Since 2003, A Small Orange has been building a company culture that's "homegrown" to embody two focuses: (1) solutions built to help customers grow online and (2) a workplace environment where employees thrive and stay. Three team members walked us through both what draws customers to A Small Orange hosting and what drew them to work for this passionate and creative company. Director of Marketing Zach Kwarta, Director of Technology Ryan Echter, and Datacenter Operations Manager Matt Harris introduced us to A Small Orange hosting solutions, allowing us to then take the servers for a spin with our own performance testing.
ASmallOrange.com says, "People are at the center of everything we do. This includes our employees, our customers, and our communities. It's that simple." When chatting with a few of the all-star people at A Small Orange, we were debriefed on the meaning of the term "homegrown," as used frequently throughout the hosting company's marketing message. We interpreted their definition of "homegrown hosting" to have two focuses:
Based on the passion the team shows for their customers and the services they offer them, "homegrown" indicates the care that goes into engineering new solutions and nurturing customers as they learn to use them.
The technology behind A Small Orange emphasizes speedy and secure performance. With that mission in mind, all A Small Orange shared hosting plans are equipped with SSD servers for 15 times faster page loading. "We're known for our technology," Zach said, and especially since the company's acquisition by the powerful Endurance International Group (EIG), the team continually strives to offer more and more performance in the services they build for their customers.
In building their "one-of-a-kind" cloud platform, as an example, the team has engineered several unique templates that are specific to various operating systems. They're loaded with caching technologies and powered by SSDs. Some of their cloud services are SAN-based, some are on local disk, but their templates are all built in house based on what they see their customers doing and needing to host their business. "We have a WordPress-optimized template that actually uses NGINX instead of the Apache web server to deliver faster content loading for the customers’ visitors," Matt shared with us, as an example. "We’ve set up PHP-FPM and other PHP-level caching technologies as well." By building these templates from scratch in house, A Small Orange offers a great deal of flexibility and boosted performance potential to their users.
The teammates told us that A Small Orange's product portfolio centers around the customer and his or her needs — and getting to play by the "Endurance playbook" has only broadened their potential to serve the customer. "It's the best of both worlds," Ryan said, referring to their experience with EIG. "Endurance has let us run with our growth mode and spirit in mind, so we've been able to scale a lot quicker and get some really cool hardware. We ultimately get the best of both worlds with this entrepreneurial freedom while also having the backing of one of the largest companies in the hosting space."
A Small Orange centers their business model around helping you build your business model on the Web. For this reason, they don't promise unlimited resources with hidden agendas and up-charges, they do offer a free cPanel license with all hosting plans, and they make sure their highly-trained staff is on hand to help every step of the way. "You get what you pay for and most people are satisfied with that," Zach said. "They’re really able to leverage the technology of the server."
Matt told us that on the support end of things, it's a personal experience. "Support has always been a big deal at ASO and I think customers recognize that," he said. "We offer a personable type of support; we treat the customers like we would want to be treated." All of their support is conducted in house and they're a US-based team — readily available and more than happy to solve problems (or hand-hold, if need be) 24/7/365.
A Small Orange has been around since 2003 and the team members we spoke with have been with the team for about a decade, collectively. "There’s definitely been a lot of longevity on this team," Matt said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the people." The passion for the people they work with and work for (you!) transcends into the pleasantry of the overall hosting experience with A Small Orange. High-tech hardware, in-house performance enhancements, and a team that truly cares — that's reliable hosting in the truest sense of the words.
HostGator has been around for more than a decade and is well-respected for its large number of servers and consistent reliability. Known mostly as a shared hosting provider, HostGator still supplies decent dedicated and VPS options if you need your site to scale. HostGator costs slightly more than some of the other budget-minded shared hosts, but that echoes the brand's reputation for strong infrastructure and helpful support. HostGator offers decent features in its basic shared hosting offerings, such as unlimited disk space, a nice control panel, and free website templates. Plus, you get the flexibility to add numerous add-ons for privacy, security, and productivity as you see fit. Aimed primarily at the semi-technical user, HostGator's flexibility is its strong suit. Dedicated, VPS, and Windows hosting is available if that fits your needs, as well. Root access, SSH, and support for Ruby, Perl, Python, and other languages is available on all plans. HostGator has nearly limitless options and control available for their servers, with the support and beginner-friendly tools that will appeal to the full range of customers.
