There’s an old adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The same wisdom applies when it comes to budget web hosting services.
These days, budget hosting services are a dime a dozen, and all advertise phenomenal features and perfect security for just a few dollars a month. Still, most of us are occasionally curious about the truth of those claims.
FatCow is one such advertiser. They boast about rock-bottom prices of just a few dollars each month and a comprehensive spread of features that can make pricier services shake in their boots.
Let’s check out this oddly-named hosting provider and see if the façade falls down at any point.
Our Verdict ⚖️
Overall, FatCow is not a bad hosting provider.
It offers average performance for a below-average price. So, if your budget is your chief concern, it might be ideal for your needs.
On the other hand, the lack of Windows hosting support and the aforementioned average performance are more than enough to turn most people away.
FatCow Pros and Cons
Free Website Builder
Lots of web hosting providers offer a site builder to sweeten the deal, but FatCow’s is pretty good even compared to others on the market.
Low Introductory Rate
We’d be remiss not to mention the main reason most people probably click on the FatCow website.
Their extremely low initial monthly rate simply cannot beat by most other web hosting providers, even if it is quickly raised after the first month of service.
FatCow offers some free icons you can use on your site, so long as you credit them with a link.
No Free Migrations or Transfers
This is a big one! The majority of web hosting services allow you to freely migrate or transfer at least one website from another hosting service to their own.
This draws in more customers and promotes goodwill. We guess FatCow decided they didn’t need it, because you’ll have to pay a small fee to migrate any of your websites to their servers.
Lots of Upselling
It feels like there’s always an upselling scheme going on whenever you use a FatCow hosting plan. It's not a nice feel.
Whether it’s the initial trickery regarding the monthly price for the basic shared hosting plans or the fact that you have to pay for “extra” features that are usually included as staples, you’ll probably spend more than you intended with FatCow.
FatCow is one of the few web hosting providers that doesn’t offer services for Windows users. However, this might be a positive if you exclusively use Linux.
High Renewal Rates
Your renewal subscription rate will almost always be higher than what you initially thought you’d pay.
Slow Speed and Below Average Uptime
Both of these metrics are much lower than what we would expect (and what you get) from a top-tier hosting service. Compared to most other hosting services, FatCow lags behind severely.
FatCow Review (UK 🇬🇧)
Let’s dive deep into what FatCow offers across several major metrics. With these, we'll be able to determine whether they're worth the hassle of switching hosts.
FatCow Pricing 💰
There are four hosting options from FatCow, and they provide a typical stable of options compared to other providers on the market.
These are: Original FatCow (basically shared hosting), WordPress Blog (another name for WordPress hosting), VPS, and Dedicated.
FatCow Starter Plans
The Original FatCow plans are likely what draws everyone to their site initially.
They boast an extremely low price of just £3.27.
However, there’s a big caveat that you might miss if you click the big shiny button right away.
This “introductory” price only lasts for the first month of your subscription. Afterward, you’ll need to renew your subscription for £7.60 each month.
That’s a huge price uptick!
Considering that most other basic shared hosting plans can be found for as low as 4 pounds or even cheaper, it’s not a good market for FatCow right off the bat.
The plan comes with unlimited disk space and email addresses.
This plan (and all the others) also brags about “oodles” of bandwidth, which is just FatCow’s way of saying that they offer unlimited bandwidth for all their users.
Furthermore, you’ll get access to a free website builder and a free domain name, plus 1GH of JustCloud storage.
FatCow WordPress Plans (Advanced)
WordPress Starter plan starts at £3 per month, while the advanced WP “Essential” option starts at £5.56 per month.
These include a core suite of features, including a customizable control panel and preinstalled plugins and themes.
These plans also come with better speed and security compared to the shared hosting options. This is notable since the shared hosting plans don't come with any security features whatsoever.
These plans are priced much more reasonably and affordably considering their advanced features and suitability for WordPress websites.
VPS hosting is included across three plans, ranging in price between £20 a month up to £80.04 per month. The big differences between each degree are the resources you can take advantage of and your storage space.
While they do include free domain registration and a personalized email address, they don’t come with many extra features.
