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Brad Smith

Hosting Reviewer

FatCow, despite the 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: 948 ms (April 2020 to March 2021)
UPTIME: 99.94% (April 2020 to March 2021)
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 99.94%

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 99.94% during our last 12-month testing period. The result is nothing mind-blowing but it does fit into the industry standard.

FatCow last 12-month uptime and speed statistics

FatCow average uptime | See stats

Last 12-month average uptime:

  • March 2021: 99.92%
  • February 2021: 99.79%
  • January 2021: 99.98%
  • December 2020: 100%
  • November 2020:99.99%
  • October 2020: 100%
  • September 2020: 99.98%
  • August 2020: 99.91%
  • July 2020: 100%
  • June 2020: 99.95%
  • May 2020: 99.99%
  • April 2020: 99.90%

2. Good Customer Support

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

Fatcow Support

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

Using the knowledge base, 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.

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 their name (guess we shouldn’t be too surprised).

Over the last 12 months, FatCow had an average page loading time of 948 ms. Moreover, as seen from the graph below, their speed has gone consistently slower every month.

FatCow Page Speed Apr. 2020 - Mar. 2021

FatCow average speed 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
WebsitesUnlimited
BandwidthUnmetered
StorageUnmetered
Email AccountsUnlimited
Other Features• Website Builder
• SSL Certificate
• Unlimited FTP Users & SubUsers, and more.

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 year, 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.

17 user reviews for FatCow Hosting

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    STEVEN

    1  — February 2, 2021

    NOT RELIABLE

    Every other year or so Fatcow has bandwidth, and reliability issues related to G-suite email interactivity – I literally just got off the phone with them, where they are telling me that the reason I am not receiving business emails is because of a “backend issue that will take about 12-24 hours for us to figure out”

    They take my money on time, everyone freaking month – but this is the third time I have had this effing issue with them…. I wish there were more solid places to host from

    Julie

    1  — January 12, 2021

    STAY AWAY!!!!

    I’ve been with Fatcow for several years and paid dearly for their site hosting and “added features” (tons of upselling). I reduced my account to just domain and email hosting. They billed me four times in 2 months for the same services and recently took nearly $200 from my credit card without a single explanation of what the charge is for. I’ve called several times and got HORRIBLE service. Opened a case and the emails have done absolutely NOTHING to explain the duplicate charges and the large one. I’m so frustrated I could cry. They are literally stealing from me.

    Gerry W

    2  — November 12, 2020

    Like being kept in the dark?

    I’ve hosted more than a dozen business sites with FatCow. Price & performance okay for my needs.  Frankly, their support & performance deteriorated when sold to  EIG.  I’m down to two sites now (retiring) and I don’t visit them often.  Today I discovered both were ‘dark’ (i.e. non existent).  Got to tech support chat (actually a very good experience) and it turned out that during their security monitoring they flagged a file  in one of my dormant sites as possibly malware (this is a good thing).  Their automated action is to take down *all* sites being hosted in (my) account.  That’s okay too – safety is important.  Now the GOTCHA .. their ‘automatic process’ does not inform the owner that their site(s) are dark.  I have no idea how long I was off line. This, frankly, is a TERRIBLE process. I deleted the offending file, the tech requested a new sweep & I was up and running in fewer than 5 minutes.  I asked how to contact a manager and was told “Unfortunately! There is no option for customer to contact our manager”

    Michael R

    1  — January 27, 2020

    Terrible

    Lost all of my emails with a G suite transfer and they lied to me for a week as I tried to get access to them. SLOOOOW and inconsistent support. I have had fatcow for years and just lumbered along with it out of laziness, just the worst. Do yourself a favor and get a better host and then stick with it.

    Derrick C

    1  — December 15, 2018

    Slooooooowwwwwww

    I don’t normally do reviews of things.  However, in this case, I’m soooo discouraged with this service I feel it is my obligation to warn others not to pay for this service provider’s attention or lack of attention to customers needs.  I only log in occasionally to make adjustments to the few services we do use from fatcow (less than quarterly).  WhenEVER i choose to do so it is so hit or miss whether first I will get logged on and 2nd whether I will get past 2 or three clicks before things go from a crawl to a stop.  It just aint worth it y’all regardless how much you save.  We’ve been with them for years and it seems to get worse year after year after year.

