- Strengths & Weaknesses
- Alternatives for A Small Orange
- A Small Orange Shared Hosting
- A Small Orange Website Builder
- A Small Orange Features Overview
A Small Orange is one of many web hosting companies owned by Endurance International Group and, unfortunately, that keeps it from being in our best web hosting guide. It’s closer than most, though, with straightforward, low pricing and an impeccable user experience. The privacy is too bad to overlook, though.
In this A Small Orange review, we’re going to go through everything, including the lows in privacy and the highs in user experience. Throughout the review, we’ll also talk about our experience testing speed, contacting support and using some of A Small Orange’s many features.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent control panel
- Daily backups
- Full SSD hosting
- Integration with Weebly
- Cloud VPS plans offered
- No SSL certificate included
- No phone support
- No managed WordPress hosting
- Poor Load Impact performance
Alternatives for A Small Orange
Many of A Small Orange’s features are focused around the performance of your hosting. Though not as exciting as ad credits or extra goodies, making sure that your website performs well, and does so consistently, is important. There are also many security features that ensure your website is kept safe.
Your site is hosted on solid-state storage. SSDs are faster and more consistent than traditional spinning hard drives, which means faster load times and less downtime for your website. Plus, the shared servers are outfitted with dual Intel Xeon E5 hexa-core processors or better, which should provide plenty of power to every website hosted on the server.
A Small Orange Shared Hosting
None of that is unique, though. What is rare is that A Small Orange provides shared users with dedicated resources. Your bandwidth and storage are limited based on the tier of shared hosting you choose, which ensures that websites aren’t stepping on one another’s toes.
Plus, servers are protected with ModSecurity, distributed denial-of-service protection, hotlink and leech protection, password-protected directories, IP blocking and daily backups. Though we appreciate all the features A Small Orange has to offer, we’d like them more if the servers were using LiteSpeed.
LiteSpeed is an alternative to the Apache server software that boasts impressive performance over the platform on which it’s based. It shares the ability to use many of the tools that make Apache so great, including ModSecurity, but results in fewer errors when installed on a shared server.
As we’ll see in the “speed” section, A Small Orange could be better when it comes to load times. Though not bad, the lessened overhead of LiteSpeed would help A Small Orange accommodate more users without errors.
A Small Orange Website Builder
A Small Orange makes it easy to install any platform you want with the Softaculous app installer. If you’d rather use a drag-and-drop builder, though, Weebly is available. Every hosting package comes with access to a free version of Weebly that’s tied to your domain, which usually runs around $5 per month.
As you can see in our Weebly review, it’s one of the best website builders, so the fact that you get free access to it is great. If you want to add email, remove A Small Orange branding and use unlimited pages, there are dedicated website builder hosting packages, too.
A Small Orange Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
A Small Orange looks more expensive than a lot of the web hosting market at first. Unlike its sibling Bluehost, though, A Small Orange advertises the correct price (read our Bluehost review). The price you’ll pay throughout your time with A Small Orange is the price that’s shown on the checkout page.
Unfortunately, that puts A Small Orange at a disadvantage when compared to other web hosts on paper. It suffers a similar fate to 1&1 IONOS, which, as you can read in our 1&1 IONOS review, looks more expensive on paper but is cheaper in the long run.
For example, Arvixe is around the same price as A Small Orange, and it’s one of the most expensive web hosts around. As you can read in our Arvixe review, though, its renewal price is even higher. Thankfully, with A Small Orange, you don’t have to worry about that.
Plus, you aren’t forced into a multi-year contract. The most inexpensive shared plan is limited to one, two or three years, but all other tiers have a monthly option, too. You aren’t penalize for going with the monthly option, either. Not only is the monthly price the same as other durations, but also there are no ridiculous setup fees if you opt for a shorter term.
That comes with downsides, though. Unlike Hostinger and Hosting24, you don’t get the opportunity to save big if you’re willing to buy multiple years of hosting upfront (read our Hostinger review and Hosting24 review). Going yearly comes with the upside of a free domain, but other than that, there’s little incentive over paying monthly.
