FatCow.com Review: Cute Logo – How’s The Web Hosting?
Is FatCow the Right Hosting Company for You?
FatCow is a common hosting recommendation for beginners and small businesses looking for cheap web hosting.
It’s a strange company name, but a well-known one that’s been around for a long time.
I’ve spent a great deal of time testing out and researching what FatCow has to offer in order to write this review. There’s good and bad parts to their services, and I break down the most important parts in simple terms throughout this review.
A Brief Introduction to FatCow
FatCow has been around since 1998, essentially the very start.
It’s grown over time by focusing on one thing: simplicity.
FatCow doesn’t have the most modern site, or cutting edge hosting technology. However, their plans are simple to understand and choose from, and you get inexpensive, relatively easy to use hosting.
All these things together make it well suited for simple websites. That’s why FatCow specifically targets small businesses and beginner web developers in their messaging.
FatCow offers most of the standard hosting features. But here are some of the most important ones:
|Green datacenter||Reduced energy usage|
|Backups||Can be used to restore site in case of problem|
|Control panel||Used to manage website|
|sitebuilder||Create websites without coding|
|E-commerce||Buy and sell products on your website|
Green Hosting, Kinda
You might not be aware of it, but the datacenters that hosting companies use consume an immense amount of energy.
They’re filled with racks and racks of servers running continuously.
Wind Energy, Kinda
FatCow is one of the few growing number of companies that has taken steps to reduce their impact on their environment.
This followed suggestions by their own employees, which reflects on their company culture.
FatCow is 100% wind energy powered.
This doesn’t mean they have wind turbines that supply their power.
Instead, it means that they purchase Renewable Energy Certificates with the intent to offset their energy usage.
It’s a nice thing they’ve done, that puts them ahead of most other hosting companies. They haven’t gone quite as far as a select few companies who have upgraded to energy-saving equipment and business practices, but it’s a good start.
Green Site Badge
If being environmentally friendly is relevant to your business, you can put a small green badge somewhere on your website if you host it on FatCow.
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Tailored for Small and Medium Sized Businesses
If you’ve looked at any hosting sites and immediately got overwhelmed because they have so many plans with different names, you’ll have a bit more luck with FatCow.
While they have added a few higher end plans, the core hosting services are still simple.
Besides simplicity, there’re a few other features that FatCow offers on all their plans that make it well suited for small and even medium sized businesses.
Backing Up Your Site
Making changes or upgrades to websites can be scary. It’s possible to take your site offline or even destroy it with a single click.
That’s why backups are a must for all sites but especially business websites; where going down can cost you revenue.
Backup and Restore Is Easy at FatCow
On all FatCow plans, you get free, automatic daily server backups. If something goes wrong, you contact support and ask them to fix it for you.
But there is one important thing to remember: restoring the state of a server will roll back all your sites on that server, not just the one affected by your change. Also, if you have a very busy site, you will lose the material you added since the backup.
Using your control panel, you can also manually create backups with just a few clicks. You should do this once in a while to have a local copy of your website.
What’s more, if you are doing something complicated, like adding an e-commerce part to your site, it’s a good idea to make your own backup right before you do.
“Pro” Backup Plan
Finally, if your website changes a lot throughout the day for whatever reason, you might want to invest in a better backup service.
You can purchase an inexpensive “pro” backup plan, which gives you more frequent automatic backups.
Free daily backups are generated on all plans. You can also manually create backups and restore them through your control panel. You can purchase an inexpensive pro plan for more frequent automatic backups for each of your sites individually.
Sell Products With E-Commerce Features
Creating your own e-commerce store would be extremely time consuming, even if you were an uber-coder. And time is money. That time can be be much better spent.
FatCow’s E-Commerce Solution
FatCow provides all the essential features you need, for a low cost or free. This includes:
- Adding a shopping cart to your site
- Accepting payment through PayPal
- Creating coupon codes
- Accepting credit cards
- Creating “catalog” pages with your products.