    Wayne S

    1  — November 21, 2018

    Frustrated With Fat Cow

    My wife liked the simplicity and ease of Fat Cow, as she builds on WordPress platform. I’m a BBQ Pitmaster with a 30 year industry record and record following, but my customers can never access my website to get my catering prices.  It’s always down, slow, or timing out. We had so many issues, on the back end with compatibility using wordpress and the mojo marketplace. We have heard it all.  They had to “restore” our website once and we have to use it on the back end whatever that means, as it’s not accessible in the MOJO marketplace due to it being housed on a backup server.  Our passwords won’t work they had to give us some assigned by their techs.  Once we got past months of chaos, we then applied an SSL to make our customers feel more secure. Big mistake, it was down for several weeks because of a SSL update that was paid for but not applied. Seems we assumed it would be renewed but you had to go in and apply the credit of the SSL you purchased to your site so the old SSL expired creating my website broken links, invalid http address and losing rank in Google.  Things got progressively worse, they had to do manual fixes, issues, etc, and it wasn’t until we went to corporate that they fixed it. Now, it crashes all the time, and is super slow.   Why do we stay ? Pricing is okay and support is fine, but migrating to another site is near impossible since our site is so messed up.  If it’s true that it’s owners by the company who does BlueHost then why would they cut such corners?

    Simon

    1  — November 9, 2018

    simply not worth the price

    We had been with FatCow for three years, they hosted a range of websites for us. after the first year or so the websites slowed to a rate that cannot be considered reasonable, most response times we towards multiple seconds and not milliseconds. our constant complaints about loading speeds were completely ignored.

    then someone did an “update” which managed to kill 11 of our WordPress websites in one go. luckily I prefer to keep manual backups as well as the paid ones (which were also corrupt) offering no form of help, explanation or compensation we were told we would have to rebuild them ourselves.

    instead of fixing the websites on the FatCow server we decided to move them elsewhere at that time, the new host was amazing in comparison, they helped us to move and load 40+ websites and 100+ domains in a fraction of the time it takes to get one response from a FatCow support request.

    When cancelling your account they can be very rude and offensive.

    In the end, I threatened to take them to court for the cost of my time to rebuild 11 websites aside of the $300 cancellation fee. needless to say, they dropped the cancellation fee and we parted ways.

    All in all, I could never recommend FatCow to host anything at all, and if you value your business you wouldn’t either.

    parker

    2  — April 12, 2018

    Just left Fatcow after 6 years – NO honest pricing!

    I also started with a special offer, paid about $ 75 for 2 years in 2012. Where I come from (Europe) contracts can NOT simply increase in price without notice, but truthfully we were super busy at the time the next 2-year payments came up and did not watch the invoices closely enough. So I had to pay $ 211.40 in 2014, $ 286.80 in 2016, and this year — as I watched my account early enough to be able to make a move — I was supposed to pay $ 334.80 (I wish there was an ALL CAPS option for numbers).
    I will move my sites to a faster European host, which also lets me use free letsencrypt SSL certificates ($ 75.- 7 y at Fatcow), for EUR 59.40 a year. The Fatcow support team ended up offering me a 2 year plan for $ 190.80, but at this point I feel so taken advantage of that I rather go through the pain of moving 3 sites.
    I also had my sites suspended a couple of times for a spamming script, despite all the security measures I took – which has NEVER happened on any of the other 30 sites I am looking out for for friends and clients hosted by different companies. Made me feel like they tried to force me into their security upsell programs.
    Other than that I found their (Indian) support team very helpful and available, so all of the 2 positive points go to their nice support team. Not their fault.

    AMPS

    2  — December 6, 2017

    Not Good To Run A Forum

    We have purchased Fatcow hosting plan for our school’s website where we have installed WordPress script for main website and Simple Machine Forum script to run a forum for our students.
    The main website was running pretty well, but for the forum, where we were getting 30 to 40 new registrations every day from our own students and from the students of other schools as well, it was not good at all. Our forum remains unresponsive most of the times and we get emails from the Fatcow team that we should upgrade our plan to host the forum as it is eating more resources.
    As suggested by the Fatcow team, we upgraded from 8$ per month plan to a 25$ per month VPS plan. But the problem was still there, we again received an email from the support that you should upgrade now to a dedicated server which is $150 per month.

