Fat Cow Hosting Review 2018
Is Fat Cow The Right Host For You?
FatCow are known as offering one of the cheapest possible web hosting plans that you can find online. But, do they sacrifice quality and services for the benefit of the cost?
This review will look deeper into what the package is they offer, what the features are in particular and why they are or are not useful, the prices you’re looking at and some additional topics that you need to know before deciding whether to pick FatCow for web hosting in 2018.FatCow are a well-known name within the web hosting world but it’s sometimes unclear on whether that means it’s right for you, so it’s important to learn more about the brand and what it is exactly that they’re offering.
Detailed review of Fat Cow Hosting
FatCow have a rather unique name, it’s not something that you’d particularly rush to back with your money and website. But, ignore the name, because they’re actually a hosting company that have been in operation since they founded in 1998. Since then, they’ve created a dedicated team that are always trying to create the best package for web hosting on a strict and tight budget.
They’ve always been proud of the fact that they’ve been able to revolve their entire company around one web hosting package that offers the best value in web hosting. More recently, they’ve introduced the Minimoo plan that is aimed at those that do not feel that they’ll benefit enough from the regular plan to make it worth the purchase, instead the Minimoo is just for those that essentially want to park their domain and get a single page online. FatCow as a company operate with the target audience of small business owners, both as individuals or groups.
As we just mentioned, they have the one main plan that has stayed the same price and will stay the same price year on year. The FatCow Web hosting plan is simple enough to have everything that allows someone to get up and going on the internet instantly without having to get complex.
When looking to build a website, you need to realise that you need hosting in order to make your website visible for others to see. FatCow is one of many services that allow people to get off the ground and running with a website without needing prior knowledge in web development.
For websites to be public and accessible, they need to be stored and run off of a server that is directly connected to the internet, which is where FatCow (and similar companies) come in. The web host just owns and maintains servers that allow for other people to keep their websites and have their websites online thanks to their servers.
Up time of a minimum of 99.5% guaranteed
Customer Service is Exceptional
Easy Signup, especially for novices
Easy to Install CMS and Third Party Integrations
Some hosting offer quicker page load speed
cPanel takes a little getting used to
Access After Payment is Not Instant
Fat Cow Hosting Features
There’s a speed benchmark we look at when testing out a shared hosting solution. It’s a page load speed of 3 seconds. It’s because research has shown that a page load time that’s longer than 3 seconds, causes web visitors to become impatient and click away to another site. Results suggest up to 40% of visitors will click away and no business can afford to lose that much traffic.
Fat Cow isn't great. It's tested to load pages at around 3 seconds, often a touch quicker. It's not anything exceptional, you can expect other sites that compare to the cost of Fatcow can be twice as fast.
There is both a positive and a negative to the level of Uptime that is offered by FatCow. They actually don’t claim to have, or maintain, any certain number of Uptime (for comparison, hosting like iPage guarantees 99.99%). That’s the bad news, so it seems like they may not care that their servers could go down at any moment and so could your website.
However, this assumption does seem like it’s probably quite far from the truth. Their technical team behind the scenes do work 24/7 to ensure that they are rarely down at all and so that they can keep to an Uptime that’s impressive as some of their competitors.
It’s also important to note that Fatcow’s data centre does actually operate with a layered server meaning that if one of them crashes and goes down they’ll be able to get another one to replace it instantly. Fortunately, they seem to make this seem ideal since they have frequent and regular backups that minimises the risk of consumers realising anything has changed.
The data centre is said to be under professional surveillance 24 hours a day, every day, so you can sleep easy at night knowing that your sites are being protected and you’re not going to wake up to a total mess.
With FatCow you get a whole load of help and support options, so much so that it you’re probably smothered if anything happens to go wrong. Of course, we’re not complaining. It’s a great thing that you’re able to get help and support with a click of your fingers, it’s a horrible experience when you begin to find problems with your site and knowing that you have help is relieving.
So, all of the help and support options come free with the FatCow Web Hosting plan, and you get knowledge base, user guides and tutorials to follow. The user guides and tutorials are ideal for those that are new to making and producing websites and need a helping hand to get over the finishing line once they’ve started.
You’re also treated to the addition of 24/7 telephone, email AND live chat. So, if it’s a small problem then you get the privilege of live chat all day every day to figure out the issue, but if it’s something bigger then you can simply send a support ticket email and you’re likely to hear back with a solution within a day or two.
As with many other companies that are involved with web hosting, it’s unclear whether their customer support teams are inhouse or outsourced. But either way, they do seem to get the job done and it’s better to have 24/7 customer support than it is to not have it.
