FatCow.com Review: More Moo For Your Money?
If you’re looking for web hosting that comes with control panel access, a free domain name, website builder and WordPress hosting, would you consider a cow-themed hosting company?
Founded in 1998, FatCow is a provider of web hosting plans whose website, marketing materials, and more are all cow themed. Why? Well, why not? FatCow doesn’t provide a reason for its choice of branding, except to muse on why people would name a computer after the apple.
All that aside, FatCow promises top-notch customer support, unlimited disk space, and email accounts. But beyond the unique marketing, can they deliver?
Our FatCow review provides the facts, based on our research and experience with this hosting company.
Pros and Cons
Here’s an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of FatCow web hosting.
- Wide variety of hosting types
- High resource allocation
- Unlimited email
- Only one shared hosting plan
- Expensive dedicated hosting
- High renewal rates
We think that most of our users will seek out the Original FatCow plan, which is the company’s one-size-fits-all shared hosting plan. Rather than making you choose the plan that fits your needs/budget, everyone who wants shared hosting gets a full-featured package at a low monthly price.
Those in the market for advanced hosting options might find FatCow’s options limited. The company offers WordPress, reseller, VPS, and dedicated server plans.
Furthermore, the VPS plans are fairly reasonable when it comes to price, but the dedicated servers are quite expensive.
FatCow is a Boston, MA-based web hosting company founded in 1998 with the goal of simplifying the process of getting a personal or small business online. While the privately-owned company’s offerings have grown since then, you’ll still notice their streamlined nature.
The company utilizes two data centers in the Boston, MA area. This means that FatCow is a good option for those whose visitor base is primarily North American (generally speaking, the closer your visitors are to the servers, the faster the response times they see). Unfortunately, you do not get to choose your data center.
Originally, FatCow boasted the simplicity of their hosting plan: it offered one plan at one price.
This plan, which they called the FatCow Web Hosting Plan came with everything you need to “stake out your piece of the internet, right out of the box.”
They also offered the MiniMoo, which came with just a domain name and an email address, for those who felt that a full plan was a bit much.
However, FatCow’s hosting options have grown over the years. In addition to the Original FatCow plan (which we briefly mentioned above), FatCow offers options for those looking to start a WordPress blog or for those with larger, more heavily-trafficked sites who want a VPS hosting package or a dedicated server.
The Original FatCow Plan
The Original FatCow Plan is probably the option you’re most interested in if you’re just getting started with a website.
Despite the fact that this plan is a full-featured option that includes everything you need to get up and running, the hosting plan does not come with a sky-high price tag — just $4.08 per month with a 36-month contract.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the Original FatCow Plan:
- Website Hosting: FatCow’s robust, all-in-one hosting solution includes everything you need to serve your website to the internet.
- Free domain name: your users will be able to reach you at a domain name of your choice.
- Point and Click Site Building Tools: create a professional-looking website, even if you don’t have an in-depth technical knowledge or design experience. FatCow’s dynamic theme and templates mean that you can create and edit sites with just a few clicks and little to no hassle.
- App Installation Wizards: if you want to extend the functionality and feature set of your website, you can use the installation wizards to add things like photo galleries, content management systems (CMS), and more to your website.
- Online Store and Selling Tools: those who are looking to build an online store in addition to a website or blog can take advantage of tools such as shopping carts, product catalogs, coupon functionality, PayPal integration, and more.
- Email: get an email address with a domain that matches that of your website.
- Search Engine and Marketing/Advertising Credits: get the word out about your new website and grow your viewership using the marketing and advertising credits that come with your package.
FatCow doesn’t provide specific values when it comes to how much bandwidth and disk space comes with the FatCow plan; the only description they provide is “oodles.”
What does this mean? Well, it means that there’s no cap on how much disk space or bandwidth you can consume provided you are fully compliant with the company’s Terms of Service and only use the resources for normal website-related operations.
FatCow doesn’t offer migration services, but they offer use of the Roundcube migration tool to make the process easier.
For those who are looking to get started with a website or blog that’s powered by WordPress, consider FatCow’s WordPress hosting — starting at just $3.75 per month for a 3-year contract.
These hosting plans are almost identical to the Original FatCow Plan, but they also include a customized control panel and pre-installed themes and plugins designed to work with your WordPress site.
