Review SummaryUpdated: July 11, 2020
- One-size-fits-all shared hosting plan.
- Free domain and SSL certificates with all plans.
- SiteLock Security Suite included with all plans.
- 24/7 human live chat and phone support.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- $100 Google Ads and Bing Search Marketing credits
- Affiliate Program
- No site migration service
- VPS and dedicated servers have minimal configuration options.
Original FatCow Plan Hosting Review
The original FatCow plan aims to be a one-size-fits-all type of hosting package loaded with everything you’ll need to host a basic website successfully. As advertised, this hosting solution is best for individuals or small business websites.
‘Unlimited’ storage, data transfer, domains, and email addresses are one of the most attractive features the plan has to offer. Like many hosts, FatCow doesn’t set any arbitrary limits on your hosting with their ‘Unlimited’ offerings. That being said, there are fair usage policy limits that your site will have to abide to. In short, resources can be used freely until they start to impact server performance negatively. For 99% of customers, this is a non-issue. Even WordPress small sites or blogs can be accommodated on this plan.
Technically speaking, though, sites that reach an excess of 3GB total MySQL/PostgreSQL or 200,000 inode count will be forced to upgrade to a higher level of hosting, else FatCow has the right to terminate the account without notice. Moreover, sites are also restricted to only hosting resources for email, web files, and website content. You may be asking, “What else might I host?”. Primarily, you won’t be able to save backups of your website without FatCows’ Site Backup & Restore’ add-on ($14.99 per year). While the cost for this is minimal, it does add-on to your overall hosting costs.
FatCow comes with a ton of free features to help newcomers get off on the right foot. With the vDeck hosting control panel and the SimpleScripts installer, you can add popular Content Management Systems (CMS), such as Joomla or WordPress, quick and easily. You can also set up an online store easily ShopSite. For payments, you can integrate PayPal with your website or even accept credit cards or PowerPay.
For users that want a more straightforward website building experience, they also offer the Weebly drag-and-drop website builder for free. Weebly is fun and easy to use website builder with free templates and one of the best tools for beginners.
vDeck may not be as powerful or feature-rich as cPanel, but it’s still a popular and easy to use hosting panel. FatCow has also customized it to be even easier to use than the standard version. However, you can still manage your files via FTP, view analytics for your website, and set up personalized emails. vDeck also supports PHP and Python, making it a suitable option if you want to do some custom scripting on your website.
You also get a free ‘Let’s Encrypt’ SSL certificate with the plan, though this is an industry-standard offering. A shared SSL certificate is adequate for most small to medium businesses and even low traffic eCommerce sites.
A few features that aren’t included by default are a CDN, free backup and restore, and added security. The good news is that these can be purchased as optional extras. While this means you might have to pay more, it also means you only have to pay for the features you want:
WordPress optimization: if you plan to host a WordPress site, you will get free themes and plugins, automatic malware removal, a custom control panel, and expert WordPress support (billed annually $36).
Website builder: FatCow’s website builder comes complete with free templates and drag-and-drop functionality (billed $131.88 for 12 months).
SiteLock: One of the best website security suites with a CDN, daily security scans, and security support.
Site backup & restore: Automatic daily backups with free anytime restore functionality (billed $14.99 for 12 months).
G-Suite: An integration service to set up a personalized business email account through Gmail with access to Google Apps (billed $14.99 for 12 months).
Furthermore, even shared hosting providers have access to 24/7 phone and live chat support. If you prefer phone support, that’s pretty special since most shared hosting providers only provide phone support within certain days/hours.
As we mentioned, FatCow only offers one hosting package, which is meant to be scalable for all users. The most significant difference between FatCow and their competitors is that they provide unlimited traffic, storage, resources, domains, and a bunch of free features, all for one price. It’s understandable then that FatCow costs slightly more than the average entry-level hosting at $14.99.
However, you can get a 68% discounted rate for your first term of hosting and pay as little as $4.08. This price is the same whether you sign up for a 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year term. It’s not the lowest introductory special price we’ve seen, but it’s still very affordable for unlimited hosting.
Unlike most other hosts, they also offer a special introductory $5 rate for one month. Usually, other hosts charge full price if you choose the monthly option. Of course, you also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you’re unhappy, you’ll even get that $5 back.
