FatCow Web Hosting Review (2015)

There are lots of different web hosting companies out there. If you’re looking for a place to migrate your existing site or to build your very first site on, you have more options than ever before. The good thing is that many of these web hosts now offer affordable and incredibly feature-packed hosting packages to suit your specific needs.

Company LogoThe third website I’ve launched a few years ago is hosted by FatCow. There weren’t a lot of choice back then, and FatCow stood out so I immediately signed up for an account. I was looking for a hosting plan that comes with a lot of features and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The company’s name is a little strange too, but I liked it! What’s more, they’re an eco-friendly web hosting company that’s very active in social media. What’s not to love, right?

But the things I was looking for in a web host were plain silly! I’ve listed all the wrong reasons to base my choice on, so I’ll tell you the things that really matter: pricing, customer support, control panel, uptime, and overall performance. These are what you really need to look for in a web host. If a web host ticks all these boxes, then stick with it!

FatCow is a very special web host. The way they deliver their hosting packages, the way their website looks and feels, the way they provide their services to clients – everything just feels different! Being one of the veterans in this industry, I just knew they’re doing something remarkable to keep their customers satisfied. I just had to sign up for an account and make a review about their service.

Fast-forward to today and FatCow is still doing a great job. It may not be everyone’s top pick now, but if you’re on the lookout for a really cheap web hosting plan, then this one should be under your radar.

But can it still be a good web host if you strip away the pricing factor? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today – going through all the details to find out whether or not you can count on FatCow’s web hosting to keep your site up and running all the time.

Why Choose FatCow Web Hosting?

Circa FatCow may be a web hosting company with a funny name, but they’re serious about providing the best service to their customers, with a price that you just can’t beat. First established in 1998 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, FatCow has been a popular choice among individuals, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses looking for a cheap hosting solution. With a dedicated team of web hosting experts, they focus on a more customer-friendly approach that aims to do a lot more to meet client need. This is one of the many reasons I included FatCow in my top 10 list of web hosting providers.

As a company that has been around for more than 15 years, some of you might say that they’re lucky to have lasted this long in such a competitive market. But anyone who’s successful – no matter what industry they’re in – knows that it’s not luck but hard work and dedication that got them to where they are today.

Now that you know a little bit of FatCow’s history and goals, it’s time to get into the more important stuff: FatCow’s hosting plans, their features, customer support, and other bits and pieces you should know about before signing up.

FatCow Web Hosting Plans

Don’t be fooled by this web host’s playful nature and fondness for using words like “oodles” and “udderly” throughout their site because they take what they do seriously! They pack a whole bunch of features in attractive hosting packages while at the same time cutting away most of the jargon that’s common in other web hosts. FatCow offers shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), and dedicated hosting plans to help you get your fair share of the Internet, right out of the box. For WordPress users, they also provide managed WordPress hosting.

Shared Web Hosting Plan

First time building a website? It can be a pretty daunting tasks, especially if you’re not tech savvy. Good thing FatCow offers a feature-packed shared hosting plan to help beginners hit the ground running. They’ve even assembled a team of experts to help their customers every step of the way with their Friendly Moo Crew Support Team.

Called The Original FatCow Plan, this robust, all-inclusive shared hosting package is the perfect starting point for those who are just about to launch their site on a budget. And if you want to save more money, you better sign up today because FatCow is offering a special introductory rate on their shared hosting plan, starting at just $49 per year!

IntroYou can save up to 60% on this limited-time deal so you better hurry because this sale will end soon! This offer already comes with a FREE domain name. What’s more, FatCow will even set up your site for FREE. That’s right, no setup fees on your first site! A lot of web hosts will make you pay for your first domain and will even charge you with costly setup fees, so these alone are pretty lucrative offers.

But as with any web host offering a special intro price, this limited-time promotion is only available to new clients during the initial term. This means that you’ll have to pay at the regular rate for successive or renewal periods. But just imagine how much money you’ll save on your first year with FatCow!