First you should probably know what hosting package you want
Before you choose a host, it's good to know what the different packages they offer are. We think their VPS service is top notch, our favourite 3 options are the following.
Key features of the Starter VPS Hosting Package
- 1GB Ram
- 30 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If you're looking for a hosting service that combines great quality with a really strong price point then you're i the right place. Especially if you want to work with an award winning hosting provider with an outstanding reputation online.
Key features of the most popular VPS Package
- 2GB RAM
- 60 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If you are expecting more traffic or your audience is already building then you're going to need a little my might and power from your host without costing the earth. This is what they package offers and why it's the most popular.
Key features of the largest VPS Hosting Package
- 8GB RAM
- 120 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If your website is eCommerce or has a well established audience then this is the perfect place to start looking. You get the extra performance which you need, but with a company you can trust and all at a reasonable price that offers value.
What other hosts provide similar services?
Another Hosting service worthy of your consideration is WP Engine. When it comes to specifically hosting WordPress websites they have no equal and also score a full 5 stars. Expect amazing site loading speeds and all the support you need to never have to worry about your WordPress website. Check out our WP Engine review right here.
Fat Cow Hosting: Other things to know
Average speed, amazing uptime, but noncompetitive pricing...
We've done a cross-comparison analysis of Fat Cow Hostings performance benchmarks vs the benchmarks of several other hosts in their bracket.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Fat Cow's key features?
FatCow describe their hosting plan as being just as powerful and impressive as their company name. So, in order for us to really understand what they mean by that, we need to look in depth at the features they offer with their hosting plan before coming to a conclusion about whether or they’re worth the investment and whether they’re worth trusting with your website.
Unlimited Disk Space
As long as you’re fully cooperating with FatCow and their terms and conditions, then you’ll be treated to unlimited disk space meaning that you can put as much content onto your website as you please. Pretty good for $49, right? Right.
Of course, they can reach a limit (even though it clearly says unlimited!), if you’re using tens of thousands of files just for a simple website then you’re probably doing something wrong and in these cases, you will likely be asked to stop and reduce the number of files that you’re using.
Bandwidth is the amount of traffic and data that moves between your website and the rest of the internet at any given time. FatCow say that they have set absolutely no limits to the amount of bandwidth that their program provides and their architecture was built to support more than 99.5% of the consumer’s bandwidth demands.
Bandwidth is being checked 24/7 because of their shared architecture. They’re monitoring it constantly to ensure that everything’s operating at optimal speeds.
However, one drawback of their services is that it does appear to have slower loading times than some of its competitors. But to be fair, when you’re paying as little as $49, you’ll have to assume that you’re going to suffer a little bit.
Unlimited Email Addresses
Your plan also offers unlimited email addresses, meaning that you can create and maintain as many mailboxes as your heart desires. You can combine your personal, business, student and 2nd personal email addresses all in the same place since each mailbox has a storage capacity of 10,000 email messages.
No one underestimates the power of marketing these days. It’s more important than it ever has before because of the sheer number of websites and businesses that are online these days. The odds of you being unique in what you’re doing or selling are very slim considering the number of people actively doing the same thing as you, but what can set you apart is how effective your marketing is.
FatCow offers some very enticing offers in their marketing tools. The first of which is a $100 bonus for Google AdWords. Google AdWords are used to boost your search result rankings in Google for particular key terms and will help to get your website out there to reach more people. Secondly, you’ll get some of the all time classics that seem to come with most hosting packages – a free yellow pages listing and a toll-free phone number if you’re situated in the US.
The site tools don’t really require much talk. You’re provided with a website builder which is inevitable to say the least, but you’re also given Web Analytics Tools, meaning you’re able to check up on how your website is doing and where the traffic is coming from.
Control Panel Tools
The control panel itself is pretty nice. It is not over complicated, but it is not ridiculously simple either. The main menu is split into five categories, allowing you to navigate between them at your own pace and dependent on what it is that you’re interested in looking at at that time. The five categories are as follows:
Website: This category includes everything that will be used to create and eventually maintain your website.
Email: Here you’ll be able to access all of your emails from multiple addresses, change your settings and even set up autoresponders.
Domain: In this category you’ll be able to register new domains, transfer them from other websites or just simply make some changes to your existing domain.
Marketing Services: You’ll be able to find email marketing tools and advertisement credits here for sites like Google.
Additional Tools: Here you’ll just find the extras that can help your website tick over if you ever need them, like the choice to accept credit cards.
Some people, and perhaps you, are looking to create an e-commerce store as your website. You’ll want to make money by selling items online and creating a simple to use store that allows people to find the product they want to buy, add it to a checkout and then pay for it.