There are two WordPress hosting plans from which you can choose:
- The entry-level WP Starter package gets you all-in-one hosting, a selection of themes, pre-installation of important plugins, and free domain name registration.
- The premium WP Essential offering gets you everything in the entry-level plan, but with additional themes and plugins, SSD storage, and a deluxe security bundle, and premium support.
If, after a bit of time, you find that you’ve outgrown your shared plan — your site has grown much larger, you’re seeing much higher traffic levels or both — you might consider FatCow’s VPS hosting plans.
There are three options (Basic, Business, and Optimum) from which you can choose. They range in price from $19.99 up to $79.99. They differ from one another based on the number of CPI cores, RAM and storage allocation, and bandwidth maximum.
If you want an entire server — or, in FatCow parlance, your own pasture — and are comfortable with managing everything that has to do with it, consider a dedicated server.
These are typically used for the largest and most heavily trafficked websites, but you might opt for these from the get-go if you’re expecting rapid growth — if you do, you’ll eliminate the need to upgrade when you realize that you’ve suddenly outgrown your shared (or even VPS) hosting plan.
FatCow offers three different dedicated servers — Startup, Professional, and Enterprise — from which you can choose.
They differ from each other in the number of CPU cores, RAM and storage allocation, and maximum bandwidth.
Reseller Hosting Plans
If what you’re looking for is a reseller plan, FatCow offers a fully managed option where all of the server system administration is left to the FatCow staff.
You’re welcome to brand your products as you see fit, so your customers need not know that you’re reselling FatCow products.
While FatCow doesn’t offer a specialized e-commerce plan, the company offers support for tools you can use to launch an online site with its web hosting offerings.
You can use the Ecwid E-Commerce platform as your all-in-one e-commerce solution and integrate with PayPal for credit card processing services. Then, to drive traffic to your site and increase your online store’s revenue, you can install and use SEO Interest.
Finally, those who are interested in selling online but aren’t interested in managing inventory and the like should check out Doba. This gets you access to over 1.5 million products you can sell and drop ship.
FatCow‘s web hosting plans come with a few useful, free features.
If you need an easy way to build a website, FatCow includes a basic website builder with its hosting plans.
The FatCow Website Builder allows you to get started with mobile-friendly themes, edit your templates with a drag-and-drop website builder, and implement features using prebuilt blocks.
Those who find the free version of the Website Builder to be limited can upgrade to one of the premium options to remove the limit on how many pages you can create and gain access to additional features like video embedding, revision history, and support for analytics.
If you need simple images for your site, check out FatCow’s image library featuring 3928 “farm-fresh web icons.”
FatCow offers a free domain name. The hosting company also provides domain name registration services.
This means that you can register and hold a domain name in which you are interested, even if you’re not quite ready to purchase a web hosting package.
In addition to domains with the more common extensions, such as
.net, FatCow offers more unique options such as
All FatCow hosting plans come with Personalized Email. Your address matches the domain you use for your website, and you can check your email using any client or device.
FatCow offers a free SSL certificate to its users, though you will have to manually enable it before it protects your website and improves your search engine.
However, those who want a stronger certificate or one that protects a greater number of domain names can purchase one of the premium options on offer by FatCow.
Control Panel and Account Management
FatCow partners with cPanel to make the cPanel Control Panel available to all FatCow hosting partners.
cPanel can be used no matter the type of hosting (e.g., shared, VPS, dedicated).
With the cPanel, you can do things like:
- Move files to your web server using the FTP protocol
- Manage your account’s email inboxes
- Check on your website’s resource usage
- Manage your domain names
- Check your account’s billing information.
While FatCow web hosting comes with a great set of features to make it easy for you to set up your website, you also need to make sure they can provide a reliable service.
This is where uptime comes in. No matter how professional your site is, if it’s down, it offers zero value to you and your customers.
Using Pingdom, we tracked FatCow for a full year. Our tests indicate that their average uptime is 99.997%. Their average page load speed is 347 ms — quite good, especially for a budget host.
|November 2018||99.99%||412 ms|
|October 2018||100.00%||283 ms|
|September 2018||100.00%||337 ms|
|August 2018||100.00%||333 ms|
|July 2018||100.00%||350 ms|
|June 2018||100.00%||371 ms|
|May 2018||100.00%||336 ms|
|April 2018||100.00%||355 ms|
|March 2018||100.00%||375 ms|
|February 2018||99.99%||328 ms|
|January 2018||100.00%||329 ms|
|December 2017||99.98%||356 ms|
Customer Service and Technical Support
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, FatCow’s customer service team, which they call the Moo Crew, is available 24/7 via email, telephone, or live chat.
