A Small Orange has been in the hosting game from 2003. It is not among the better known names in the industry, but it has surely grown in quick time. Originally founded in Atlanta, Georgia US, the company currently has its HQ in Durham, North Carolina.
The company founder is Tim Dorr, a web designer by profession, and he was soon bought out by Douglas Hanna in 2010. Hanna was a manger of customer service manager at HostGator and he has since assumed the CEO role after the buyout.
There is also another HostGator connection here (don’t forget to read my HostGator review here), Brent Oxley, the founder of HostGator, was also involved in part of the funding of this takeover.
Hanna is also involved in the running of two other hosting companies, HostNine and SEO Web Hosting. Obviously, A Small Orange is in good position to leverage on this well-connected network. The original founder, Tim Dorr, is now in charge of Army of Bees web design.
For some reason there are 2 different profiles on bbb for ASO. One of them identifies the company as A Small Orange Software. I don’t know how and why the word Softwar is there. I never heard anyone call this company by that name. Perhaps its their registered business name.
Either way, there was not much to look at on the Better Business Bureau’s website since it seems the company profile there is young. There was no complaints recorded against the company, nor is the company a bbb accredit business.
As usual, I scoured the web in search of real reviews from actual customers to add more credibility in this review. Not surprisingly, there were mixed opinions, but positive reviews and rating were overwhelmingly more than negative ones.
Here is a break down of what I though were the most common points the majority of customers made:
A good branding that depicts the company as a standout from the highly crowded hosting sector.
A comprehensive “Knowledgebase and Video Tutorial” section to get customers quickly up to speed. Such resources have definitely been helpful to get customers over the learning curve quick.
Matter of fact advertisement – no bullshit like “unlimited bandwidth” being hawked about here.
Value for money plans, this is especially so when you take into consideration of the quality of service on offer as well.
Rich choice of plans, you will be able to decide on what you really need, not wasting money on extras that you never use.
The ubiquitous cPanel, universally acknowledged as the easiest to use interface for system admin, for both newbies and seasoned webmasters.
Softaculous as their CMS script installs. I don’t think there is anything else to have WordPress installed on your site just as quickly and efficiently.
Unbelievably fast and competent response to customer service tickets.
Phone support is non-existence for all basic packages, but if you invest in one of the high valued packages, you get to use this service. If you rate phone support as ultra important to get you website going, and you happen to be on a basic package, then you will have to consider their sister company, HostNine, seriously. Nevertheless, the level of ticket support is amazing and I personally think this mitigates the missing phone support effectively.
It is difficult to speak bad about a company’s trajectory growth, but the fact that ASO grow so much in such short time recently could create a backlash on their service level. Today, the company is not considered a mainstream hosting provider yet. But as business continues to scale, it can be anybody’s guess if ASO is capable of handling the extra users load or if that level of service is going to sacrifice. Back in early 2013, I complained about a drop in service quality when the company’s aggressive growth path was evident, but they quickly turned around and it has been business as usual, credit to them.
Again, same time as I witnessed a decline in quality of customer service, uptime also suffered. For straight 2 month, my observation of 4 shared servers revealed that average uptime had dropped to 99.73%. To be fair, they acknowledged my observation and compensated me free months of hosting, as part of their process to honor their guarantee, which has been beneficial to me, to say the least.
EIG finally acquired ASO in Jul 2012. On paper, some eminent changes on operation were perhaps to be expected, but after my conversations with a few executives at ASO, I was made to understand that EIG is allowing ASO to operate sort of autonomously. If that message stays true, I have no ground to complain.
A Small Orange really looks like an honest operator focusing on its web hosting packages and services. The company lays out pertinent information for customers’ consumption; there was never any attempt to over-glorify itself or indulge in freebies to tempt customers, and the website is neat with easy to navigate structure.
If there is any bone to pick, then it got to be the lack of telephone support, limited live chat support and tech support staff who are not housed at the same location.
Although my experience confirmed that great support service can still be had through emails, I am not sure if the rest of the webmasters share my feeling.
The bottom line of this review is that A Small Orange has earned its fine reputation and its website has been a great source of fact finding and information gathering for me. It helps that the company also adopts a positive policy on cancellation refund.