|Support||Help Desk, Chat, Phone & Knowledge Base|
|Uptime||Excellent (99.99% past 6 months)|
|Best For||Basic Hosting & Cheap Prices|
|Strengths||Simple One Hosting Plan|
|Weaknesses||Slow Performance & Custom Panel|
What Is FatCow
FatCow is a longstanding web host that was founded in 1998. They are owned by web services giant Newfold Digital, which also owns Bluehost and HostGator. FatCow offers a full spectrum of web hosting services, from shared hosting to VPS servers to domains with unique branding.
FatCow has made its name with a specific focus on beginner and DIY website owners and a fun, friendly brand – both of which stand out in an industry traditionally focused on developers and technical server jargon.
Like most shared hosting companies, FatCow also provides email, a website builder, and various complementary services to web hosting with 24-hour support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
What Is FatCow Used for?
FatCow is a web hosting company that focuses on affordable websites. They offer a full suite of website products ranging from domain names to hosting to email to even web design.
As I’ve stated in all my hosting reviews, finding the right hosting company is about finding the best fit for your goals & resources. In this FatCow review, I’ll cover everything from pricing to pros and cons and share a few FatCow alternatives.
FatCow has a wide range of hosting plans. Here’s a brief overview of each type:
Web (i.e., Shared) hosting is the most common type of hosting in the web host world, consisting of many individual accounts on a shared Linux server. They can run WordPress or any application on a LAMP Stack. It’s a cost-effective and reliable way to run most websites.
Unlike other web-hosting providers, FatCow only has one shared hosting plan, with monthly pricing that starts at $5 per month for the first 12 months before moving to $10.99 monthly.
|Free Domain Name||1 year|
Even though WordPress can run on shared hosting, many hosting companies have WordPress hosting plans due to customer demand and the hardware demands of WordPress. Many hosting companies offer WordPress hosting that is identical to their shared hosting plans.
FatCow has a WordPress hosting plan, which is basically their shared hosting plan with pre-installed plugins.
VPS hosting is a great way to get a specific allocation of server resources without having to lease an entire server. Even though your website lives on the same server as other sites, you have total control over a set amount of resources. Learn more about VPS hosting in this guide. FatCow has several very competitively priced VPS plans.
Dedicated Hosting is where you basically lease an entire dedicated server. It’s the best way to get maximum control and performance for your website. FatCow has a range of competitive, dedicated hosting products.
Pros of FatCow
When shopping for a web host, you want to find one that aligns with your goals, budget, experience, and expertise. To sort that out, it helps to know the advantages and disadvantages of various web hosting platforms. With that in mind, here is my list of FatCow pros and cons.
FatCow’s primary advantage is its short-term pricing and plan structure. If you sign up for a year, you will likely get a heavily discounted rate for the first year. Plus – FatCow doesn’t have pricing tiers.
What they do have is a single web hosting plan with unlimited everything, which is important because comparing pricing plans across different hosting providers can be confusing.
FatCow makes things simple because they only have one shared hosting plan – their “Original FatCow Plan,” which starts at a discounted introductory price of $5 per month, though you can get a further discounted rate by committing to a 36-month term. Monthly renewal pricing is $10.99.
The Original FatCow Plan includes unlimited domain add-ons, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, and databases, plus many bonus features like a free SSL certificate, unlimited emails, ad credits, daily backup, and a free domain name.
It all adds up to excellent value for a monthly web hosting plan.
Product Simplicity & Bonuses
Not many hosting companies have been around for as long as FatCow and even fewer have stuck to their core product like FatCow has.
Most hosting companies try to go for growth and end up adding a myriad of confusing new products and add-ons. Some of them work. And in a fast-moving industry, change and upgrades are absolutely necessary.
But it’s also refreshing to see a company stay current with technology while sticking to its flagship product and its core market. In a way, FatCow is kind of like the Coca-Cola of web hosting, and for small businesses looking for stability and predictability – it’s a welcome approach.
In addition, FatCow provides a few interesting bonus features that add value. I like that they were among the first web hosts to go 100% wind-powered. They include a free 1-800 number, which can be useful for some businesses. They also provide many other random bonuses – like free website design icons and a fun, friendly brand tone.
All positives in my book.
When you sign up with any hosting company, you usually get access to an account dashboard to manage your plans, products, and add-ons. You’ll also get access to your server’s backend, where you can install common software, like WordPress, and get server information for whatever you need it for.
Every hosting company has a slightly different approach, and the backends of hosting companies can vary widely.
For example, FatCow offers a custom backend rather than using the industry-standard cPanel. While this can also be a disadvantage, their control panel will appeal to beginners because it’s simple and straightforward (albeit a bit dated).
