FatCow.com: Our Review

Known as much for its funny name and comical mascot as its extremely easy-to-use hosting service, FatCow.com is one of the most popular hosting providers on the Internet today. They keep things simple by providing feature-rich standard packages and a wide selection of premium “add-ons” that can boost performance, add functionality, or enhance your site’s marketability.

Features

FatCow.com offers the three basic levels of hosting: Shared (simply known as “Website Hosting” at FatCow.com), Virtual Private Server (VPS), and Dedicated. The company uses Linux-based servers for all three tiers, and offers (as is the case with many hosting providers) “unlimited everything.”

Website Hosting Features

  • Free domain for one year
  • Unlimited* domains and sub-domains
  • Unlimited* drive space
  • Unlimited* data transfer/bandwidth
  • Unlimited* MySQL databases
  • Support for Unlimited* email addresses and webmail (POP3).
  • Free 24/7 customer support via Web/phone/email
  • User-generated backups (via utility)
  • Daily server backups
  • A free template-based website builder
  • Free shared SSL certificate
  • Web hosting control panel
  • Free toll-free number (U.S. customers only)
  • Full support for:
    • eCommerce (osCommerce, Agora Shopping Cart, ShopSite Cart, PayPal)
    • Content management software (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.)
    • PHP 4 & 5
    • Python
    • Google Webmaster tools
    • Server-Side Includes
    • Multimedia streaming

*As a rule, “unlimited” in the context of shared hosting generally denotes “limitless until you negatively impact server performance, at which point you may be billed or transferred to a more costly service tier.”

The shared hosting tier also includes a complimentary toll-free number (U.S. customers only) and a 30-day money-back guarantee. FatCow.com also offers the amusingly-titled “Heifercratic Oath,” a satisfaction guarantee that promises a free month of hosting to any customer who is not completely satisfied with the services and products offered by the company.

You can also enhance your mail security, purchase marketing support services and site development, and add premium support options via various premium add-ons (additional fees may apply).

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Features

FatCow.com offers three different VPS plans (“Basic,” “Business,” and “Optimum”) for those who require a little more power, have a fast-growing site, or simply want more direct control over their server.

  • Your own semi-private virtual Linux server, with:
    • The same standard features available in shared plans
    • Up to a quad-core Intel® Xeon™ processor
    • Up to 8 GB of dedicated RAM
    • Up to 120 GB of storage space
    • Up to 4 TB of monthly traffic
  • Full root access to your server and operating system (OS)
  • Two dedicated IP addresses (a single IP is included with the “Basic” plan)
  • Enhanced cPanel VPS management control panel
  • Mirrored SAN storage
  • Added support for:
    • Curl
    • Ruby on Rails
    • SSH
    • Python
    • Perl
    • Cron
    • FrontPage Extensions
    • Additional multimedia streaming

These plans are completely scalable, allowing you to up- or downgrade your plan monthly to address the ebb and flow of Web traffic. FatCow.com’s VPS solutions are also covered by their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Dedicated Hosting Features

Are you, as FatCow.com cheekily asks on its dedicated server page, a FatCow on a small farm? They’ve got the power you need if you’ve got a high-traffic website or require total control over your server and security. Dedicated plans (“Pasture,” “Acre,” and “Ranch”) give you access to your own physical, completely-customizable, Linux server.

  • Your own physical Linux server, with:
    • All of the basic features of the lower tiers
    • Intel® Xeon™ processors up to 3.7 GHz (quad core)
    • Up to 16 GB of RAM
    • Up to 1 TB of storage space
    • Up to 15 TB of monthly traffic
  • Total root access for your server
  • Up to five free dedicated IP addresses
  • Free enhanced cPanel/WHM license
  • Customizable managed hosting services

As with the other service tiers, FatCow.com’s dedicated hosting plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Benefits Breakdown

The Good

In the online hosting community, FatCow.com seeks to be a welcoming friend; a guide who helps you merge onto the Information Superhighway without being flattened by a rogue semi. In business since 1998, the company has become famous for “out of the box” Web hosting.

In addition to friendly, service-oriented plans, the company’s 100% “green” hosting (the company purchases twice as much wind energy as it consumes from the power grid and is EPA certified as a Green Power Partner), wide range of for-purchase add-ons, and “Mini-Moo” domain parking service add significant value to the standard plans on offer.

The availability of step-by-step tutorials and an in-depth knowledge base add even greater user-friendliness to a ’round-the-clock support service that strives to answer phone customer calls “in a minute or less.”

The Not-So-Good

While undoubtedly a bargain, FatCow.com’s basic Web hosting plan leaves out a few key features you might expect to be part of even an economy plan. And while add-on services can help make up for these deficiencies, the lack of cPanel support (at the shared level) and a stand-alone scripting/application installer mean you’ll probably be paying a little more for services you might find bundled into shared hosting at other providers.

And because FatCow.com is a Linux-only provider, you may need to look elsewhere if your site relies on Windows applications or you plan to develop applications for a Windows-only environment.

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