FatCow’s Two E-Commerce Applications
In particular, there are two complete e-commerce applications that you can install on any of your sites from your control panel.
The first is Ecwid which you can demo it.
It can be installed on any site by inserting a small piece of code. There are plugins to make it even easier (no need to touch code) for all the major content management systems (CMSs).
Ecwid has a ton of features, including all those listed above.
FatCow Ecwid screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
You can use it to create product pages, shopping carts, accept payments, and more.
Alternatively, you can use ShopSite, which is a very similar service.
You can demo ShopSite it too.
Either E-Commerce System Should Work Well for You
It doesn’t matter which one you pick, they’ll both work well for selling products. Expect to spend a small amount of time learning the system if you do install either.
Note that these are applications that integrate with your FatCow website. They aren’t full standalone products.
FatCow Can Build Your Site As Well As Host It
While budget is a common reason for choosing FatCow, it may not be an issue for you.
If so, know that you can get help from professional developers and designers that are associated with FatCow.
They can do anything from setting up your online store, to designing your logo, to maintaining your website.
If you need the help, ask them about it when you are signing up for hosting. Just a warning, this sort of work is never cheap, which is why most FatCow customers won’t use it except as a last resort.
The Website Builder Provided by FatCow
If you want to get a website up and running, and make it as easy as possible, use a sitebuilder.
What Is a Sitebuilder?
A sitebuilder is a simple drag and drop editor that lets you make edits to your website’s content just like you would in a text document. No coding is ever needed, and little technical skills are required.
FatCow Has Two Sitebuilders
There are actually two sitebuilders provided in every FatCow account.
One was developed by FatCow themselves, while the other is an integration of a third-party sitebuilder (Weebly).
Details About the in-House Sitebuilder
There’s a few things about the sitebuilder developed by FatCow that you should know:
- You’ll need to pay an extra fee for e-commerce functionality
- It comes with a variety of mobile-friendly themes
- You can create a blog with it.
If you’re planning to create a blog with many posts, or just long posts, you’re almost always better off going with a CMS like WordPress. This advice applies to all sitebuilders that I’ve seen, not just this one.
Weebly vs FatCow
I would not recommend using the FatCow sitebuilder. Instead, I’d recommend using the Weebly sitebuilder that you can also access in your control panel.
The FatCow sitebuilder isn’t bad, but it’s a secondary product for them. They focus almost all their time and energy on their hosting services.
But Weebly is a sitebuilder, it’s what they focus all their time on. I’ve used the Weebly sitebuilder extensively, and it’s great. It comes with more features built-in for free, has a better UI, and more themes available.
FatCow editing Weebly text screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
So it’s not that FatCow’s sitebuilder is bad, Weebly’s is just one of the best there is anywhere.
FatCow Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is what FatCow is known for.
It’s cheap because you share the cost (and resources) of a server with many other customers.
The Two Shared Plans
On the website, there are 2 names for shared hosting plans:
- The Original FatCow Plan
- WP Hosting.
The Original FatCow Plan
The original FatCow plan comes with a wide variety of features.
Most notably, you are given unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and domains.
Before you get too excited, this doesn’t mean that you can host a million large sites on a single FatCow web host plan.
When a host says “unlimited” resources, it really means “a reasonable amount that is more than most sites will need.”
If you’re just building a handful of simple sites, you aren’t likely to have an issue.
However, if you’re building several large sites on one of these hosting plans, your sites will either load very slowly, or not at all in some cases.
The original FatCow plan also comes with other perks that I’ll get to later.
You can create WordPress sites using the original FatCow plan.
However, there are 2 other plans under “WordPress hosting” that are specifically designed to help WordPress users. Depending on the one you pick, it can be even cheaper than the plan above.
You get all the same basics: unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and domains.
