FatCow Review: Web Hosting
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|Low cost plan with good reliability; easy shopping cart creator; green host; 60% exclusive discount|
[Editor's note: NextAdvisor visitors save 60% off of the regular price when they visit FatCow from a link on the NextAdvisor.com site. There is no coupon code necessary.]
FatCow is a good bargain. While its performance is not perfect, it performs well considering the price. It offers a pretty good array of features and an easy-to-use interface.
At $3.15 per month for a 2- or 3-year plan, FatCow is among the cheapest web hosts we've reviewed. A single-year plan is $3.67, still relatively cheap given that domain registration is free for the first year. If you want to keep your registration data out of the public record, we recommend buying domain privacy for an additional $8.99 per year. It's one of many companies that offers "unlimited" storage and data transfer, which is a pretty safe offering given how small most websites are. FatCow also gives users unlimited email addresses, allows them to host as many domains as they like, and permits unlimited MySQL databases.
FatCow offers a 30-Day full refund and prorated refund after that. If you cancel within 30 days, FatCow says you can choose whether or not to keep the domain (if you do, you will be charged $20 for the domain registration). It should be noted that refunds after 30-days will be charged a $35 cancelation fee which includes the cost of the domain registration.
Like many other web hosts, FatCow uses a number of 3rd party applications to provide functionality, held together with the vDeck control panel. This may be slightly confusing at first for beginners, but quickly becomes clear as you use the host.
FatCow has recently added the Weebly Drag and Drop Builder for constructing basic sites. It's extremely easy to use, and has a number of options for creating a nice-looking, dynamic site (though you'll pay extra to add an ecommerce component). The free version limits you to six pages, but it's easier to use than the CM4all Website Creator that's also included. If you'd rather not pay to use ecommerce features, FatCow also offers an easy cart solution with Shopsite, one of the most intuitive shopping cart creation programs we used. The basic version of Shopsite (and a number of other cart solutions) is included with your FatCow account, though you can also pay to upgrade for larger stores.
Wordpress is nearly standard with all web hosts, and FatCow's "one-click" installation was easy to get through. Unfortunately, the first installations of our CM4all site and Wordpress blog were not installed in the right place. It took a call to their support line to fix it.
Advanced users will find most of the bells and whistles they want with FatCow, including unlimited MySQL databases and PHP, PGI and Python support. Shared hosting is offered only on Linux servers, however, and FatCow does not give shared hosting customers shell access (SSH). These features will not make much of a difference for most beginning and intermediate users, but may be a factor for serious webmasters.
Though we don't like vDeck as much as cPanel, FatCow is fairly easy to use, provided you can overlook some inconsistency in the interface's appearance from page to page. The host does a particularly good job of providing easy interfaces for eCommerce, like the Shopsite cart creator, and a couple of solid beginning sitebuilders. We also like the open, attractive layout of the main interface page, as it makes it very easy to find the features you're looking for. The login process is very smooth and intuitive, which is not always the case with web hosts.
Our testing proved FatCow to be fairly reliable, but a little slow in all areas. See the chart below for details. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For all others, lower numbers indicate better performance.
FatCow test data:
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- FatCow Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of FatCow: http://www.nextadvisor.com/web_hosting/fatcow_web_hosting_review.php