It depends on what your wallet can handle, but we’d rather have the flexibility than not. Plus, A Small Orange offers an excellent refund policy. You get 90 days to receive your money back, just like with InMotion Hosting (read our InMotion Hosting review). After that period, your account may be eligible for a prorated refund, too.
Ease of Use
A Small Orange is a joy to use. The cheesy, clementine-saturated website is goofy, but it’s not insulting like FatCow (read our FatCow review). Instead, the colors are bright, the layout is clean and there’s never a question about where you need to go to find something.
Before diving into the plan lineup, though, you can take advantage of A Small Orange’s plan recommendation system. From the homepage, you can click the button by the “not sure what you’re looking for” bar. It’ll send you to a page with four questions about how experienced you are and what type of website you’re looking to build.
Based on your answers, A Small Orange will make a recommendation. We expected the tool to oversell unneeded packages and make lofty recommendations, but much to our surprise, the suggestions were in line with what we’d recommend. That’s especially surprising coming from an EIG brand.
There’s a five-part checkout process that’s easy to get through. You can go overboard when segmenting checkout into steps — read our Namecheap review for an example of that — but A Small Orange doesn’t make it feel like too much of a chore. You’ll also set an account password before completing payment, which means you can log in to cPanel immediately.
A Small Orange Client Area
After your payment has been processed, you’ll find a link to log in to the client area, with no password required. The client area displays your active services, account information, domains and more. It isn’t a full web hosting management panel, but it has more options than most. It’s the same client area as Site5’s. If you’ve read our Site5 review, you know that’s a good thing.
If you’re using a domain registered elsewhere, you’ll want to check the welcome email before digging into the client area. There, you’ll find the DNS servers that you’ll need to point with your domain registrar.
After setting up your domain, you can manage your hosting by clicking the “services” box and finding the domain you’re hosting. As we’ve seen with Site5 and InMotion Hosting, the hosting overview is more powerful than it looks at first. You can see your disk and bandwidth usage, as well as access commonly used items in cPanel.
Though we love cPanel — you can see how much in our best web hosting with cPanel guide — it can be overwhelming. A Small Orange puts a lot of important information at your fingertips, while discarding the more extraneous, niche options that cPanel has.
A Small Orange cPanel
cPanel is there if you need those options, though. You can access it by clicking the “login to cPanel” button in your hosting management overview. The layout is classic cPanel. There are categories and icons, which makes it easy to find what you need, as well as a search bar if you get lost in the fuss.
We’re happy to see that A Small Orange has a section for the Softaculous app installer, too. Many EIG brands use the MOJO Marketplace installer exclusively — read our JustHost review for an example — which we’ve found to be less consistent than the Softaculous app installer, despite its more modern interface.
Softaculous is tried and true, and installing WordPress with it this time went off without a hitch. Though some EIG brands have had the corporate claws dig in too deep, A Small Orange has maintained some of what made it such a great host before.
A Small Orange offers shared, cloud VPS and dedicated hosting packages. If none of that makes sense to you, read our hosting types overview. Those types of hosting are what we expect to see from most web hosts, but the addition of cloud VPS plans makes A Small Orange stand out.
Shared hosting is the center of the lineup, which we’ve seen with countless EIG brands (read our iPage review for one example). That said, unlike, say, HostMonster (read our HostMonster review), A Small Orange doesn’t offer unlimited resources on its shared plans.
Though counterintuitive, that’s a good thing. Because of the structure of shared hosting, having a dedicated amount of storage and bandwidth means websites won’t be stepping on one another’s toes. You can host as many websites as you want, but those websites are limited to the amount of storage and bandwidth your package comes with.
You can, essentially, buy bundles of shared plans with the reseller packages, too. You’re limited by storage, bandwidth and websites hosted, but the plans offer an easy way for web designers to offer hosting to their clients.