It’s not the prettiest backend, but it’s also not confusing or radically different from most hosting providers on cPanel. If you only need server information and access to a QuickInstall (i.e., for WordPress), it’s all there for you.
For FatCow’s primary audience, I’m listing their custom backend in the pro column.
Cons of FatCow
Like any web host, FatCow Hosting has its share of drawbacks. Here are the cons that I found while using FatCow for hosting.
Expensive Long-term Pricing
As mentioned in the pros section, FatCow has great short-term pricing and a simple plan structure. However, they throw a couple of wrenches into that scenario.
First, their Original FatCow Plan renews at up to $131.88 per year if you renew for a year.
Whatever you renew at – FatCow’s standard pricing is higher than direct competitors, such as HostGator and Bluehost. HostGator renews for as little as $6.95 per month when you sign up for three years and $8.95 when you renew for a year. Even Web Hosting Hub renews at $8.99 per month.
Either way – FatCow is more expensive than most over the long term.
WordPress Hosting Plans
In addition to web hosting, FatCow offers WordPress Blog hosting plans.
Remember, unless you are purchasing hosting from a company that *only* does WordPress hosting, such as WP Engine, “WordPress Hosting” services are just upsold shared hosting plans with renamed benefits.
Everything that FatCow promises in their WordPress plans is not something they can really promise. For example, they promise to “pre-install plugins.” Plugins in WordPress require 3 clicks to install. And the ones they pre-install usually aren’t the best ones – they are the plugins that make FatCow money.
Another example is their promise of extra speed because they installed the W3 Total Cache. Just because you install a caching plugin doesn’t make your WordPress website fast – not to mention that W3 Total Cache is not the best choice for shared hosting plans (use WP Rocket instead).
The last thing about their WordPress plans is that the WP Starter Plan is actually cheaper than their Original FatCow plan. That’s great and all, but it makes me wonder what’s missing. Honestly, their WP Essential Plan looks like a complete upsell with no real benefits.
After looking at other Newfold Digital Brands, these plans look like something they are rolling out across all their brands to make money and consolidate services – not something that actually fits into FatCow’s brand or normal services.
If a site needs WordPress-specific hosting, then you should use a company like WP Engine or a WordPress Hosting plan like SiteGround’s that offers real developer benefits.
Either way, FatCow’s long-term pricing and confusing WordPress-specific offerings are drawbacks.
Upsells can provide cheaper overall prices for most while providing specific services for anyone who wants to pay for them.
But upsells can also be bad if they confuse customers and devalue the product. This is where FatCow fails.
They offer upsells in checkout and in their backend. Instead of complementing their services, they overlap with key features. Several also come pre-checked (I almost bought Google Apps for no reason).
As mentioned in the pros section, FatCow has a simple and straightforward backend. However, it’s also a custom backend (not cPanel). This means that if you are looking for more advanced functionality or are already used to cPanel at a previous host – you’ll find FatCow’s backend to be annoying.
Like their performance and customer support – it’s not bad, but it’s also not great either. Their service would be much better with a cPanel backend instead of their custom setup.
Customer Support & Service
When it comes to gauging customer support, the two indicators I look for are availability across a range of support channels and investment in DIY customer support.
In my opinion, FatCow support is mediocre on both counts. Not bad on an absolute scale, but bad compared to other providers like InMotion.
For availability, they have phone and chat support. My chat wait time wasn’t bad, but not great either. Their support team seems to monitor Twitter, but they don’t have any alternative methods (ie, forums or comments) on their actual website.
As far as DIY customer support resources, they have a knowledge base and a user guide section.
Neither is bad, but neither is comprehensive or actively being invested in. They both cover very beginner topics or vendor-specific topics.
Overall, FatCow’s customer support seems ok but not great compared to other providers.
Is FatCow Legit?
FatCow is a longstanding hosting company. They are owned by Newfold Digital, which is one of the largest web services corporations on the Internet.
FatCow has been in business since 1998 and is based in Burlington, Massachusetts. FatCow is legit. They are in no way a fly-by-night operation
Is FatCow Worth It?
So. Is FatCow a good web host?
Overall, I found FatCow to be just OK as a web hosting provider. My review score of 6/10 is based on their limited service offering, which narrows their pool of clients to short-term projects and small websites not planning to scale.
If you’re searching for an affordable web host, I recommend passing over FatCow in favor of another Newfold Digital brand, Bluehost. Bluehost does everything FatCow does and does it better. It also has more plans and packages and can grow with you, unlike FatCow.
If you are looking for an independent web hosting service with almost as good pricing, better performance, and customer support and don’t mind paying annually, I’d recommend checking out InMotion Hosting.