Fatcow, which is now owned by the Endurance International Group (EIG) has been providing web hosting services since it was founded in 1998. Along with its many competitors in what is a crowded industry, Fatcow offers a range of web hosting services to a customer base that is largely drawn from the ranks of small business owners and proprietors. These include shared, cloud, fully managed, reseller and VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, as well as ancillary e-commerce and domain name services. They also offer Dedicated Hosting, which, by virtue of its nature and pricing, is one of the premium plans that they offer.
What is Dedicated Website Hosting?
With a Dedicated Web Hosting Plan, a company or business owner, is renting a physical server dedicated to their website, and their website alone. A dedicated server is much faster than shared hosting, because resources like bandwidth or storage, are not being shared, with other websites and domains hosted on the same server. A dedicated server offers a solid website foundation that can withstand high traffic volumes, and allows users to install their own script – if they can afford it.
The differences between Dedicated Hosting and Shared Hosting?
In terms of gain an appreciation of Fatcow’s Dedicated Hosting offering, it is important to understand the differences between Dedicated Hosting and Shared Hosting. This is because other forms of Hosting are a derivative of the two – Fully Managed hosting is a form of Dedicated Hosting, for example, whilst VPS hosting has some of the characteristics of Shared Hosting. Reseller and Cloud Hosting have some common elements of both.
There are a number of key distinctions between Dedicated and Shared Hosting?
Server Hosting: With a Dedicated Hosting plan, an organisation knows that their website is the only one hosted on a server, whereas, with a shared plan, they could be sharing the server with tens, or even hundreds, of other sites.
Bandwidth and Disk Space: With Dedicated Hosting, the bandwidth and disk space on a server are dedicated entirely to one organisation and its needs. There is no resource sharing, so no impairment to website performance and speed. By contrast, with shared hosting, because others are sharing the server, the amount of disk apace and bandwidth available to any one user is limited, and hosting providers, like Fatcow, as their terms and conditions make clear, will charge sites who use more than their allocated bandwidth, and will penalise (or even suspend them), if they exceed their amount of disk space.
In addition, some website hosts – although not Fatcow, at least not explicitly – have rules that penalise sites that have elements like music or videos, irrespective as to which they have exceeded their bandwidth cap or not.
Costs: The major advantage of shared hosting is affordability. The server’s resources are shared with a number of other users, so the cost is divided amongst them. This makes shared hosting suitable for small businesses which are in their infancy, and just starting to establish a web presence. A dedicated server is dedicated to one user only, so costs more.
This can be illustrated by Fatcow’s current pricing models. The basic shared hosting plan starts at just US $14.95 a month, whereas a Start-Up Dedicated Hosting plan costs US $119.99 a month.
Technical Skills: Another advantage of Shared Hosting, particularly for smaller businesses, it that it does not require somebody with technical skills to operate a server. Maintenance, administration and security are the responsibility of the hosting provider, like Fatcow.
With dedicated hosting, on the other hand, an organisation with need their own IT and webmaster skills to set-up, administer and maintain their own server. For those who are not prepared, because of time or budgetary constraints, to commit to the necessary staffing, or consultancy, resource that this implies, then hosting providers offers Fully Managed Hosting plans, at a correspondingly higher price.
Security: Shared Hosting is inherently less secure than Dedicated Hosting. This is because an attack on one domain or website on a shared server can easily lead to it spreading to other sites or applications sharing the same server. Sites are also vulnerable to hackers renting space in order to gain illegal access to other domains on a server. And, whilst hosting providers are responsible for hosting firewalls, ant-virus programs and other server protection, users are still at risk from “poor neighbours”.
By contrast, with dedicated hosting, responsibility for detecting and mitigating cyber risks falls to the user themselves, with the hosting company’s responsibilities limited to keeping the server powered, and physically secure. This means an organisation’s internal IT team are able to fully control the security programs they install, and can put in place measures to protect against malware and viruses that are likely to be far more stringent than those offered by shared hosting providers.
Website and IP Blacklisting: One downside of shared servers is the risk that Google and other search engines may blacklist a website because somebody else on the server is engaged in illegal or unethical practices like spamming. As a consequence, bad neighbours on a shared server can get an entire IP address blacklisted, making a website almost invisible.
Hosting companies like Fatcow make it clear in their terms and conditions that such activities will see a site blocked, or even removed from a server. However, by the time that such practices have been detected it can be too late and the damage down. Getting a site “whitelisted” again can take time, during which a business may have been irrevocably destroyed.
With Dedicated Hosting, unless an organisation is itself engaged in illegal activity on their site, there is minimal threat of being blacklisted.
Server Performance: With Shared Hosting, excess traffic requests from one website or application can affect adversely the performance and speed of other websites on the same server. This can cause frustration for both employees and customers, and can lead to a loss of business – if a customer cannot deal with a website promptly, they may get fed up and go elsewhere. Hosting providers like Fatcow will penalise sites that consume excess bandwidth, but sometimes these traffic jams may be inadvertent – for example, if a business offers a promotion that proves to be more successful than they had envisaged.
The same scenario is very unlikely to occur with a Dedicated Hosting Service. Users are not having to share their bandwidth with anybody else, so should be able to offer an online service that is highly responsive to customer needs.
