FatCow Hosting Review

We Bought It, Used It, and It's Getting Slower & Slower...

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Brad Smith

Brad Smith

Hosting Reviewer

FatCow, despite its whimsical name, also happens to be one of the oldest in the business.

It was originally founded way back in 1998 before being acquired in 2004 by the infamous EIG (who also owns HostGator, Bluehost, and many others.)

fatcow hosting review

They provide shared web hosting for small to medium-sized businesses and individuals who are looking for affordable hosting options. FatCow also claims to be different from other hosts on the market with its simpler and more customer-friendly approach.

Of course, we’re not just going to take their word for granted.

We purchased FatCow’s shared hosting plan and tested their uptime, speed, customer service, and other features in detail to find out how they measure up to other hosts we’ve reviewed.

Read on to find out if you should host your website with FatCow.

General Info & Hosting Overview

Our Rating:

Our Verdict: 3.0

SPEED: 1300 ms (March 2022 to August 2022)
UPTIME: 99.95% (March 2022 to August 2022)
SUPPORT: 24/7 Live Chat, Phone, and Knowledge Base
APPS: WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, GBook, and more
FEATURES: Unmetered Bandwidth, Storage, and Websites, Website Builder, Email Accounts, SSL Certificate, Unlimited MySQL Databases,  and more
HOSTING PLANS: Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and WordPress
SITE TRANSFER: Not Free ($150/website)
PRICING: Starting at $4.08/mo (renews at $8.99)


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. Average Uptime 99.95%

In our experience, many of the EIG brands fail to deliver good uptime consistently. So we were interested to see what FatCow surprises us with.

FatCow delivered an average uptime of 99.95% during our last 6-month testing period. The result is nothing mind-blowing but it does beat many other hosts on our list.

FatCow last 6-month uptime and speed statistics
FatCow last 6-month average uptime and speed (monitoring since 2015) | See stats

Last 6-month average uptime:

  • August 2022: 100%
  • July 2022: 99.99%
  • June 2022: 99.90%
  • May 2022: 99.98%
  • April 2022: 99.92%
  • March 2022: 99.90%

Overall, you can trust your site to be up and running with FatCow.

2. Good Customer Support

Our personal experience with FatCow’s support team went smoothly. Their support staff reached us within a few minutes, with quick responses.

Fatcow Support

In addition to live chat support FatCow also offers phone support and an extensive user knowledge base.

Using the knowledge base, users can find answers to their questions about their accounts, 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.

fatcow knowledgebase

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 for support if live chat happens to be offline.

3. Free Web Icons and Domain Name

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!

Note that there’s a bit of a catch if you look at the Terms of Use for these web icons.

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: https://www.fatcow.com/free-icons.

Also, don’t fret if you’re just starting out, because FatCow throws in a free domain name for new account signups (first year only).

4. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

FatCow doesn’t offer a free trial, but they do include a standard 30-day money-back guarantee on all hosting plans. So in case, you’re not happy with their services, you will get a full refund.

However, the refund does not cover add-on services, including domains. You would have to pay a $15 fee if you want to keep your domain name.

The 30-day money-back guarantee is valid for credit card payments only.

5. Eco-Friendly Web Host

Supposedly, FatCow’s offices and data centers are completely powered by wind energy. Not quite as green as GreenGeeks, but still commendable.

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.

FatCow green energyIn 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 216 passenger vehicles off the road for one year
  • Driving 2,478,908 miles
  • 340 tons of waste recycled rather than being thrown into a landfill
  • 48.5 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.

Cons of Using FatCow Hosting

FatCow has quite many perks going on for them, but unfortunately, it ain’t all sunshine and roses.

There are a few negative aspects we should review before you make a final decision.

Here are some of the biggest concerns.

1. FatCow is Slow

If speed was a critical element for 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, slow-moving animal.

FatCow, unfortunately for all of us certainly lives up to its name (guess we shouldn’t be too surprised).

Over the last 6 months, FatCow had an average page loading time of 1300 ms. 

FatCow last 6-month speed statistics
FatCow last 6-month average speed (monitoring since 2015) | See stats

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 will bounce if pages don’t load within two seconds.

2. 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 with an extra $2.13/month. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that this upgrade includes daily backups (so the extra cost might be worth it in this case).

3. Too Many Upsells

Speaking of extra fees…

That’s what signing up for FatCow feels like.

Brace yourself for the onslaught of annoying upsells that kick off immediately after you enter your credit card number.

Many will find this irritating and off-putting.

4. 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 need to ensure that your website doesn’t get blacklisted.

There’s just one catch…and it’s a big one. You have to be willing to pay for it.

Full protection (which includes daily malware and vulnerability scans, automatic malware removal, a web application firewall, and more) costs as much as $24.99 per month.

Fatcow security

Many other competitors offer the same kinds of security features for no extra fee.

5. High Renewal Prices

Even though FatCow’s initial signup pricing is rather cheap ($4.08/mo), the renewal rates can get three times higher (starting with $8.99/mo with a 36-month plan).

The prices will get even more expensive if you choose the shorter-term periods.

This is definitely something to look out for, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

6. Custom Control Panel

FatCow uses its own custom-made control panel instead of the popular cPanel. Now, this doesn’t mean immediately that it’s bad. It still uses its purpose and you can do all the necessary things needed for website hosting from there.

However, it is a bit more confusing than cPanel and it takes time to get used to it (especially if you’re a newbie in the hosting world).

fatcow dashboard

From their dashboard and under”Advanced Tools”, you can access domains, see information about disk usage, visitor statistics, and more.

WebHostingBuzz advanced tools

Overall, FatCow’s control panel isn’t something too overwhelming, however, it could use some improvements (for example a search bar) to make it more user-friendly.

7. Site Migration Not Free

Many hosts offer free site migrations with their shared hosting plans, but unfortunately, that’s not the thing with FatCow.

In case you already have an existing website and you want to transfer it to FatCow’s server, you would have to pay $150 per site. 

You can also transfer your site manually using FTP.

FatCow Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts

FatCow has one simplified shared hosting plan:

The Original FatCow Plan
Pricing $4.08/month
Renews at $8.99/mo
Websites Unlimited
Bandwidth Unmetered
Storage Unmetered
Email Accounts Unlimited
Other Features • Website Builder
• SSL Certificate
• Unlimited FTP Users & SubUsers, and more.

Besides shared hosting, FatCow also offers WordPress hosting which starts at $3.75/month.

Quick Facts

  • Free domain? Yes (for 1st year).
  • Ease of Signup: Simple, two-step sign-up process.
  • Money-Back: 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
  • Hidden Fees and Clauses: They only refund orders made by Credit Card. Upon signing up, you agree not to use “excessive” amounts of CPU processing. They do not specify what they mean by “excessive.” Site migration will cost extra.
  • Upsells: Lots of upsells.
  • 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 the quick installation of apps.

Do We Recommend FatCow Hosting?

Not really.

FatCow’s pricing is relatively cheap, but the renewal rates are way too high. They have improved their uptime over the past six months, which is great, the customer support is good, and they also offer many handy features.

They even have a fun, whimsical name. Ironically, it’s a little too accurate. Across the board, they’re just a bit too average for us.

Their page speed is terribly slow, and there are too many upsells or extra fees (e.g backups, site migrations, etc.).

You’d be better off looking at other options.

Best alternatives for FatCow:

Further reading: The 10 Best Web Hosting Services (In 2021)

Do you have any experience using FatCow? Please leave an honest and transparent review below, either positive or negative.