    This time we didn’t upgrade, we downgraded our forum and now only the main WordPress website is running on the Fatcow account. We are waiting for our developer who is out of the country for a 2-month internship, after he came back we will move our website to some other better-hosting provider.
    Overall, a bad experience.

    Dakota M

    3  — November 15, 2017

    Best for the Price

    I have seen many negative views for Fatcow here, but I would love to ask them if there is anything better with this price? I have purchased the Fatcow hosting almost 8 or 9 months ago in just $12 for a whole year with 1 Free Domain name registration for 1 year as well.

    Unlimited Storage Space:
    I have unlimited (Fair usage policy) storage space for just $12. Currently, I have almost 12 GB of data on my FatCow hosting. Which other hosting providers can offer this for $12?

    More features that I have on this hosting plan are as follow:
    Unlimited Email Address
    Unlimited MySQL databases
    Unlimited Websites hosting option (I have hosted 3 sites on the same account)
    Unlimited Bandwidth (Fair Usage Policy)

    There are no other hosting providers who have all these features in just $12 for the first year. Even iPage which is a sister company of Fatcow is not offering the same for $12.

    In last 8 months, I’ve never seen that my website goes down because of server down issue. If I get a spike in traffic, then yes there is a problem as it doesn’t allow more database queries which limit the number of online visitors at the same time. This issue can be resolved easily if I upgrade to their WordPress hosting which is a bit costly.

    Fatcow support is overall good, not the best. But support team always tries their best to provide the solution.

    Website load time is slow I admit that, but when I’ve paid only $12, then it would’t be a big deal.

    I believe when you are getting something for a low price, don’t compare it with Siteground, Godaddy or other high priced hosting accounts. If we compare Fatcow with Justhost, Hostgator, then I believe Fatcow is way better than those.

    So overall, 3/5 for Fatcow hosting.

    Cathy B

    1  — October 3, 2017

    Website? What website? Mine’s always down

    DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT ever sign up for Fatcow! My site has been down far too many times in the last year. Even though the customer service is available, you don’t often get to speak directly with technical support, make the process of getting help rather long and arduous. I often have to call daily or multiple times a day to continue getting assistance and get different information each time I call. This time, my ticket was closed (as if my problem was resolved), but my site is still down and I had to call again to get it escalated and re-opened. It’s now been 5 days since my website has functioned properly. I’m switching providers ASAP.

    Hassan N

    3  — October 1, 2017

    Good for New Bloggers, Bad for professionals

    I am using Fatcow for more than 5 years. I started my website in 2012 and since then I am using Fatcow. The main reason to stick with Fatcow is the low price. When I buy this hosting for the first time, the regular price was almost 99$ per year but on my first renewal I had a chat with billing support and told them that I can’t afford to pay that amount so they reduced the price for me to 70$ per year. (A BIG PLUS).

    About a year ago, I upgraded simple hosting plan to WordPress Hosting, this is also very cheap and I am paying $12 per month which is almost $29 at BlueHost.

    I would say the customer support is very good, during 5 years, I have only 2 or 3 bad experiences on their support when the support agent was not knowledgeable, otherwise all the time I contacted them, they responded well. I would say, after Siteground I liked their customer support. I also had a few chat sessions with Hostgator, but that is very poor.

    Another thing which is good, even on their cheapest plan, we can host multiple domains which is also a big plus. HostGator, BlueHost, SiteGround, Godaddy all these allow only 1 website on the cheap plan.

    The bad thing about Fatcow is obvious, load time is very bad, but since I can’t afford a high price hosting so I am still using Fatcow. I also face downtime once or twice each month for 20 to 30 minutes on average. Whereas on Siteground my site goes down for only once during past 4 years (which I have noticed, possible that it happened on other occasions as well, but I was not aware of that).

    Database connection limit is also a big problem on Fatcow. On a shared hosting plan, if I get 20 to 30 visitors online at the same time, my website goes down with error message: Unable to establish a database connection.

