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FatCow Web Hosting (Review) - Armchair Empire

FatCow Web Hosting (Review)

FatCow Hosting Review 2018

  • 6/10
    Features - 6/10
  • 7/10
    Pricing - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Server Types - 8/10
  • 8.6/10
    Ease of Use - 8.6/10
  • 7/10
    Customer Support - 7/10
7.3/10

FatCow.com Review

FatCow is said to be a whole different cattle of hosting, compared to others on the market. Like their site, their services are simplistic and hassle-free; so, regardless of your level of expertise, you should be able to build and host a site in a straight-forward and supportive environment.

Nonetheless, FatCow doesn’t just pride themselves in simplicity. The host also claims to be “all about supporting and celebrating creativity” and from the look of their site’s layout, brand name and clever but cringe-worthy puns, you can see why. But, how far does FatCow go to accommodate the needs of developers?

On face value, you would imagine that their hosting services will support developers more so than beginners, though judging from the mixed reviews we’ve come across online, it was difficult to identify FatCow’s outstanding features. For a company that is said to support creativity, offer top customer support and hassle-free hosting services, we were expecting at least one thing to jump out, but hopefully, you’ll find that this review reveals a different perspective of their services.

However, upon researching their web hosting solutions, we came to realise that FatCow only provides “web hosting solutions for small to medium-sized businesses”, so if you’re looking to host and develop a complex site bustling with traffic, then FatCow may not be for you. Nonetheless, that isn’t to say FatCow doesn’t support the growth of busy businesses! If this is the case, is FatCow the prize-winning cow or are they really just the laughing stock of the market?

The Story Behind FatCow

FatCow was conceived in 1998 and is said to be the sister site of iPage – who in this instance is also their competitor. Weird, we know(!) Both hosts are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG); an “international family of brands” who work to help businesses establish an online presence.

EIG is also known as the giant of the web hosting world and oddly enough, home other mainstream brands such as Bluehost, HostGator and SiteBuilder. But what makes FatCow stand out from this particular herd of hosts?

Other than their unusual name, FatCow offers a different approach to web hosting; one that is easy to understand and manage!

But first, why call the company FatCow? In response, the host gave a plausible yet fantastic answer:

“Why call a computer an apple?”

Despite their comical reply – which is also a notable difference, here FatCow emphasises their stance on web hosting – even if it is a little incoherent.

Even though companies do or say things that are incomprehensible, it doesn’t mean to say that you should opt for a host whose services you can barely understand. Especially those who aren’t used to the ways of web hosting, as it’s particularly difficult to get to grips the technical prattle of reviews, let alone web hosts!

Thankfully, FatCow’s services are far from complex as their helpful hosting environment makes it easy for users to develop a site without any faff or confusion. Their plans are straight to the point, their resources are manageable, and best of all, their customer service team are approachable – and judging from previous experiences, this is very handy to have! So, what are their hosting solutions?

FatCow’s History

FatCow’s Hosting Solutions

FatCow’s hosting services provide users with all the tools they need to build, develop and host a site efficiently.

Like other providers, FatCow caters to the traditional mediums of hosting, such as dedicated and shared, as well as VPS and other popular services which are reviewed further down the page. Best of all, their solutions are a bargain to buy due to their generous amount of bandwidth, storage and discounts; all of which come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

All plans include an around-the-clock support team known as the ‘Moo Crew’, a personalised email, free domain registration and additional marketing bonuses, such as $100 Google AdWords and Bing search credits, and a free yellowpages.com listing! A cracking deal for anyone who’s looking to start up or advertise their business!

On top of this, FatCow provides all customers with domain privacy, an SSL certificate and Google Cloud’s G Suite at an additional cost; however, we find it somewhat ironic that the latter two are identified as “website essentials”, yet neither are included for free. Nonetheless, FatCow has also paired up with SiteLock so users can opt for a credible security service at an additional cost – et voila!

Fix it, on the fly.

Automatic malware removal.

File change monitoring.

All of the features of Find, plus.

Learn More »

Prevent malware attacks.

Block targeted attacks

Malicious bots protection

Lock the back door

Learn More »

Shared Hosting

Also known as the Original FatCow, the web hosting company only sells one shared hosting plan, which is an all-rounder, as their shared hosting plan provides you with all the tools you need to build, develop and host your site to your liking!

Unlike other hosts, FatCow is aware of the restrictions of shared hosting and rather than coax you into upgrading to their VPS or dedicated plans, the company goes the extra mile to support your site by offering unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Furthermore, the host claims that their unlimited services have supported 99.5% of customers; so, there’s no rush to upgrade your services, unless, of course, your site “become[s] so successful”.