Here’s a list of features that come with The Original FatCow Plan:

Specifics
Pricing $49/year (special intro price)
Setup Fees FREE
Domain Name 1 FREE (1st term only)
Disk Space Unlimited
Bandwidth Unlimited
Domains per Account Unlimited
Subdomains Unlimited
Email Accounts Unlimited
Google AdWords Bonus $100
Yahoo! / Bing Search Marketing Credit $100
Daily Server Backups
Shopping Carts
SSL Secure Server
Money-Back Guarantee                        30 Days

What else will you get with The Original FatCow Plan?

  • Drag-and-drop site building tools
  • App installation wizards
  • Online store and selling tools
  • Email customization
  • Search engine and advertising credits (up to $200!)
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Cloud storage
  • 100% wind-powered web hosting

Talk about feature-packed! FatCow has an impressive tierless shared hosting plan that could go head-to-head with DreamHost’s offering. But this web host trumps DreamHost’s all-in-one shared hosting in terms of cost factor. The Original FatCow Plan is more than $50 cheaper than DreamHost’s shared hosting plan, based on the annual rate. DreamHost, however, offers a free domain name for life. FatCow may give you your first domain for free, but this offer is only available on your first term. After that, you’ll have to pay at the regular price. So if a free domain name is a big deal to you, then you might want to consider DreamHost instead.

What I Like – All-New Monthly Payment Option for Shared Hosting

FatCow has recently introduced a monthly payment plan for their shared hosting. If you sign up today, you can opt for their Original FatCow Plan for only $5 per month.

Monthly

It’s a special introductory price that applies to the first 12 months of service for the shared hosting plan. After that, the plan renews at $10.99 per month. That’s 60% off if you register an account right now! Pretty good deal, right?

VPS Web Hosting Plan

If you’ve outgrown your shared server and your site needs more room to grow, then it’s time to go for a higher hosting package. This is where choosing between different plans make sense.

Just last year, FatCow started offering VPS and dedicated hosting plans which cater to those who wish to upgrade their host. If you want more control, access to semi-private resources and cloud-based flexibility (but you don’t want to pay for a costly dedicated server), then FatCow’s VPS hosting plan is your answer. It’s instantly deployable and you can further expand your website’s functionality!

VPSFatCow has three VPS hosting plans: Basic, Business, and Optimum. The price starts at just $19.99 per month (20% off from the regular price of $24.99) to $79.99 per month, depending on the plan you choose. Just like their shared hosting plan, this limited-time promo is available only for the first term of services. Afterwards, you’ll have to renew at the regular price.

Here’s what you’ll get with every FatCow VPS hosting plan:

  • FREE domain name registration + FREE domain transfers
  • FREE search engine and marketing credits
  • Personalized email
  • 24/7 customer support

What’s more, you’ll also have your very own cPanel, which is the best and most user-friendly control panel for creating and managing websites.

For the geeks in the audience, here are some features that you’ll find particularly attractive in all of FatCow’s VPS plans:

  • Create unlimited domains, subdomains, MySQL databases, and FTP accounts
  • Preinstalled scripts (i.e. PHP, CGI, Perl, Cron, Ruby on Rails, Python, and more)
  • Access to special cPanel features (i.e. Spam Assassin, Web Mail, Auto Responders, Catch All, SMTP, and more)

Compare FatCow VPS Plans

  Basic Business Optimum
Monthly Pricing (20% Off) $19.99/month $47.99/month $79.99/month
CPU Cores 1 2 4
RAM 1 GB 4 GB 8 GB
Disk Space 40 GB 90 GB 120 GB
Bandwidth 1 TB 3 TB 4 TB
IP Address 1 2 2
FREE Domain
Control Panel cPanel cPanel cPanel

 

FatCow is a close contender against web hosting champion, Arvixe. In fact, FatCow is a few pennies cheaper than Arvixe’s VPS hosting plans! Additionally, they offer larger storage and bandwidth. So if you’re looking for a good VPS package at an affordable rate, FatCow is a better option.

