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A Small Orange vs. Bluehost – Comparison for Shared Web Hosting 2020

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Author Scott Whatley

There was a time where A Small Orange was one of the easiest hosting companies to recommend but is that still the case?

As we compare A Small Orange vs Bluehost, we're going to be covering the features that each hosting company offers, grading their support and customer service, and ultimately helping you choose which one is a better fit for your needs.

First things first, let's start with a brief introduction about both of these companies.

About Bluehost

Bluehost has been a leader in the world of hosting for many years, frequently found at the top of recommendation lists, including being recommended by themselves.

Bluehost works closely with WordPress, and makes a great hosting choice if you're planning on using WordPress – they have their own custom backend that makes it all dead-simple, but even if you don't plan on using WordPress for your store, blog, portfolio, or whatever kind of site you want to make – Bluehost still has a lot to offer.

About A Small Orange

They call themselves ‘Homegrown Hosting', going for kind of an organic/natural feel, like a small farm. At one time, A Small Orange was looked upon as if they were a diamond in the rough, one of the best-kept secrets in hosting in the sense that you wanted to tell everyone how great they were, but you also didn't want them to grow too big and lose what made them so special. Well, it happened, and A Small Orange was purchased by a big conglomerate of hosts which allegedly lead to people being fired, and their support department taking a big hit. Also, the transition was really rocky – many customers couldn't access their sites for much too long, and many people switched away.

The interesting part here isn't just that A Small Orange went through a really rocky patch when they were bought out, but that they were actually bought by the same company that owns Bluehost, bringing these former competitors under the same umbrella. They still run under their same brands and are basically treated as different companies, but it's worth pointing out that A Small Orange never fully recovered from the growing pains or the transition to the new owner.

We're not trying to put down A Small Orange before we've even really begun the comparison, we just wanted to point out that there were definitely some unhappy customers out there during the transition, and they don't quite have that same charm that people loved initially, they still offer powerful and capable hosting options, and are a viable choice for many types of sites.

Here's What They Both Offer

Both of these companies specialize in shared hosting but also offer higher-end options too. For most new sites, a decent shared hosting plan is plenty to get them off the ground, then if the site gets really busy you can upgrade quite easy to plan that suits your site's growth better.

What They Have in Common

Both of these companies offer optimized servers, around the clock support, very simple setup and installation, helpful staff and reference sections to guide you through anything you might need help with, a free domain name, and more.

Where these two companies start to differ is in how their packages are made up. Let's compare their product line ups…

Bluehost vs A Small Orange for Shared Hosting

It's a pretty standard offering for shared hosting, with lower than average prices, which is always nice. We've found that Bluehost servers tend to perform above average compared to similarly priced servers with similar specs, making them an excellent choice, especially in the more entry-level arena of hosting.

Their prime plan is better than just about anything we've seen for that price, and they're very beginner friendly. There's nothing that really sticks out as a negative. More speed is always good, these aren't the most rocket-fast servers in the world, but for the money it's great. If you need something REALLY fast that can handle tens of thousands of visitors per day, you'll want to look at upgrading to a VPS, otherwise, the Plus or Prime options should do you just fine.

Next, here's what ASO is serving up…

Their lowest-tier plan offers considerably less than you get from Bluehost for a lot less money. A Small Orange charges boutique-type prices, that you'd expect from a smaller host offering up incredible service. A Small Orange used to fit that category, but to see them still charging higher prices while no longer offering the same careful level of support is kind of surprising.

With both of these brands being owned by the same company, it's hard to really understand why A Small Orange is charging so much more.

Comparing Their Customer Support

Both companies offer 24/7 customer support with numerous ways to get in touch with them. We've already talked about A Small Orange's issues when they transitioned to new ownership, and how that left their support department in ruins for weeks at a time, where a bunch of customers sites were down and they couldn't get any help. Since then, things have definitely settled down, and you won't really notice any terrible support bottlenecks except in the events of a big emergency like multiple servers crashing at once and putting a huge strain on the hosts.

Here's a look at the support ticket system available from A Small Orange.

Every host runs into troubles, so we don't want to keep hammering away at ASO for something that happened in the past, but these types of events do give us insights into what we might be able to expect the next time there's a severe outage.

We have found things to be more organized, and that it's easier to get help from Bluehost, after multiple experiences contacting both hosts for a variety of different questions or issues over the years. So, because of that first-hand experience, we're giving the nod to Bluehost when it comes to better support.

And The Winner Is: Bluehost

Between these two, all things considered, we're picking Bluehost as the preferred option. Sometimes, it's pretty close and there isn't a clear winner, but we will contemplate the following question: If a friend or family member asked us to choose between these two, which option would we recommend to them? And that's the same option we recommend to everyone else, too.

Bluehost hasn't been without the occasional hiccup in their long history, but the way the ASO acquisition was handled is much more recent in memory and was catastrophically bad for many of their customers.

That doesn't mean something is going to go wrong again, and they've certainly learned from the blunders and implemented better systems moving forward, and that's not the only reason that Bluehost earned the nod. Bluehost has really got the art of shared hosting down to a refined science, the whole process is so seamless that even people who have been building websites for years will stop for a second to recognize how far we've come from having to manually install WordPress and other apps using the command line.

It's never been easier, faster, or more fun to build your own website whether it's for something personal, or for your business. Either way, both of these companies are more than suited to helping you make a go at it, and you can definitely have a great experience with A Small Orange too, but our top choice is Bluehost.

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