Fatcow is one of the more long-established of web hosting companies in the market, owing its origins as far back as 1998 when it was founded in New Mexico in Albuquerque. Today it offers a full range of web hosting – shared, managed, dedicated, cloud and reseller, as well as virtual private servers to a clientele that consists primarily of small business owners and individual site users. The ancillary services they offer include domain registration and a range of e-commerce solutions.
They are part of the Endurance International Group (EIG), formerly known as Bizland, who operate a stable of web hosting companies, and allow them to operate independently of, and, in some cases, to compete, directly against each other.
Fatcow are known for their fun, cartoonish website, their “Heifercratic Oath” when it comes to customer service, and their commitment to green energy and the environment. All their data centers and offices are powered completely by wind energy.
Why a Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A VPS (Virtual Private Server) can be regarded as a virtual machine catering to a user’s individual needs in the same way as a physical computer dedicated to a single user. A VPS offers the same privacy and functionality as a physical computer, with the same components, such as a CPU, hard disk and RAM.
A VPS copies the functions of a computer and its operating system, and enables other operating systems and programs to be run on the same computer. They are equivalent, functionally, to a dedicated physical server and, from software perspective, can be created and configured more easily. Nevertheless, they share the same underlying physical hardware with other Virtual Private Servers which can be a constraint – depending on the workload of other existing virtual machines, performance can be adversely affected.
Typically a business or site owner will choose to upgrade to a VPS from shared hosting as their business takes off, and they find that they need more power, stability, and flexibility than shared hosting has to offer, but do not yet have the need or the budget to commit to dedicated hosting. VPS hosting is offered by all the leading hosting providers – and Fatcow is no different.
VPS also have their drawbacks. For example, they are still based on a physical server. If that server fails, so do all the Virtual Private Servers running on it. Furthermore, there are still fewer resources on offer than with dedicated hosting. Whilst a subscriber has separate packages and resources, they are still sharing a physical server with other users. Last, but not least, users need to have a certain technical skill level to operate a VPS. They need to know how to install software, write and upload software patches, maintain the server and handle any security issues that arrive. With a shared hosting service, the vendor is typically responsible for these activities, whereas with a VPS environment, some of these fall on the subscriber.
Key Features that a VPS hosting provider should offer
When choosing a VPS hosting provider, there are a number of factors to be considered in making a choice of vendor. These include:
Service Reliability: Prospective users need to choose a hosting plan that offers a good track record of guaranteed uptime.
Disk Space: How much Disk Space is on offer? The best-in-class providers offer up to 250 GB maximum space for their best packages.
CPU: Users should be able to choose the type of the CPU (Central Processing Unit) of their servers, with a choice of standard, performance, and extreme.
Operating Systems: Subscribers should be given a choice of Operating System.
Servers: VPS subscribers should be given a choice of servers and location.
VPS versus Shared and Dedicated Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is somewhat of a half-way house between Shared Hosting at the one end of the scale, and Dedicated Hosting at the other. Here are some of the key distinctions between the three.
Resource Deployment: With shared hosting, websites and domains reside on a server, and share domain capacity with tens, or even hundreds, of other sites and applications, all using the same server capacity at the same time, whereas, In the case of VPS, they are allotted a virtual separate and distinct server. Dedicated hosting, by contrast, sees a subscriber lease or rent their own exclusive, dedicated server.
Traffic: Excess traffic or requests from one website or application on a shared hosting site, can affect the performance and speed of the other domains or sites that share the same server, leading to a dramatic slowing of performance and, occasionally, even stoppage. This problem does not arrive with a dedicated hosting site, whilst it is ameliorated with a VPS because each domain has its own piece of server capacity which will not be hampered or hindered by other websites or applications.
Cost: Shared hosting is the cheapest option of the three and dedicated hosting the most expensive. VPS comes somewhere in the middle. Like shared hosting, a subscriber to a VPS hosting service is running their website or domain that has other sites running on it, but there are fewer sites per server. However, unlike shared hosting, APS exists in a partitioned server area.
Set-Up: With a shared hosting service, the user does not need to worry about set-up or ongoing maintenance, whereas this is the responsibility of the subscriber with VPS and dedicated hosting. However, a VPS server can be created and deployed much faster than a dedicated server which has to be assembled and then installed.
Security: Shared hosting is quite insecure because am 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. Similarly sites are vulnerable to malicious users renting hosting space in order to gain illegal access to domains or applications running on a server. By contrast, provided that the provider has put in place the necessary security protocols and procedures, dedicated hosting is very secure. A VPS is also inherently safer than a shared hosting service because it operates completely independently of other users on the server.
Fatcow offers three pricing plans – Basic, Business and Optimum. All plans come with a free domain name registration (as well as the ability to transfer existing domain names), access to a control panel (cPanel), and Linux distributed Cent OS 6.4 software. Other services offered with a VPS subscription include free marketing and search engine credits with the like of Google and Bing, the ability to customise and create personalised emails, and access to Fatcow’s 24/7 customer support.