Original FatCow
Unlimited Bandwidth

$2.75/mo.

For developers, the plan offers Python, Ruby, Perl and PHP support including 7.0 and 7.1, unlimited databases and Script Barn which is FatCow’s spin-off of Softaculous.

Beginners, on the other hand, can take advantage of FatCow’s point-and-click site builder another parody of the industry’s popular drag-on-drop builder, but just as beginner-friendly! To further support hosting newbies, FatCow also has a ‘beginner’ section on their website which introduces customers to the ways of web hosting, domains and site development. Step-by-step tutorials and user guides are also included on FatCow’s Knowledge Base for additional support.

For e-commerce customers, you can implement PayPal’s shopping cart integration and use ShopSite, an online store building software to help you easily create a professional site without the worry of scripting. A shared SSL certificate is also included to protect your customers.

Speaking of security, FatCow also performs daily server backups, spam filters emails and monitors their facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to this, their data centres are protected against cyber-attacks and natural disasters, so you needn’t worry about worse case scenarios.

VPS Hosting

For sites that are breaking the boundaries of shared hosting, FatCow provides a VPS solution for those that need a little more space.

In short, FatCow provides three VPS plans: Basic, Business and Optimum; all of which include cloud-based flexibility and instant provisioning of resources to better support your site(s)’ development without the risk of unexpected price rises. Best of all, the hosting company also discounts the first term of your subscription and lessens the cost per month if you choose to opt for one of their annual plans.

Basic
Cores: 1

$19.99/mo. Regularly $24.99/mo.
Business
Cores: 2

$47.99/mo. Regularly $59.99/mo.
Optimum
Cores: 4

$79.99/mo. Regularly $99.99/mo.

In addition to the list of features above, VPS customers can control their server and sites via the popular cPanel and access relevant applications via FatCow’s Script Barn. All of FatCow’s servers are 100% wind-powered (great for those who are eco-conscious) and operate using CentOS 6.4. Though the resources are slightly less than others on the market, FatCow does offer desirable features that are hard to find elsewhere.

In addition to their lengthy list of “geek features” which includes pre-installed scripts PHP, Perl, Cron and Python, FatCow also provides VPS customers with optional root access – a feature which isn’t often sold on the VPS market. To top it all off, FatCow’s VPS solutions are managed; meaning that you needn’t worry about dealing with any maintenance or operational issues, including hardware failures, site load issues, network problems, etc. However, you may have noticed that FatCow doesn’t include daily backups, and neither do their SiteLock add-ons; but there’s no need to worry as FatCow does offer website backup and restore at a pocket change price!

Dedicated Hosting

FatCow straightforwardly sells their dedicated services. Unlike other web hosts, FatCow doesn’t boast about mundane hosting specifications, nor do they elaborately list developer-friendly features. In fact, FatCow doesn’t oversell their dedicated hosting plans, which is a good thing as it means they cannot overpromise!

Plans are scaled in accordance the number of cores, RAM, storage and bandwidth users want and are reasonably priced. Even if they aren’t the cheapest, they aren’t the most expensive either; particularly in the first term of the subscription, as customers can sign up at a discounted price! Just remember that reoccurring payments will be billed at the standard cost.

Startup
Cores: 2

$119.99/mo. Regularly $149.99/mo.
Professional
Cores: 4

$151.99/mo. Regularly $189.99/mo.
Enterprise
Cores: 4

$191.99/mo. Regularly $239.99/mo.

The host’s dedicated solutions offer all the necessities of dedicated hosting, the minimum of which includes 3 IP addresses, free domain, 5TB of bandwidth, 500GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and an Intel Xeon E3 processor. The storage and bandwidth are a reasonable, as other web hosts offer the same specifications, however, because of this, we find that FatCow’s dedicated plans are neither here nor there.

Their dedicated hosting solutions provide customers with “optional root access” for greater customisation, though users can choose to use the Linux-based cPanel for a user-friendly interface. Aside from the “geeky features” stipulated in FatCow’s VPS plans, as well as their marketing freebies such as Google and Bing marketing credits, dedicated hosting doesn’t offer much more than that. Which is rather disappointing as their plans are designed for those who require “extra power and security”.

There’s no option for SSDs, no content delivery network, LiteSpeed caching or guaranteed uptime for that matter. Instead, FatCow’s dedicated resources are said to include mirrored storage for advanced data protection, quicker operating speeds and extensive security features; though customers are still required to pay extra for SiteLock, website backup and restore, domain privacy and SSL certificates. So, if this is the case, what do they do differently?