A Small Orange hosting includes shared plans to meet a range of customer needs, which results in a price range that hosting users new and old should find worthy of consideration. Even if a "Tiny" plan is all you need, you'll benefit from screaming-fast solid-state drives that give your shared server an extra gust of power. As for the essentials, you'll get unlimited email and webmail access, the popular cPanel control panel, and a customer support team that's based here in the US. "Our live chat people are there to help out," Zach assured us. "We have experts ready to go!"
It says something about a company's true value when they're so confident in their customer satisfaction rate that they're willing to offer their product free of charge for 60 days as a trial run. A Small Orange offers a sweet sign-up deal for those who select one of their "Small," "Medium," or "Large" hosting plans for a year or longer: free hosting for two months with a free .COM domain name. Plus, shared server users have access to unlimited email accounts with SPAM protection, mailing lists, and auto-responders.
A Small Orange accepts the challenge to offer unrelentingly excellent support, features, and pricing, as well as a user experience that's worth the 12-month commitment. "We want to be the best shared host for everyone," Zach said. Looking towards 2016 and the future, he told us, "You'll probably see us iterating and making our shared platform even better."
Zach told us that the company "eats" the cost of cPanel licensure, so that anyone who wants to get started with hosting can avoid that incremental charge. "We really do want to do the best by the customer," Zach said. "They’re the ones that keep us going everyday, so we never want to lose sight of that mission." From cPanel, customers can install all manner of popular web application scripts, including WordPress, Drupal, and Magento — some of the most user-friendly avenues for building personal or professional websites.
The team told us about technical innovations they've concocted to further enhance their hosting offerings. They've implemented an assortment of caching technologies, and they offer MariaDB and MySQL for file storage and management options. They've also designed a series of templates catering to specific operating systems, which customers can seamlessly switch between based on needs. As an example, they built a WordPress-optimized template using NGINX (a web server to help your site load content at blazing-fast speeds). "These templates offer a great deal of flexibility, because we've created them in house ourselves," Ryan said. "A lot of these tools are cPanel integrations that we’ve done in house for anyone who wants those performance enhancements."
Enterprise-level hardware comes standard. Even on shared server plans, A Small Orange uses high-powered Intel processors to give customers top-tier performance. "We are known for our technology," Zach said. "We have a tremendous infrastructure in place, so a lot of our customers have come to us for that."
A Small Orange shared hosting pricing ranges from a little under three to 20 bucks per month, which allows prospective customers to choose a plan based on the resources they require and the cost they can be comfortable with. What you can't really put a price on, however, is the extra thought that the technical team has put into their in-house innovations. With SSD speed-boosting, cPanel access, unlimited email addresses, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee — plus a 2-month promotion for free hosting — A Small Orange knows how to dangle a pretty enticing carrot as far as shared hosting cost is concerned.
#3 out of 10 in Cheap Hosting reviews
HostGator is a great compromise between performance and price. The company offers unlimited emails, MySQL databases, disk space, and bandwidth, plus one-click installs of popular open-source projects, in addition to a 99.9% uptime guarantee on its shared hosting plan. HostGator’s price-to-performance perks also apply to its vast array of other hosting options, such as VPS, dedicated servers, and even reseller hosting. The company's many hosting options make HostGator a great choice for sites on the rise, in need of options for the future. For those just getting started and looking for a good, cheap host, HostGator bundles some nice features that hosting newbies can appreciate. The Hatchling Plan is perfect for users who just want to create one website, while upgrading to the HostGator Baby Plan unlocks unlimited bandwidth, domains, and email inboxes. The web hosting company’s custom website builder comes with more than 4,500 drag-and-drop, mobile-friendly templates to help users launch their website, blog, or ecommerce store, while the familiar HostGator cPanel interface helps customers seamlessly manage domains, email, databases, and one-click software installations. If you are looking for a solid web host, with a ton of flexibility, plenty of power, and great price points, you should consider making HostGator your web host of choice. Be sure to use a HostGator coupon to make sure you score the best deal!
A Small Orange hosting on dedicated servers includes the following: enterprise-grade hardware, expert-managed security updates and patches, and exactly the resources you need for your dedicated environment. The ASO team will fine-tune your server to your specifications, handle setup, and monitor your main IP address (with ping monitoring as well). You get the power of a dedicated plan with the peace of mind of a fully-managed shared plan.
Solid-state drives, RAID 1 disk mirroring, and premier Intel processors all come standard on A Small Orange dedicated server plans. "We have a great set of hardware/software," Zach said — the stack is of enterprise-level quality with 24/7/365 monitoring done by an expert team. "We have a tremendous infrastructure in place, so a lot of our customers have come to us for that."