Dedicated Web Hosting Plan

Are you expecting high traffic volumes to your site? Shared hosting just won’t do! If you need the highest level of speed, reliability and security for your website, then it’s time to upgrade your host and have your very own server with FatCow’s dedicated hosting plan. That’s right, FatCow now have dedicated servers that cater to large-scale businesses and companies looking to expand their site without limits!

Dedicated

You can choose from three dedicated hosting plans: Startup, Professional, and Enterprise. The first tier, Startup, is ideal for medium-sized businesses that are expanding quickly and are in need of extra power and security to accommodate growth. It’s an ideal choice for eCommerce sites that may have already outgrown shared or VPS hosting and don’t want their sites to experience any disruption caused by other site owners on their server.

Meanwhile, the Professional plan is tailored for established businesses that are set to take their web presence to a whole new level by taking advantage of all the resources that come with a dedicated server, and using them to expand their site’s functionalities.

For large companies and thriving businesses with high traffic volumes, frequent data transactions, and extensive site functionalities, the Enterprise plan is the best option there is. Expect the best possible performance and response times that could pave the way to your business’ online success!

Just like their shared hosting plan, FatCow is now offering a limited-time 20% discount on all their dedicated hosting plans, starting at $119.99 per month to $191.99 per month! So you better hurry before the sale ends!

The advantages of hosting your website on a dedicated server include:

  • Independent control. You can install applications without restrictions through the easy-to-use cPanel control panel. You’ll also have optional root access, plus fully managed support in case you need help.
  • Dedicated resources. You’ll get the fastest operating speeds for your high-traffic website, and the highest level of security for advanced protection of all your data. And since you won’t be sharing your server with other users, your site will be at optimum performance – completely unaffected by other sites!
  • Cloud-based flexibility. The sky is the limit – no pun intended! You have plenty of room to grow and scale your website – and your business – as demands increase.

Compare FatCow Dedicated Plans

  Startup Professional Enterprise
Monthly Pricing (20% Off) $119.99/month $159.99/month $191.99/month
Processors Intel Xeon E3 – 1220LV2 3.5 GHZ Intel Xeon E3-1265LV2 3.2 GHZ Intel Xeon E3-1230V2 3.7 GHZ
RAM 4 GB 8 GB 16 GB
Disk Space 500 GB 1000 GB 1000 GB
Bandwidth 5 TB 10 TB 15 TB
IP Addresses 3 4 5
FREE Domain
Control Panel cPanel cPanel cPanel

FatCow’s dedicated hosting plans may not be as flexible as Arvixe’s plans, but they certainly are cheaper by a few bucks. Arvixe, on the other hand, lets you customize your plan based on the amount of storage, bandwidth, and memory (RAM) your site(s) needs. But take note, the more you customize your plan, the higher the price you’ll pay!

Unfortunately, FatCow only has Linux-based servers, which is the most widely used operating system (OS) in web hosting. This is bad news for those who are looking to host their site on Microsoft’s operating system (Windows) and on ASP.NET. In this case, you should look for a web hosting provider that’s both Linux- and Windows-friendly, like Arvixe and DreamHost.

Managing Your WordPress Website/Blog with FatCow

WPWordPress is no doubt the most powerful and widely used blogging platform and content management system (CMS) out there. I mean, who doesn’t love WordPress? You can use it for free, plus there are millions of amazing themes and plugins to choose from!

But the thing is, WordPress is quite taxing on SQL servers. If you run it on, say, a shared hosting account, chances are your site will always crash during traffic spikes. Last year, however, FatCow introduced two different plans for managed WordPress hosting. They used to only have one hosting plan, with everything unlimited (but with so-so performance).