Compared to the best VPS hosts out there, the upper end of these services might be hard to justify, price-wise.
FatCow Dedicated Hosting
Finally, their dedicated server option also comes with three tiers or subscription packages. These cost anywhere between £120.07 each month all the way up to £192.12 per month.
This is pretty pricey, even compared to other quality dedicated server options on the market.
Additionally, their most advanced plan – called Enterprise – only comes with four cores, whereas other high-power dedicated server offerings from competing providers often have eight. Ultimately, the pricing here is a bit too high for comfort.
We also need to mention the unfortunate £26.96 early cancellation fee if you want to change hosts after you discover the crazy price hike mentioned above.
Otherwise, you have to give FatCow a whopping 30 days of notice to cancel regardless of whether you are canceling before your contract is up. This is the opposite of excellent customer service.
All in all, FatCow’s pricing wobbles a bit too much between being reasonable or overpriced.
We’re particularly irritated at the blatant attempts to price hike at the beginning. It’s likely that they draw lots of people in with the low introductory rate, then take advantage of their busy schedules when they forget to check the bill.
What constitutes fast uptime for a web hosting service?
Nothing short of 99.95% is good enough to be competitive in today’s market. A discrepancy of 0.05% may not seem like much, but it’s enough to indicate several hours of downtime for a shared hosting service every month.
That can be a big deal in terms of net profits or visitor confidence.
Below Average Server Performance
Unfortunately, FatCow usually has lower at times than this for most of its shared hosting services.
Average uptimes hovering around 99.86%, which can translate to many more hours where your website is in providing your customers with their services or isn’t producing traffic for your ads.
In short, it’s nothing good, and it’s overshadowed by many other hosting providers on the market.
It would be one thing if the actual cost for the servers was lower than five dollars each month, but we’ve already gone over how that’s not the case after your introductory month.
As a result, we don’t feel most people will be willing to pay higher prices for subpar server uptimes, especially since there are plenty of other providers that can achieve consistent uptimes of 99.95%.
FatCow Hosting Speed
Perhaps appropriate for its name, FatCow doesn’t do the best job when it comes to server response speed. Maybe they should have chosen a different name to invoke a faster spirit?
Either way, FatCow’s average page loading times of around 1000 ms, with plenty of variation and occasional spurts up into the 1500 ms and beyond territory.
This is far and away subpar compared to what most other hosting services provide. It’s terrible not only for your user experience but for traffic retention. In most cases, people will click away from your pages if they don’t load within a second or two.
Not Great for SEO
Site page loading speed has a huge effect on your rankings with Google and your conversions. It’s safe to say that it’s one of the biggest factors going into whether your site will be successful in the long term.
Thus, this is another big black mark on FatCow’s record.
Website backups are a staple of web hosting security features. They’re an excellent choice if you ever need to roll back to a previous update of your site or if there’s ever a total crash and you need to recover your data or site content.
FatCow (Lack Of) Backups
However, FatCow doesn’t offer site backups for free, whereas many other hosting providers include them as a main feature for even their basic shared hosting plans.
Instead, even a basic backup service from this provider costs at least £0.98 a month, and you have to sign up for three years of backup to get that rate. That’s a little obnoxious, if you ask us.
The only good point about their backup service is that it comes with manual and daily backup options, you won’t have to always remember when it’s time to back up your site using their system.
In terms of SSL, all the shared plans come with a shared SSL certificate. This isn’t as attractive to visitors or secure as a dedicated SSL certificate of your own, but you can upgrade to a dedicated SSL certificate for additional security.
The only downside is that this costs extra. As most other hosting providers give you a free SSL certificate as part of their basic hosting plans, we have to knock FatCow down a peg for this.
WordPress plans and VPS plans come with basic security features of their own, which is a nice touch. FatCow also comes with additional security features, and these, in complete honesty, are top-notch.
These are features like SiteLock, which protect your website from different types of malware and other cyber-attacks. It’s a great feature through and through.
The only trouble, of course, is that you have to pay extra for it.
In fact, for full antivirus protection and the ability to scan your websites for potential threats, you’ll need to pay around £19.25 per month or more.
You’ll even need to pay this if you want a basic web application firewall or features like automatic malware removal.
