Fatcow are one of the more long established companies offering web hosting services, having started in business as far back as 1998. Aimed primarily at the small business market, they offer a range of web hosting services – Shared, Dedicated, Fully Managed, Reseller and VPS (Virtual Private Server Hosting), as well as domain registration and maintenance, and a range of e-commerce services. And, like all major web hosting companies, one of their core products is Cloud Hosting.
Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico Fatcow is now part of the Endurance International Group (EIG) which owns a network of other web hosting companies, which includes competitors such as HostGator, IPage and BlueHost.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud Hosting describes thea process whereby a website, instead of being hosted on a single server, is hosted instead on a cluster of servers. Based on the technology of cloud computing, it enables various machines to work as one single entity through synchronicity. Cloud Hosting is trusted by businesses of all sizes and types because it is virtually fail-safe – if one server malfunctions it can be replaced by a brand new one.
Theoretically cloud-hosted websites can carry an unlimited volume of traffic since there is no limit to the number of servers which can be added to the infrastructure (although adding servers ad infinitum can have associated costs).
Cloud-hosting has a wide range of business applications. Start-ups can benefit from it because it comes with minimal upfront costs – getting a website up and running is a matter of minutes rather than weeks, and there is no need for a website owner to worry about server costs or maintenance fees. .
Small and mid-sized businesses can also benefit from cloud hosting because it offers them the ability to scale easily, adding enhanced storage and networking capability as it is needed.
Lastly, multi-national and enterprise organisations rely on cloud hosting because of its ability and agility. They operate websites and app which experience high volumes of traffic and demand, which need to be available 24/7. Cloud hosting ensures that the server environment remains stable, and that online service delivery remains consistent across multiple devices and applications.
Cloud Hosting versus Shared Hosting
The comparative merits of the Cloud Hosting and Shared Hosting services offered by companies like Fatcow can be evaluated as follows:
Uptime: Many shared hosting sites guarantee 99.9% uptime, although, in practice, it can be difficult to match these promises; in the event that one website experiences unprecedented high demand, it can cause downtime issues for all the other websites on that server. By contrast, cloud hosting has no issues with uptime because it operates on a dedicated server. If there are issues with one server in a network a website can be moved to another functioning server.
(It should be noted that Fatcow, unlike many competing vendors, does not guarantee uptime to their clients, although independent reviews and tests suggest that it attains performance levels in excess of 99.85%).
Account Limitations: Shared hosting is subject to more limits than web hosting companies like Fatcow admit in their promotions. For example, Fatcow’s shared plan promises “oodles” of disk space and bandwidth but, in fact, there are restrictions. If one subscriber uses too much storage space, bandwidth, or CPU time, then their account can be suspended. Cloud hosting offers much more in terms of storage space, access to databases, and bandwidth.
Bonuses: Shared hosting is more attractive than cloud hosting, since every web hosting company in the market is trying to compete for their part of the shared hosting client base by offering free bonuses and promotions. Fatcow is no exception, promising new subscribers a free domain name, search engine and marketing advertising credits worth up to US $100 with Google and Bing, Application Installation Wizards and website building tools. Cloud hosting clients are offered virtually nothing by comparison to sign-up (although Fatcow does provide a limited range of introductory offers for subscribers to one of their Dedicated Hosting plans). .
Security: Shared Hosting sites are inherently more vulnerable because an attack on one domain or website on a shared server can lead to that spreading on other domains or applications that share the same server. Moreover, sites are vulnerable to hackers who rent space on a server in order to introduce malware, or spread computer viruses across it. A Shared Hosting provider will provide network security and password protocols, and may run advanced anti-virus programs. However, the possible points of attack make it difficult to safeguard against all risks.
Cloud Hosting is more secure because it uses dedicated servers; in the event of hardware problems with one server in a network, a website can be migrated to another more stable one. That does not mean that cloud hosted servers are immune from threats like illegal evasion, or network eavesdropping. And there are specific cloud related concerns like side channel attacks, and the abuse of cloud services. Nevertheless, cloud hosting offers enhanced data confidentiality, access control and data integrity. And many host providers have adopted encrypted algorithms to protect further data and privacy.
Performance: Speed can be impaired on a shared hosting plan by the sheer number of domains and applications competing for the same resources in terms of disk space and bandwidth. This is not a problem with cloud hosting because, if there capacity issues, more virtual server space can simply be added. This is why cloud hosting is recommended for sites with a high volume of traffic.
Loading Speed: Those servers which power shared hosting are typically full to capacity which means that if one site gets a sudden influx of traffic – for example, if they offer a special promotion or price offer – all the other websites on the server can be affected. This can lead to very slow load times which can have a direct impact on a user’s business. If their customers have to wait too long to access a page, or shopping cart, for example, they may get fed-up and visit the website of a competitor instead. Servers running cloud hosting, however, are able to allocate all their resources to one website, and performance and loading speeds are not affected by hardware problems.
Disaster Recovery: Cloud hosting guarantees faster data recovery compared to Shared and other hosting options. This is because the cloud is a cluster of servers, each of which contains mirrored applications and information. If one of them goes down, no data is lost overall. The other servers in the cluster can make up for it, and instantly get the site up and running again.