There’s a few important differences between the plans:
- Customized control panel
- Pre-installed themes and plugins
- “Super speed”
- Security features
- Specialized Support.
Customized control panel
Your options will all be WordPress specific now.
So if you only want part of your website to be WordPress, stick with the FatCow plan.
Pre-installed themes and plugins
W3 Total Cache and Jetpack come installed in any new site for convenience.
Since these are plugins that pretty much all WordPress users depend on, this is really helpful.
Your sites are placed on servers with more space.
In addition, you get access to a content delivery network (CDN), and extra caching for more speed
This feature is only available on the higher tier plan, but given its importance, it’s worth paying for.
Your site will be monitored for security issues (which WordPress is hardly immune to). Additionally, a firewall protects your sites from most spam and other security issues
This also only comes with the higher tier plan.
You get access to a specific support team that specialize in WordPress hosting on FatCow. You’re likely to find this extremely helpful.
There’s No Question if WordPress Is Your Thing
If you know all your sites are going to be WordPress sites, it makes sense to pick one of these 2 plans.
What If Your Website Needs More Power?
I mentioned above that if your sites need too much bandwidth or disk space, they’ll slow down or not load at all. That’s a big problem.
In the past, FatCow only had shared hosting plans, so you’d have to buy more hosting accounts or migrate to a different host.
Now, FatCow has a few higher tiered plans with more power.
They are significantly more expensive than the shared plans, but still cheaper compared to most similar plans that competitors offer.
I won’t go into too much detail, but I’ll give you a quick overview.
There are two options, the first of which is virtual private server (VPS) hosting.
You’re still sharing a server with other customers, but you have a large amount of space and resources partitioned off just for your sites.
On top of more power, you also get fully managed support. This means that FatCow’s support team will help ensure that your site is protected from security threats, and that you’ll get faster help with any website issues.
Dedicated Server Plans
If your site gets really big, you might need even more power and control over your resources. That’s when you’d upgrade to the second option, a dedicated server hosting account.
Dedicated hosting gives you your own private servers that you have nearly full control of. The vast majority of sites will never need this.
The Central Control Panel
No matter which hosting account you sign up on, you’ll get access to a customized vDeck control panel.
It’s a simple hosting control panel, but has all the essentials you need.
There are a few main sections of tools and options.
The website tools section allows you to pick how you’ll build your website(s).
First, there are the two sitebuilders. The FatCow sitebuilder is called “WebsiteBuilder,” while Weebly is the other option.
Both e-commerce store options, Ecwid and ShopSite are also available.
If you’d like to install a CMS (other than WordPress) or forum, you’ll need to use the link to Mojo Marketplace.
Mojo Marketplace includes simple installation scripts for a ton of popular software.
FatCow one click installs screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
You pick a CMS, select the site on your hosting account to install it on, and you’re done.
Each host package comes with FatCow email.
You can create custom email addresses to any of your domains (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Then, you can login to any individual account, which is powered by Roundcube.
Roundcube email screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
Roundcube is an open source email client with a simple, but modern design.
There’s a small section just for Google tools.
FatCow Google integrations screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
First, you can easily link up your hosting account with your Google Analytics account.
You can also purchase integrations for most Google tools. The most popular one is Gmail, which allows you to access your email accounts through your regular Gmail account.
Whether or not the monthly fee is worth it is up to you.
All customers receive support from the “Moo Crew,” available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can get support through phone or live chat.
Every time I’ve used either option, someone quickly responds, and answers have been useful. While your experience may vary, I don’t have any complaints there, and the availability is great.
The other side of support is documentation.
FatCow splits this into two main sections.
The main one is the knowledgebase, which is quite good overall. It’s well organized, and support guides have clear steps, and often images. I do think it could use more guides in certain topics, but it’s a solid foundation as it is.
FatCow Knowledgebase screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
The other help section is the “user guide.” This contains some video tutorials on how accomplish different objectives using your control panel. There’s quite a bit of overlap, and also many links to just the homepage of the knowledgebase.
