Fatcow is a web-hosting company which was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1998. In addition to offer a wide range of web-hosting services – cloud, dedicated, fully managed, reseller, and shared hosting – they also provide virtual private servers, as well as offering customers e-commerce services and domain registration.
Early pioneers in the industry, Fatcow were amongst the first to realise the opportunity, as the Internet began to expand in the 1990s, to offer web hosting to individuals and companies that wanted to establish an online presence, but did not have the budget or expertise to operate the infrastructure required to operate a website.
Aimed primarily at the individual consumer and small business end of the market, one of Fatcow’s distinguishing features is the company’s commitment to green energy – all their offices and data centers are powered 100% by wind energy.
Fatcow is owned by EIG (Endurance International Group), formerly known as Bizland. EIG owns a multitude of other web hosting companies including HostGator, IPage and BlueHost.
Why Shared Hosting?
Web hosting enables individuals and businesses to make their website accessible through the internet. Web hosts like Fatcow are companies that provide space on servers in data centers which are either owned or leased by clients, as well as offering internet connectivity.
With shared hosting, as the name implies, a business is sharing a server with a number of other sites and organisations, although they still have their own domain address as a unique identifier.
Shared hosting services are ideally suited for small business owners and those running personal sites who do not have huge bandwidth requirements, and are unlikely to see large volumes of traffic land on their site.
The main reason to opt for shared hosting is cost, as it is a less expensive option than other web hosting services. This is logical because a subscriber is paying for just a fraction of the server space, as opposed to buying server capacity in its entirety. Nearly all the top hosting companies offer shared hosting services because of popular demand, and Fatcow is no exception.
Shared hosting is usually the default option for start-ups, and those operating personal websites who do not require large bandwidth, or much server disk space. For those with limited budgets and whose site features a lot of static brochures or images, or with few graphical elements, then a shared host plan is often the ideal starting place.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
Cost: The main advantage of shared hosting from the point of view of the subscriber is cost. A user is sharing the server cost with other sites and domains which is usually a lot cheaper than dedicated hosting.
Set-Up: Furthermore, with shared hosting, the hosting provider is responsible for all set-up, configuration and maintenance issues, which means a small business owner is free to concentrate on building their professional website, and needs a minimum of technical knowledge. .
Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
Slower Performance: Users can experience slower performance on a shared hosting site because of the sheer number of domains trying to access and run on the server at the same time.
Bandwidth hogs: A necessary facet of shared hosting is that a user is sharing the bandwidth of the server with other domains and sites. This can lead to instances, because of poorly written code, or a sudden spike in traffic, where one site consumes a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. This is known as the “bad neighbour effect”.
Security: Domains hosted on a shared server are inherently less secure than those which have dedicated hosting. If one site on the server is compromised by virus, malware, or a hacker, then a gateway is literally opened for the attacker to gain access to all the other sites which are hosted on the same server. Moreover, malicious users can buy hosting from the shared hosting provider, and use their site to gain illegal access to the other domains on the same server.
Key Features of a Shared Hosting Service
With nearly every significant player in the hosting industry offering shared hosting, potential users need to be aware of a few points before making their choice as to provider.
Reputation: It is important to find out what the reputation is of the service provider, and whether the online reviews are positive or negative. Do they offer specific features that would add value to small business owner or personal site user?
Bandwidth: Bandwidth is probably the key criteria used when choosing a hosting company. Generally the more bandwidth and disk space on offer, the better, although there is generally a price trade-off. For those run a primary website with less traffic and relatively little traffic, they do not need to pay for excess bandwidth. Many service providers offer an unlimited plan, or the option to upgrade their existing package in the future.
Uptime: Those running a business website need and expect it to be running 24/7 with no downtime. Many of the top service providers guarantee uptime.
Load Speed: Another expectation of both owners and users of a web site are that they need to be fast and fluid with minimal load times. If pages take too long to load, potential customers will lose interest and go elsewhere.
Additional Services: A further factor to consider is what additional services does the hosting company offer? For example, if you are operating an e-commerce platform that sells goods or services, you will look for a package that offers this functionality built-in, or as an add-on. Rather than having to deal with the intricacies of setting-up an e-commerce solution themselves, many small business owners and merchants would rather leave this to their hosting provider instead.
Customer Service: Not the least concern is to choose a vendor that has first class customer and technical support in case you encounter a problem with your site, so things can be got up and running as soon as possible.
The Original FatCow is how the vendor describes their shared hosting plan. They currently offer a special introductory offer of US $4.08 for the first month; however, thereafter, it reviews at the regular rates which are:
One month term: US $14.95 billed monthly (subject to availability).
12-months’ term: US $179.40 per year, based on US $14.95 monthly.
24-months’ term: US $334.80 for two years, based on US $13.95 monthly.
36-month’s term: US $466.20 for three years, based on US $12.95 per month.