Most expensive hosting services will allow you to create a checkout store for free with their package but you wouldn’t really expect a plan as cheap as FatCow’s to do so, but they do.
You’re able to set up into an e-commerce store in no time and they make it incredibly easy for you to do so. Not only do they have checkouts that accept credit cards, but you also have the option to integrate PayPal into your shopping cart.
To summarise, it’s highly important in today’s internet business world to allow for purchases to be made through the site, and it’s nice that FatCow allow e-commerce to thrive even when their package is so cheap for the consumer.
Like with most things, we’ve learned through trial and error. We’ve made our mistakes, some of the mistakes we’d like to help you avoid, so you choose the right hosting solution for you with the right hosting provider.
First golden rule. Price is not a good reason to decide on a hosting provider. Obviously, it’s important. Most people reading this review will have a budget in mind, but if you have priced in mind, you’ll get wowed with great pricing that perhaps don’t deliver on more important areas which ultimately makes the ‘actual’ price something different altogether.
There are 3 important pillars to your decision. Performance, reliability, customer support.
Performance is the first pillar, we need to ensure we have a quick host, it can have a major impact on your website’s ability to convert sales or perform its main function.
Marketing experts have done extensive testing on page load speed and they have seen some really significant results. Any website page that loads slower than 3 seconds can expect over 40% of their visitors to click off and visit another site.
That’s the world we live in. Your online audience has a very short attention span and you have ensured you’re not losing visitors with your page load speed. The reality is, if they are clicking off from your website, you’re losing sales, and they are most likely clicking to your competitor's website and buying there.
So how fast should your website page load? It really depends on the hosting package you’re choosing. As a general rule of thumb, shared hosting will be the slowest, but also often the cheapest solution, followed by VPS (Virtual Private Server) and finally, the fastest should be a dedicated server.
For shared hosting, the benchmark is 3 seconds. There is absolutely no excuse for a page to load slower than 3 seconds, some shared hosting providers get it under 1 second. When doing your research, you should be satisfied with a load speed somewhere between 2-3 seconds.
The next set of packages is the cloud based on VPS hosting solutions. They are a touch more complicated, a little more expensive, but have more capacity and performance, at least they should. You are right to expect better performance and page load speed. Realistically, between 1 - 2 seconds is a good benchmark but there are some that are much quicker than that.
Finally, you have a dedicated server. You’re paying much more and you should have higher expectations. Page load should be near instantaneously.between 0-1 second and you should have very high expectations.
When considering page load speed, a general test is fine, but there is one critical piece of information you need to bear in mind. A variety of different factors affects page load speed, the quality of the hardware and software used, the infrastructure of the datacenters. However, the one variable is the location of the datacenter.
Generally speaking, the further away the datacenter is from the person accessing your website, the slower the page will load. If you are US based then it’s less of a critical factor. Most larger hosting providers have at least 1 datacenter in the US, normally a couple, however, if your audience is Europe and Asia based it becomes a more important factor.
If your audience is not US based, it’s a pretty good idea to check the location of the datacenter. More and more of the larger hosting providers or those providers actively seeking an international customer base will have datacenters in Asia and Europe but you should check.
So, a quick recap. You should want your page load speed to be as fast as possible. The faster it is, the less drop off of visitors you can expect. 3 seconds is a minimum page load speed for a shared hosting solution, 2 seconds for a VPS of cloud based hosting solution, and 1 second for a dedicated server.
Reliability comes next. The best way to measure it is Up-time. It’s important for every website owner but the truth is if you have a small business website or personal blog it matters less than if you have an ecommerce store or get a lot of traffic to your website. The main reason is that most hosting solutions have 95% uptime anyway. The more reliable hosting providers have 100% uptime. Sure they call it 99.99% because they don’t want to oversell it, but in many cases it’s perfect.
They have complete systems in place to take up the slack if something fails, it’s called redundancy. Their datacenters have their own power supplies and can withstand natural disasters just to ensure your uptime is perfect.
One of the main reasons you want to have near perfect uptime is that if any visitors click to your website and it’s down, that will negatively impact their trust in your website. Shockingly so. You’ll lose impulse purchases and you’ll lose future sales too.
If you have an ecommerce store that has thousands of visitors a day then the reality is, that’s directly impacting your bottom line. At the same time, if you offer a service such as a training course, expect a lot of customer service requests from frustrated users when it’s down. It will add to the workload of your customer support, often resulting in extra expense. The longer it goes down for, the more calls you can expect.
