If you’ve been in the business long, we’re guessing you’ve likely heard of FatCow: They’re a top pick of ours, and have been for quite some time, at that. However, if you’ve heard the name but aren’t sure who the company is—or have no clue whatsoever about FatCow—then you’ve come to the right place. We feel it’s about time we sat down and took a good, hard look at the provider, especially as we’ve already covered some great hosting options like HostGator and InMotion. We’re particularly excited to be detailing FatCow today, though, as it happens to be one of the simplest and most customer-oriented hosting brands on the Web. We’re big fans, but don’t think we’ll be getting all biased on you! No, we’ll stick to the straight skinny, letting you decide for yourself if FatCow is the company for you. So without further hubbub, let’s dive right into the meat and potatoes of the matter, starting with a few points about the history of the company.
Who is FatCow?
As far as hosting providers go, FatCow (www.fatcow.com) has been in the industry about as long as most of the more venerated brands, and certainly longer than about 75% of the million start-ups that have appeared since the early 2000’s. The company was founded more than a decade ago in 1998, planting their roots in Albuquerque, NM. They’ve only grown since then, too, gathering quite the following on the web, as well as within their employee groups. Since its inception, FatCow has always had a focus on providing simplified, easy to understand, and easy to own web hosting. With the company, you won’t find much by way of complex techno babble, nor will you discover any complex pricing agreements or schemes. FatCow likes to cut straight to the bone of web hosting, offering plans that meet their consumer’s needs without all the frilly talk, some, or mirrors.
However, that does not mean FatCow has neglected the tech! Underneath the hood of each and every FatCow account is one of the best servers on the market, guarnateed by constant supervision and near perfect maintenance. The host doesn’t rely on outdated and old-hat models, but makes a real effort to maintain their position on the cutting-edge of web development. As such, the company has completely swapped to wind energy. Very few hosts have made the transition, and the fact that FatCow now totally supplies its servers with energy produced locally, and by natural sources, is quite the achievement.
FatCow also focuses on offering a wealth of plans designed to supply web hosting to any possible need—and on a budget, too! They’re the only host we know to include plans for those that want no website, but still require a domain name and email address support. From the ground-up, FatCow is a unique provider, and though we dig their style, our review would be nothing without a more earnest look at their plans and prices. Skipping right along, then:
The FatCow Marketplace
First and foremost, it’s worth mentioning that FatCow tends to operate a bit differently than most other hosting posts we’ve seen over the years. Rather than offering several tiers of hosting plans that combine various aspects of necessary features, FatCow keeps things as simple as they come.
When you buy a car, you’re first shown the basic model with no additional options. From there, you specify what you need to keep your life running smoothly. These add-ons are included at an extra cost, and when all is said and specified, you walk out with your new car and title. In much the same way, FatCow offers users a basic web hosting plan—a one size fits all, if you will. Then the user browses the FatCow Marketplace for additional services their site will need. FatCow makes this experience even simpler by including several packages aimed at targeted groups. If you’re running a business, there’s a business package supporting secure backups and additional design features. For the personal user, there’s also the option to backup data, as well as include blogging utilities. All in all, it’s a quick, simplistic, and money-saving way to have your site up and running in as short an amount of time as possible.
However, it’s not just an easier way to do things. By segregating the various features that most web hosts would simply dump on a new user, FatCow allows the web master to build their own experience from the ground-up. This is most noticeable with a new eCommerce site. Using the eCommerce Web Essentials packet in the FatCow Marketplace, web masters can add support for such necessary features as PayPal credit card support, customer security, and of course, shopping cart functionality. Taking things step-by-step ensures no services are added that aren’t wanted, and also allow the new user to efficiently manage the start-up of their Web presence.
Additional FatCow Products and Services
This fluidity in the way a FatCow website is designed doesn’t just make it simple on the user, however. It also allows the company to aggregate a full retinue of services that meet the demand of the modern webmaster. These services can be dropped, added to, substituted, etc. as new technologies emerge and older methods improve. Nowhere is this more evident than in the additional products and services FatCow offers to its clients. First and foremost, the FatCow website management utilities offered by the company provide a comprehensive sweep of everything one could want to run a website.
To start with, the provider offers a bevy of design options, allowing users to outsource the management and creation of their website. Would you really rather not manage your website yourself, and wish someone else could do it for you? It’s no problem with FatCow! The host offers several stepped service plans, allowing you to choose the level of management that best fits what you’re willing to do yourself, as well as what your not.