Pricing is also available in Canadian and Australia dollars, British pounds, and Euros. Pricing are subject to change, and those quoted in foreign currencies reflect the underlying US $ value.
There is a 3—day money back guarantee offer in place when users first sign-up.
All plans offer unlimited disk space, email addresses, domains and bandwidth, and a free domain name (for the first year only). . Site tools include a website builder and analytics tool, and the ability to add an online store and check-out. By way of a bonus, users on sign-up are offered a Google AdWords Bonus of US $100, and US $100 of Bing Search Marketing Credit. IGB of JustCloud Storage is also on offer.
The Fatcow hosting platform runs on Linux servers which are powered by Apache, which is the standard server software used by most firms in the market.
Fatcow stands out for a customer service with 24/7 support available by phone, email, live chat and a support ticketing system. They also offer customers what they call their “HeiferCratic Oath” which includes the commitment to call all new customers within seven days of signing up to the service, and to answer customer phone calls in under one minute, on average, each day. They also promise to adhere to the highest training standards, and to continue review and improve their support experience by sending subscribers follow-up surveys.
Self-service functionality includes a knowledgebase, which includes detailed guides on hosting, domains, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and Scripting, Security and more, as well as a blog (although there have been no new postings since April 2014.
The pros of Fatcow
Comparing Fatcow’s Shared Hosting Service against the criteria set-up when it comes to choosing a suitable provider, then the vendor appears to perform well in the following areas:
Although this figure is not publicly disclosed, Fatcow appears to have a good uptime record, with independent reviewers suggesting it is better than 99.8%, in line with the top-end of the industry average.
Page Upload Speeds
The page upload speed is reported as good for the price and reliable by users.
Fatcow offers a daily back-up service, which distinguishes it from much of the competition. This means customers can be reasonably confident that their data is secure without having to spend unnecessary money on third-party back-ups. However, this is not a free service – users have to pay for it. For those who do not want to pay, they have the option of making their own daily back-ups.
Excellent Customer Support
Fatcow offers their subscribers “Moo Crew” 24/7 customer support and offer a variety of ways of getting in touch with them including phone, live chat, a support ticket system, and a support console. There is also a detailed Knowledgebase. The majority of online reviews suggest that customers, on the whole, are more than satisfied with the level of customer support that Fatcow offers, with service agents reported as being helpful, knowledgeable and concise.
The cons of Fatcow
However, in other areas, Fatcow does not fare so well.
Restricted “unlimited” hosting
Although Fatcow promotes itself as offering unlimited hosting, in reality there are restrictions as to what this entails, and can lead to account suspension – for example, if someone uses too much storage space bandwidth, or CPU time. To be fair to the vendor they do warn that any users who hamper system performance can be penalised, but this is disclosed only in their terms and conditions, and not openly stated on their site.
Limited Server Location
Fatcow only hosts customer websites in data centers which are located within the United States, unlike many other hosting providers. Best practice suggests that to reduce latency and the threat of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Server) attacks, servers should be located in geographically dispersed locations – in Europe or Asia, for example.
A number of online users have complained about Fatcow’s aggressive upselling practices whereby, once a user has signed up for a shared hosting plan, they are then encouraged to register for free software and web app trials. These offers appear directly in the control panel, and can appear enticing. However, once the trial period ends, users have to pay, and can find themselves buying services that they do not really need.
Fatcow are owned by EIG who have a number of other web hosting companies as well. Consumers should be aware that they can get the same services offered by Fatcow at a lower price from companies like IPage and BlueHost. Fatcow have also acquired a reputation for increasing their prices regularly, so what was once an affordable solution for many has become an expensive option over time.
Fatcow Shared Hosting – Conclusion
Fatcow has been offering Shared Hosting services to small businesses and individual site owners for 20 years now, and its reputation is mixed. On the one hand, it offers reliable uptime, fast page loading, daily back-ups and first-class customer support. However, negatives include their choice of the US only to host their data servers, and their practice of aggressive upselling. Furthermore, the unlimited hosting that they offer comes, in reality, with restrictions. Last, but certainly, not least, there are cheaper alternatives on the market, offering the same services for less money.
In addition, they have acquired a reputation for a lack of transparency when it comes to their pricing, with attractive introductory offers which entice people to sign-up with them, only to see fees more than double when it comes to renewal.
Other Shared Web Hosting Service Providers
There are a multitude of other companies and vendors offering shared web hosting services in addition to Fatcow. These include: 1&1 IONOS, A2 Hosting, Bluehost, DreamHost Web Hosting, FastComet, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks, Host1Plus, HostGator, Hostinger, HostPapa, Hostwinds, Inmotion hosting, InterServer, iPage, Justhost, Liquid Web Hosting, Media Temple, SiteGround WebHosting, TMDHosting,Web.com.