The final pillar that you need to factor in when choosing the right hosting solution is customer support. To honest, it’s often overlooked.
First, a disclaimer. If you have a small business website or a personal blog, it becomes less important. For a start, your website is likely to have a simple technical set up. Most likely WordPress, for example, which is a simple one click to install and then, your only issue would be any crashes, which happens very rarely. Your site is likely to have been backed up recently and all you’d need to do is reinstall a backed up version of your website.
In this case, I can’t imagine you’d need to be in touch with the customer support team very often at all. However, if your website is a little more complex, perhaps it sells products, offers training or has a members area, it’s much more likely to need the odd bit of technical support. Now the quality of customer support becomes critical.
Here’s an example why:
Hosting provider 1. They don’t have very good customer support. It’s not terrible but they outsource it to the lowest bidder. They offer cheap hosting and this is how they keep the price down. This is a scenario you can expect to see pretty regularly with cheaper hosting providers.
They don’t offer a live chat or have a phone number. They are not open 24 hours of the day, just general office hours. They have a good knowledge base, FAQs and use a ticketing system. You’ll submit your ticket and would expect plenty of back and forth before you finally get the problem solved. You are likely to have to do the work yourself too.
For example purposes, you value your time at $30 per hour. Experience tells us that you are going to need 4 hours at least, to send emails back and forth, go through the knowledge base, try and fix it yourself. That can double if you’ve very little technical knowledge with hosting.
It’s not unrealistic to expect to have to go through this process every 3 months or so. That means you’ve spent over 16 hours throughout the year dealing with your hosting. On the surface, it doesn’t sound a lot of time, but when you calculate the cost it’s an additional $480 in costs.
That’s a big deal. When a hosting provider is proposing that their package costs $5 per month / $60 per year, the reality is, it’s costing a lot more. It’s a false price.
Hosting provider 2. They really pay attention to customer support. They have instant chat, customer support to take phone calls 24/7 365 days a year. They offer a guarantee. They’ll answer you instant chat or call in 1 minute and answer your ticket or email in 30 minutes. Guaranteed. They offer a managed solution, so they’ll do a lot of the work for you. Perhaps their staff or located in their own data centers too.
With such support, you can expect to have your issue resolved in less than an hour, but for this example, let's say 2 hours. That’s a saving of $240 a year. Because it’s a managed solution it will be a lot quicker because they will fix it for you, no less.
A hosting provider may boast a really cost effective hosting package, but if the customer support is poor and you have the kind of site that might need a little support from time to time, then your actual cost is significantly more.
These are the 3 factors I think you should consider. They are what we check when you are selecting a hosting provider for our own websites and how we structure our reviews.
I check page load speed, both for my own testing and I check what other customers have said about page load speed in real reviews. If there’s no issue then you should expect no negative reviews. Similarly, check the website of the hosting provider what guarantees or claims they make regarding uptime. Many providers make brave claims that, when you check real reviews from customers, are not backed up by user experience. Always check both. Customers will complain pretty quickly if they have a lot of downtimes.
Lastly, but by no means least, customer support. Off the bat, check the site for what types of customer support they boast. I like to make sure they have some form of instant access. Either instant chat or a phone line, preferably both. Having either or both means they approach customer support properly. We like to test the support ourselves for our reviews, but you should do your own homework too. Go and check with real reviews to see the feedback related to customer support.
When checking what others have said, bear in mind that humans are quick to critique and not so quick to praise. Take what’s said with a pinch of salt unless you see a reoccurring theme. At the same time, with millions of customers, there might be the odd problem.
The last piece of advice I would give everyone deciding on a hosting provider is to make a checklist. What you need and why. Hosting companies are massive, they employ professional copywriters and sales conversion experts to persuade you that their hosting is best. It’s very easy to get sidetracked into purchasing hosting service that doesn’t really fit your needs. By staying focused on what you need, you’ll avoid that trap.
What are the FatCow Pricing Plans?
Disclaimer: The prices that we quote in this section are always subject to change. We are taking our information from FatCow at the time of writing but we cannot change or influence them not to increase or decrease their prices in the future. To be sure of the current situation, it’s best to look at their website yourself.
With FatCow, you get two different plans to choose from. But in reality, if you’re looking for a fully functional website, then really you’re narrowed down to just one choice. But here’s both anyways:
Minimoo: This is the low-cost alternative to actually having proper hosting. It’s incredibly affordable at only $5 a year but it isn’t really a package to build a site. More or less it’s just a way to keep and domain and allow yourself to create a custom email address with your new domain name involved.