After your first term, longer billing periods are slightly discounted. A 3-year term will work out at $12.95 a month (billed $466.20 upfront) instead of the usual $14.99 per month for a 1-year term. They also offer month-to-month billing at $14.99, which means you don’t save anything with annual billing.
For the first year, you also get one free domain registration, although you’ll need to pay $9.99 extra for domain privacy. After that, you’ll need to pay $14.99 annually for your domain registration fees – a pretty standard arrangement. However, the free shared SSL certificate you get lasts as long as you are a customer.
One last thing to keep in mind is that the 30-day money-back guarantee only covers your basic hosting. It doesn’t include other extras or your domain. So, if you cancel your hosting and you registered a domain, they will deduct $15 from the refund amount. Again, this is pretty standard for all shared hosting providers. Unlike some other providers, FatCow doesn’t website migration, so this is something you’ll have to do manually using FTP.
What is exceptional about FatCow’s offering is that you get a free domain regardless of whether you choose a monthly option. Most hosts only offer a free domain with upfront yearly hosting. They also don’t charge any setup or activation fees for a monthly package like most hosts.
You also get a few free cash-value incentives for signing up. By spending $25 on each, you can get a $100 free Google Ads and Bing Search marketing credit. You can use these credits to buy ad space for your business on other websites. Uniquely, FatCow also offers nearly 4,000 “farm-fresh “icons. These are emoticon-like icons that you can use freely throughout your site to add a bit of personality.
All-in-all, FatCow is an affordable hosting option if you want unlimited resources. However, you may find cheaper hosting elsewhere if you want to pay less and won’t use as many resources.
WordPress Hosting Review
Best for: Blogs and eCommerce sites
FatCow’s WordPress hosting offers a choice between two separate hosting packages. A similar offering to FatCows shared hosting package plus a few WordPress specific add-ons and optimizers. With WP Starter & Essential, customers can benefit from unlimited storage, bandwidth, domains, email addresses, and SQL databases on both plans. You’ll also get a free shared SSL Certificate and domain for the first year.
Of course, the same fair use policy applies to their WordPress hosting. Though, you’ll also have the same amount of website building and scaling potential too. Moreover, while WordPress websites do tend to use more resources basic sites, most customers looking to start with a basic blog or business site can do so comfortably on these plans. Both plans also come with several themes and plugins pre-installed to help get you started. You can also access and manage your WordPress websites with an easy-to-use custom dashboard.
Hosting Optimized for WordPress
Included on both hosting plans, Jetpack is a superb utility plugin for WordPress. It comes packed with themes, plugins, a few security features, and performance enhancements. Whilst not advertised as a managed hosting solution, Jetpack does handle a lot of essential aspects of hosting a WordPress site. These being updating WordPress, optimizing and serving data via a content delivery network, and also performing regular site malware scans and backups.
Optimization wise, WP Essential customers get placed on less busy shared servers with SSD-infrastructure. This means you’ll be less prone to traffic spikes and will have better overall performance. They’ve also included an automatically installed CDN to give you better performance across the globe. What’s more, the same optional add-on features on shared hosting are also available with WordPress Plans. However, the most important of these are thrown in for free with the WP Essentials package.
Namely, with SiteLock included on your plan, you’ll get more security benefits with daily malware scans, automatic removal, and security specialist web support. The WordPress Optimization package and ‘Backup and Restore’ add-ons are also included. With both providing better efficiency in serving and storing your site’s content. For eCommerce sites, these features should be considered essential. This plan is best for more ambitious website owners, especially those looking to run an eCommerce site.
At the special introductory rate, the WP Starter plan costs $3.75, and the WP Essentials plan $6.95. The renewal rates start at $7.49 and $10.49, respectively, for a three-year term. For a 1-year term, the renewal rates are $9.49 and $12.49.
Both plans are also cheaper than the Original FatCow shared hosting package. So, if you want to host a WordPress website(s) with FatCow, they are undoubtedly the best value for money as well. These prices also undercut most of FatCow’s competitors, making them an attractive option. The same pricing policies apply regarding FatCow’s 30-day money-back guarantee. With unlimited resources and low prices, it’s one of the best options for first-time hosters who want to grow their website.
