Core processors, include the industry-standard cPanel, and daily backups.
The servers are also optimized for WordPress, and gives customers access to Weebly website builder.
Reseller accounts at A Small Orange are all hosted on SSD servers, which give 15 times greater speeds.
The small plan starts at $15 per month, and is perfect for new designers or resellers, giving them 20GB of storage and 250GB of bandwidth. Customers can host up to 30 Web sites and have 24/7 e-mail and live chat support.
The medium plan ($25 each month) was designed to meet the needs of businesses who want to give their customers quality hosting. The medium plan includes 25GB of storage, 500GB of bandwidth, and supports up to 50 hosted Web sites.
A Small Orange’s large plan ($35 per month) is the optimal value for resellers of all types, from Web hosts and designers to marketers and strict resellers. The plan offers customers 50GB of storage, 1500GB of bandwidth and up to 100 hosted Web sites.
Virtual private servers on the cloud give you your own little sliver of cyberspace. Each plan is hosted in a top-of-the-line data center, with the best quality hardware and gives each administrator full root access. They offer several different packages, including:
1 CORE: Which offers 30GB of storage, 1024MB RAM, and 500GB bandwidth. This package, which costs $20 each month, doesn’t include cPanel.
2 CORES: This plan includes 50GB storage, 2048MB of RAM, 1TB of bandwidth, and cPanel, at $30 each month.
2 CORES: The second 2CORE plan ($45/month) offers 75GB of storage, 3072MB of RAM, 1.5TB of bandwidth, and cPanel.
4 CORES: There are two plans. The first ($60/month) offers 100GB of storage, 4096MB of RAM and 2TB of storage; the second ($75/month) gives customers 125GB of storage, 5120MB of RAM and 2.5 TB.
8 CORES: The eight-core plans offer either 200GB of storage, 8192MB of RAM and 4TB of storage for $120 per month or 250GB of storage, 10240MB of RAM and 5TB of storage for $150 per month.
Customers appreciate the free domain and the offer for two months of free hosting on the annual packages. All 2CORE and above packages include cPanel and WHM, saving them an additional $15 per month.
The Cloud VPS packages offer free backups, kernel virtual machine, which allows for highly specific customization, free migration, and dual Intel Xeon Hex (6) Core processors.
Each dedicated hosting plan includes five dedicated IP addresses, along with Softaculous on each cPanel and WHM server, and top-level customer-service to make sure your reserved, dedicated server needs are met at any hour of the day.
Plans start at $99/month for a 4GB plan, where the server (Xeon E3-1220 V2) runs a 128GB SSD Raid-1. There are a total of six single-CPU servers; the highest cost $175/month, and runs a 1TB Raid-1 disk on a Xeon E3-1270 V2 server with 16GB.
A Small Orange also has two multi-CPU packages, which offer great flexibility. Other companies do offer slightly more dedicated package options, but A Small Orange has solid packages. Both run on 2x Xeon E5-2620, while the first ($275/month) offers 32GB, 512GB SSD and the second, for the same price, increases the disk space to 1TB.
Performance – Faster Page Speed Than Anyone Else
I think that the pages hosted on A Small Orange are opening at a very good speed, but other customers haven’t had the same experience.
Some sites are loading slower than preferred, but the others are getting blazing fast speeds.
Since slow page loads can be one of the leading reasons visitors click away from your page, it’s important to note that a fast load time will increase the odds of a new visitor staying on your site.
Overall, A Small Orange is a very reliable host, with the majority of customers impressed and thankful for the consistency of A Small Orange.
The customers have found that their visitors are getting the information they need, while still being able to see that A Small Orange provides a high level of reliability.
Solid Uptime 99.96%
I have been impressed with the uptime reports coming back from A Small Orange. For being a small, “homegrown” host, they have consistently come up with very high uptime — a valuable piece of data for choosing a Web host.
Well, when your site is down — so is your business. Across the industry, 99.9 percent is a good gauge for an average uptime, with many guaranteeing anywhere between 99.95 percent and 99.99 percent.
A Small Orange fits nicely in that range.
They guarantee a 99.9 percent uptime, and you’ll get one day of service for every 45 minutes of downtime. The credit isn’t applicable on VPS, Cloud, dedicated, or semi-dedicated hosting, though.
Money Back Guarantee
While more companies are moving to a 90-day money-back guarantee, it’s still the exception, rather than the rule, and I’m glad to see that A Small Orange is one of them.
Like most other companies, A Small Orange doesn’t include the cost of domain registration or payment made to other companies in the cost of the guarantee payment.
Their 90-day guarantee for first-time customers who’ve bought shared, reseller, Cloud VPS and semi-dedicated plans is not unlike the many other growing money-back guarantees.
One benefit offered at A Small Orange, though, is that customers can get a prorated account credit.
