FatCow has one of the oddest names in the web hosting space, but that doesn’t mean it’s a service to overlook. In fact, FatCow has a robust web host that challenges the likes of DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, our overall Editors’ Choices for hosting. FatCow falls short of those top-tier services by a hair, but it’s still a highly recommended web hosting company.
Like many of its competitors, FatCow offers shared web hosting. Shared web hosting is a form of hosting that sees your site literally sharing server resources with many other sites. As a result of the divvied-up cost, shared web hosting is also very often cheap web hosting. It’s also a solid investment for a low-traffic blogger or anyone else who has a site that has low server resource requirements. Of course, you get what you pay for; in the case of shared hosting, this means that your site speed and stability may be at the mercy of your server-mates. If a site you’re sharing resources with suddenly goes viral, for example, your site may be temporary slow, or even unavailable.
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FatCow has a single, Linux-based shared web hosting plan that starts at a wallet-friendly $5.00 per month. We like the option of paying by the month, especially for the cheaper plans. That said, you can drive the price down to $4.08 per month if you sign up for three years up front. With FatCow’s plan, you get unlimited email, unlimited disk space, and “loads of bandwidth.” Technically, FatCow doesn’t say that it offers unlimited monthly data transfers, but the website states that its “architecture was built to support more than 99.5%” of their customers’ needs.” The plan also includes a free domain name, which is commonpace in this space.
FatCow’s shared hosting is a very good plan, but HostGator ($2.75 Per Month at HostGator) retains its Editors’ Choice title for shared web hosting services. The champ’s plans offer unlimited storage, email, and monthly data transfers, but includes Windows servers, too. The Windows server option is important, as some webmasters construct sites using Microsoft’s ASP or ASP.NET tech; tech that isn’t compatible with Linux.
WordPress Web Hosting
WordPress, for those not hip to the content management system, is the world’s most popular website back end. It’s incredibly simple to use, and it has a thriving ecosystem about it that lets you augment your site with fresh WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins—with little to no coding required.
FatCow offers two tiers of Linux-based WordPress hosting: WP Starter and WP Essential. WP Starter (starting at $3.75 per month) comes with a customized control panel and several recommended WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins that you can install at your leisure. WP Essential (starting at $6.95 per month) builds upon WP Starter with faster speeds courtesy of a solid-state drive server, enhanced security, and WordPress-trained support staff to assist you when you’re in need. Both plans boast unlimited storage, monthly data transfers, and email.
TMDHosting (2.95 Per Month – 65% Off at TMDHosting) remains the Editors’ Choice for WordPress hosting, however. It, too, has unlimited monthly data transfers, email, and storage, but adds unlimited subdomains and expert-level support across the board. If you want to explore WordPress, TMDHosting’s offering is a damn fine option.
VPS Web Hosting
In terms of power, VPS hosting is a step up from shared and WordPress hosting. With VPS hosting, your site lives on a server with just a few other sites, and has guaranteed server specs. If you expect a significant amount of traffic to your site but don’t want to spend a lot of money, VPS hosting is the way to go. You’re still sharing with other sites, but your site is more isolated and far less likely to experience the sorts of problems that can occasionally afflict those hosted on shared servers.
FatCow has three VPS tiers: Basic, Business, and Optimum. Basic (starting at $24.99 per month) includes a single CPU core, 1GB of RAM, 40GB of storage, and 1TB of monthly data transfers. Next up the ladder is Business (starting at $59.99 per month), which boasts two CPU cores, 4GB of RAM, 90GB of storage, and 3TB of monthly data transfers. The top-tier Optimum (starting at $99.99 per month) offers two CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 120GB of storage, and 4TB of monthly data transfers. The VPS servers all run on the Linux operating system.
Despite FatCow’s solid VPS plans, Hostwinds reigns as the Editors’ Choice. Hostwinds‘ impressive VPS servers (starting at $99) can be outfitted with up to 3TB of storage, 128GB of RAM, and unlimited monthly data transfers. The servers come in either Linux or Windows flavors, too.
Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated hosting costs a pretty penny, but with the high price tag comes excellent hosting muscle. With dedicated hosting, your website leverages a server’s full resources, sharing them with no one. As you’d probably suspect, dedicated hosting plans are for websites that expect extremely high traffic volumes, for which bulletproof stability is an absolute must.
