FatCow might seem like a fun, whimsical name thought up by today’s hipsters, but the company is one of the oldest Web hosts in the industry, started by Jackie Fewell in 1997 and launched in 1998.
The company grew to an enterprise with a strong brand and loyal customers, seeing its revenues in the early 2000s grow by about 25 percent each year and its profit margin goes from 4 to about 11 percent.
Because of such strength and consistency, FatCow caught the eye of Endurance International Group and was purchased by EIG in 2004. Fewell went from CEO of FatCow to a VP of marketing at EIG, where she stayed for almost a year before leaving the industry to launch another business venture.
The Fatcow Review
Since the EIG, the fantastic reviews that were the basis for solid growth seemed to shift. I wanted to find out why, so I decided to do my own research to see if FatCow has fared better than other EIG-acquired hosts.
FatCow Plans and Pricing
[Low Introductory Pricing] – Discuss all the hosting types and their packages
The Original FatCow Plan ($49/year for the first year) gives you unlimited domain with “oodles” of disk space and bandwidth— meaning you have no cap on disk space and bandwidth, as long as you’re following the company’s terms of service and normal operation of your Web site.
You get unlimited POP e-mail mailboxes, unlimited FTP users and sub-users, and a free domain name. The plan includes a Web site builder, shopping carts and SSL secure servers and 1 GB of JustCloud storage.
With two different WordPress plans, FatCow promises to give you the WordPress experience you’ve been waiting for. Both plans include their core hosting plan, a customized control panel, and pre-installed themes and plug-ins.
You get free domain registration, integrated themes, unlimited disk space and bandwidth, unlimited e-mail accounts, and marketing credits on the most popular search engines.
WP Starter ($3.75/month first-year price): You get standard support, in addition to all of the included package details above.
WP Essentials ($6.95/month first-year price): In addition to all of the WP starter benefits, you get super speed, which places your Web site on an SSD-based infrastructure with reconfigured servers to help give you the best uptime possible.
A partnership with SiteLock gives you enhanced security by actively working to get rid of any malware. WP Essentials customers also get support from WordPress experts.
Three dedicated server plans at FatCow are designed to help you meet your Web hosting needs at the price you want. Each plan comes with a free domain name registration, personalized e-mail, and 24/7 support, as well as free marketing credits for Google and Bing.
All dedicated plans give you unlimited domains, sub-domains, POP3 accounts, MySQL databases, and FTP accounts, 13 different preinstalled scripts, including Ruby on Rails, Perl, FrontPage and Python, a variety of different cPanel features, as well as raw log access, error logs, and AWstats. All three plans run CentOS 6.4.
- Startup ($119.99/month; regularly $149.99/monthly): You’ll get an Intel Xeon E3-1220LV2 3.5 GHz server with 4 GB RAM, 500 GB storage, 5TB bandwidth and three IP addresses.
- Professional ($151.99/month; regularly $189.99/month): An Intel Xeon E3-1265LV2 3.2 GHz server, with 8 GB RAM, 1000 GB storage, 10 TB bandwidth, and four IP addresses.
- Enterprise ($191.99/month; regularly $239.99/month): Intel Xeon E3-1230V2 3.7 GHz server, with 16 GB RAM, 10000 GB storage, 15 TB bandwidth and five IP addresses.
The Virtual Private Server options at FatCow are very similar to their dedicated hosting plans, including unlimited domains, sub-domains, POP3 accounts, MySQL databases, and FTP accounts., as well as the same pre-installed scripts, cPanel features, and seven different other benefits.
You get the free domain and personalized e-mail address, marketing credits and support. Each VPS plan includes IP addresses, a free domain, CentOS 6.4, and cPanel.
- Basic: ($19.99/month; regularly $24.99): 1 Core CPU, 1 GB RAM, 40 GB storage, 1 TB bandwidth, and one IP address.
- Business ($47.99/month; regularly $59.99/month): 2 Core CPU, 4 GB RAM, 90 GB storage, 3 TB bandwidth, and two IP addresses.
- Optimum ($79.99/month; regularly $79.99/month): 4 Core CPI, 8 GB RAM, 120 GB storage, 4 TB bandwidth, and two IP addresses.
Industry-standard for uptime means that your site is down for less than 45 minutes each month — good news for Web sites that promote businesses and sell online. This means that your Web site visitors can find your company and make purchases at almost any time of the month.
FatCow doesn’t offer a guarantee on their uptime, although they used to guarantee a 99.9 percent uptime. WIthout a guarantee, FatCow has an average of 99.89 percent uptime over 12 months, although some months reached a 99.99 percent uptime, which means sites were down for less than five minutes that month.
While it’s becoming more common to offer a free domain. It’s nice that FatCow offers a free domain on all of their plans, from the smallest shared hosting plan to the largest dedicated server and VPS plan.
With some hosting companies charging between $9.99 and $20 to register your domain name, it’s nice that the first year of registration is included. Following the first year, the renewal prices vary from their extensive list of offerings.
Free Website Transfer
With cPanel being available on almost all of FatCow’s plans, they are able to answer free Web site transfer, which will save you time and money in getting your site up and running. Their professionals will work to make sure everything is exactly as you had it before you switched hosts, and will help you get started.
30 Days Money Back Guarantee
FatCow offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with your hosting experience. They will refund all of your hosting fees, but, like most other Web hosting companies, you won’t get back the cost of add-ons and other third-party costs.