    Now they are not offering free website transfer service anymore.

    Though I am planning to change my hosting plan for this website and wanted to transfer it on BlueHost or Siteground, but not sure when I will be able to do this. Till then, this is best suited for people like me who want to get maximum in limited budget.

    Andrey G

    1  — July 27, 2017

    I hate FatCow

    Horrible experience! All my websites are down for a week. FatCow sent me email at midnight “We have received the complaint from the third party that a large amount of spam registrations being generated through the website” (I had JUST 12 registrations on website for last week) and 5 hours after that they did blocking of my account. I had 5 websites on my account and they blocked all of them without real reason. I had contact support multiple times. This is worst and extremely unhelpful support in my life. They have no qualification for this industry. They have no answers for any questions. They can only make ticket for you but nobody will take care of your ticket. I had a lot of experience with multiple hosting companies since 1998 and this is worst case in my life.

    Laura B

    1  — July 12, 2017

    Prepare for Monthly Site Suspension

    I’ve had sites on FatCow for years and I’ve had nothing but trouble with them. It’s just been too much of a pain to leave, but I’ve finally had to as my hosting bill more than doubled. So here’s a few things that I’ve experienced with hosting with them:

    1. Hosting plans more than double in price ever time you renew (over $600 for two years this last time). Prices are really not worth the service you get.

    2. If a virus somehow makes it way onto your site, be prepared for the site to be taken down until you resolve the issue. Then you have to contact them to put it back up. If you use WordPress or Joomla, expect there to be random errors after they do this, which took them more time to fix. It may take a day or more for them to bring your site back up.

    3. Expect issues if you try to change your hosting plan. I was going to change plans due to the cost increase of my current plan, all I got from support is a canned response about why my current plan is so expensive. I gave up trying to change plans.

    4. SiteLock issues. I paid for SiteLock on one of my sites. Every time it was taken down it took SiteLock off and it would take support a week to understand that it was messed up and fix it. They’d tell me I didn’t pay for it.

    I just got tried of the constantly having my site taken down and messed up once it was reinstated. It was just issue after issue.

    Ann F

    1  — December 31, 2016

    Really old servers, cPanel and bad customer service

    I signed up for Fatcow’s shared hosting plan and was really disappointed with their servers and support. My website, that was working fine with other hosting providers stopped working on their servers. I spent hours debugging it and later realized it was not worth it and that I could get better services elsewhere. When I asked for a refund during the 30 day money back guarantee, they told me they will deduct $15 for the domain even after I told them I don’t want the free domain that comes with the registration.

    Jahaya K

    3  — August 15, 2016

    Could be better…

    Having used FatCow for 5 years, I’ve just had my renewal price doubled! That’s $155.00 a year now and although throughout the 5 years I’ve had very issues, the price is simply not worth it.

    I held 3 accounts personally and several more through recommendations, it’s simply not acceptable to raise price so considerably. Feature wise; FatCow has hosted Magneto, WordPress and all sorts of odd files and projects I’ve worked on with little to no hassle. Connection time can be a little slow at the best of times, but certainly not an issue worth worrying about.

    My advice, join for a year at the lovely $49 mark, then cancel. Using an FTP client is easy and all your files can be moved from one server to another relatively easily. MySQL database can be exported and back ups taken to or you can spend an hour waiting for support on Live Chat to try and get your renewal price down!

    Rukshan W

    2  — April 9, 2016

    Poor customer service

    I have a client that uses FatCow for their hosting. Things went great till the site was locked because FatCow’s malware agent found potential vulnerabilities with the files. The client was paying for monthly malware protection for over three years and also for backups.

    Via support it was told that the client needs to pay for the upgraded malware protection to clean the site. The existing plan was not good enough.

    When I informed them to blow the site out and restore it from backups, I was told that they only hold on to 2 weeks of backups (fair enough) and it has been over 14 days since the lock was placed.

    Long story short: Client was not offered a site restore when they initially contacted support. Support was more concerned about getting client to upgrade malware agent (SITE LOCK). When questioned why, I was directed to the SITE LOCK support phone number. Client is still with them, but I do weekly backups to an offsite location. Stripped off all the extra features.