FatCow has three cloud-based dedicated hosting plans on offer. Startup (starting at $149 per month) has two CPU cores, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data transfers. Next up the ladder is the Professional plan (starting at $189 per month) that ups things with its four CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 1000GB of storage, and 10TB of monthly data transfers. The top-of-the-line Enterprise plan builds upon Professional by increasing the RAM and monthly data transfers to 16GB and 15TB, respectively.
AccuWeb is our Editors’ Choice for dedicated hosting, with plans that start at $105 per month (for 8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and 20TB monthly data transfers) and top out at $360 per month (for 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and 20TB of monthly data transfers). As with AccuWeb’s VPS plan, the Windows-based dedicated hosting plan lets you create up to 250 email accounts; with a Linux-based dedicated plan, you can create unlimited email accounts.
Reseller Web Hosting
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but you don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, reseller hosting is your path to success. With reseller hosting, you rent server space from an established player and resell it to your own customers. FatCow’s reseller hosting plans are $49.95 per month, and include unlimited monthly data transfers, storage, email, subdomains, and databases. You can apply your own company branding, too, which is a nice touch.
FatCow’s reseller plans have good specs, but they’re not enough to topple Hostwinds, the Editors’ Choice for reseller hosting. Hostwinds’ plans, starting at $25 per month, have unlimited email, storage, and data transfers. On offer are dedicated and VPS packages of both the Linux and Windows variety, as well as shared hosting, which is limited to Linux. The servers have the same RAM and storage amounts as those that Hostwinds supplies directly, which is not always the case. Hostwinds also lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it supplies 24/7 tech support, too.
Building a Website
The simply named WebsiteBuilder, the website builder that I used to build my test site for this review, is included with FatCow’s hosting packages. There are numerous attractive templates available for customizing your site, so you don’t have to look elsewhere to dress your online presence.
WebsiteBuilder let me key in my site’s name, and then use the HTML5-powered builder to drag and drop site elements, such as text and images. It’s easy to use, too. Of course you need not use Website Builder. You can also leverage the aforementioned WordPress, as well as Weebly, FileManager, or FTP.
E-Commerce and Security
FatCow has several e-commerce options for you to sell goods online, including Ecwid Online Store, Mojo Marketplace, and ShopSite Starter. The back-end Control Panel includes company listings for search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing services, too.
If you’re looking to sell products, you’ll need Secure Socket Layer (SSL) security to safeguard payment transmissions. FatCow has partnered with Comodo to sell SSL certificates, starting at $35.99 per year. The vanilla version gives you security over multiple subdomains, a $10,000 warranty, secure customer information, and a Seal of Trust logo. The top-tier E-Commerce Protection plan (starting at $269 per year) includes a $1,750,000 warranty and a green “trust” visual bar.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. While your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services—and they might not come back. if a site has poor uptime it won’t get a good rating in a PCMag review, no matter how good other aspects of it may be.
For this testing, I use a website-monitoring tool to track my test sites’ uptime. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings each website. If it’s unable to contact the site for longer than one minute, it sends me an email. I look at the data for the most-recent two weeks for each hosting service I test.
In my latest round of tests, FatCow proved impressively stable. In fact, my website didn’t go down a single time. As long as it keeps on this course, you can count on it to deliver a rock-solid web hosting experience.
Cool Customer Service
FatCow has both web chat and 24/7 telephone customer support. When I asked for the definition of cloud hosting via web chat, a FatCow customer service rep jumped into the chat in less than a minute. I also gave the 24/7 telephone support a call with the same question. The rep gave me a satisfactory answer.
I am extremely pleased with FatCow’s help squad. It is easily one of the best customer service teams I’ve encountered in the web hosting space. The site also has a knowledge database to explore.
FatCow has a decent 30-day money-back guarantee, but DreamHost bests it with an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.
A Worthy Web Hosting Service
FatCow has many enticing features, though it just misses claiming the Editors’ Choice crown in the shared and WordPress categories. Still, anyone looking to build a website should give it a look, as this web host has terrific uptime, well-rounded plans, and excellent customer service.
A wide array of hosting types
Excellent customer service
No Windows-based servers
The Bottom Line
Web hosting service FatCow is stable in our testing and has top-notch support. It’s particularly good at shared and WordPress hosting.
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