I think they could be combined into one single knowledgebase, and it’d be more useful.
Is Uptime Important to You?
Uptime is a measurement of what percent of time a host’s websites have been available during any time period.
It’s pretty important that your site is up and running as much as possible.
The minimum “standard” in the industry is 99.9%. That sounds really high, but an uptime of 99.9% for a month still results in 43 minutes and 12 seconds downtime. The best high performance hosts have uptimes of over 99.99%.
Something that’s concerning is that FatCow has no uptime guarantee, and barely any mention of uptime on their website. I’ve researched many businesses for host reviews, and this does not happen often because uptime is important.
We’ve measured our own uptime results on FatCow using Pingdom to get a sense of what to expect.
The results so far have showed that the uptime was above 99.9%. The uptime is about as good as you’d hope for on a low cost host like FatCow, so no complaints here.
FatCow’s Main Appeal — Pricing
As I’ve casually mentioned, FatCow is one of the cheapest hosts you’ll find on the web.
On the shared hosting plans, you can get a introductory rate that is absurdly cheap. This can be misleading, because it’s only for the first term.
After this first term, the plan will be renewed at a standard rate. It’s still affordable and competitive, but not incredibly cheap anymore.
There are a few other perks that FatCow gives new customers that help offset any increased costs down the line.
Get a Free Domain Name
You can register domain names right through your control panel.
The “domain central” section of your cPanel allows you to both manage your current domain names, and add new ones.
FatCow domain central screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
All hosting plans come with one free domain name. Of course, this has to be a domain name that is available.
Get Free Advertising Credits
This really ties in with the small business focus that FatCow has.
Again in your control panel, you can access the following small business perks:
- $100 in advertising credits for Google Adwords
- $100 in advertising credits for Bing
- A free yellowpages.com listing
- A free toll-free phone number if you’re in the U.S.
Use This Signup Link For an Even Bigger Discount
If you visit FatCow using our special coupon, you’ll ensure that you get the lowest prices on every plan possible.
Is FatCow the Best Web Hosting For You?
Putting all this information together, I think FatCow is a good hosting option for small businesses and beginners with small, simple sites.
The low cost, free perks, and simple plans make FatCow easy to use even if you don’t have much experience with hosting websites.
If you want to build larger sites, or have a lot of traffic, I’d suggest going with a more reliable and higher performance host.
Behind The Scenes
Even though a CMS is often enough by itself to manage all the content in your hosting account, sometimes you need to upload or download a custom file.
You can either login through an FTP client, but it’s simpler to just use the “file manager” that’s included in your control panel’s website tools section.
When you click that, you’ll see a small browser window show up on the page:
FatCow file manager screenshot via WhoIsHostingThis
It looks similar to a folder that you’d browse normally on your computer.
You can click folders to navigate inside them, and click on any individual file to have the option to copy or download them.
I’ve mainly used the live chat support on FatCow. Someone has always answered the chat within a few minutes at the most, and responses are all quick and clear.
If You Like This Host…
If you’re looking for other hosting options aimed specifically at small businesses, give Yahoo Small Businesshosting a consideration.
If you’re looking for a little more hands-on support and more support documentation, check out InMotion Hosting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does FatCow offer SSL certificates for websites?
SSL certificates are not included as a default features. However, you can purchase them.
Considering that many hosts offer SSL certificates for free (using Let’s Encrypt), an expensive yearly fee is a significant drawback to FatCow.
I’ve heard that FatCow and iPage are the same host, is that true?
There’s nothing else connecting them other than that. They have their own unique services and infrastructure.
Uptime and Response Time
According to Pingdom, FatCow had a response time of 100% and an average response time of 387 milliseconds for the month of November, 2017, the earliest stats we have available.
