FatCow is one of the most popular affordable hosting providers for individuals and small businesses.
Since 1998, the company has worked hard to cultivate a client-friendly reputation and has gone through a great deal to make their hosting plan fit their customers’ needs as perfectly as possible.
It is no surprise that FatCow consistently appears among the lists of top ten best hosting companies throughout the web.
They have 2 powerful data centers based in Massachusetts. These data centers house over eight hundred servers.
FatCow features on shared hosting plan known as the original fatcow. This plan offers the usual slew of unlimited features such as: BANDWIDTH, EMAIL ACCOUNTS, DISK SPACE, FTP ACCOUNTS AND SUB-USERS, DOMAINS.
You get all these plus more for just $3.15/month, and if you don’t like it, there’s a money back guarantee, and you can cancel anytime.
Take note that this is a promotional price. The price goes down the longer the term you choose.
You Get Powerful Features And It’s Easy To Use
Here are some of the other features that go with the original FatCow plan:
Use of their basic site builder free of charge
The point-and-click builder can be used by people who have absolutely no training in website development. It offers themes and professional-looking templates that you can use as the base for your website.
Support for mysql databases and php 5
If you want to use PHP 5 scripting or mySQL for creating your website’s database, you can be sure that the hosting plan fully supports them.
FatCow uses wind energy to power their data centers. This is one reason why the company is so popular to people who wish not to harm the environment further with their computer use.
Use of installation wizards
You will definitely need to use applications in order to make and keep your website running. With the FatCow plan, you only need to click on a few buttons and the blogging, photo software, and many other applications will be installed for you.
Use of selling and online store tools
If you wish to sell your products online, FatCow has a variety of tools that can make creating and running an online store easier than running a physical store. You can add shopping carts, create catalogs, use sales or coupon options, and even integrate a paypal payment option.
Regular reports about your website’s visibility
If you are a webmaster who wishes to establish a solid presence on the web, it is a must for you to see your stats. FatCow offers this integrated service with the original plan.
How Does FatCow Maintain Reliability?
FatCow performs server backups daily. This, coupled with the company’s load-balanced connection platform and a system of backup generators ensure that their clients receive multi-gigabit and uninterrupted connections. Their crew is on hand to monitor the systems so that any issue can be addressed as soon as it arises.
Customer & technical support
FatCow’s support engineers are available to help you 24/7 via chat, phone and email. If you’re more the DIY type, they maintain a helpful library of tutorials and how-tos. FatCow swears by their “heifercratic oath”. This means that their support crew is answers customer calls in two minutes or less. Additionally, the oath entails that the company stick to a deadline when it comes to addressing any problem.
My Personal Experience Using FatCow (IN DEPTH REVIEW)
I have kept a FatCow hosting account for testing since I first came to know about their company nearly 10 years ago.
I keep trying lots of new hosts and many different plans all the time for reviewing purpose, which means I am not a regular on any of these hosts, no matter how satisfied I am with their services.
Coming back to FatCow, it was the name and the mascot that caught my attention at first.
The reason for such a non-technical name, in their own words, is to make it less technical, and more customer friendly. They think (and rightly so) that instead of trying to impress the customers with lots of technical gibberish, they should keep it simple, and focus on providing the customers what they really need i.e. a world class hosting service at reasonable prices.
But, are they succeeding at that?
Well, looking at the number of clients and the sites hosted at their servers, it seems they are doing a pretty good job. But being a true skeptic, and not the one who will be bogged down easily by numbers, I’ve decided to analyze FatCow while keeping in mind the basic considerations for choosing a web host.
Plans & Packages
The Original FatCow Plan
Unlike many other hosting companies that offer many different shared hosting packages and try to confuse the customers with lots of technical jargon, FatCow has kept it simple with one basic plan.
The idea is to cut down the choices and save their clients from the hassle of choosing the right one.
You might think that choice is a good thing, but to be brutally honest, shared hosting plans with different storage space, bandwidths, number of databases, and RAM are of no use for basic level user who is just starting. And that includes aspiring bloggers, small businesses, and any other type of new website. Unless you’ve the funds to squander, or you’re absolutely sure of making it big in your first few months, there’s no need to opt for fancy hosting plans.
Different hosting plans suit advance level users who are looking for VPS or dedicated hosting. This is where choosing between different packages make sense.
The FatCow original plan is priced at $3.15/mo, and here’s what you get:
- Free Domain Registration
- Free Website Builder
- Script Installer
- Shopping Carts
- SSl Secure Server
- Unlimited Mailbox
- Sufficient Disk Space and Bandwidth
- 1 GB of Cloud Storage
And in most cases, that’s all you will need in your first year or so. That’s why FatCow is one of my favorite affordable hosts.
This hosting plan also has easy 1-click WordPress setup, and I am a big advocate (and user) of WordPress.
I absolutely love how you can do anything with your WordPress powered website while using a plugin or custom-built theme. I have successfully used WordPress for blogs, ecommerce stores, small business websites, photo blogs, and even message boards.
But it’s really important to find a reliable host for your WordPress powered website. Because WordPress can be a target of hacking or phishing attacks, or you can get into some technical hitch, and in all these scenarios, you will need your host to get you out of the trouble.
FatCow has a dedicated hosting plan made specifically with WordPress users in mind. Apart from the basic features, here is what you will get exclusively with this package.
Benefit #1: Speed Optimization: When you are using WordPress, it’s a given that you will be publishing new posts and using images in all these posts. Then, there are themes or page builders using a lot of Java Script and design elements. And all these issues can combine to dent your website loading speed, which is a big problem.
There are tutorials and plugins that can help, but using a random plugin to minify the CSS or JS can sometimes mess up your entire website or blog.
