I’ve been a paying customer for FatCow for the last 37 months. During that time, I’ve monitored their performance – avg. load time and uptime.
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
What is FatCow?
FatCow, despite the whimsical name, also happens to be one of the oldest in the business.
Association with EIG tends to be a kiss of death.
Has FatCow retained their grass-roots approach? (Get it?!)
Or have they fared similarly to other EIG properties, slowly letting performance slide off a metaphorical cliff?
We purchased The FatCow Plan shared hosting plan in June 2015 to do our own analysis and find out for ourselves.
Read on to discover the good, bad, and ugly we found during our analysis.
Pros of using FatCow Hosting
With a name like FatCow, we didn’t quite know what to expect.
The good news first? They’ve performed admirably in a number of important categories during our review process. Here’s a quick summary of the highlights.
1. Good (If Inconsistent) Support
Our personal experience with FatCow’s support team went smoothly. Their support staff reached us within two minutes, with quick and accurate responses.
Unfortunately, other customers haven’t always experienced the same attention to detail. Our background check revealed a very inconsistent experience that didn’t always line up with our own.
Quick chat with FatCow customer support agent
In addition to live chat support, FatCow also offers a pretty extensive user knowledgebase.
There, users can find answers to their questions about their account, domains, email, files, partnership programs, policies, security, and more.
You can also search for a keyword or phrase that relates to your question rather than filtering through preset categories.
This is an awesome customer service feature for users who prefer self-help over live chat.
The knowledge base also serves as a backup method of support if live chat is ever offline.
2. Upfront, Honest Pricing
Unlike some other nefarious hosting companies, FatCow’s pricing structure was like a breath of fresh air.
Many web hosts (including many of the EIG brands themselves) use misleading pricing to draw you in, only to find out that you need to commit to paying some long-term, three-year deal upfront in order to secure that pricing.
Another common trick is to get you when it’s time for renewal, upping the price drastically because the chances of you leaving are slim to none.
Thankfully, FatCow’s low advertised website pricing is the real deal. There’s no tricks, gimmicks, or hoops you have to jump through in order to take advantage of it.
3. Free Website Transfers and Domain Names
Assuming you have an existing website hosted somewhere else, FatCow will help you transfer it free of charge.
Don’t fret if you’re just starting out, because they’ll also throw in a free domain name for new account signups.
4. 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
FatCow offers a standard 30-day money back guarantee on all hosting plans.
However please note that they can only refund orders made through Credit Card.
5. Eco-Friendly Web Host
Supposedly, their offices and data centers are completely powered by wind energy. Not quite as green as GreenGeeks, but still commendable.
However, we personally haven’t visited. And don’t plan on it anytime soon either. So while we don’t want to stir up some conspiracy theory, you might want to take that claim at face value.
They do appear to be an EPA Green Power Partner, though, so their claims seem pretty legitimate.
The company purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The RECs that they purchase are used to generate wind energy to negate their regular energy usage in the office.
In fact, they purchase twice the amount that they use. FatCow claims to prevent the release of 999 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.
According to the EPA, this is equivalent to:
- Taking 214 passenger vehicles off of the road for one year
- Driving 2,448,529 miles
- 248 tons of waste recycled rather than being thrown into a landfill
- 49.8 garbage trucks worth of recycled waste rather than landfilled waste
…and the list goes on.
If you’re concerned about shrinking your carbon footprint and you’re looking for a socially conscious business to host your website with, FatCow is a serious contender.
6. Free Web Icons
Need some web icons to boost the overall design of your site? FatCow has you covered.
The company offers 3,926 professionally-designed “farm-fresh web icons.” The best part? They’re all completely free!
For example, if you do include these web icons on your site, you’ll have to make sure that you link to the following URL in your credits: http://www.fatcow.com/free-icons.
Although they’re free to use, FatCow requires that you credit them for creating the icons.
Cons of using FatCow Hosting
FatCow’s honest pricing is an added bonus, increasing credibility with their what you see is what you get approach.
Unfortunately, it all ain’t sunshine and roses.
There are a few negative aspects we should review before you make a final decision on anything. Here are some of the biggest concerns.
1. Average 99.77% Uptime (Last 8 Months)
In our experience, many of the EIG brands fail to deliver good uptime consistently.
(You know, ’cause keeping a website live isn’t important or anything.)
FatCow falls right into this trend with .17 worse than the industry average of 99.94%. TERRIBLE!
It’s also important to note that they’ve been showing consistently mixed results lately. Here are the details.
- January average uptime: 99.95%
- February average uptime: 100%
- March average uptime: 99.95%
- April average uptime: 99.90%
- May average uptime: 99.94%
- June average uptime: 98.57%
- July average uptime: 99.99%
- August(21’st) average uptime: 99.90%
FatCow: Page Load Speed and Uptime (Last 12 months, full data can be found here.)
2. FatCow is Slow. Obviously.
If speed was a critical element of your business, you would probably go to extra lengths to carefully select a word that doesn’t conjure up the negative connotation of a big, dumb, slow-moving (yet tasty) animal.