One thing FatCow can promise is independent control and managed support. Although this isn’t much of a wow factor, as mentioned earlier, FatCow chooses not to oversell their services, but otherwise, offer a stable platform for development. Although their security add-ons are unideal, their opt-in services protect your website in a number of ways – it all boils down to how secure you want your site to be.

That said, this plan is merely sold on personal preference. If you want a straight-forward dedicated hosting solution, at a reasonable price, then this is a good start. You’re granted developer-friendly and marketing features, scalable to your accord, a good support team and a managed environment! However, if speed is your priority, then you may want to shop around for hosts that include speed assisting technologies in their plans.

WordPress Hosting

FatCow offers two WordPress hosting plans, WP Starter and WP Essential; both of which run alongside their shared services, or in this instance, the Original FatCow plan. Personally, we believe that the Original FatCow plan is the most attractive offer out of the other hosting solutions FatCow provides and for that reason, their WordPress plans are more of a bargain!

Customers are supplied with unlimited disk space, bandwidth and emails, as well as a free domain name, marketing freebies and basic SEO solutions. On top of this WordPress dedicated features are also included such as pre-installed WordPress themes and plug-ins like Jetpack and W3 Total Cache; however, each plan varies by speed and stability.

Starter
Support: Standard

$3.75/mo.
Essential
Support: WP Experts

$6.95/mo.

With regards WP Starter, your sites run on FatCow’s shared hosting server; a load balanced platform which works to reduce the risk of downtime and potential interruptions. Daily backups are also performed as well as multi-gigabyte connections to maintain uptime.

The WP Essential, on the other hand, has a lot more to offer as customers are promised a deluxe security bundle, WordPress dedicated support and a solid-state drive infrastructure – the latter of which is a huge bonus as other plans don’t detail this particular feature.

To upkeep their uptime, FatCow claim to have thrown in a content delivery network and super-fast caching to optimise your WordPress site further; another great offer as WordPress plug-ins can work more efficiently. Nonetheless, we can’t help but notice that there is a bit of over-promising when it comes to the WP Essential plan.

Although there is truth in FatCow’s sales, the description of their services can be misleading to some readers. For example, FatCow advertises a “deluxe security bundle” and claims to have paired up with SiteLock “to deliver a deluxe security bundle that actively eliminates malware”. Though it is true that FatCow has teamed up with SiteLock to deliver advanced security services, it does come at an additional cost. The same goes for WordPress optimisation features, advanced site protection and the performance accelerator.

Thus, please keep in mind that FatCow doesn’t stipulate “FREE SiteLock security”, or “FREE WordPress optimisation” for that matter, so do not presume that this is the case. Because of this, we advise you to read through the WordPress plan carefully before purchasing. The add-ons are beneficial and aren’t necessarily expensive either; so, it isn’t that bad of an offer. However, if you find it a little inconvenient, then you may want to purchase the Original FatCow plan.

Reseller

FatCow’s reseller plan, the WholesalePlus Program is another straight-forward hosting solution which caters towards web hosting wannabes. As expected, FatCow gives you complete control over your clients’ experience, as you can tailor the site’s unbranded interface with fonts, colours and logos and manage customer accounts via the easy-to-use control panel. Best of all, there’s no minimum number of clients, so you can begin with a handful of customers, then work your way up!

For further peace of mind, FatCow’s tech team also monitors their network around the clock, ready to resolve any potential maintenance problems and their customer support team are also at hand to deal with any queries. Therefore, you can operate a fully-functioning business, without the worry of any operational issues!

Sign Up Today

Your clients will receive a control panel to manage their accounts, billing information, site stats, files and email and can monitor how much bandwidth and disk space they are using. FatCow also provides your customers with a generous amount of resources, such as $125 of marketing credits, unlimited disk space, monthly data transfer and e-mail accounts, as well as access to applications such as WordPress, phpBB and ShopSite.

Best of all, there’s flexibility in creating your customer’s plans, providing, of course, that the number of resources coincides with your reseller allowance. Nonetheless, we couldn’t help but assume that the WholesalePlus Program is built for the benefit of FatCow as opposed to the reseller; especially since the plan is placed away from the other hosting solutions and under FatCow’s “Spread the Word” section. Or, maybe we’re jumping to conclusions – though, it’s still a bit odd.

Site Builder

Like most web hosts, FatCow’s web builder is tailored towards beginners, rather than advanced designers and therefore, developer-friendly tools are included to help you upload your site in minutes.

Free
Pages: 6

FREE
Professional
Pages: No limit

$6.99/mo.
Business
Pages: No limit

$15.99/mo.

