About Fatcow…a review based on past experience

Before I switched back to Hostmonster, I used FatCow for one year. The experience wasn’t very good. If you’re looking for a web host to host a personal, photo site for your family, Fatcow may suit your needs. However, if you value reliability, professionalism, and “straight” descriptions, look elsewhere. FatCow is lacking in these. I’ve compiled some of my experiences with them below:

1. SSL email

I had configured my email in my mail client and the email address wouldn’t work with SSL turned on. I contacted support and asked the rep about it. He told me to turn off SSL and then try to use the mail. It worked, obviously. Upon telling him that sans SSL was successful, the support rep recommended that I use the mail without SSL. I told him that SSL was why I was contacting Support in the first place. He and other support reps after that did not seem to understand.

ssl server

Solution: I fixed it myself. All it required was a simple port and mail server address change. However, the SSL support was intermittent; sometimes it would work, other days it would not go through.

2. More email

FatCow advertises its email as “unlimited”. Naturally, one would assume that unlimited would allow him to send an email of any size. When I was emailing a large file >20mb, an error was produced. After much wrangling, I found out that messages have a size limit imposed upon them.

unlimited email

Solution: Support apologized for the misleading marketing (which was good), but did nothing to remove/raise the limit.

3. Https:// access

FatCow features itself as sporting secure server. This secure server must be accessed through the “fatcow” subdomain. A suspicious and uncredible http://example.fatcow.com.

Solution: Non fatcow subdomain secure server offered at additional cost. I didn’t bother.

4. Https:// access continued

FatCow says “WordPress available” on their features page. Too bad the user can’t access the page with correct formatting using https://. All the images, fonts, and more are gone.

wordpress available

Solution: Buy the paid addon. Or let visitors think your site is bugged.

5. Performance

When compared to loading other sites, my website hosted on FatCow always seemed to be twice as slow.

6. Advertisements, but not your’s

The big bad wolf. Fatcow has default error pages (404, 405) for those who chose not to dig through their control panel and set custom error pages. Half way through my subscription, FatCow began sneaking in its own ads on the default errors pages. Perhaps it had been this way since the beginning. I do not want to know. Hidden in a tiny checkbox, yes, I mean “tiny” as in the checkbox was actually shrunk down from a normal checkbox’s size, on the bottom of the custom error page was an option to opt out of FatCow’s own ads on your own website. I couldn’t believe FatCow’s audacity in doing that. Putting a webhost’s ads on a customer’s site to siphon more money out of the unwary fellow?
Unfortunately I did not take a snapshot of the sneaky practice, as Fatcow appears to have stopped this trickery.

Solution: Uncheck the tiny checkbox for every single default error page or use your own error pages. You have those, right?

These six are all I can think of right now. I’ll add more if I remember any. FatCow’s web based chat support is next to unresponsive, it takes them 5 minutes to answer. Phone support is much better, but I mainly used that when I needed help transferring away to Hostmonster.

If you’re just looking for a cheap web host and am willing to sacrifice growing space, Give FatCow a go.

Otherwise, I recommend you use a more reliable host such as Hostmonster.

Anson Liu