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  1. #1

    Smile ASmallOrange -- A Small Review

    I currently have a VPS with A Small Orange. Here's a small review.

    First of all, I am newly aware of some discussions here that they've been bought by EIG. I read a thread or two in which someone reported experiencing problems, and reports of the quality of hosting and support in general going downhill. I've read statements from one or two who've left ASO and moved on.

    I thought I had done my homework reasonably well, but if I'd read those particular threads, they might have given me pause.

    This thread is about my experience.

    I am happy to report that -- so far at least -- my experience with A Small Orange has been virtually nothing but positive. I won't use the word "perfect" -- that's a darn high standard -- but it's been quite good enough. Their technicians have been knowledgeable, courteous, and mostly quick to respond.

    I've been with ASO for just over 2 months now. I started on their least expensive Cloud VPS plan, but a couple of days ago I upgraded this to the next level up -- partly because they've been having a sale this month (today and tomorrow last days!) in which you get double the memory on a VPS plan. I was allowed to take advantage of this offer in the upgrade.

    So now I have 2560 MB memory, 20 GB storage, and 700 GB bandwidth, up from 1024 / 15 / 600. I'm very happy with the change. Things were running well before, but now I feel even more comfortable about expanding.

    Since joining in mid-to-late October, I've opened 16 support tickets. A few of these may have had to do with ironing out odd glitches completely unrelated to anything I've done, but not many. Some have had to do with questions. Most of them, one way or another, have had to do with getting things all set up the way I want them.

    A lot of my journey here has been moving from a fully-managed VPS to ASO's offering, which is not that. If you want a fully managed setup, this is not for you.

    I can describe the level of management or support by saying I feel like what you do is up to you -- but neither are you alone. ASO's support has been very helpful when I've had an issue or a question.

    The biggest issue I have had was a month ago, when I was hit by spammers who got ahold of a customer's email user names and passwords through malware on his computer. At the time, I hadn't put much thought into security issues, or effort into configuring the VPS to guard against and mitigate attacks. I had also reduced the amount of available disk space by making some unnecessary backups, and when the spammers hit, the massive flood of email in the queue caused the VPS to crash.

    Since then, I've literally spent the last month learning and thinking about security and beefing up the VPS.

    Again, if you don't have a good deal of knowledge about these issues and aren't willing to invest extensive time, effort and energy into learning and configuring, you probably want to go with a fully managed VPS. And maybe I would've been better off doing that myself, from a strictly cost point of view. But there are advantages as well to having a really good understanding of what's going on.

    If you're in the learning process as I have been, you can and should ask questions. One or two of the things I've implemented have been the result of asking ASO techs their opinion of what would be a good idea.

    I now have a great deal of confidence in my VPS, because I know what's going on. Some of the important stuff I've set up myself.

    Time will tell, of course, but at this point I believe I have a good, stable VPS in which everything is working as it's supposed to, and most likely will continue to do so. If I add customers and sites, it should be easily scalable. The change from 1024/15/600 to 2560/20/700 was a breeze. It did require a reboot, but I scheduled that for a time when my customers wouldn't be bothered by their sites going down for a few minutes, or even notice.

    It's taken a couple of months -- largely due to my own learning curve -- but I'm now at a point where I can't think of anything more to change about the VPS. I feel like I've thought through and configured every area of security I've been able to come up with, and done a few tweaks to improve performance, reliability, and ease of administration as well. There's nothing for me to do now except see if I can get a few more customers.

    If things ever should go south in the future, I'll try to update this thread. But for now, I'm entirely pleased.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Thank you for sharing your experience with ASmallOrange
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  3. #3
    My sites so far have generally seemed quite fast. Of course, at the moment I have a lot of capacity in my VPS. I don't have that many sites. ASO is using SSD drives, and in my experience that seems to be working well.

    I have done a couple of things to tweak the performance. I installed eAccelerator, for example, which is supposed to help speed up PHP.

  4. #4
    Wow 2560MB RAM and CPanel for $30
    Got my eyes on this
    »» Webmaster Forum ««

  5. #5
    Again, you'll want to know -- or figure out -- what you're doing. Over the past couple of months, I've made literally dozens of tweaks. I'm happy with the whole setup now, though. :-)

  6. #6
    Oh, and that deal is a special for this month only -- which means that, as far as I know, after New Year's Eve, it's back to half the memory.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Kepler 62f
    Posts
    14,871
    ASO is owned by EIG.
    Most reviews have been bad, but I guess a good one every now and then is statistics.
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  8. #8
    Maybe. However, I've run through 16 tickets with ASO support over the past 2 months. One of those tickets was a discussion that went on for about 5 or 6 days.

    In every instance, I've been pretty well satisfied with the support. Once or twice I've caught a tech responding without really reading the information in the ticket (which is something that annoys me). But on the whole, support has been competent and pretty prompt (range usually between 15 or 20 minutes and an hour or two, with a reply usually coming within around 45 minutes or so). And the techs have found solutions to every problem I couldn't solve myself. A couple of those have been elevated to senior techs when the first line of support couldn't figure them out.

    I was actually a bit surprised when I came here to write a review and poked around and found one or two negative ones.

    I don't see my experience as one that's particularly related to statistics. It's representative of the support that I feel I've experienced, in the time frame from mid-October until now.

    Maybe my expectations are lower because I'm a refugee from another hosting company (I wrote a review of my hair-pulling experience with that company earlier).

    Maybe my expectations are lower for some other reason.

    Maybe their tech support had declined but is on the rebound at the moment. Which might continue, or might not.

    Maybe previous reviews have to do with their shared hosting, and they're doing a better job on the VPS end.