Degree of Control: Subscribing to a Shared Hosting services means less control. It is the hosting company, like Fatcow, who decides how the server will be maintained and supported, and what services will be offered. Whilst there are those, particularly small business owners, who are just starting out, who are happy to abrogate this responsibility, many companies prefer to exercise a greater control over how their server is used and secured.
With a dedicated server, users are offered a substantive amount of custom options and settings. They can add their preferred programs, applications, scripts and security protocols to match their operational requirements. For those businesses with the requisite knowledge and skills, dedicated hosting offers them a great deal more flexibility and control than the alternative.
Fatcow offers three Dedicated Server Hosting plans, aimed at organisations of varying sizes and types.
Their Start-Up Plan is aimed at small businesses that are growing rapidly, such as e-commerce sites that have outgrown shared hosting, and are looking for additional power and security to underpin their growth.
The Professional Plan, by contrast, is for established businesses that are ready to move to the next level, and want to expand their website capabilities by taking advantage of the flexibility offered by dedicated hosting.
The Enterprise Plan is designed for thriving enterprises with high traffic volumes, frequent data transactions, and extensive website capabilities. The vendor claims this plan is ideally suited for those companies where performance and fast response times are critical for business success.
All plans with a free domain name (for the first year), CPanel (a control panel), and access to the CentOS 6.4 Linux operating system. Users are also offered free marketing credits with marketing and search engine platforms such as Google and Bing, the ability to create personalised email addresses, and access to Fatcow’s customer support 24/7.
Furthermore, users are able, with all plans, to create unlimited domains and sub-domains, as well as MYSQL Databases and FTP Accounts. Dedicated Hosting support software protocols such as Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails, and a number of other popular coding languages, as well as the streaming of video and music on websites.
Start-Up: Prices start at US $119.99 per month. Subscribers are offered a Xeon E3-1220 LV” 2.3 Intel Dual-Core processor, with 4GB of RAM, 500 GB of storage, 5TB of bandwidth, and 3 IP addresses.
Professional: Prices start from US $151.99 per month. Users are offered an Intel Xeon E3-1265 LV 3.2 GHZ Quad-Core processor, with 8 GB of RAM, 1000GB of storage, 10 TB of bandwidth, and 4 IP addresses.
Enterprise: Prices start from US $119.99 per month. Enterprise customers are offered an Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 3.7 GHZ Quad-Core processor, with 16 GB of RAM, 1000 GB of storage, 15 TB of bandwidth, and 5 IP addresses.
It should be noted that all prices quoted reflect a 20% promotional discount, which applies to the first term of a dedicated hosting plan only. Fatcow’s term plans are for one month, 12 months, or 24 months. Depending on which plan a subscriber chooses, the discount only applies to the initial term. Once the initial term is completed, plans are renewed at pre-discount levels; for example, for a Start-Up plan, US $149.99 per month on a monthly basis; US $139.99 a month on a 12 month basis, and US $129.99 month on a 24-month basis.
Fatcow do not offer a free trial, but they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee scheme, Site owners who do not wish to continue with their services can obtain a full refund, less any domain fees or add-ons, by cancelling, within the first month, their hosting account.
As outlined above, Fatcow offers subscribers a choice of dual-core or quad-core processors, depending on which plan they have chosen. All servers are supported by the Linux operating system, like many web hosting services in the market.
Fatcow Customer Support
Fatcow is renowned for the quality of its customer support which is available 24/7 in the form of phone, email, live chat, and a support ticketing system. The company offers customers what it calls a “Heifercratic Oath” which includes an undertaking to answer all customer calls in less than one minute a day on average, as well as a commitment to call all new customers within seven days of them subscribing to one of their services.
As regards self-service functionality, there a knowledgebase and a blog, although there have been no fresh postings since April 2016.
Fatcow Dedicated Hosting Evaluated
Uptime: Fatcow does not provide public guarantees of uptime. Whilst this may be regarded as a negative, independent reviews and tests suggest that actual site performance is in excess of 99.85% which is close to the best in the industry.
Customer Support: Fatcow has earned a reputation of providing excellent customer support. There are a wide variety of ways of getting in touch with them on a 24/7 basis – phone, email, live chat, Twitter, and a support ticketing system – and response times are always near instantaneous. Furthermore, customer support staff are renowned for being friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
Cost: Although Fatcow positions itself as a low cost hosting provider, a number of its competitors offer cheap servers. InMotion Hosting, Bluehost, HostGator and Interserver.net, to name just a few, all offer monthly plans that start at lower than Fatcow has to offer. Similarly Fatcow has been criticised for its pricing transparency – once the attractive introductory offers are stripped out, the underlying monthly costs are relatively expensive.
Server Location: Fatcow’s servers are all located in the US, whereas best practice indicates that, to reduce the risk of latency and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, servers should be geographically dispersed, across different continents – Europe, or Asia, for example.
Limited Choice: Subscribers are not given the option of choosing either their type of server or operating system. Other vendors offer greater choice to their customers.
Other Dedicated Hosting Service Providers
There are a large number of alternative Dedicated Hosting Service Providers available. These include:
HostGator, DreamHost, TMD Hosting, Hostwinds, Liquid Web, GoDaddy, InMotion Web Hosting, 1&1 Web Hosting, SiteGround, AccuWeb Hosting, Bluehost, iPage, JustHosts, A2 Hosting, Namecheap, Domain.com, Sitey, Web Hosting Hub, Lunarpages, Web Hosting Pad, BigCommerce and GreenGeeks.