ASO dedicated customers all receive full root access as well as cPanel/WHM control to manage their servers. On the system administration side of things, Ryan and a team of 10-or-so run the infrastructure and respond to any issues that exceed the means of traditional support that may arise.
Ryan has been a member of the A Small Orange hosting team for about five years now; Zach recently joined A Small Orange and Matt's been there for four years. They all agreed that the company holds a history of employee longevity that translates into both an enjoyable work environment and a better customer experience.
When asked what keeps them around, they attributed their sticking with ASO to their professional peers. "I think a lot of it has to do with the people — I really enjoy everyone that I work with," Matt said. "We have a lot of fun together," Ryan echoed. The team gets unlimited vacation time, daily video hangouts (for work-related discussion and for fun), and the option to work from home or choose their schedule. "At the end of the day, we're a giant team and a big, happy family," Zach concluded. That employee morale translates into a better hosting experience for the customer. "We really care about the customer and want to offer them a good service," Matt said.
Dedicated server hosting with A Small Orange means flexibility. You get a range of options for memory and disk storage settings — spanning from four to 16 gigabytes and 128 gigabytes to one terabyte, respectively. You get the power of an Intel Xeon core processor. You get the control of cPanel, WHM, and root administrative access. With A Small Orange, you get the power of dedicated resources, backed by a team that can support the security, setup, and troubleshooting needs that accompany that server responsibility. "Our product portfolio is based on the customer and what they need," Zach concluded.
#6 out of 9 in Dedicated Hosting reviews
Founded in 2002, HostGator is one of the largest web hosts with a long lineage of dedicated server hosting. With updated hardware, including Intel Xeon Quad-core processors and a boatload of RAM, HostGator balances performance, quality web hosting service, and competitive pricing. As one of the few hosts to offer managed support and a Windows-based operating system, HostGator is an excellent fit for those seeking hassle-free ASP.NET support. HostGator boasts a top-of-the-line, fully redundant network and datacenter, which dedicated hosting users should appreciate. The company also offers several dedicated IP addresses per HostGator server hosting account. Finally, HostGator has a fantastic support team and 24/7 customer service available via phone, chat, or email. Combining that HostGator support with plenty of power, HostGator is a very respectable choice for a dedicated server host.
KVM virtualization, Intel Xeon 6-core processors, automatic failover, and state-of-the-art network safeguarding — a blur of letters and buzz words for hosting newbies, but for the more savvy VPS shopper, these features are exactly what you're looking for in a cloud-based server. A Small Orange cloud hosting includes the latest in performance technologies, so you can expect enterprise-level hardware and expert-level help to secure and monitor it. Ryan, Matt, and Zach introduced us to their VPS hosting infrastructure, talking through the tech and the team behind it.
Cloud Spectator conducted performance testing on A Small Orange and other providers and reported 100% uptime for A Small Orange Linux hosting in February 2016. When comparing the response times coming from various datacenters, the results for February 2016 ranged from 297 milliseconds to respond to a low 100-millisecond load time.
ASO promises 99.9% uptime, which isn't jaw-dropping in the hosting space; however, they were one of three providers with 100% uptime in February 2016, according to the results of the Cloud Spectator performance review.
While discussing A Small Orange's hosting offerings, Zach told us the cloud product in particular is "one of a kind." This piqued our interest immediately. "The way we have it set up is pretty cool," he explained that the entire platform is SSD-powered with RAID solid-state drives and several "cool caching technologies" in place (e.g., PHP-FPM/FastCGI Process Manager and other PHP-level caching tools).
"One of the things that really differentiates our cloud platform and that really enables us to provide a higher quality of service than other providers on the market right now is that all of our templates for different operating systems are homegrown," Matt said. "What I mean by that is that instead of downloading a template from the developers of our virtualization software, we create them based on what we've learned about what our customers are actually doing in the real world; then we optimize the templates around that research."
As an example, the A Small Orange team built a WordPress-optimized template using NGINX to deliver faster content loading for customers' site visitors. "These templates offer a great deal of flexibility, because we’ve created them in house ourselves," Matt said. "We’re able to offer certain performance bonuses that you can’t find with any other provider." Customers can seamlessly switch between various templates as their hosting needs fluctuate.
"From a marketing side, cPanel’s included," Zach said, "so anyone who wants to get started with VPS is not faced with that incremental charge." Ryan added that many of the in-house tools we discussed are integrated with cPanel, "so if someone wants to get these performance enhancements, there are cPanel integrations that we’ve done in house that are a part of those stacks as well."