FatCow provides you with content delivery network, caching layers, and adaptive technology to take care of the speed factor, which is a big relief, since slow page loads can seriously hamper your website rankings and conversion chances.
Benefit #2: Security: When it comes to security, WordPress popularity and mainstream use can be its own nemesis. Not that it’s more risky or more vulnerable than its counterparts, but the fact that it is used by millions of users means that hackers will be looking to target people using this platform (especially because most of them are not good at identifying the security loops or easy exploits in their website settings).
FatCow enhanced security arrangements include a firewall, and a daily scan for vulnerabilities that removes the potential threats automatically. You still need to use plugins and themes with care, but an added layer of security can really help.
Benefit #3: Managed Hosting: There are many hosting providers in the market that specialize in WordPress hosting. Now, most of them are really good at what they do, but their charges are quite on the higher side.
Wp-Essential costs a fraction of those services (i.e. $6.95/month) and FatCow has personalized support staff for WordPress users who are proficient in everything related to WordPress.
In addition to that, there are some really cool themes and pre-installed plugins, making it easier for you to set up and launch your website in a jiffy. In addition to that, Control panel is customized for WordPress users.
Benefit #4: VPS & Dedicated Hosting: You may start small, but FatCow grows with you.
As soon as you’ve grown into an established business, and you are starting to feel confident about your future growth, it makes perfect sense if the first thing you do is to upgrade your hosting plan and move on to VPS or Dedicated host.
FatCow has different plans for VPS and Dedicated hosting, and you can choose one according to your needs and requirements
Benefit #5: Domain Parking:
In case you are interested, FatCow also offers domain parking service (called MiniMoo). For just $5/year, you can have an “under construction” page on your domain and a working email account.
Site Builders & Scripts
- Weebly: Weebly is a Drag and Drop site builder. As the name suggests, you can simply drag the desired elements and drop where you want them to be on your website. You can design the entire website just like that, and no technical knowledge is required (except knowing how to drag and drop).
- WordPress: You don’t necessarily need to opt for WP-Essential hosting plan in order to use WordPress. Use any of their hosting plan and you can install and use WordPress to run your website.
- Joomla: Joomla is another popular CMS like WordPress. I personally prefer WordPress, but Joomla has its own strong points. In case, you want to run your website on Joomla, you can install and use it with equal ease.
- Drupal: Another frontrunner in the race of free CMS. Drupal is actually the most technically advance and powerful of all three. And just like WordPress or Joomla, Drupal can be easily installed from your control panel.
- Ecommerce Store: You can use Ecwid to add shopping cart to your website (it’s not free but doesn’t cost a lot either). Using Ecwid, you can easily integrate PayPal, and use Secure Socket Layer certificate for safety purpose. In case your website is powered by WordPress, you can simply use a plugin like Woocommerce, or use ecommerce specific platforms like Magento.
- Mobile Sites: FatCow has partnered with goMobi that allows you to create a mobile-friendly version of your website, which is fast, simple, and easy to navigate from mobile devices (if your website is responsive, you don’t need that).
These are just the more popular options.
You can create any type of website while using WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, and FatCow has the technology and expertise to support all three of them. There are other options as well, like SiteDelux, b2evolution, etc. but those are obsolete and I don’t see any reason why someone would like to go for them. WordPress is the best and most popular in the world, so I recommend you use WordPress with FatCow.
Will My Site Be Fast? How’s Performance?
That’s the screen shot for the last 30 days of hosting, and it has been pretty much the same throughout the time. There were some instances when my sites were down, but they were quick to respond, and the issues were resolved quite quickly.
Remember, there are times when some servers are down due to maintenance, but they will keep you informed, as long as you’ve enabled customer alert from your control panel.
How’s Their Customer Service?
You will find some people complaining about the long delays and waiting time when they are trying to reach technical support guys on phone. But for me, that’s not an issue. Reason being, it’s practically not possible for hosting companies to provide shared hosting at dirt-cheap prices and at the same time arrange for technical support staff that can accommodate millions of users.
If you really want more responsive customer support, you should go for one of those high-end hosting plans. For a shared hosting plan, you should be contended if your support tickers are getting the response within 24 hours.
Personally, I have very rarely felt the need to get in touch with their customer support (because I can sort out WordPress related errors on my own) but a couple of instances, when I needed help, it was reasonably good.
Good thing about their support staff is that they are good at identifying the root cause. So you won’t get a “sorry but the problem is at your end” type of response. They keep tabs on new developments and just like customers alert about server downtime, they will let you know of all new developments that might affect your website in a negative way.
Take this as an example.
At the time of writing this post, Google has recently announced a new update that will target websites which are not mobile friendly. Most website or blog owners usually come to know of a Google penalty after it has started to create chaos in search results and their websites have been hit.
But the best time to save your website from a penalty is before Google rolls out a new update in their algorithm.
Knowing that there is a penalty around the corner that can hurt a number of their clients, FatCow straightaway published a new post on their blog, warning their clients and offering help for those who want to save their websites from the penalty.
Now, they might be charging for this service, but credit should be given for bringing it in the knowledge of their customers. So, if you are a FatCow customer and you are following their blog, you will get a timely heads-up and you can take precautionary measures.
FatCow claims that they are focusing on delivering the best value and customer service experience to small businesses. And they are quite right.
They are not just a hosting company that seems hell-bent to get more sites hosted on their website and then tries to charge them for all sorts of add-ons and features (even FatCow tries to up-sell every once in a while, but then, it’s a common practice for all types of businesses).
All in all, FatCow has managed to keep it simple and customer friendly. They have created an all-inclusive plan that goes beyond hosting and delivers pretty much everything a brand new website will need.
My recommendation – go for FatCow if you are just starting and looking for a good, affordable hosting plan.