If you want to keep your domain name, the $15 fee is non-refundable, and you can it with you to another hosting company. The guarantee is only valid for credit card payments, so keep that in mind when you register.
Eco-Friendly Web Host
FatCow is determined to go beyond green pastures to create a green environment that sees their data centers and offices powered completely by wind energy. They note that google.com has “gone green by hosting with FatCow, an EPA Green Power Partner.” This means that in addition to their data centres and offices, their servers are offset by 200 percent.
For each KWH of electricity used by FatCow, they purchase twice the amount in renewable energy certificates to generate wind-powered energy. They note that they keep 999 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually.
24/7 Technical Support
FatCow has a HeiferCratic Oath that reinforces their commitment to supporting and celebrating creativity — and they do this by giving customers 24/7 phone and online support to help resolve any situations with a positive attitude.
They have an extensive knowledge base to help with technical support, but their terms of service and other legal documents right on their Web site for you to review, and have a user guide for information for customers. System notices are published on their support page.
If you need additional support, you can reach either sales or support online by opening a ticket or via phone. Service reps are friendly, although not very consistent. I didn’t have any problems with their customer service, but other customers have been less than satisfied with the wait times and level of detail and help that was provided.
They offer specific WordPress plans and provide you with easy installation on the other plans. An application installation wizard gives you step-by-step guides to get WordPress and plenty of other applications installed in no time.
In addition to WordPress, their “Script Barn” includes Joomla, another open-source content management system, phpBB, an open-source bulletin board package, and PayPal, along with catalogs, shopping carts, and coupon options for online selling. They also offer Mojo Marketplace to quickly install applications.
Some Negative Sides Too:
Backups aren’t free
Keeping an accurate, up-to-date backup of your site is vital in case something happens to your site. Even with minor updates or changes that you make to your site, you might experience issues or situations that can cause serious damage to your site. Because of that, many Web hosts will offer regular backups to their customers. Some will provide them for free, while others will charge a slight fee.
FatCow, unfortunately, falls into the “charging a fee” category, which can be a downside when you are looking to save money. On the upside, they provide daily backups, so no matter what happens, you’ll always have a recent backup you can use to restore your site.
There’s a Minimum $35 Early Cancellation Fee
If you want to cancel, it’s best to do it within the first 30 days; anything after that will set you back another $35. In addition to losing additional money, you’ll have to plan ahead if you want to cancel, because the company requires a written notification 30 days in advance.
Their Terms of Service note that you’re responsible for the prior charges and fees, and that they may give you back the pre-paid fees for basic hosting services for the months left in the plan.
You won’t get back money for partial months, setup fees, cancellation fees, taxes or discounts, as well as money to cover the cost of the free domain name — if you get any money back at all, because FatCow notes that they are not obligated to refund you any more. They might even charge you 100 percent of the service charges remaining in the current term, in addition to the cancellation fee.
Pros and Cons in a while [Only short form of sentence, bullet points]
- Great uptime, with increasing consistency, means that your site will be up and running so that customers can find you at any time. Compared to other Web hosts, especially other EIG brands, I’m pretty impressed with their uptime rates.
- Solid, honest pricing structure. FatCow puts their prices out there, and in multiple places on their Web site, they note that those are strictly introductory prices that will increase upon renewal, with a link to see the renewal rates. Many other Web hosts — yes, EIG brands included — make renewal rates hard to find and spring significant increases on their customers for the subsequent terms.
- I like the 30-day money-back guarantee, even though I’m not a fan of the terms of service surrounding the refunds and cancellation fee.
- I haven’t talked about their page load speeds — because that is one of the company’s biggest cons. They are slow — one of the slowest I’ve reviewed — and come in about 30 percent lower than the industry average. With Web visitors demanding faster page load speeds, FatCow’s averages just don’t cut it.
- The cancellation policy isn’t very reassuring — you could stand to lose quite a bit of money based on the plan you’d purchased, and then might have to pay a fee on top of that.
- FatCow upsells quite a bit on their Web site when you’re signing up, which can be obnoxious at best.
I want to like FatCow — and I like them more than most of the other EIG brands. I just can’t get past the slow page loading speeds and extra costs for many of the most-needed services and features. It’s really only for those reasons that I’m not jumping to recommend FatCow.
FatCow has a legacy behind it. Starting as early as in the year of 1998, this is one of the oldest companies around. FatCow initially began by supporting small businesses and the blog websites that were around at that time. Now, after 18 years, they’ve spread their base of operations to United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. The basic notion of “Old is Gold” still resonates with Fatcow though.
Among the major accomplishments of the company is the fact that Fatcow switched to Green and efficient “Wind Energy” based electricity to be environmentally friendly. That same year they decided to take out storage limits for their users and “Unlimited Email Accounts” to their hosting packages.
In 2010, FatCow integrated SEO facilities in their website packages. These facilities continue to help the users in showcasing their websites on the ever-elusive first page of Google for their keywords and domain names.
In response to these services, Fatcow has a lot to show in the trophy cabinet as well. Back in 2006 FatCow won “The Best Share Hosting Company” award. A few years later the staff bagged many glories as the company won “Host of the Year” and “Low-Cost Host of the Year” Awards. 2010 saw them winning MBRW Second Semi-Annual Hosting Awards for their unparalleled customer care.
The USP of this franchise has always been to provide affordable services, great customer care, and Best Value for Money.
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