Most Popular Fat Cow.com Hosting Plans
|FatCow Plan||Basic VPS Hosting||Business VPS Hosting|
|Price||$3.15 / mo||$19.99 / mo||$47.99 / mo|
|Visit Fat Cow.com||Visit Fat Cow.com||Visit Fat Cow.com|
|Optimum VPS Hosting
|120GB||4TB||$79.99 / mo Visit Host|
|Startup Dedicated Hosting
|500GB||5TB||$119.99 / mo Visit Host|
|Professional Dedicated Hosting
|1000GB||10TB||$151.99 / mo Visit Host|
|Enterprise Dedicated Hosting
|1000GB||15TB||$191.99 / mo Visit Host|
Fat Cow.com Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Fat Cow?
FatCow is a hosting company that provides shared, VPS, and dedicated server hosting for small businesses. It also has a managed WordPress hosting plan. Fat Cow is based in the United States and is part of the Endurance International Group.
- Where is FatCow’s office located?
FatCow’s corporate headquarters is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Does FatCow offer any Windows hosting plans?
No. All hosting plans available from FatCow are provisioned using the Linux operating system.
- Can I buy dedicated server hosting or managed server solutions?
FatCow offers three dedicated server hosting options – Startup, Professional, and Enterprise. Each plan comes with cPanel, CentOS, and a free domain name included. RAM, storage, bandwidth, and IP addresses vary as you go up each level.
Fully managed server support is also included.
- Will I be able to claim a free domain?
Yes. All plans include a free domain name.
- Is there a money-back guarantee?
Yes. FatCow offers all of its new hosting customers a 30-day money back guarantee, as long as you pay for your hosting using a credit card.
- Are VPS hosting services available?
Yes. FatCow VPS hosting is available in three different package plans, Basic, Business, and Optimum. Each comes with a free domain, CentOS, and cPanel. Plans vary based on the amount of CPUs, RAM, storage, bandwidth, and IPs you require.
- What type of support options does FatCow provide?
FatCow offers customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone, live chat, and email. Dedicated and VPS hosting plans include managed support for the server installations.
- Does FatCow offer customer service in languages other than English?
FatCow offers US-based support in English only.
- Where are FatCow’s datacenters?
FatCow provides shared web hosting from two datacenters located in the Boston, Massachusetts area. VPS and dedicated hosting services operate out of a datacenter in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- What programming and scripting languages are supported?
FatCow can also support CGI, SSI, JSP, Perl, PHP, and Ruby On Rails.
- Does FatCow have a hosting reseller program?
Yes. FatCow offers a reseller program that provides hosting, domain registrations, search engine submissions, and other services.
- Does FatCow offer website migration assistance?
No. FatCow does not offer site migration assistance to customers that need to move their website or domain from one hosting provider to another.
- Can I host multiple websites on one account?
Yes. FatCow permits its customers to host an unlimited amount of domains inside their hosting accounts.
- Is a sitebuilder included?
FatCow provides a sitebuilder with a simple drag and drop interface.
- Can I buy an SSL certificate?
Yes. Shared SSL certificates are available to all FatCow customers as a standard part of their hosting packages.
- Does FatCow offer cPanel with its hosting packages? What other control panels are available?
Yes, cPanel is included with all dedicated and VPS hosting packages. For its other hosting solutions, FatCow Control Panel is available to manage your hosting needs.
- What payments options are available?
FatCow accepts payments via PayPal and credit card.
- Do they have any uptime guarantees?
No. FatCow does not offer an uptime guarantee.
- What type of security features does FatCow.com provide its customers?
FatCow provides a variety of security features for its hosting customers, based on need. For websites selling products, they offer Shared SSL. For customers using their email services, they provide spam filtering.
They also run daily server backups and have facility monitoring at each of their data centers.
- Does FatCow.com store backups of my site? Do they have a specific backup policy?
FatCow takes backups for its own use. If you want a more accessible backup service, you can pay for an add-on to your hosting plan.