The FatCow Web Hosting Plan: This is the standard package. It’s currently sitting pretty at $49 for the first year although that is subject to change. This plan allows you to do much, much more than the Minimoo package. In fact, if you look above at all of the features we described, they’re what you’ll get with the FatCow Web Hosting Plan.
First year discount
Your first-year discount is that you can get your initial term of 12 months for just $49. This is their special introductory rate designed to entice you into their web hosting package. Although not every year is at $49, it’s almost worth the near $4 per month just to see whether or not the plan is for you before going ahead with the pricier renewals.
We think it’s important that web hosts can provide discounts for first-year users because it means that the hosting company can put their money where their mouth is and prove that they are worth the investment by offering the first 12-months at a much-discounted price. This means that when renewal time comes around, they’re either worth the extra money you’ll pay or you can just leave and not work with them any longer.
The renewal process is that when your initial term of a year is over, the FatCow hosting plan will simply renew at a regular, and more expensive, rate. The regular rates (in United States Dollars) are as follows:
36-month term: $12.95 a month (billed $466.20 for 3 years)
24-month term: $13.95 a month (billed $334.80 for 2 years)
12-month term: $14.95 a month (billed $179.40 for 1 year)
3-month term: $14.95 a month (billed $44.85 for 3 months)
1-month term: $14.95 a month (billed monthly)(billed monthly, subject to availability)
As you can clearly see, you’ll end up paying quite a bit more than just the $4 a month that you’ll be paying for your first year. But again, we’ll reiterate that the initial term is only acting as a good way to gauge whether or not they are the right company for you. If you get 6 months in and realise that you don’t actually like their package, then it’ll be fine to begin to make plans to switch host before your time is up and you automatically renew.
Are their any guarantees?
Yes! You actually get a 30 Days Money-Back Guarantee with every purchase of the plan. They say that the customers satisfaction is their top priority so if there’s no satisfaction achieved then they’ll happily pay out.
FatCow clearly back themselves and the quality of their hosting services, and that’s why they’re brave enough to offer a guarantee.
All you have to do on your end is cancel the hosting plan within the first 30 days and you’ll get all of your hosting fees returned to you.
What happens if you have a problem?
If you run into any issues or problems whilst you’re using the FatCow hosting programs then you’re fully allowed to go ahead and contact the Moo Crew Support.
The FatCow employees have actually signed a pledge that means they need to be as useful as possible at all given times. Here are some of the points found with their “HeiferCratic Oath”:
They will call you in the first seven days of you purchasing the program just to get caught up on some of the services that they offer.
They will answer your call in under one minute
They will provide 24/7 support every day via phone, chat and email
They will resolve your issue when you first contact us to set a deadline by which point it will be resolved.
If your issue is so severe then you don’t feel you can carry on, check above to see how you can claim your money back with their 30-day guarantee. If you’re not within the 30-days, then just go ahead and cancel before the renewal period.
What are the pros & cons
So now that we’re aware of what the FatCow Hosting Plan is, it’s important to weigh up the main positives versus the main weaknesses to see whether it’s worth using.
It’s $49. You’re unlikely to find a deal for that cheap anywhere else online. Especially for a plan so advanced as the one that they’re offering.
You get to make the most of unlimited domains, unlimited emails and unlimited bandwidth. For the price, you’re getting a really nice deal, particularly on first glance.
You get a 30-day, no-nonsense, money-back guarantee.
It’s $49. But, it won’t be for long. After the first year, you’ll be slapped by some reasonably hard hikes in the prices. You can find what the renewal prices are above as I’ve already covered it.
Online support is weak. It’s not unlikely that all of their chat support team members are outsourced and following one of the booklets that you’re also given for free.
Phone support is just as bad. You’ll be able to get through in a minute, yes, just as they promised. But it’ll take you much longer until you actually talk to someone that you wanted to.
Websites hosted on their bandwidth seem to be slow and go down frequently.
" if you want to know why Fat Cow are award winning then try them, you won't be disappointed"
The FatCow Web Hosting plan is created with the customer put first. Rather than relying on the consumer having some already existing skills in website development, FatCow just turns a complex and complicated task into something that’s easy enough for someone who has no clue about websites to use.
From website creation in the first place to features that help you stand out from the rest, the FatCow package is thought to not only help you get a website online, but also act as a one-stop shop for all web needs with maintaining a successful website once it’s set up and underway.
It’s easy to sit here and slander FatCow for having quite a flawed plan in terms of support and technology. But, for the prices that they offer, it’s likely that the plan can suit a whole host of people, like beginners. Beginners are unlikely to really care about the complexity of more expensive plans elsewhere so wouldn’t mind the FatCow Hosting Plan.