A Small Orange VPS
The shared plans are great, but A Small Orange stands out with its cloud VPS plans. We’ve seen plenty of great VPS plans — read our A2 Hosting review for one example of one — but A Small Orange doesn’t just offer great VPS packages. It offers cloud VPS packages, which, as you can read in the hosting types overview linked above, provide superior security and speed.
A Small Orange offers eight tiers of cloud VPS hosting, but you can add or subtract resources as needed. The platform is scalable, meaning you can upgrade your plan in the middle of a billing period without downtime. Some hosts, such as MDDHosting, only offer cloud hosting because of that (read our MDDHosting review).
That’s why you’ll often find a cloud structure paired with WordPress hosting. A Small Orange doesn’t offer dedicated WordPress hosting, but the cloud VPS plans are a natural home for the content management system. Like our best web hosting for WordPress picks, A Small Orange offers a lot of power for WordPress.
We’ve seen the cloud VPS architecture used to great effect for WordPress by Kinsta and Pagely (read our Kinsta review and Pagely review). A Small Orange is closer to Kinsta in terms of price and power, but Pagely offers an excellent alternative for enterprise applications.
Above cloud VPS plans, there are dedicated servers, and A Small Orange has a solid selection to choose from. Though you won’t find servers as cheap as WebHostingBuzz’s (read our WebHostingBuzz review), the top end is impressive. A Small Orange offers dedicated servers as powerful as LunarPages’ without the extra cost (read our LunarPages review).
Speed & Uptime
Website speed is a complex topic — just read our how to improve website loading times guide — so it’s important to reduce variables when testing web hosting speed. We use two tools, Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact, to test website speed, which provides a comprehensive view of how the web host performs.
Our method is straightforward. We launch a website with the most inexpensive shared plan, install WordPress without plugins or themes and run the URL through the benchmarks. Instead of focusing on the speed of the website, which can vary based on caching, compression and more, we take the grades given by our two tools.
A Small Orange got decent results, but the speed wasn’t near our fastest web hosting services. We received a 90 out of 100 from Pingdom Speed Test, which sounds great, but it’s less than ideal. It’s important to remember that our website has no content, so the the speed will slow even more once content is added.
Pingdom Speed Test suggested that we add expires headers, which means there is no caching going on. Though you can install caching on your WordPress website — read our beginner’s guide to using WordPress to learn how — server-side caching would help improve load times, too.
A Small Orange Uptime
Load Impact gave disappointing results. We use it as a stress testing tool by sending 50 virtual users to our test website over five minutes. We’ve found that number of users to be around the breaking point for most shared plans, so a few HTTP errors or unfulfilled requests toward the end of the test is expected.
Unfortunately, A Small Orange performed like GreenGeeks, which, as you can see in GreenGeeks review, isn’t a good thing. A little less than a quarter of our HTTP requests were met with errors, suggesting there are too many users and not enough resources to accommodate them.
That’s especially disappointing considering A Small Orange advertises that it provides users with dedicated resources. The website still loaded for all our virtual users, but the flatlining in HTTP requests could mean that the website slowed to a crawl or certain elements never showed.
Regardless, your hosting package is covered by a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, but it’s worth noting that it only applies to shared hosting. After the first 45 minutes of downtime, you’ll receive credit for one day of service for each additional 45 minutes, up to a maximum of one month of service. As with most web hosts, you’ll need to submit a request to capitalize on the guarantee.
When evaluating security, we look for three things: an SSL certificate, daily backups and malware scanning. The security of the server is important, too, but in some cases, such as with Bluehost and HostMonster, we’re unable to verify which security features a web host has working.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with A Small Orange. Speaking with support, we were able to verify that the Apache servers A Small Orange uses have ModSecurity installed, which is an open-source web application firewall that’s highly customizable, and DDoS protection. Plus, A Small Orange password protects your directories and provides IP-blocking support.
Your website is further secured with daily backups. A Small Orange takes a snapshot of your account seven days per week, and allows you to restore that backup with a single click. If you fall victim to cybercrime-related unpleasantness, you can restore your account.