VPS Hosting Review
Best for: High Traffic and Fast Growing sites
FatCow VPS offers three options for VPS hosting, each essentially doubles the resources of its predecessor. Plans are competitive price-wise, provide enough resources to scale, and are best utilized by medium-high traffic, resource-intensive sites.
Boasting instant deployment and customizable server configurations, customers looking at the ‘Basic‘ plan will get a modest amount of resources. Suitable for any basic site, blog, or store outgrowing their shared hosting plan.
One tier up, ‘Business‘ more than doubles the available resources with 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 90 GB storage, and 3 TB of bandwidth. If your site sees regular spikes in traffic, the increased RAM and Bandwidth will help mitigate any downtime or performance issues. Most businesses or small-scale enterprise users should consider this plan.
Lastly, ‘Optimum‘ doubles the included resources of ‘Business‘ and is excellent for the most demanding of hosting needs – such as high traffic eCommerce stores or blogs. FatCow estimates this is suitable for sites with 5,000+ visitors a day. What’s more, customers still get a free domain for the first year, free SSL certificate, and personalized email across VPS packages. With a bonus 1 to 2 dedicated IP addresses aswell, depending on your plan.
FatCow manages two data centers in the Boston, MA area. These are the same data centers used by some of the parent company EIG’s other brands. While you can’t choose a server location, at least you know, two facilities are powering FatCow’s hosting infrastructure instead of just one.
Fully managed VPS servers
FatCow’s VPS servers are built on OpenStack/KVM technology. Hosting machines run on the CentOS operating system. According to them, they utilize high-performance servers with high-speed SAN storage, but they don’t provide much in the way of specifics. Interestingly, FatCow has combined vDeck and cPanel to deliver a hosting management experience that’s more advanced than the original vDeck but easier to use than the original cPanel.
You’ll also have access to a Server Control Center to manage your VPS server. Here, you can reboot, stop, start, or change your server password. It’s a basic, but easy to use interface with quick access to vital controls like these. You’ll also be able to run commands on your server using an SSH terminal with root access.
VPS customers will still have access to 24/7 live chat and phone support. FatCow offers fully managed support services, which means they should be able to help you with any server-related issues. Regular support is also available for cPanel or website-hosting problems.
Flexibility and Pricing comparison
FatCow’s VPS resources are restricted at plan-level, so you can’t upgrade them individually like some other hosts. However, the VPS plans are fairly priced for what you get, and the resource allocation is adequate for anyone up to mid-range enterprise-scale customers.
The package cost ranges from $24.99 to $99 per month, which is what you’d typically expect to pay for VPS hosting with this amount of resources. Moreover, for the first term, you get a 20% discount, which works out to between $19.99 and $79.99 a month. Compared with other providers, this again is fairly standard pricing when considering included resources.
Dedicated Hosting Review
Best for: High traffic sites, maximum resources & security
FatCow offers an excellent selection of entry to mid-range dedicated servers with enough bandwidth to grow as much traffic as you can manage. Just like their VPS hosting, dedicated servers come with everything you need to grow further and scale your website.
FatCow offers three dedicated server configurations; Startup, Professional, and Enterprise. Including resources range from 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB storage, and 5 TB bandwidth to 4 CPU cores, 16 GB RAM, 1,000 GB storage, and 15 TB bandwidth.
The ‘Startup‘ plan is ideal for online businesses or eCommerce sites that require more stability and higher bandwidth allocations than VPS servers can provide. The ‘Enterprise‘ plan, as the name suggests, is suitable for enterprise-grade online businesses that frequently process transactions, see tens of thousands of visitors daily, or host multiple client sites.
All dedicated servers make use of Intel Xeon processors – the benchmark for server CPUs – and high-speed SAN storage. You also get a free domain, SSL certificate, and email application on your first hosted website. cPanel is the control panel of choice, and dedicated servers feature the same Server Control Center FatCow offers across other plans.
FatCow’s dedicated server pricing ranges from $149.99 to $239.99 per month at the regular rate. You also get a 20% discount for your first term. These are pretty average prices for the industry and the configuration you get.
