Sometimes choosing the biggest company isn’t the best way to host your website. After all, who knows where that money goes when you send it to a big corporation? If you prefer doing business with small companies that are an integral part of a real community, then Little Oak may be the perfect fit for your website hosting needs.
* Note: This is a non-tested review. We do not host any site at Little Oak for the time being.
The “Little Oak” of Web Hosting
Founded in 2007 by a group of web developers and graphic designers, this company is a relative newcomer to the industry. Their main expertise is working with Macs, and they proudly claim to be the best choice for websites created on Mac computers. They have also formed a partnership with RapidWeaver, a web authoring program created specifically for Apple computer products. The company’s reputation is largely based on providing hosting specifically for customers prefer using RapidWeaver.
Little Oak is based in Torrance, California, a suburb of Los Angeles located along the West Coast, and that’s where all their employees work; they do not outsource any positions. Since opening the doors in 2007, the company is now hosting over 400,000 accounts.
Shared Cloud Hosting Accounts For Mac Users
Unlike most other website hosting companies, Little Oak offers shared hosting plans but prefers to call them “cloud hosting” (why not just call it what it is – shared hosting?). Customers have a choice of three cloud-based hosting plans. The packages are called Sapling ($80/year, $6.67/month), Habitat-Pro ($160/year, $13.33/month) and Chestnut-Pro ($320/yr, $26.67/month).
You can host unlimited websites with each plan but there is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth and storage. For instance, the Sapling package allows for 5GB/month of disk space and 50GB bandwidth; Habitat includes 15GB disk storage and 500GB bandwidth; and Chestnut comes with 25GB/1T.
Standard Shared Hosting Features
Other than these limits, Little Oak website hosting packages do include all the standard features you would expect:
- Unlimited MySQL databases
- Free site builder software
- Unlimited domain aliases and subdomains
- Unlimited POP3/IMAP4 email accounts
- Statistics tracking
- Google and Yahoo advertising credits
The control panel for your account as referred to as the “Account Manager”. It’s not cPanel or vDeck so it may be proprietary software.
Another unique feature of Little Oak’s packages is that they don’t require customers to sign up for two years at a time to get the best deal. They only offer accounts for one year at a time. It is rather refreshing not to get the constant upsell to a longer contract period. However, they do not offer month-to-month hosting plans, either.
Although Little Oak’s website has links for dedicated hosting and Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting accounts using both Linux and Windows server operating systems, they were not live at the time of this writing. Looks like that, in the future, they will be offering these services, which is a great idea for those who want to upgrade their accounts.
Datacenter Security and Network Reliability
Although it’s a small company, Little Oak uses Tier-1 network providers located in One Wilshire Building, which is purported to be “the most connected building in the western United States” while their datacenter is located in Torrance, California, USA.
Their servers are Intel dual-core machines in a load balancing cluster using a network-attached storage array for file uploads. They run CentOS 6 and Apache 2.2+, pretty standard in the industry.
Software is updated and patched regularly and backed up nightly to help prevent service interruptions. The network hardware is monitored 24/7 by senior administrators.
All that security helps them uphold a 100 percent uptime guarantee. If your site goes down for 10 minutes or more in any month, you get a credit for 10 percent of that month’s hosting fee. Of course, the guarantee doesn’t apply to scheduled downtime, emergency maintenance or anything you might do that affects your site’s performance; again, pretty standard stuff – but this is the first company I’ve found to guarantee 100 percent uptime.
I found a recent statistic online showing 99.98 percent uptime for Little Oak websites. It has been monitored since October 2010. That’s considered excellent, but not out of the ordinary.
Live Customer Support Provided by Little Oak’s California Team
If support from native-English speaking representatives is important to you, Little Oak provides it via phone, live chat or email. They also have a video catalog and an online Knowledgebase to find answers to frequent questions – but it doesn’t seem to be populated with much information. I tried doing a few simple searches such as “migrate account”, “media upload” and even “WordPress” which yielded no results.
So how is their customer service? It’s hard to say. I did find one very dissatisfied customer online who complained of a Googlebot error message due to Little Oak administrators temporarily blocking search engine bots because they claimed it was causing too much activity, which put a strain on their servers. Other than that, I couldn’t find a good sampling of real customers who have reviewed Little Oak’s support services as of yet.
Little Oak does have a social media presence to post alerts and updates – but the accounts are used quite infrequently. Not only that, I really had to dig to find them; there are no links from their website to their Facebook or Twitter pages. Why wouldn’t you want your customers and others to easily find you on social media sites?
Let’s take a minute to recap what we’ve learned about Little Oak. Here are the advantages of their hosting packages:
- Specifically tailored to Mac users
- RapidWeaver partner
- Reliable hosting with 100% uptime guarantee
- American-based support
- Future availability of dedicated and VPS hosting
Now, here are what I see as the disadvantages of Little Oak hosting:
- Price isn’t great
- No monthly payment plans
- No track record in regard to customer service and technical support
Unless you are a Mac user who loves RapidWeaver, it would be difficult to recommend this web hosting company.
There are plenty of competitors who offer heftier packages with unlimited space and bandwidth at cheaper prices. Instead, I urge you to check out my review on A2 Hosting, Web Host Face, Netmoly, InMotion Hosting, One.com, or iPage, a couple of better-rated and more economical choices for personal and small business websites.
For more details or to order Little Oak Hosting, visit (link opens in new window): http://www.littleoak.com