Unfortunately, A Small Orange doesn’t protect you as much as we’d like. Though the security measures taken at the server level should be enough to deter most, if not all, malware, dedicated scanning and removal is always a plus. SiteLock, which is like an antivirus for your site, is offered, but you’ll need to pay extra for it.
It’s unlikely you’ll fall victim to anything, though, and with daily backups at the ready, A Small Orange is able to catch your website if it falls.
A Small Orange SSL
Though A Small Orange is great when it comes to daily backups and server security, one vital security feature is missing: a free SSL certificate. We’ve seen many web hosts include free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates with hosting plans, which lets a browser know that your website can be trusted.
That opens an encrypted connection between the website and user. Though it seems like a measure only needed for websites taking personal information, many browsers will display a warning on unsecured websites.
Because of that, it’s vital that every website be secured with an SSL certificate. A Small Orange not including one is unacceptable, and the fact that it charges almost $40 per year for one makes the matter even worse. If you sign up for an account with A Small Orange, check out Let’s Encrypt to get a free certificate.
By that, we mean EIG does. Data such as your IP address, browser fingerprint, geographic location and metadata is captured, but EIG keeps your name, email address, mailing address and phone number, too. To be sure it has every bit of data on you, it reserves the right to monitor “any device or other method of communication you use to interact with the services.”
All that data is shared with brands such as Facebook, Google Ads, Salesforce, Verizon, WPBeginner, Yahoo and Commission Junction. We can understand sharing data with, say, Commission Junction for affiliate purposes, but some of the other brands make no sense unless you consider that EIG could be selling your data for profit.
We wouldn’t expect it to, as most web hosts don’t, but some providers have taken the charge of including domain privacy for free (read our Midphase review for an example). Domain privacy replaces the personal information that’s usually required to register a domain with information from a registrar. Unfortunately, with A Small Orange, it’ll run you $7 per year.
All EIG brands have similar customer support, which consists of two contact options. In the case of A Small Orange, those options are email and live chat, both of which run around the clock. Though its support quality isn’t as good as SiteGround’s (read our SiteGround review), A Small Orange is better than many of its EIG siblings.
We spoke with live chat many times during our review, and unlike some EIG web hosts we’ve tested, the rep was always direct with an answer. In the past, we’ve seen web hosts, such as JustHost and HostMonster, dance around our questions in an attempt to sell additional products. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with A Small Orange.
If you want to solve issues yourself, there’s a knowledgebase. A Small Orange is better than most EIG brands here, offering a knowledgebase that’s easy to navigate and stuffed full of articles. Plus, articles have the appropriate amount of detail. Simple pieces provide simple answers, while more complex tutorials come fit with screenshots and step-by-step instruction.
There’s also a solid balance of troubleshooting articles, tutorials and clarifications, making A Small Orange’s knowledgebase feel more well-rounded than most. Most answers you’ll need can be found there, with live chat and ticket-based support at the ready if you can’t.
A Small Orange has its strong points, including a low price point, decent list of features and excellent ease of use. That said, it’s hard to recommend it. Though the hosting aspect of the service isn’t bad, the privacy of its corporate head is. Thankfully, some of the more annoying trends with EIG brands aren’t present, but there’s no guarantee it’ll stay that way.
Even so, A Small Orange isn’t a bad choice in web host, especially if you like the interface and no-nonsense pricing.
What do you think of A Small Orange? Will you try it? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
A Small Orange Review FAQ
- A Small Orange is owned by Endurance International Group, which also owns Bluehost, HostGator, Site5, MOJO Marketplace, Constant Contact and more.
- You can manage your hosting account by logging in to the control panel from the homepage of the website. Once in the client area, click “services” and select the domain you’d like to manage.
- Yes. You can install WordPress on your website by opening the Softaculous app installer in cPanel.
- After signing up for an account, A Small Orange will send you an email that contains your server address, nameservers and more.