Additionally, FatCow also makes it simple and easy to add other services your site may require. This runs the gambit from adding PayPal Credit Card payment support, all the way down to task management and efficiency optimization. In-between you’ll find site creation utilities, eCommerce solutions, MySQL databases, and extra disc space and bandwidth. All in all, if your website needs a creative management solution, FatCow has the answer ready made and priced.
However, if you’re just looking for domain services and registration, FatCow has that problem worked, too. The provider will not only sign your domain and park it—allowing you to keep squatters off that valuable web space—but will also assist you in the creation of an eMail server. If you’re not quite ready for the full load of a website, this is a great way to opt out of signing onto an expensive hosting plan through simplistic reorganization. FatCow will also help you transfer and park a domain from another host, should you desire a change from your current hosting scenario.
And last, though hardly least, FatCow offers a comprehensive suite of full marketing utilities to keep your site gaining traction. Rather than putting the search engine optimization of your site on your shoulders, FatCow will tackle the task should you ask them to. They’ll also manage any eMail-based marketing campaigns you were looking to pursue. Even better, the site also offers each of its members full synergy with popular advertisement services, including an host of free ad credits right out of the box. In other words, if you’re confused about online marketing or optimization, and would rather not tackle the stuff yourself, FatCow is the perfect body to handle the work for you.
The Hosting Plans Themselves
Up until now, we’ve largely been talking about the various add-ons and services FatCow offers as an addendum to its singular hosting plan. However, we haven’t yet talked about the plan itself! Rather than keeping you waiting, we’re ready to dive into the matter now, and though we mentioned the company really only offers one shared hosting plan, we weren’t exactly telling the truth: With FatCow there are actually two unique plans, one based on a traditional shared hosting experience, and one for domain parking only. We’ll explore both, though, starting with:
The Shared Hosting Heifer:
Before we go any further, we’d like to keep you from worrying about the price of all this. So, to keep the matter short, FatCow’s plan costs only $3.67 a month, adding up to a grand total of $44 a year. Compared to almost any other host on the market, this is an unbelievable value, but FatCow doesn’t like to keep things basic. These accounts, even without any of the add-ons mentioned earlier, are up to their gills in incredible features.
Firstly, we dig the unlimited disc space, bandwidth, domain names, and email accounts. We practically demand our readers ask their web host of choice for these features, and we can’t be more tickled pink they’re here with FatCow. Secondly, we love the full compliance with popular web hosting softwares. Looking to create a WordPress blog? With FatCow, it’s no problem! Even if you’re looking for phpBB, Joomla, Gallery2, or GBook support, you’ll get all for less than four bucks a monty. Add to this support for PHP5, CGI Directories, MySQL Databases, Python and script libraries, and you’re looking at one seriously technically proficient web host.
When it comes to money, there area a few other areas worth mentioning about the company’s hosting plan. To kick things off, you’ll receive more than $200 in advertising credit just for signing up. FatCow’s referral programs also start at $10 payouts, and affiliate programs at $100. And lastly, you’ll be given a full 30 days to decide if you like the FatCow experience or not. Should you desire another host, they’ll refund your money completely, assuming you’re still within the month-long trial period.
As we mentioned, there’s yet another plan worth considering where FatCow is concerned, though. If you’re not looking to found an entire website, but would still like to register a domain name for either reselling or naming purposes, you’re more than welcome to do so within the dirt-cheap framework FatCow has created. The host’s domain parking plans start at only $5 a year: That’s half the cost it would require to simply register you domain with another host. With that, you’ll also receive full support for emailing functions, allowing you to use the domain as an eMail hub without requiring a full Web spread.
However, if you’d like to create a single holding page of your own design, FatCow makes it easy to do so with the built-in site builder. You can also choose a pre-created FatCow design to hold the fort, should you so desire. Best of all, you’ll still enjoy the full benefits of being a paid member of the FatCow community. This includes receiving email newsletters and brochures, 24 hour and seven days a week technical assistance, as well as auto-enrollment in the company’s referral and affiliate programs. Should you desire to become a hosting reseller, FatCow also promises deep discounts to those that have already created a domain parking account with them. In other words, having a domain parked and ready with FatCow is a great way to get your foot in the door, and potentially open up a vast number of opportunities not previously available to you. At the very least, you’ll be able to enjoy full eMail support, including autoresponders, spam filtering, and newsletter management. Even if you’re just looking for a quick pitstop on the Web, FatCow is still an ideal choice to consider.
