I’ve been a paying customer for A Small Orange for the last 37 months. During that time, I’ve monitored their performance – avg. load time and uptime.
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
What is A Small Orange?
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
That might be a warning sign for a company who’s tagline is ‘homegrown hosting’. However unlike those two more notable brands, A Small Orange seems to have not lost their straightforward approach.
We set-up a basic WordPress website on one of their cheapest hosting plan ‘Tiny Plan’ (cost $71 without a domain name) back in June of 2015, and collected uptime & speed stats over twelve months that you can review here.
So… how do they compare to their better-known sister-brands? Let’s take a look.
Pros of A Small Orange
Originally launched back in 2003 by Tim Dorr, A Small Orange now have two server locations in Dallas, Texas and Dearborn, Michigan. A Small Orange, despite their small status and whimsical name, has been at this for awhile. And the data proves they know what they’re doing.
1. Strong uptime of 99.98%
Getting your website featured on a major publication can unleash a flood of traffic within just a few minutes. That exposure is amazing. That is, until your site crashes.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how well your site performs if it keeps getting knocked offline by an under-performing web host with poor uptime statistics to support it’s performance.
But that’s not the case with A Small Orange.
Our analysis showed an uptime of 99.98% over a eight month period (.04% better than industry average). That’s phenomenal, far out-performing the bigger, more notable names in the industry (including their sister companies).
Here’s the raw data:
- September average uptime: 100%
- October average uptime: 100%
- November average uptime: 100%
- December average uptime: 100%
- January average uptime: 99.96%
- February average uptime: 99.99%
- March average uptime: 99.99%
- April average uptime: 99.98%
A Small Orange: Page Load Speed and Uptime (Last 12 months, full data can be found here.)
2. Quick Load Time (15% faster than average)
We’ve established that a stable site is critical to website performance. But even a stable site, if slow, can quickly become worthless.
Research shows that a one second delay in site load time can result in a 7% conversion loss. And 40% of your site traffic will leave forever if it fails to load in under just 3 seconds.
Fortunately, A Small Orange delivered average page speeds much faster than industry average (clocking in at 757ms, which is about 14.94% faster than the industry average of 890ms).
Again, here’s the raw statistics that back up these claims:
Last 8 months average load time
- September average speed: 760ms
- October average speed: 992ms
- November average speed: 761ms
- December average speed: 771ms
- January average speed: 749ms
- February average speed: 738ms
- March average speed: 657ms
- April average speed: 629ms
3. Support – Friendly and Helpful
Even stable, fast sites need great support for the random issues that might pop up unexpectantly.
A Small Orange’s customer support didn’t let us down, getting back to us quickly with responses that were both detailed and well-informed. Our experience dealing with them was a 10/10. Here’s an example chat with their team:
A Small Orange support agent was helpful & cheerful
I love that A Small Orange didn’t just attempt to send out links to solve my problem.
They actually took the time to speak with us, unlike some other web hosts we have reviewed in the past.
4. Inexpensive Pricing
Considering their excellent uptime and average page speeds, A Small Orange is relatively inexpensive…
Their cheapest shared hosting option (the ‘Tiny Plan’ we setup for our test site) will only set you back about $71 per year (which translates to about $5.92).
The great news is that unlike most other web hosting companies, there’s no hidden language or absurdly long commitment you need to make in order to get this low price. What you see is what you get with them.
All plans (excluding ‘Tiny’) offer premium features.
5. Honest, Transparent Business Approach
A positive side effect of their honest approach is that there’s no ‘hidden’ agenda or language to mislead you.
For example, most web hosts make hyperbolic claims like ‘unlimited hosting’. But most, don’t actually deliver unlimited benefits.
A Small Orange doesn’t do that. They spell out, in plain English, what you’re going to get for your money.
In addition, each plan on their site provides all of their premium features (with the exception of their ‘Tiny Plan’), including unlimited email, 24/7 U.S. based support, SSD servers and unlimited domain names.
6. 90-Day, Money Back Guarantee
Standard industry practice might give you a 30-day refund if things don’t work out as planned. Again, A Small Orange bucks the trend by providing up to 90-days to get your money back. Only a company willing to stand by their service would offer such a long refund period, making it relatively low risk for you to test drive.
By the way, InMotion Hosting offer also a 90-day money back guarantee. The rest should be around 30-45 days.
Money back guarantees are huge because you don’t have to feel uneasy about committing to a web host only to find that you don’t like their services and features.
With A Small Orange, you won’t have to feel stuck paying for a service you hate.
However, refunds don’t apply to certain payment methods.
According to A Small Orange’s Terms of Service, you won’t be able to get your money back if you pay with a bank wire transfer, Western Union payment, check, or money order.
Be sure to pay with a debit card, credit card, or PayPal to ensure that your account is eligible for refunds.
Cons of A Small Orange
A Small Orange passed most of our tests with flying colors. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before handing over your credit card.