Unlike most other dedicated server providers, you can’t freely upgrade individual resources. However, you can instantly and at any time upgrade or downgrade between the dedicated server packages. There aren’t different levels of management either, and all servers are self-managed with fully managed support services. Dedicated server customers also still have access to 24/7 live chat and phone support.
FatCow Server Performance
To test FatCow’s hosting performance we used a few Pingdom reports. Over the span of a year, Pingdom’s probes (located across North America) performed daily checks, on a basic website (less than 100KBs) hosted on FatCow’s shared server environment. Additionally, there was no throttling added to these checks, so slower response times can be expected for 3G or 4G connections.
Yearly Server Performance:
Average Response Time
Data shown as monthly Uptime averages for a basic Fatcow website
Server performance can affect all aspects of your site. Case studies have consistently found that customer wait times (page load and response times) directly affect everything from SEM, revenue, and traffic growth. By a lot too, here’s just one example:
For Mobify, every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed worked out to a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion, yielding an average annual revenue increase of nearly $380,000.
Overall, most of FatCow’s security features come in the form of the add-on SiteLock security suite. They also provide all their hosting customers with a free shared SSL certificate as a base for secure browsing. Other than that, FatCow doesn’t provide much security out of the box compared to other hosting providers.
SiteLock Security Suite
The SiteLock Security Suite is FatCow’s prime security feature. It’s one of the best and most popular security suites for owners of all types of websites. FatCow offers SiteLock as an add-on for all their hosting products for only a month. WP Essentials customers get the SiteLock Essentials plan for free with their hosting.
The Essentials SiteLock plan already comes with automatic daily malware scans and removal, bot attacker blocker, and displays a SiteLock seal on your website to show visitors it’s secured. You also get security response support in case of an attack.
You can also upgrade your SiteLock plan for additional protection. However, this is entirely separate from your FatCow hosting account. That being said, the Essentials plan is cheaper via FatCow than it is through SiteLock themselves.
Backup & restore
You never know when disaster is going to strike, potentially bringing down your site or losing precious business data. While FatCow does keep backups of their servers, they only go back 14 days, and restoring backups isn’t free ($100!).
With the backup & restore add-on, your website/server will be backed up every day, and you can restore a backup at any time for free. At only $1 a month extra, it’s a must-have feature. However, some other hosts do provide this for free, although they may charge you if you go over a certain number of restores a month.
Free SSL certificates
With all their hosting packages, FatCow offers free shared SSL certificates. Shared SSL certificates are fine for most sites with the same level of encryption as a basic, dedicated certificate. The only difference is that your certificate might share a URL with other accounts on the server. Unfortunately, FatCow doesn’t offer premium SSL certificates that you can buy at extra cost. However, their support can help you set one up for your account if you decide to invest in one.
Customer Support Review
FatCow’s support is defined by excellent availability at all times and during every day of the week. Although there is no ticket support, both live chat and phone support (which are way better) are available 24/7. Unfortunately, FatCow doesn’t offer migration services, and this is something you’ll have to do manually via FTP. However, their support reps can guide you through the process if you’re having difficulties.
24/7 Live Chat Support
Via live chat, you can expect short wait times of around 1 mins before you get connected with a support rep. That’s great news if you just have a quick question or a serious problem that needs immediate attention. Overall, their support staff are friendly and helpful, although their expertise can vary from chat to chat.
24/7 Phone Support
FatCow’s standout support feature is the 24/7 availability of their phone support. This level of accessibility is usually only for a premium or top-tier support customers at other hosting providers. You can expect relatively short waiting times, too, generally waiting less than 5 minutes if you’re ever put on hold. As with chat support, the staff is friendly and helpful, but the quality of the support varies between interactions.
With an extensive knowledge base and tutorial library, you aren’t dependent on support staff to solve your problems. From getting started with each type of hosting service to setting up a website, you’ll find resources to help you through it. There are also guides to solve common issues, while informative articles will help you understand certain hosting concepts. The knowledge base has a search function, and content is helpfully divided into logical categories.
Fatcows ticket support can be accessed via the client area.
Fatcows live chat support offers both sales and general technical support.
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“ HostingReview.com Expert Review “
A good option for beginners and basic sites. However, some customers may feel the plans lacking in scalability and value, in comparison to other hosts.
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