Inexpensive Pricing – Very cheap service
I like the amount of features A Small Orange provides for a price that is lower than many others in the industry. It may not be the first host who comes to mind, but it should be close thanks to the insanely low prices they offer.
Sign-up is easy, and they don’t bombard you with monthly add-on fees.
Honest and transparent business approach
Many companies will try and tell you that they are adding value through services like customer support, which should be included, and other apps or programs that can be added for far less than the prices quoted.
Additionally, more and more hosting companies are moving to an “unlimited” concept that tells users that if they exceed one or many of their limits, they could be shut down.
A Small Orange doesn’t promise unlimited hosting, but tells you upfront that they will shut down sites using too much space on the servers.
They also give you their standard price from the get-go, which is refreshing, as many other companies will try and attract customers with a ridiculously low introductory price that skyrockets when they renew.
Various Website building tool
I like that they offer Weebly, which has a drag-and-drop site building tool that lets you add a variety of different functionalities to your Web site. You can also use Softaculous to add your favorite apps to your Web site.
A Small Orange offers daily backups for their customers, which saves administrators and site designers from losing their site and the hard work and resources they put into making their sites just right.
Even the most basic of plans include password protection for your directories, as well as IP blocking and hotlink protection.
cPanel, as I’ve said before, is the industry standard for control panels. It’s comfortable and familiar for experienced designers and easy-to-learn and accessible for novices.
A Small Orange offers both the traditional cPanel, or a cleaner, dare I say, attractive, skin? They’ve done a good job making the most in-demand apps and tools highly visible.
The standard option is great for beginners trying to follow along with tutorials and pros who want to use something they already know, and their adaptation was designed to increase functionality.
High Touch Services
They offer a few different additions that improve the site’s functionality. The inclusion of Passenger for Ruby meals that you’ll always have an updated version, since the cPanel plugin used by many other hosts doesn’t always include the newest version.
Many other options, like Cloudflare, PHP selector, SiteLock for site security, and an extensive list of other programs are included. The servers all run on SSD, a characteristic that is growing in popularity, and in price, for many other hosts.
In addition, A Small Orange provides support and assistance with installing and setting up software, configuration, and other more detailed tasks that should be done by an experienced pro. They can do whatever you need done.
Node.js and Ghost Blogging Platform Support
While a Small Orange has cut back on some of the services that other hosts are including as part of their standard plan, I have to say that I like some of the others that they do offer, like the Node.js installation, which means that the Ghost blogging platform can be installed.
Ghost is an extremely easy-to-use blogging platform with a clean, simplistic design.
A Small Orange hosting for Ghost isn’t quite as straightforward when it comes to theme changes or other administrative needs, but it’s nothing that can’t be worked around, even by a novice.
Outstanding customer support
Support fluctuates from excellent to mediocre, but it is always available, which is nice.
Whether you choose e-mail or live chat, you can rest assured knowing that no matter what time it may be, you can reach a specialist from A Small Orange.
The customer support offered with their inexpensive plans is very well-organized. Customers can reach a team member via Web chat or e-mail, and also have access to an expansive forum and database section.
Their customer support reps are polite and responsive, and seem to place a high emphasis on their relationships with customers.
The support teams are experienced and knowledgeable, and really care about giving their customers top-level care.
The only thing I, and many other customers, have noticed, is that over the past year or so, their customer service might take longer than it previously took for an answer.
Some Negative Sides Too:
Risks for Exceeding their Limits
If you exceed your plan’s limits they might suspend your account immediately.
They don’t tout unlimited plans like many others, and actually have put in place some strict usage guidelines. Sites on shared servers can be terminated whenever and however A Small Orange deems fit.
They also have limits for shared and reseller pages that directly affect these two groups. This group’s enforced limits include 5 percent memory usage, 10 percent CPU usages, 199,999 Inodes and 500 outgoing email messages.
Phone Support Unavailable
This might be a bigger sticking point for some than others, but A Small Orange doesn’t offer phone support as a primary means of communications. If the situation warrants a phone call, though, they will call the customer.
Pros & Cons of A Small Orange: This Review in a Nutshell
- A Small Orange has outstanding, reasonably-priced plans, which is great for designers and businesses on a budget.
- The company has thrown in some unique, creative options.
- A Small Orange truly cares about its customers.
- A Small Orange doesn’t have a managed WordPress hosting tier, which is important for those who are not as experienced with the back-end needs of a Web site.
- Many people may not like the fact that A Small Orange doesn’t offer phone support.
- They are good — but not great. The specifications for their top tier plans don’t quite hit the same mark offered by other companies.
- You can’t choose whether you want the Dallas or Michigan data center.
Do I Recommend? Yes!
A Small Orange is great for small businesses or those who need a solid Web host without the extras that individuals with a more in-depth knowledge might need. It’s great for getting started when you want to develop your own site.