FatCow, unfortunately for all of us certainly lives up to their name. (I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.)
Over the last eight months, FatCow had average page loading times of 1,262ms (34.57% slower than the industry average of 890ms). That’s among the slowest page loading times we’ve seen across almost thirty-three web host reviews. The news keeps getting worse though, as they’ve posted consistently below average page loading times since we initially signed up with them about a year ago.
Even navigating their website is problematic, with many of their web pages taking foreeevvveerrrr (say that in this voice) to load.
Considering that site speed has a large bearing on both search rankings and conversions, slow page loading times are a big drawback for any commercial website.
Case-in-point: HALF of your traffic is bouncing if pages don’t load within only two seconds.
Last 8 month average load time
- January average speed: 1,315ms
- February average speed: 1,072ms
- March average speed: 1,239ms
- April average speed: 1,436ms
- May average speed: 1,268ms
- June average speed: 1,226ms
- July average speed: 1,218ms
- August(21’st) average speed: 1,322ms
2. Cancellation Can Cost You
FatCow does offer a free, 30-day money back guarantee. So no problems there.
However, if you want to cancel after that period closes, there’s a minimum $35 early cancellation fee. They also require a 30-day notice to cancel too.
3. Backups Aren’t Free
Minor site problems or issues tend to pop up from time to time as you’re working on making website updates or changes. That’s why many web hosts will offer backups to help protect their customers.
FatCow offers them, but they’ll set you back $16.95 per year. That’s the bad news.
The good news, however, is that this upgrade includes daily backups (so the extra cost might be worth it in this case).
4. Too Many Upsells
Speaking of extra fees…
You know when you walk through the mall, and the perfume people lining the middle kiosks yell at you incessantly? It’s like a daunting gauntlet, and by the end when you make it to the other side you feel like The Gladiator?
THAT’s what signing up for FatCow feels like.
Brace yourself for the onslaught of annoying upsells that kick off immediately after entering your credit card number.
Many will find this irritating and off-putting. So consider yourself warned.
5. Extra Security Costs More
FatCow offers some awesome security features, like SiteLock, which can protect your website against tons of cyber attacks, malware, and more.
The extra security is just what you’ll want if you want to ensure that your website doesn’t get blacklisted.
But there’s just one catch…and it’s a big one. You have to be willing to pay for it.
And full protection (which includes daily malware and vulnerability scans, automatic malware removal, a web application firewall, and more) costs as much as $38.75 per month.
Other competitors offer the same kinds of security features for no extra fee.
FatCow Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
Here’s a quick overview of the plans offered by FatCow:
Cheap Sheep Hosting: This unbelievably low priced offer isn’t easy to find (as it’s not advertised on their homepage). Many other online review sites also don’t cover it, so we went the extra mile to dig this up for you. It’s only $9 annually (that’s a shockingly low $0.75 / month) for the first year. After that, it renews at just $20 annually. So still a good deal!
This officially makes FatCow the cheapest web host out there. Click here to see for yourself.
This plan comes with a free domain name, 2GB storage, 200GB bandwidth, integration with WordPress and other popular CMSs and a $100 Google Adwords and Yahoo + Bing bonus. It is also covered by their 30 days money back guarantee.
Shared Hosting: FatCow has one simplified shared hosting plan that costs $49 per year for the fast year. After the first year, you’ll have to renew at a rate of up to $10.99 per month depending on the renewal term you select.
This plan includes unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited mailboxes. It also comes with a free domain name, website builder and integrations with popular CMSs and shopping carts.
- Free domain? Yes.
- Ease of Signup: Simple, two-step sign up process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: $35 early cancellation fee. They only refund orders made by Credit Card. Upon sign up, you agree not to use “excessive” amounts of CPU processing. They do not specify what they mean by “excessive.”
- Upsells: Lots of upsells. LOTS.
- Account Activation: Instant Activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: Their own customized control panel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): WordPress and other popular CMSs and apps can be installed via InstallCentral in their control panel. Mojo Marketplace is also available for quick installation of apps.
Do We Recommend FatCow Hosting?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Their pricing is relatively honest (+ bonus points for cheap).
They even have a fun, whimsical name. But unfortunately, it’s a little too accurate. And across the board, they’re a bit too average for us.
Their uptime is slightly below average, support is inconsistent, their page speeds are terribly slow, and there’s too many upsells or extra fees (like the early cancellation one).
You’d be better off looking at other options. Here’s best web hosting providers on HostingFacts.com.
What’s good about FatCow?
- Consistent customer support
- Pricing is upfront and honest
- Free website transfers and domain names
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Eco-friendly web host
- Free web icons
What’s bad about FatCow?
- Average uptime of 99.77%
- Loading times are much slower than the industry average (1,262ms )
- Cancellation could cost you
- Backups aren’t free
- Tons of upsells
Do you have any experience using FatCow? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Please leave an honest and transparent review below, either positive or negative.