We recently shifted to A Small Orange, a well spoken of Hosting company on their Cloud VPS servers program. Indeed, we love WP Engine and continue to love them and the things they bring into the WordPress hosting community.
However, issues started appearing due to us running about 90 active plugins and experiencing 502 errors from their Nginx timeout. And we understood that they won’t be able to change the timeout settings for Nginx. However, that caused even plugin updates via WordPress Admin to hang without resolving at times. Yeah, it was a white screen of death (vs the blue screen of death for Windows)
That made it hard for us to update, drop or add new plugins. And yes, it was a faulty Woothemes Helper / Updater as that updater usually took some time to connect back to Woothemes to double-check if there are updates to be downloaded. However, if you have 40 odd plugins running that command at an instance, you will definitely cause a timeout.
Now, why ASO (A Small Orange for short), instead of our local Malaysian hosting companies like Shinjuru, IPServerOne, Exabytes and the likes? It’s true that having a server based in the USA does help increase the server response time. However, that could be negated. Read on how we do it.
Firstly, we will start with the advantages of hosting with A Small Orange.
A Small Orange Cloud VPS is basically a managed Cloud VPS instance. Because of that, it is more expensive than bare bones Cloud VPS of Linode and DigitalOcean. However, for its price it is way cheaper than whatever we can get locally. Check out the table below. It’s also cheaper than managed WordPress hosts, which would have seen us bumped up to USD 99/month if we continued.
[table id=4 /]
Table is valid as of 12th December 2013
2) Customer Service
A Small Orange staff goes all the way with you on issues and questions about the server. Unlike our local hosting companies who might start charging if we asked more questions or if we wanted to optimize our servers, ASO staff stayed with us until we were satisfied. ASO also has a live chat, which helped a lot in making us a fan.
Sadly, it’s hard to find great customer service like what ASO exhibited, here in Malaysia. Most hosting companies here gives good and very good customer service, but ASO is exemplary.
3) Fast Server Response time
Like it or not, with Google’s latest algorithm changes, the speed of your website and your server matters to your ranking. As such, we tested several of our friends’ domains hosted locally on website tools based in both USA and Asia and one of the issues is the slow response time of the servers.
ASO servers are fast and the uptime is great.
4) Pay Monthly!
Many of our local hosting companies has a huge discount if we pay yearly. For Shinjuru, it might go up to thirty percent of your total fees! However, paying yearly also means you are tied down for twelve months. And if you don’t like their service or outgrow the hosting company, you are stuck for good.
5) Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of Hard Drives (HDD)!
This is indeed a big deal. Having SSD ensures that your database gets loaded fast and efficiently, while reducing moving parts, which causes hard drive failures. The increase of database speed also helps your website and your visitors. Unfortunately, most local providers don’t do SSDs, or if they do, they don’t come near the offering from A Small Orange.
Weaknesses of A Small Orange and other overseas hosts
1) Server Distance
Due to the server distance, your website which loads in 3 seconds in USA might load in 11 seconds here. One way to negate that is by having CDN. MaxCDN and CDN77 are good examples of these, as they have multiple datacenters that will load your website’s data up and cut latency.
2) Not a Fully Managed WordPress Host
Though ASO is a managed host, it is not a fully managed WordPress host like WP Engine, who would tweak your server and settings to improve performance.
Other than that, ASO is a very strong contender for one of the best hosting companies around. Even LifeHacker wrote on ASO, calling them one of the best hosting companies around.
If you feel convinced, come join us on ASO’s hosting. You may find ASO’s affiliate link below if you wish to join and also bless us as well =)
A Small Orange Hosting