Additionally, with all plans users have the ability to create unlimited domains, and sub-domains, well as MYSQL Databases and FTP Accounts. VPS services support software protocols such as Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails, and a number of other popular coding languages.
Basic: Starts from US $19.99 per month. Subscribers receive 1-Core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 40GB of Storage Space, and 1 TB of Bandwidth.
Business: Starts from US $47.99 per month. Services on offer to users include 2-Core CPU, 4GB of RAM, 90GB of storage, and 3TB of Bandwidth.
Optimum: Starts from US $79.99 per month. Subscribers get 4-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 120 GB of storage and 4TB of bandwidth.
It should be noted that the Fatcow prices above reflect an introductory 20% discount applied to the first term only. Once the first term has expired, the selected VPS plan renews at the normal rate. A term can be for a month, year or two year period.
Fatcow pricing is also available in Canadian and Australian Dollars, UK Sterling and Euros.
Prices do not include VAT which, where applicable, is charged separately.
Fatcow offers a 3—day money-back guarantee scheme for those who want to cancel their initial subscription.
Like most VPS hosts, Fatcow servers run Linux servers which are powered by Apache, the standard server software used by most firms in the market.
One area where the vendor stands out is in the area of customer service with 24/7 support available by phone, email, live chat and a support ticketing system. Customers are also offered what Fatcow calls their “HeiferCratic Oath” which includes the commitment to call all new customers within seven days of signing up to the service, as well as to answer customer phone calls in under one minute each day, on average. Fatcow also promise to maintain and respect the highest staff training standards, and to review and continuously improve their support experience by sending subscribers follow-up surveys.
As regards self-service functionality, there a knowledgebase and a blog, although there have been no fresh postings since April 2016.
Fatcow’s VPS Hosting Services Assessed
Even though Fatcow offers no public guarantees when it comes to uptime, it appears to have a good uptime record, with independent reviewers suggesting it is better than 99.85% on average.
First Class Customer Support
Fatcow has built its reputation on offering their subscribers “Moo Crew” 24/7 customer support and provide a variety of ways of getting in touch with them including phone, live chat, Twitter, a support ticket system, and a support console. Additionally there is a detailed Knowledgebase. Based on the online reviews, a majority of customers are more than satisfied with the level of customer support that Fatcow offers. Service agents are reported as being friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and concise.
Choice of Plans
Fatcow offers two types of VPS plans:
Dedicated Resources: Although users are still sharing a server with other customers, they still have a large amount of resources and space partitioned off for their site.
Managed Support: This not only offers more power but fully managed support, which means that the vendor’s support team will help safeguard a VPS site against security threats, and ensure that users get faster assistance with any website issues that they may encounter.
Fatcow does not allow subscribers to choose their operating system. All servers run on Linux Cento 6.4. In addition, although it offers subscribers a reasonable amount of storage space, other competitors, like A2 hosting, offer more at a more competitive price.
Limited Server Location
One drawback of Fatcow is that it only hosts customer websites in data centers which are located within the United States, unlike many other hosting providers. This is contrary to best practice which suggests that to reduce latency and the threat of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Server) attacks, servers should be geo-located in dispersed locations – in Europe or Asia, for example.
Although Fatcow positions itself as a low-cost VPS solution, there are cheaper alternatives available on the market. For example, Hostwinds’ packages start at US $4.99 per month and Interserver.net US $6.99 per month. Furthermore, once the initially discounted price period has been expired, renewals are 20% higher than the current advertised rates.
It should also be noted that Fatcow has gained a reputation in recent years for the frequency with which it has raised its prices.
Fastcow VPS hosting – Conclusion
Along with many other hosting providers, Fatcow offers Virtual Private Servers to those users who, for reasons of business growth or changing needs, have outgrown shared hosting. Based on online reviews, their performance can be assessed as average, with reliable uptime (although not guaranteed by the vendor), and first class customer support. On the flip side, they do not offer a choice of servers or geographical locations, nor do they offer a choice of operating systems.
In terms of pricing, Fatcow positions itself as a low-cost provider. In reality, it is no cheaper than many of its competitors, especially when the misleading effect of the 20% introductory discount is stripped out.
When all is said and done, though, Fatcow is an adequate VPS hosting solution for its target market which is the small business owner and the personal site owner. Whilst it does not have the functionality nor offer the security features that a larger business would need, it is suitable for the niche market in which it operates.
Other Virtual Private Server Providers
There are a multitude of other companies and vendors offering virtual private server services in addition to Fatcow. These include: DigitalOcean, AWS Direct Connect, Hostwinds, cPanel, Amazon Lightsail, AccuWeb Hosting, Linode, A2 Hosting, Plesk, Vultr, Lunarpage, Inmotion hosting, UpCloud, Netrepid, DreamHost, OVH, SiteGround, UK Web hosting, Bluehost, HostGator, Liquid Web Hosting, Media Temple, IPage and HostMaster.