With its user-friendly graphical interface, users can design their website with ease as FatCow provides you with more than 100 mobile-friendly templates and an image library which includes an array of high-definition images to better customise your site.

In addition to this, FatCow implements a drag-and-drop function so you can edit elements such as the title, text, image and image layouts effortlessly. Widgets such as contact forms and maps can also be added to your site, yet to optimise your site further, you can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts and add basic SEO elements such as a site description and meta keywords.

For e-commerce users, PayPal integration is also included in the freebie version, however extra e-commerce features such as coupon codes, a shopping cart and inventory management are included in FatCow’s Business plan, which can be purchased for as little as $15.99 per month with a three-year subscription.

For those who want extra features such as integrated site stats, Google Analytics and revision history to click back to previous designs, you can purchase FatCow’s Professional plan for lesser the price. With FatCow’s middle solution, you can also embed HD videos and a custom favicon in your address bar and browser tab for a little personal touch.

Website Builder Software - FatCow

With FatCow’s Professional and Business site builder plans, users can add as many pages to their site as they choose, whereas the freebie version only allows users to create six web pages. Although this is a slight restriction, some small businesses include just five pages and if that’s who FatCow are catering their services to, then there are no complaints. Alternatively, users can otherwise turn to the Original FatCow plan for access to CMSs, such as WordPress, for advanced development features.

Compared to other competitors, FatCow does offer the same site building elements as many others on the market. Nonetheless, the option for revision history, HD video embedment and extensive site statistics are an additional bonus. FatCow’s pre-built sections is also another fantastic feature that many mainstream hosts do not include and is extremely useful for those who want to get their site up and running quickly.

Domain Registrar

No web hosting company would be complete without a domain registration service, and thankfully, FatCow offers this, also!

The Biggest New Domains to Hit the Internet Are Here!

New domains extensions are released to the general public. Domain inventory is searchable, and new domains can be registered on a first-come, first-served basis.

FatCow Domain Names

With FatCow’s hosting plans, you can either register a new domain or transfer an existing one for free. Then again, if you just want a domain, you can choose from 319 new top-level domains, or any of the popular .com, .org or .net extensions for a reasonable price. Though, FatCow goes a step further and offers a ‘Pre-Registration’ service which allows you to opt for a ‘soon-to-be-released’ domain, for a better chance of securing your favoured domain name. Further to this, ‘Priority Pre-Registration’ is also available to those who want to be one step ahead of those who opted for their pre-registration service; talk about building competition!

Upon registration, users can also opt for domain privacy for an extra $9.99 a month, which is currently the average market price. For renewals, prices are the same as the domain registration price and are renewed for a minimum of one year.

FatCow’s Key Features

Performance

Although not explicitly stated on their website, our records, like many others, have found that FatCow’s monthly uptime performance does reach 99.9%. Further to this, FatCow’s utilises clustered architecture across their servers for greater stability and quicker load times.

If you want to fully understand FatCow’s system, their website details a great deal of information regarding their eco-friendly server technology and even features a hosting architecture diagram!

FatCow Hosting Performance

Additionally, FatCow’s tech team also monitors their network around the clock, so any maintenance and operational issues will be dealt with at any time of the day. Server backups are also performed daily for further peace of mind, though customers can opt for purchase site backup and restore services separately to guarantee the stability.

Protection

FatCow’s pre-installed security services are minimal; there’s no question about it. However, their SiteLock certified add-ons, as well as FatCow’s extra security features and approachable customer service team does compensate for this matter.

Although FatCow sells hosting necessities, such as SSL certificates and backup and restores at an extra cost, the prices are pocket change and compared to other web hosts, it’s a cheaper deal! Moreover, customers can also pay as little as $1.94 a month for SiteLock security services which perform vulnerability and malware scans, prevents sites from being blacklisted and blocks automated bot attacks. Again, although malware scans are essential, many hosts don’t offer top-rated security services at a low price; especially blacklisting prevention!

FatCow Sitelock Security

For optimum security, however, SiteLock offers two more tiers of extra protection; Fix and Prevent.

For Fix, customers are guaranteed automatic malware removal, as well as database protection (great for e-commerce businesses), daily FTP and application scanning.

Prevent, on the other hand, goes the extra mile and does exactly what it says on the tin by preventing targeted attacks. Prevent also blocks access to backdoor files and removes them with SMART – a malware alert and removal tool.

In our opinion, this isn’t a bad deal. If your computer is protected with the latest security software, then it’s only fair to protect your visitors – and your business for that matter! To do so, make sure you visit FatCow’s online store for security add-ons, as there are some great deals that (for some reason) aren’t featured on their main website!