Features3With managed WordPress hosting, you’ll get the following perks and benefits:

  • Curated themes. FatCow have carefully selected the best WordPress themes to give your site a unique look and feel.
  • Pre-installed WordPress plugins. From the performance-boosting W3 Total Cache to the all-inclusive social powerhouse Jetpack, you’ll have the coolest extras to further expand your site’s capabilities.
  • Fully customized control panel. With managed WordPress hosting, you’ll get a custom control panel that’s especially designed for convenience. With it, you have instant access to all the WordPress tools you use the most.

FatCow lets you choose between two plans: WP Starter and WP Essential. Here’s what you’ll get if you sign up for either one of these plans:

WP HostingIf you compare it to the Original FatCow Plan, there’s not much addition with the WP Starter plan in terms of features and performance. They just threw in a couple of extras. If you really want the good stuff and wouldn’t mind paying an extra couple of bucks, then you should go for their WP Essential plan.

WP EssentialThe WP Essential plan provides better speed for your WordPress-based site. With an SSD-based infrastructure and reconfigured servers, this managed WordPress hosting is tailored for maximized website uptime. FatCow have also teamed up with industry experts to provide a deluxe security suite (via SiteLock) that adds an extra layer of protection for your site by eliminating malware and keeping hackers at bay. And if you have any questions regarding WordPress hosting, rest assured that you’ll get prompt, knowledgeable response via personalized support. I would say that this is the right plan for more advanced WordPress users.

Compare FatCow Managed WordPress Plans

WP Starter WP Essential
Integrated, carefully handpicked WordPress themes Integrated WordPress themes and plugins + experience
Pre-installed WordPress plugins SSD-based super speed infrastructure
Customized control panel Deluxe security suite (SiteLock)
Personalized, expert technical support
Powerful WordPress hosting + FREE domain registration Powerful WordPress hosting + FREE domain registration

There’s no doubt that FatCow has one of the most powerful managed WordPress hosting solutions in the market. Need more proof? Compare their offer to the competition:

Compare

One-Click Setup

Don’t want to pay for managed WordPress hosting? Don’t worry because FatCow still lets you install WordPress with their easy, one-click WordPress installation. You can do so from the main menu of the control panel.

1ClickYou don’t even need to give any information before you can set up your WordPress site with FatCow – unless you want to! For advanced options, you must specify the username, password, and title.

User-Friendly Custom Control Panel

As mentioned earlier, FatCow have built in a custom control panel for easy website creation and administration. You’re not likely to be blown away by the experience if you’ve already tried your hands on cPanel before, but FatCow have done away with the unnecessary tools and options – leaving a straightforward and more user-friendly version of cPanel.

cPanel

From the control panel, you’ll see plenty of advanced features and tools that appeal to both beginners and experienced users. They have even integrated Google Custom Search, which allows you to search within your site. You also have access to Webmaster Tools which provide you with the necessary tools to efficiently manage your site.

For those who are new to cPanel, FatCow have included a video tutorial to walk you through the process of using the control panel. You don’t even have to pay extra fees to access this video. So if you’re still unsure about the cPanel, you can check it out first!

Useful eCommerce Features for Online Businesses

The great thing about FatCow is that you don’t have to pay huge amounts of cash on upgrades to be able to build a powerful and dynamic eCommerce site. Everything you need is included in their hosting package, which in my opinion justifies the slightly costlier initial investment compared to other leading web hosts.

eCommerceShopping carts, payment gateways, and SSL certificates are all included in their hosting plan. And if you’re new to the eCommerce scene, FatCow will guide you every step of the way, thanks to their quick and easy-to-follow walkthroughs.

Sell

Along with the features mentioned above, FatCow added a whole lot of extras into their plan, including:

  • $200 worth of FREE ad credits (Google Adwords, Yahoo! / Bing search engine)
  • 1-click installer for scripts, applications, and CMS solutions i.e. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.
  • FREE YellowPages.com directory listing
  • FREE drag-and-drop website builder based on Wix and Weebly

With so many extras thrown in for free, FatCow’s shared hosting plan alone could represent excellent value for money!

