Saturday 18th August 2018

FatCow Review

Overview

Overall rating:

5.1/10

Price:

$4.08

Uptime (Jan 18):

100%

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Overview

Overall rating:

5.1/10

Price:

$4.08

Setup:

12 hours

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Overall

  • Fat Cow’s service offering is nearly indistinguishable from iPage’s service offering. It’s worth noting they are both – alongside a number of other web hosts – owned by the same group (Endurance International Group).
  • To their credit, the monthly cost they advertise is the actual cost you pay if you pay 12 months in advance. A number of EIG hosts give you a monthly rate which you can only qualify for if you pay 36 months in advance.
  • They don’t appear to offer a website migration service.
  • They offer a free domain name with every introductory package
  • They don’t offer a free backup service; the only information we found was on how to backup your website was related to file manager. The paid backup and restore service costs $1.14 per month (if you pay 36 months in advance). Just Host – another EIG brand – does offer a free daily backup and restore.
  • They don’t offer a ticketing platform for shared hosting customers (this is particularly poor and reason enough to choose another host).
  • They use vDeck, not cPanel, for their admin panel. We prefer cPanel to vDeck.
  • On the front-end of their website they claim bandwidth is unrestricted however in the admin panel there’s a set restriction of 100TB (no that’s not a typo – they state, like iPage, that they offer 100TB of data transfer per month). Despite asserting bandwidth is unrestricted, they offer options to upgrade your bandwidth ($2 for every 1GB).
  • There’s no mention of any uptime guarantee anywhere on their website (we can only assume they don’t offer one) or in their user agreement.
  • They offer a 30 day money back guarantee
  • Their user agreement asserts their right to restrict CPU usage where it negatively affects server performance.
  • They state they offer unlimited storage however example restrictions are stated in their user agreement eg 200,000 inodes (an inode is like meta data for files; 1 inode is broadly equivalent to 1 file)
  • Your account will renew automatically for the same term after your initial term expires. The new term is significantly more expensive (see below) however, to their credit, FatCow makes it simple to disable automatic renewal

Features

5.5/10

service

5/10

Performance

6/10

Cost

4/10

Host overview

Performance: January 2018 (to date)

Response Time:

2337ms

Uptime:

100%

Average uptime for all hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 99.80% while average response time for all web hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 1,254ms.

Cost, setup and website migrations

You can pay monthly if you choose, however we advise against it. The first monthly payment for their entry-level package is $5 while subsequent monthly payments are $14.95.

This works out to a total annual cost of $169.45. However, if you pay 12 months in advance you’ll end up paying $49 (which works out at $4.08 per month ie their advertised monthly rate).

If you choose to renew after 12 months (Fat Cow will renew your term automatically unless you cancel) the total annual cost will be $179.40.

Fat Cow, unlike a number of web hosts at this price range, don’t offer a free website migration service. In fact, they don’t seem to offer any website migration service.

Setup was relatively simple. Their nameservers are listed prominently in vDeck (their control panel) which makes a welcome change to the type of service delivered by other hosts (we get the impression sometimes they try to hide nameservers simply so you get frustrated and transfer your domain!).

Restrictions

Like iPage, FatCow (also an EIG brand) proclaims it affords you ‘oodles’ of bandwidth (that’s their way of saying bandwidth – which they treat synonymously with ‘data transfer’ – is ‘unrestricted’).

However, a quick glance through their cPanel brings us to options, like with iPage, to upgrade our bandwidth (it’s $2 for 1GB).

Their user agreement has this to say about bandwidth and other ‘unlimited’ services:

“In most cases, User Websites will be able to support as much traffic as User can legitimately acquire. However, FatCow reserves the right to limit processor time, bandwidth, processes, or memory in cases where it is necessary to prevent negatively impacting other Users.”

The stated limit on ‘bandwidth’ in their admin panel (vDeck), like iPage, is 100TB. Yes, 100TB (that’s not a typo) – and that’s per month. What’s more, it explicitly refers to ‘your account’s usage’ in the admin panel (we contacted iPage about this and they stated this is the restriction for all customers on the server).