In addition to cPanel hosting, A Small Orange VPS customers benefit from SSD speed-boosting, resulting in screaming-fast response times. To protect your precious site data, A Small Orange conducts daily site backups, with options for rolling back to previous versions over a 7-day timespan. They also offer R1Soft's Bare-Metal Restore (BMR) backups for all of their servers, along with RAID 1 disk mirroring.
Recognizing that no hosting solution can be one-size-fits-all, the A Small Orange hosting support team is there to help iron out the setup and security details. They offer free migration assistance, 24/7 network monitoring, and a "personable" support experience, to use Matt's words. "We treat the customer like we would want to be treated," he said. They have around 100-or-so support employees and Zach told us those folks make up the "bulk" of the ASO staff. "Support has always been a big deal at ASO and I think the customers recognize that," Matt said. "It really shines through in all of our support channels."
To sum things up: VPS requires flexibility and that power warrants a need for relentlessly reliable support; that support needs to translate from the chat portal to the network of servers — servers which need to be online. A Small Orange's cloud hosting for Linux yields screaming-fast response times, the team offers support you can count on, and the company promises 99.9% uptime for your site. That's a virtual deal you can literally feel good about.
#10 out of 10 in VPS Hosting reviews
HostGator has built a great reputation in the industry for its shared web hosting options. The company's VPS hosting solution, with optional cPanel support, provide a nice and easy introduction to those who are new to VPS hosting and know their needs require more than a typical shared plan. Starting at low price points and boasting tons of support, HostGator makes transitioning to a VPS plan reasonable and doable. Each plan comes with two IP addresses and a bunch of storage, and recently expanded CPU and RAM offerings lend a ton of computing power. If you're not sure a VPS hosting package is a good fit, take a look at the revamped HostGator cloud offerings, which offer additional scalability and redundancy at remarkable price points. For those managing multiple hosting accounts, be sure to consider a HostGator reseller hosting plan, as well. HostGator’s strongest point comes from its state-of-the-art datacenter. Featuring a fully redundant network with no single point of failure and multiple bandwidth providers, uptime should almost never be a concern. Founded in 2002, HostGator is one of the largest online web hosts. The company has more than 12,000 servers under management and award-winning support. If you are looking for a small VPS server or value the strength of a great network, give HostGator a shot.
WordPress hosting is a popular avenue for individuals, business owners, and bloggers to get a new website launched quickly and easily. A number of the ASmallOrange.com offerings benefit WordPress hosting seekers, starting with their sign-up deal for annual plans (two months of free hosting). With the extremely popular cPanel control panel, customers can log in and easily install WordPress, along with hundreds of other web apps, via Softaculous auto-installer. Once you're up and running, your site will perform up to 15 times faster, thanks to A Small Orange's SSD-powered servers.
The team told us about some cool performance enhancements that they've engineered in house. They offer a variety of system-specific templates, with a boatload of caching and SSD speed-boosting technologies. Ryan explained one template type in particular: "We have a WordPress-optimized template that actually uses NGINX instead of the Apache web server to deliver faster content loading for the customers’ visitors."
They determine what kind of templates and in-house innovations to work on next based on what they observe their customers doing, using, or needing. "We create these templates based on what we’ve learned about what our customers are actually doing in the real world," Ryan said. "By creating these templates in house, we’re able to offer certain performance bonuses that you can’t find with any other provider."
WordPress is well-liked and well-supported in the hosting community, but there's nothing more frustrating than trying to troubleshoot a WordPress hiccup yourself to no avail. A Small Orange offers the help of their friendly support staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. They're US-based and ready to assist.
Meanwhile, their security team is also keeping an eye on your website and server. They conduct daily site backups, with 7-day rollback options, and promise a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Your data is also better protected with Bare Metal Restore (BMR) backups.
What could be better than 1-click installation, SSD speed-boosting, and a US-based support team to get you started with the very popular blogging platform, WordPress? A Small Orange makes it easy, affordable, and darn-right pleasant to launch a WP site for your personal or business use. "The customer has always been a really important part of our business," Zach said. "Our product portfolio is based on the customer and what they need." A Small Orange centers their business around helping you build your business.
