FatCow is one of the many hosting companies out there going green: they’re completely powered by wind energy (via Renewable Energy Certificates). They provide a single hosting plan — pretty cheap unlimited hosting at $5.50 a month — and include a free one-year domain name registration with hosting. They take pride in providing this simplicity to the customer, and call hosts that use pricing tiers “confusing.”
The HeiferCratic Oath is FatCow’s promise to customers that they will provide great customer service. If you feel like the “Moo Crew” hasn’t kept this promise to you, you could even get a month of hosting free! Among the promises made in the HeiferCratic Oath: FatCow will do their best to answer any calls within two minutes, and they’ll do that without outsourcing any call centers outside of North America. You’ll also get a (somewhat) personalized phone call within a week of registration welcoming you to their service!
As far as the Terms of Service go, FatCow falls into standard territory. Don’t distribute viruses. No copyright infringement or pornography. One section of the Terms of Service mentions advertising on sites with a free web hosting plan. Something that will see the light of day in the future perhaps?
FatCow members use a custom control panel that is very similar in functionality and layout to cPanel. For those used to cPanel, it’s primarily a matter of figuring out a different name (i.e. InstallCentral is FatCow’s Fantastico) to find what you want. The actual modules themselves, though, while doing much the same things as their cPanel counterparts, may take a bit of getting used to, especially the file manager and MySQL manager.
A pet peeve of mine with the control panel was that I got full-page ads (the variety with the skip this ad and continue link at the top of the page) while logging into it twice. Ads like that should be reserved for non-paid services.
I used InstallCentral to install a WordPress blog, and it was just as easy as using Fantastico. The install loaded pretty slowly (with default settings and only the welcome post) compared to another WordPress blog I tested it against.
One big concern for those who may be moving a website rather than starting a new one is being able to transfer your site. Many hosts offer the feature of moving your site for you, but FatCow does not.
Unfortunately, the only FTP address you are given is ftp.yourdomain.com, and FatCow’s file manager doesn’t allow you to upload directories, so in most cases you’ll be stuck waiting until your domain has propagated to move your files.
It’s very easy to open up support tickets if you don’t mind a bit of a wait. I submitted a mid-day support request asking a few simple questions (what PHP version they have installed, if Ruby on Rails is supported, and whether localhost is the MySQL hostname) and got a response in just under two hours. They also offer 24/7 phone support and a live chat option on their website. Since I was wondering about the aforementioned site transfer and couldn’t find any information about it on FatCow’s website, I used the live chat to ask about it.
Godson Davis: Hi Grace. My name is Godson, how are you today?
grace: hi i was wondering if you guys offered website transfers
grace: like not domain names
grace: but a whole site like some other places do
Godson Davis: Okay.
grace: i didn’t see any info about it looking around the site so figured i’d ask
Godson Davis: Could you please provide me with the URL from where you entered this Chat interface?
Godson Davis: Thank you!
grace: sure thing
Godson Davis: Yes, you can transfer the Web site from other server to our servers using FTP.
grace: okay but so you guys don’t offer the service where you’ll do it for me?
Godson Davis: In order to transfer it to our server, please downloadit to your local computer, then upload it to our server.
Godson Davis: Please install the FTP client on your computer.
grace: okay i’m guessing that’s a no
I never did get a straight answer, and I gave him a couple of minutes to see if he was going to say anything else each time I responded back. I’m sure they have scripted support answers, as many live chats do, but in this case, the scripted answers were not helpful.
FatCow’s knowledgebase is pretty extensive as well, though some of the information on it seemed to be outdated. For instance, the instructions on taking a MySQL database backup did not seem to correspond to the current MySQL manager at all.