Pricing Rundown: So, now that you’ve had a closer look at the two offered plans by FatCow, we feel we might owe you a quick review of the prices discussed thus far. All in all, the basic shared hosting plan with FatCow will run you about $44 a year—quite the bargain, compared to most other web hosts we’ve seen recently! Additionally, if you’d much rather avoid the bloated website, but still want a registered domain and eMail address, the domain parking services offered by the provider will cost approximately $5 a year: A deal we absolutely cannot recommend enough, as very few companies offer this sort of parking, much less at this price range.
That ought to do as a fairly comprehensive rundown of the pricing schemes offered by FatCow. And with all of that out of the way, there’s really only one place left to go: When looking for a quality shared hosting provider, it’s absolutely vital that you learn about the customer support and technical assistance. With that in mind, we’ll be diving next into the wealth of abundant support files FatCow offers, as well as their technical assistance lines themselves.
Fattest Cow Support
In the modern day and age, we just don’t see many web hosting providers offering direct, immediate contact with a customer service or technical representative. We aren’t sure why this is, but at the least, it certainly makes us appreciate a company that does offer this level of immediate problem solving. As such, if you’d like to contact FatCow right now to discuss the possibility of opening an account with them, you’re more than welcome to do so here. Otherwise, those looking for support (who already have a FatCow login) can access this through their ticket system here. And lastly, should you wish to leave some feedback or offer up a few quality suggestions, the company also provides an handy way to do this here.
Enough of the links, though! As we mentioned, FatCow really doesn’t mind if you decide to drop a line—even here in the United States. Give them a ring at either of the numbers below, or feel free to access the Live Chat function. And though we’re quite enamored with any company that lets us raise issues without a telephone via a chat panel, these digits below will put you in direct contact with a FatCow agent in seconds:
Sales Number: 1.866.544.9343
Support Number: 1.888.278.9780
Other Support Materials:
All of that being said, direct customer service and support isn’t the only way you can get your hands on a FatCow learning experience. The provider also offers a number of means to safeguard your site with a more do-it-yourself approach. First and foremost, the company offers a wide ranging knowledge base that can be accessed here. This repository supports articles on everything from optimizing WordPress for your daily use, all the way down to customizing jQuery scripts from the shell. No matter what you’re looking to accomplish with your website improvement time, FatCow’s knowledge base makes it easy and effective to learn—and with information that’s custom-tailored for the provider’s servers!
Secondly, the provider also offers what we’ve been affectionately calling the instruction manual. This user guide is similar to the aforementioned knowledge base, but instead of offering detailed instructions on more complex topics, opts to instead get you up to speed on what’s required as far as maintenance goes within your new website. Additionally, if you have any newbie questions or concerns, they’ll likely be addressed here. The guide covers everything from managing your domain right down to setting up and optimizing your eCommerce options.
And lastly, though hardly least, FatCow offers detailed analysis and step-by-step guides in the form of tutorials for a vast majority of the functions you’ll be needing to cover during the first few weeks of your new site ownership. They’re all collected here, and even if you’re not hosting with the company, this repository is a great way to catch up on your site maintenance.
All in all, with phone lines that are open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, as well as a wealth of online information and chatting options, FatCow certainly doesn’t appear to be concerned about customer interaction. But when the rubber meets the road, what are others really saying about the hosting provider’s services? For that, we’ll have to take a look at the awards and commendations, as well as reviews from you, our readers.
Awards and Roundup
Over the years since its inception, FatCow has really been making quite a name for itself. In 2009 they won the BigHosts award for Best Low Cost Host, as well as the Host of the Year award from Hosting Review. The company was also featured in 2009 as Best Host of the Year by Best Hosts.com and Consumer Rankings. And lastly, in 2010 the company was rewarded with the MBRW second semi-annual hosting award for the quality of its services. All in all, FatCow comes with quite a few recommendations, though between you and us, not as many as we’ve seen with other hosting options. But at the end of the day, these awards can be bought: Customer reviews cannot, so what are our readers saying about FatCow?
From what you guys have told us, it appears that FatCow may not be quite as good as it looks on paper. We’ve heard horror stories of bait-and-switch pricing, laggy performance, less-than immediate customer support, and just downright atrocious behavior toward customers. However, we’ve also heard of quality hosting with near constant up-times, low pricing agreements, and friendly support during the middle of some sever crises. All in all, the host still enjoys a 4-star rating across the board, though with mixed reviews.
With all of this in mind, we’d strongly suggest you consider another host like InMotion Hosting or Web Hosting Hub before signing with FatCow. However, the features seem solid, the performance great, and the customer service agreeable. If you host with them and experience otherwise, though, leave us a not below, or in our ratings section. We learn from your mistakes, and we promise to help others do the same!
Visit www.fatcow.com for more information.
Read FatCow user reviews.