Customer Support

As detailed in their HeiferCratic Oath – a set of promises that the Moo Crew take pride in – FatCow’s selling point lies in their customer support services.

Throughout FatCow’s website, there are various links to the host’s support services, including their ‘Knowledge Base’ and ‘User Guide’ section. Details regarding what to expect from the company are featured in FatCow’s Oath; a graphical letter, conveniently signed by Slim, which emphasises the importance of keeping their clients happy.

Chat

Start Chat

Reply Time: Instantly

Phone

To start with, customers are guaranteed a call back within seven days after registration for a quick welcome chat about FatCow’s services.

The Oath also states that when handling requests, their team approaches each query with a “can-do attitude” and “remain friendly and courteous at all times”. Calls are answered in under one minute, and their phone, chat and email services are available at all hours of the day. Of course, to maintain the highest standards, the Moo Crew provide their customers with a satisfaction survey after each issue is resolved to improve their services for the future.

Although FatCow’s Oath may seem a load of nonsense, it’s reassuring to know that the host takes great care of their customers, as a lot of mainstream web hosts seem to ignore this simple yet effective strategy. Nonetheless, we decided to test their services to see if they were true to their word.

As a customer and a newbie, we contacted FatCow via email and phone, and in all honesty, we didn’t get the speediest of responses; which isn’t ideal if you’re in a major crisis! However, the representative was extremely friendly and approachable, which is always a bonus(!) and was just as patient with us as we were with them. Which again, is great to hear as we have known some companies to deactivate our chat because we didn’t respond in “two minutes”; though we’ll refrain from mentioning any names.

We also appreciate FatCow’s openness to feedback, as their customer service advisor handled our fake criticism sincerely. Although, when we tried to click on their ‘feedback and suggestions link’ on their website, they didn’t make the process simple to submit a complaint.

Moo-ney, Moo-ney, Moo-ney!

FatCow is all about giving customers what they want and thankfully their 30-day money back guarantee does just that! Better still, their guarantee applies to all plans and is hassle-free!

If for whatever reason, you are not satisfied with one of FatCow’s plans, you’ll receive a refund if you report this within the first thirty days of use. The catch? Domain registration fees aren’t refunded, and neither are most of their add-on services, which is no surprise as this is the case with almost every other host on the market.

To fill your pockets further, FatCow also offers a ‘Referral Program’, so for every referral you make, providing that the customer mentions your domain or username in their registration, you earn $35 of credits. Best of all, there are no limits on the number of credits you can receive, so customers can continue to mention you regardless of the number of plans they choose to purchase. Just remember that these credits are only active for 30-days!

FatCow’s Future

FatCow conceals their future very well and at this moment in time, do not offer any news on upcoming developments.

However, judging from previous interviews with FatCow’s marketing manager and senior customer support vice president, customers will always remain the core of their services, as the host continues to improve their services via customers’ feedback.

According to their VP, FatCow’s main goal is to “provide reliable hosting” and to do so, actioning feedback and examining internal audits is the key to improving their services. Their marketing manager, on the other hand, sheds a bit of light on the implications of their development plans, as in a previous interview, he said:

“Our [FatCow’s] focus has stayed the same since 1998; providing simple, quality hosting to our customers at a price they can afford. Looking ahead, this won’t change, no matter what exciting tools and services we may introduce.”

I guess then at this stage all we can say is keep the requests coming in! If you request for speedier technologies or extra apps, you’re not going to break the bank by doing so.

Final Word

Overall, FatCow, as concealable as their services come across, is a straight-forward web host which offers both traditional and advanced forms of hosting, with the exception of Cloud.

Though not the cheapest on the market, their plans are reasonably priced even with the add-ons; yet, SiteLock’s features, we believe, are worth investing in!

Their customer service team are friendly, approachable and are available around-the-clock. Even though they’re not the quickest to respond, they are the nicest to talk to and do handle each query effectively.

The Original FatCow plan is by far an exceptional offer, and currently one of our favourite plans on the market, as you’re guaranteed top of the range, beginner-friendly features, for lesser the price! Best of all, the description of FatCow’s services makes their website enjoyable to read and less boring to research.

We also like the fact that they don’t boast about their services, or oversell common features; however, we would appreciate it if FatCow were a bit more transparent with regards to their advanced hosting solutions, such as dedicated and VPS. Because of this, we recommend readers to browse FatCow’s Knowledge Base for more information regarding their plans, as you could miss some good deals if you don’t read their services carefully!

Not the choice for you? Check out the rest of our web hosting reviews!
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