#6 out of 8 in WordPress Hosting reviews
HostGator is great for all things shared hosting, and application-specific services — such as the classic one-click-install WordPress hosting — are no exception. The team recently updated its already clean and intuitive HostGator cPanel dashboard, wherein users can find a myriad of free apps and scripts to install, including WordPress. You could quite realistically have a WP-powered site up and running in as little as an afternoon. As is the case with many of our favorite shared WordPress hosting providers, including sister company Bluehost, HostGator offers unlimited emails, databases, disk storage, and bandwidth. The one downfall is the lack of the popular free domain perk, but domain names are easy to obtain for around $10 to $15 bucks with any registrar. You can also select, register, and pay for a domain directly from the HostGator signup page. If you're serious about your WordPress hosting, we recommend HostGator's new(er) managed WordPress platform, which is optimized for performance with cloud resources, multiple layers of caching tools, and a complimentary CDN. Managed WordPress plan subscribers enjoy up to 2.5x faster page load speeds for their HostGator website or blog. If you're running a business WordPress site, this is an excellent investment. Once your site is designed and ready for promotion, HostGator helps you kickstart your online marketing efforts with $100 in paid advertising credits. Attract blog readers, potential clients, or online shoppers browsing Google search results. We wish you the best of luck in your blog or online business hosting endeavors. WordPress is a known favorite in the space, and HostGator has established itself as a trusted partner well worthy of your consideration.
A Small Orange builds upon their usable and flexible hosting offerings by partering with Weebly to provide the "Professional" and "Business" website builder plans. Keep in mind, all shared hosting plans come with a free Weebly site builder, but these particular services give you the same drag-and-drop ease-of-use, without the ASO branding. These add-ons allow you to get a professional-looking site up and running in mere minutes and are especially appealing to eCommerce-minded customers or those with no programming experience (and no interest in becoming a developer overnight). Both plans include A Small Orange hosting features like cPanel access and unlimited email addresses, as well as 24/7/365 live chat support.
Customize a beautiful web property that boasts your brand with the simplicity of Weebly's drag-and-drop builder tool. With either of A Small Orange's web builder plans, you can create an unlimited number of pages, a custom footer to connect them all, and a slideshow to catch visitors' eyes at first landing. Password-protect pages, add audio or video, and host your masterpiece at a personalized domain name. Once you're satisfied with your design, hit "Publish" and start promoting your brand or profiting from your products.
If you're building an online marketplace, A Small Orange offers all the eCommerce features you need to feature and sell your products on the Web with ease. Feature up to 25 products with the "Professional" plan, or display as many as you can come up with using the "Business" plan. Other perks to opting for the slightly pricier "Business" plan include a shopping cart integrated into your domain (rather than parking it at a Weebly.com subdomain), no transaction fees, and additional tools for calculating shipping, taxes, and coupon codes. Depending on your business size and sales expectations, you can determine which plan better suits your inventory needs.
If there's one thing we want to stress here, it's that the A Small Orange team is readily available to help no matter your hosting or site-building requirements. "We offer a personable type of support," Matt said. "We really care about the customer and want to offer them a good service." Based on our conversation with the ASO team, we believe that their attitude is: your business's success is their business.
#3 out of 10 in Website Builder Hosting reviews
Setting itself apart from the scores of competitors that rely on white-labeled website builder solutions, HostGator spent the time to painstakingly craft its own platform. Gator provides a frustration-free experience that pairs the simplicity of drag-and-drop design with the company’s powerful and respected web hosting services. Signing up is a breeze, and HostGator gives customers an option to add a suite of social media marketing tools. Users are quickly ushered into a gallery of more than 200 modern, mobile-responsive, and visually impressive templates that can be sorted by categories like beauty and fashion, music and entertainment, real estate, business consultant, portfolios, and others. Gator covers blogs and ecommerce stores, even coming with a free domain name and SSL certificate. Once you choose your basic look, Gator ushers you through a 15-second tour to show you the basic features of the editor — and it’s all you need. Clicking on any element opens a menu that gives you options to change styles, whether it’s a section’s complete design or something simple like font or color. We especially appreciate how Gator’s drag-and-drop interface gives users pixel-perfect control while still suggesting guides and grids for appropriate spacing. Throughout the customization and design phase, users can seamlessly switch between desktop and mobile views to understand how your site will appear to all visitors. Adding a blog or ecommerce store takes just a click. We wish Gator would suggest a select few designs that matched the current site’s template instead of the dozen or so options that reflect a wide range of categories, but we were impressed that the in-depth previews covered both the blog page and individual posts, for instance. All in all, HostGator can be incredibly proud of its proprietary site builder — and customers can sit back and enjoy the confidence in having such a well-rounded tool at their design disposal.