1. Risks for Exceeding their Limits
In the event that you exceed your plan’s limits, A Small Orange might suspend your account immediately. This is in their Terms of Service when you sign up, leaving you with no alternative but to agree when you get started. While most of their plans offer a decent amount of bandwidth, just be aware that this is a possibility.
When it comes to resource usage, A Small Orange claims that each customer is required to use as few server resources as possible so that all customers on their servers experience good performance.
Since CPU and memory are shared resources, A Small Orange can suspend or terminate your account for using too many resources because it’s “abusive.”
According to their Terms of Service, resource limits on shared and reseller packages are as follows:
- 50 Running Processes
- 15 Minute Max Execution Time
- 100,000 Total Inodes
- 10% CPU Usage
- 5% Memory Usage (or 512 MB)
- 500 outgoing email messages within each hour (they will discard all excess messages without delivering them)
The same applies to bandwidth usage. They allocate you a monthly bandwidth allowance that is based on the hosting package that you purchase.
If your account surpasses the allocated amount of bandwidth for the month, A Small Orange can suspend your account until:
- More bandwidth is allocated,
- You buy more bandwidth for an extra fee,
- Or you upgrade to a package that has more total bandwidth.
They can charge you an additional overage fee regardless of how you choose to reactivate your account.
2. No Phone Support
A Small Orange’s customer service is fantastic. They were extremely quick and detailed in our experience, with 24/7/365 availability.
Only problem? No phone support. Instead, they rely on an in-depth knowledge database, live website chat, and email.
Most other web hosts offer phone support, so the gravity of this ‘con’ might depend on your own personal preference.
3. Poor Reputation Management
Throughout our test period, A Small Orange performed admirably on the primary tasks of a web host (uptime, speed, and customer support). But online you’ll find other reviews that aren’t so glowing. Our objective is to always provide a holistic review, but there are reviews out there contrary to our own.
The company doesn’t just have a poor reputation when it comes to reviews, either.
Several Twitter users have taken to the social platform to speak negatively about A Small Orange’s services.
One user even claimed that A Small Orange wouldn’t transfer their domain to a new web host in 2016.
In 2017, it appears that the overall conversation about A Small Orange is still just as negative, even if we don’t agree.
Here’s what Twitter user @jackson_surfs had to say to the company:
A Small Orange responded to both tweets and seemed to attempt to rectify the issues.
A Small Orange Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
- Tiny Plan: This plan costs $71 per year (with no month-to-month option). It comes with 500 MB of storage, 5 GB bandwidth, 24/7 email + live chat support and a maximum of 1 domain name. You need to pay for at least one year if you decide to go with this plan. – This is the plan we used for testing.
- Small Plan: This plan costs $86 per year (or $5.54 per month) and can be gotten at a cheaper rate if you pay for one year or more at once. It comes with 5 GB storage, 50 GB bandwidth, unlimited domain names and 24/7 email and live chat support.
- Medium Plan: This plan costs $124 annually (or $7.75 per month). It comes with 15 GB storage, 150 GB bandwidth, unlimited domain names and 24/7 email and live chat support. You can pay less if you decide to pay for a longer period of one or more years.
- Large Plan: This plan costs $228 each year (or $14.25 each month). It comes with 30 GB storage, 500 GB bandwidth, unlimited domain names and 24/7 email and live chat support. It also costs less if you order for a period of more than one year.
All their shared hosting plans, except the Tiny plan, come with support for unlimited domain names, unlimited emails, 24/7 support and SSD.
*Update: Tiny Plan is now $5.92.
- Ease of Signup: Single sign up page. Easy sign up.
- Payment Options: Credit Card, PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: No hidden fees. A limit of 10 percent CPU usage, 5 percent memory usage, 50 running processes, 15 minutes max execution time, 100,000 total nodes and 500 outgoing email messages per 60 minute period is enforced for all shared and reseller packages.
- Upsells: No upsells. Hooray!
- Account Activation: Instant account activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel available.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Softaculous available for one-click installation.
Do We Recommend A Small Orange?
You’ll probably get most bang for the buck as they’re really cheap compared with others.
Stable uptime, quick page loading and a friendly chat with a knowledgeable support representative proved that A Small Orange knows what they’re doing.
They’ve been one of our TOP 5 hosts for a few months now for a reason.
What’s good about A Small Orange?
- Strong uptime (99.98%)
- Fast page load time (757ms)
- Customer support is friendly and helpful
- Pricing is on the inexpensive side
- Honest and transparent approach to explaining features and plans
- 90-day money back guarantee
What’s bad about A Small Orange?
- They could suspend your account if you exceed their limits
- No phone support
- Poor overall reputation across the web
Have you used A Small Orange hosting? If so, please leave a review below. Good or bad – doesn’t really matter as we’re trying to keep our reviews transparent and honest.