This 100TB restriction isn’t publicised on the front-end of their website either.

So your shared hosting account, which costs $49 per year for your first year, has 100TB of data transfer while their most expensive VPS package, which costs $79.99 per month, limits data transfer at 4TB.

We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on this one.

As far as other restrictions are concerned we found nothing specific about I/O or CPU other than the standard statements most hosts make in terms of service or user agreements:

“FatCow expressly reserves the right to review every user account for excessive usage of CPU, bandwidth, disk space and other resources that may be a result of your violation of this Agreement or the Acceptable Use Policy. FatCow may, in its sole discretion, terminate access to the Services, apply additional fees, or remove/delete User Content for those User accounts that are found to be in violation of FatCow policies.”

While storage, bandwidth and the total number of websites you can host is advertised as ‘unlimited’ or ‘oodles’ (with the exception of their stipulation that 200,000 inodes could be deemed excessive), according to their user agreement there’s a 3GB restriction on total database size and you’re limited to creating no more than 1,000 tables within a database (which is more than enough).

Backups, guarantees and security

As far as we can tell there isn’t a backup service available. Fat Cow has an article in their knowledge base that instructs users on backing up via file manager (for web files). Aside from this, they do offer a premium backup option for $1.14 per month (which is actually $1.42 per month because it’s billed 12 months in advance and for a total annual cost of $16.99; the only way to qualify for the cheaper rate is to pay 36 months in advance).

The ‘backup and restore’ basic option gives you a daily backup of one of your websites as well as the option of restoring your website (or specific files on your website).

Fat Cow doesn’t seem to offer an uptime guarantee; we suspect it’s similar to iPage (we contacted iPage’s chat representatives and they told us they did have an uptime guarantee however there’s nothing about it on their website or in their terms of service).

We won’t mention any guarantee which isn’t backed up in writing on a website (or in terms of service).

Lastly, Fat Cow does offer a 30 day money back guarantee and it’s fairly standard. The only thing you need to know is that the retail cost of your free domain will be deducted from any refund you receive.

Actually, it’s not the retail cost because they deduct $15 to cover the cost of your domain while a regular .com registration costs $10.99.

The admin panel

Fat Cow uses vDeck for their admin panel and there’s not a great deal to write about; you’ll find most of the options you find in cPanel.

  • You have full configuration control over your zone files and you can create new subdomains.
  • You have full control over all aspects of email management, including spam protection, setting up new accounts and autoresponders
  • There are a number of 1-click installations available and, like with most EIG web hosts, you have direct access into MOJO Marketplace (a marketplace to buy and sell themes)
  • You have access to a file manager and your FTP details, and you can also set-up new databases
  • You can monitor some aspects of your resource usage within vDeck
  • There are a number of security options including hotlink protection and IP blocking
  • Don’t expect to find a ticketing platform, Fat Cow no longer offers this apparently.

FatCow Customer Service

  • Live chat support: yes
  • Ticketing support: no
  • Phone support: yes

Like Bluehost, Hostgator, Just Host and iPage, FatCow is an EIG brand and as such doesn’t offer ticketing support – this means there’s nothing for us to test.

However, the fact they don’t offer ticketing support is more than enough for us to mark them down on customer service; some issues are complex and require more than live chat to resolve, particularly if the issue demands a number of conversations (as our issue with iPage demanded).

Their live chat is responsive, albeit slightly terse. We’ll typically receive a response instantaneously however subsequent responses can leave us waiting for upwards of 2-3 minutes.

Pay Monthly - FatCow Plan

Price

$5.00

Bandwidth:

Unrestricted

Storage:

Unlimited

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12 month term - fatcow plan

Price

$4.08

Bandwidth:

Unrestricted

Storage:

Unlimited

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24 month term - fatcow plan

Price

$4.08

Bandwidth:

Unrestricted

Storage:

Unlimited

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36 month term - fatcow plan

Price

$4.08

Bandwidth:

Unrestricted

Storage:

Unlimited

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