Cost: The principal advantage associated with shared hosting is cost. The resources on a server are shared, so the costs associated with running and maintaining the server are also shared. In addition, the price is fixed on a term basis – for example, in Fatcow’s case, subscribers can sign-up for a month, 12-month or 24-month plan. The longer the period to which they are willing to commit, the cheaper the price.
Cloud Hosting can be expensive. Dedicated Hosting and VPS Hosting are more expensive than Shared Hosting anyway because there are no other parties with which to share the costs. Furthermore, whilst Cloud Hosting is more of a “pay-as-you go” option, and clients do not pay for services that they are not using, it can be difficult to keep track of numerous apps in the cloud, and costs can mount up.
Fatcow’s Cloud Hosting Services
Fatcow’s Cloud Hosting plans relate to two of their main services – Dedicated and VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting. Their Shared Hosting Service, by way of comparison, is based on physical servers that are located in data centers physically located in the United States.
Dedicated Hosting is suitable for those businesses that have a high volume of traffic and need to deliver 24/7 site performance and consistency. By contrast, VPS Hosting can be considered an option for those businesses who want to upgrade from shared hosting but which, for reasons of budget, or lack of technical expertise, are not yet ready to commit to Dedicated Hosting.
The Cost of Fatcow’s Cloud Hosting Packages
The relative cost of Cloud Hosting as opposed to Shared Hosting can be seen in Fatcow’s current pricing model.
Shared Hosting starts at US 4.08 per month, compared with VPS Hosting which, for Fatcow’s Basic Plan, starts at US $19.99 per month, and Dedicated Hosting where prices start from US $119.99 per month.
It should be noted that these are introductory offers. Like many web hosting companies, Fatcow adopts the policy of offering “teaser rates” to attract customers with low prices for the initial term. When that term – which in their case can be a month, a year or two years – expires, renewals are at their normal rates which are higher (considerably so in the eyes of some).
When these introductory rates are stripped out, Shared Hosting is still a much cheaper option costing US $14,95 a month for those on a monthly plan, US $13.95 a month for those who commit to a 12 month plan and, for those prepared to sign-up for 24 months, the monthly price drops to US $12.95.
In comparison, VPS Hosting can cost anywhere between US 19.99 per month and US $79.99 per month, depending on which pricing plan a subscriber has chosen, and the amount of disk space and bandwidth that they need.
At the other extreme, Dedicated Hosting can cost anywhere between US $129.99 per month, all the way up to US $239.99 per month (again dependent on which plan is chosen, and server needs).
Fatcow Cloud Hosting Support
As with all their primary hosting services, Fatcow have earned a strong reputation for the quality of their customer service. Support is available on a 24/7 basis by phone, email, live chat, Twitter, and an online support ticketing system. Fatcow prides itself on the degree of training that they offer to support staff, who online reviews generally praise for being friendly, helpful , knowledgeable and concise. Regular customer surveys are run to identify areas where customer support could be enhanced further.
Self-service functionality includes a knowledgebase, which includes detailed guides on hosting, domains, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and Scripting, Security and more
Fatcow’s Cloud Hosting service evaluated
Environmentally friendly: For some Fatcow is an attractive service provider because it offers eco-friendly web hosting. All of its data centers and offices are powered by wind.
Customer Support: Fatcow has garnered a reputation as providing first-class customer support which is available 24/7 by phone, email, or via a web ticketing system. Their “Heifercratic Oath” contains a commitment to contact all customers by phone within one week of them subscribing to one of Fatcow’s hosting plans. Moreover, they commit to answering all customer calls and emails within one minute of receiving them during a business day. Customer support staff are described as being friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.
Small-Business Orientated: Fatcow is a vendor primarily aimed at the Small Business market. It does not offer the advanced features, functionality, or depth of technical resources that a larger enterprise would need in terms of its hosting provider. They offer a no-frills service, but larger organisations expect a more professional and personalised service from their hosting provider.
Prices: Fatcow’s offers reasonable introductory pricing offers but, once the initial term has finished, prices soon increase, and they have been accused of a lack of transparency when it comes to renewal fees. Despite positioning themselves as a low cost provider, companies like HostGator, Liquid Page and IPage (all of whom share a common ownership with Fatcow) offer cheaper prices.
Aggressive Upselling: Subscribers and online reviews have complained about the aggressive upselling practices adopted by Fatcow. Once a user has signed-up for one o their hosting plans, they are encouraged to register for free software and web app trials, through offers which appear in their control panel. However, once the trial period ends, users have to pay for these apps, and can find themselves buying services that they do not really need.
Other Cloud Hosting Service Providers
There are a host of other Cloud Hosting Service providers on the market. They include:
InMotion Hosting, HostGator, InterServer.net, BlueHost, Liquid Web, IPage, SiteGround, CloudOYE, DreamHost, Jumpcloud, The IBM Cloud, Namecheap, Vultr, Cloudsigma, 1and1, Digital Ocean, CloudWays, Host1Plus, RackSpace, Linode and VPS Dime.