    Or maybe the techs simply like me because I'm a nice guy, and fairly often say "thank you" for their help.

    There are a number of possibilities. But personally, I wouldn't simply attribute it to statistics. There's got to be a bigger reason than that. ;-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    194
    Everyones experiences with a web host are different, as many people expect different levels of support. You will normally see good and bad reviews on any company for a wide range of reasons, from uptime, support, billing, management issues, etc. What's best is to read them all and see if anything makes you seriously turn away from them and look for another provider.

    That being said, it's always good to see a positive review, most recently have been pretty poor across the board :-(

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Kepler 62f
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    14,871
    Quote Originally Posted by VPS Man View Post
    One of those tickets was a discussion that went on for about 5 or 6 days.
    Maybe my expectations are lower for some other reason.
    Yeah, a ticket for 5-6 days is NOT good. It all depends on the content of the ticket.
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  11. #11
    It does depend on the content of the ticket.

    In this case, this wasn't a ticket that involved one single issue. We ran through half a dozen different issues in the same ticket.

    It started with a question I had about some log entries.

    The second issue started with support noting that the VPS was unresponsive. This was unexpected. Things had been working just fine. I had to help them get into the server to have a look due to security measures I'd installed. They identified the "unresponsive" issue as being due to some quirk with ConfigServer Firewall, which I had installed and configured. After a bit of talk, I reluctantly decided to go back to APF, which they then installed.

    I then asked them about security in general. They suggested LMD is a good thing to have, so I had them install it.

    The 4th thing was a question about some entries under Mod Security.

    The 5th thing was asking about ClamAV, which we then installed as well.

    The 6th thing (which took some time to resolve) was the fact that I was getting 404 - Not Found errors on all web sites after rebooting the server. This was easily fixable by rebuilding httpd.conf and restarting apache, but the question was: why was it happening in the first place? The cause was obscure, but it came down to the fact that I had implemented a security measure marked as "experimental" which jailed Apache.

    So I hope this helps make clear what the longer ticket was about, and why it was as long as it was. :-)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    95
    Systems with 1024 MB of RAM or more include full management from A Small Orange's team of server experts.

  13. #13
    A follow-up post. An update.

    I had a customer this morning with an email problem: No email in his inbox. I logged in, restarted Exim, puzzled over it a bit, and then discovered that all of his email was suddenly going to a "Junk" folder on the server.

    I haven't determined the exact cause for that, but it looks like maybe it's the customer's Thunderbird client doing the moving.

    I started to fill out a support ticket at A Small Orange, and then realized what was happening.

    The main point is that the last support ticket I had to open was back in January. Of course, I only have a few customers, but still, 7 months (and still no need as far as I can tell to open a ticket) is a dang site better than the once-a-week-or-so cries for support I was having with my previous company.

    Bottom line: I've been with A Small Orange for something like 9 months now, and still very happy. Yes, it was an enormous amount of work for me to get my VPS set up like I wanted it. But we've been running smoothly now for so long I had to refer to my notes to find what I was looking for in WHM. I think that's a good thing. :-)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    290
    Quote Originally Posted by VPS Man View Post
    It does depend on the content of the ticket.

    In this case, this wasn't a ticket that involved one single issue. We ran through half a dozen different issues in the same ticket.

    It started with a question I had about some log entries.

    The second issue started with support noting that the VPS was unresponsive. This was unexpected. Things had been working just fine. I had to help them get into the server to have a look due to security measures I'd installed. They identified the "unresponsive" issue as being due to some quirk with ConfigServer Firewall, which I had installed and configured. After a bit of talk, I reluctantly decided to go back to APF, which they then installed.

    I then asked them about security in general. They suggested LMD is a good thing to have, so I had them install it.

    The 4th thing was a question about some entries under Mod Security.

    The 5th thing was asking about ClamAV, which we then installed as well.

    The 6th thing (which took some time to resolve) was the fact that I was getting 404 - Not Found errors on all web sites after rebooting the server. This was easily fixable by rebuilding httpd.conf and restarting apache, but the question was: why was it happening in the first place? The cause was obscure, but it came down to the fact that I had implemented a security measure marked as "experimental" which jailed Apache.

    So I hope this helps make clear what the longer ticket was about, and why it was as long as it was. :-)
    I had a look but couldn't be sure. You mentioned that this was an unmanaged server; correct?

    If so A Small Orange have really out done themselves on the support. None of the support tickets you have opened (apart from maybe the unresponsive VPS issue) technically should have been answered by an unmanaged host. Sounds good. Glad to hear you found a host you like.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Kepler 62f
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    14,871
    I have to wonder if this person is monitoring the server. It may have issues, yet you'd never notice if not paying attention.
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  16. #16
    I think I would call it "unmanaged but with excellent support for someone who may not have handled all the ins and outs of managing the server before."

    Whenever I've had an issue that I've needed help with, they've helped. And on the couple of things I mentioned they installed for me, it was because they said, "We have so-and-so, we can install it for you if you like." :-)

    As far as my monitoring the server is concerned, I have uptime monitoring that lets me know of any downtime. I also get daily emails regarding who's been banned. I don't have a large number of customers; they all have plenty of disk space, etc. In general I have much more resources than I really need. I'm not running on a thin margin. As far as security goes, I worked for weeks tweaking the security until I felt I had it about as bulletproof as it gets.

    If anything goes wrong, I'm likely to know about it. If I want, I can also log in and check all the stats of every area through the sophisticated system monitoring software I installed. But at this point, the whole thing is so stable I do kind of forget about it for months at a time.

    As of now, the server's been up since the beginning of May. I can't recall why I restarted it then. Before that, it had been up since January.

  17. #17
    An update. I updated some software back in May.

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