The Moo Crew pledges to abide by what they call the HeiferCratic Oath. This means that the Moo Crew will:
- Call you within seven days of your purchase of a hosting plan to welcome you to FatCow
- Answer your call in under one minute
- Provide 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email
- Resolve your issue during your initial contact with FatCow or set up a hard deadline by which FatCow will follow up with you
- Be friendly and courteous at all times
- Adhere to the highest training standards, so you’ll speak to a knowledgeable person no matter who answers your message or phone call
- Send you a follow-up survey to see if you were satisfied with your customer service experience and ask for tips on improvement.
Many web hosting providers promise top-notch customer service, but few spell out exactly what this means the way FatCow does.
If FatCow, for whatever reason, doesn’t meet the HeiferCratic Oath, it will compensate you with an account credit equal to one month of hosting.
We decided to test FatCow support’s live chat. You can access live chat from FatCow’s website whether you’re a potential or existing customer. This is ideal because you can get the information you need before you purchase the plan.
The FatCow chat support representative answered our questions quickly during our first interaction.
FatCow’s self-help resources include a searchable knowledge base and a user guide that walks you through every step of getting your website up and running.
The latter is probably what you’ll find most useful after you’ve purchased a web hosting package, with the knowledge base coming in handy when you have specific questions about a feature or functionality.
Users rate FatCow 2.9 out of 5. They are rated a little lower on their support but higher on their features and value.
Pricing and Billing
When purchasing hosting plans from FatCow, you have the option of paying on a monthly basis or paying upfront for an extended contract lasting 12, 24, or 36 months (VPS and dedicated server contracts are capped at 24 months).
If you opt for the latter option, you’ll receive a discount commensurate with the length of your contract — those who opt for the longest contract receive the biggest discounts (and thus pay the least on a month-to-month basis).
If you’re new to FatCow, you’ll receive a special, introductory rate for your first billing cycle.
The discount varies based on the plan you’ve chosen. When your plan renews, it will renew at the regular rate, which varies based on the length of your contract and the type of plan you’ve chosen. Regardless, you can expect your monthly fees to go up.
Refunds and Money Back Guarantee
If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you can take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee. Cancel your package and receive a full refund of all monies paid (less domain name registration fees).
HostGator vs FatCow
If you’re searching for affordable web hosting that comes with solid support, you may have read about HostGator.
HostGator is a well-known hosting company that offers a range of web hosting types, including shared, VPS and dedicated hosting.
Both HostGator and FatCow have similar price points and offerings. Though, HostGator provides more choice. The hosting company has three shared hosting plans, for instance.
FatCow and HostGator also provide WordPress hosting plans. HostGator’s WordPress plan comes with support for one site, 100,000 monthly site visits, and unmetered storage space. They’ll also transfer your site to HostGator from your previous web host for free. HostGator will perform automatic updates, too.
FatCow’s WordPress plans come with a selection of themes and plugins. You’ll also get free domain registration.
We compared FatCow’s Original FatCow plan with HostGator’s mid-range shared plan because these hosting plans are similarly priced.
|Extras||Free SSL||Free domain name|
Read our HostGator review if you’re still unsure.
iPage is another affordable hosting company offering a range of hosting plans. You can read about their offering in our iPage review.
FatCow is a solid provider of all-in-one shared web hosting packages, as well as options for WordPress users and those with large or highly-trafficked websites.
If you’re just getting started and you find the prospect of managing your web server daunting, FatCow is a good option for you to consider.
In addition to making their products as easy to use as possible, FatCow provides well-written documentation and a customer service team that can be reached around the clock.
Furthermore, their products are reasonably priced, and if you ever need to upgrade your hosting solution, you can do so without switching away from FatCow and to another hosting provider.
With a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s no reason not to try them out. Visit FatCow now.
Your FatCow Hosting Review
Are you a former or current FatCow Hosting customer? Following your experience, would you recommend them to your nearest and dearest? How do they perform in terms of speed, features, and customer service? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below and let us know what you think.
Contributing editor: Bronwynne Powell.