99.99% Uptime Guarantee – True or False?

FatCow doesn’t really provide an uptime guarantee, so they never bother to publish statistics regarding uptime and response times. But that doesn’t mean they’re not doing their job to keep maximum uptime. In fact, FatCow have system management tools and engineers who are working 24/7 to ensure that their data center is always in tip-top shape. What’s more, their data center has a clustered architecture on all of its servers so if one server goes down, another one will take over right away. They also perform regular backups to minimize the risk of data loss on client sites.

uptime-guaranteeWhile no web host can assure 100% uptime (even Amazon goes down from time to time), you can expect high uptime and responsiveness with FatCow. They’ve recently upgraded their hardware and the result is a solid 99.77% uptime. But compared to the industry standard, this is a tad bit lower so they have some catching up to do.

My site loads quickly, fast enough for me to say that FatCow have really put some serious thought into optimizing server speeds. Bottom line is that you’d still be able to serve your customers and site visitors with consistent performance across the board.

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

FatCow lets you try their service without any risk. They provide an industry-standard 30-day refund policy for those who wish to cancel their hosting account. This means that, in the event that they don’t meet all of your needs, you can simply cancel your hosting plan within the first 30 days and FatCow will give you your money back in full – no questions asked.

The 30-day money-back guarantee, however, is only applicable to credit card payments. At the time of writing, FatCow does not offer the guarantee for other payment methods, mainly because of the costs associated with processing payments made by other methods. Additionally, it does not apply to most of FatCow’s add-on services, including domains.

Take note that a $35 early cancellation fee will be applied to those who decide to cancel their account after the 30-day trial. This is a bit of a letdown compared to other web hosts that offer a prorated refund / anytime money-back guarantee, such as BlueHost and Just Host.

Technical Support – Needs Room for Improvement

SupportOkay, so maybe this is the part that FatCow needs to improve on. It’s always nice to have a knowledgeable customer support staff that you can rely on in the event of a technical problem. This web host have put an emphasis on customer service, which is why they’ve employed a team called The Moo Crew.

I found their customer support team to be average when I contacted them via phone and live chat. It took them an average of 10 minutes to respond to my inquiry, which is far from the worst wait time I’ve experienced. However, anything more than 5 minutes is, for me, not so impressive. On the plus side, FatCow has a comprehensive knowledgebase that’s filled with helpful tutorials. You can also provide feedback right on their Help page.


PROS:
  • Affordable web hosting services
  • Offers a variety of web hosting plans
  • The basic web hosting package comes with unlimited domains
  • Regular discount promos and sales
  • Has a simpler and more straightforward cPanel control panel
  • Offers plenty of useful eCommerce tools and services
  • Good uptime track record

CONS:
  • Not the cheapest web host around
  • Issues with customer support wait times


Final Verdict – A Web Host Worth Considering

With FatCow, an old-fashioned service and value still ring true. The cow puns aside, it’s a pretty impressive web hosting provider that prides itself on sheer simplicity. It may not be everyone’s top choice but it strives to be the alternative to the often technical and overwhelming world of web hosting. And in order to meet the needs of potential clients, they’ve even transitioned from only having annual hosting plans to more user-friendly monthly payment options.

Whether or not this web host is right for you will depend on the kind of hosting you need for your site, the type and size of your business, and just how skilled and experienced you are in website-building. The slightly poor customer support aside, FatCow does provide the necessary tools that you would need to build one or more sites, without you digging deeper into your pocket. I highly respect this web hosting provider and I’m sure you’ll also enjoy working with them for years to come (just as much as I do).

8.6 Total Score
Excellent!

Affordable Hosting Provider. Does It Live Up To The Hype?

Support
8
Features
8.5
Uptime
9.5
Value
8.5
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