Ultimately, we’d call FatCow’s security features comprehensive and versatile… If you can cough up cash for them. Having to pay extra for something that’s provided as a standard with many other web hosting companies isn’t a great feeling.
FatCow Bonus Features
All of FatCow’s hosting options come with an aptly-named Website Builder (it’s really called that). It comes with lots of templates built into the database so you can quickly and easily customize your site.
It’ll be particularly helpful if you don’t have a lot of web design experience. This is easily the highlight of their offerings, and it’s one of the few places where they don’t try to scrape out extra money from your wallet.
Compared to the best free website builders out there, FatCow's builder offers similar features and functionality. If you decide to go with FC, at least you won't have to worry about paying for a premium drag-and-drop service.a
Notably, FatCow claims that their offices and facilities, including the data centers that house their servers, are totally powered by wind energy. This dedication to environmentalism is admirable.
They're an EPA Green Power Partner, too, which adds some credence to this claim and means you don’t have to visit their facilities in person to take them at their word on this point.
You can possibly use this badge to make your own site more attractive to your visitors, particularly if your visitor base is environmentally conscious.
Additionally, most web hosting plans and your monthly subscriptions will provide you with special “marketing credits”.
These credits are exchangeable with FatCow and allow you to use their proprietary marketing tools and search engine advertising which reach Google and Bing.
The actual efficacy of these marketing credits is debatable, but it probably can't hurt if you have already decided to work with FatCow anyway. Beginning sites, especially, and usually benefit from any marketing boost they can get.
Furthermore, one of the few extra things that FatCow offers for free is a plethora of professionally designed web icons.
These number around 4000 in total and include both 16 and 32-pixel versions of the same set. You do have to link to the FatCow free icon page if you use them on your website, but this is a small price to pay for freebies.
They also offer a 30-day moneyback guarantee on all of their hosting plans. This is pretty standard in the industry but worth mentioning.
Just be aware that they only refund any orders made through a credit card. PayPal orders aren’t refunded under any condition.
Where Are FatCow’s Servers Located?
FatCow’s servers are spread across the US, with most of them concentrated in a secure facility in Boston. There VPS or dedicated servers are usually concentrated around Salt Lake City in data centers there.
Is FatCow Safe?
FatCow can be safe if you splurge for their additional SiteLock tech and further security features. Their default security situation is virtually nonexistent in terms of shared hosting plans or rather basic for their WordPress and VPS plans.
All in all, FatCow is about as safe as quality budget hosting providers but it’ll cost you extra if you want to guarantee your website’s security against modern cyber threats.
What Types of Hosting Does FatCow Offer?
FatCow offers four main types of web hosting: shared, WordPress, VPS, and Dedicated. They also offer a reseller plan called the WholesalePlus Program, which uses a customizable version of vDeck to let you sell with your own brand.
They even allow you to apply your own company branding fairly easily and include unlimited monthly data transfers, plenty of storage, and unlimited subdomains.
Does FatCow Come With a Website Builder?
Yes. FatCow’s “Website Builder” is easy to use and is powered by HTML-5. This means you’ll be able to quickly drag-and-drop various website elements like images or text into the correct positions for your optimal site orientation.
You’ll also be able to set up your own website name or utilize the premade templates that come with the builder to get a jumpstart on website construction.
Does FatCow Come With a Free Domain?
FatCow does come with free domains, even for its basic shared hosting plans, but it’s only free for the first year. You also get access to unlimited domains for your account, although every domain after the first one will cost you extra.
Ultimately, FatCow’s name aptly describes how they squeeze you for money like a cow-shaped glutton obsessed with more cash.
The ironic thing is that they have plenty of excellent features and a great website builder that might make them a worthwhile choice in the budget-friendly web hosting market.
If they were to lower their prices and come up with more reasonable options (like making some of their security features standard instead of extra, for starters), they probably get a much higher mark from us.
As they are, though, we can’t recommend them for anyone. You can get everything they offer and more from other providers that will gouge you for less money and provide better uptime and speed.
Besides, there’s no use signing up for a hosting provider with response times of over 1000 ms in this day and age.
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