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Host Gator vs Fat Cow

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To help you find the Best Web Hosting, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Host Gator and Fat Cow.

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If you’re a business owner, a writer, or a hobbyist, sooner or later you’re going to want a website. To have a website, you’ll need a web hosting service. There are hundreds of web hosting companies available to host your site, but which one do you choose? And, how do you know what to look for?

The first step in choosing a web host is figuring out how much you want to spend per month in hosting costs. While some web hosts are nearly free when you sign up, there is often some fine print involved. Many web hosting companies will lure you in with cheap pricing at the outset, but then will raise the monthly subscription cost when you renew at the end of a month or a year.

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Best Reviews

2018

Web Hosting Reviews

3.5 stars
Host Gator

HOST GATOR Visit Site

HostGator was founded in 1997 and is now a hosting brand of Endurance International Group (EIG). The company has a large market presence, bringing in about $800 million a year in revenue. They offer full-service hosting for small and large businesses with competitive pricing.

Hostgator's offerings include:

  • domains
  • web hosting
  • WordPress hosting
  • cloud hosting
  • virtual Private Servers (VPS)
  • dedicated hosting
  • reselling of hosting

The standard, shared, static web hosting packages are priced in three tiers with introductory rates leading to higher renewal rates at the end of 12, 24, or 36 months depending on the term chosen at signup. The renewal rates are not immediately apparent on the HostGator website, so the numbers given below are estimates based on their stated discount on each plan:

  • $3.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $6.95 per month. This includes a single domain.
  • $5.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $9.95 per month. This includes unlimited domains.
  • $5.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $14.95 per month. This includes private SSL and a dedicated IP address.

WordPress hosting is similarly cryptic with regards to renewal rates:

  • $5.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $9.95 per month. This includes 1 site, 25,000 visits per month, 1 GB of backups, and 50 GB of storage.
  • $7.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $15.95 per month. This includes 2 sites, 200,000 visits per month, 2 GB of backups, and 150 GB of storage.
  • $9.95 per month with a 36-month renewal rate of about $22.95 per month. This includes 3 sites, 300,000 visits per month, 3 GB of backups, and unlimited storage.

HostGator finds praise in its hosting package pricing being among the lowest available among new users looking for shared hosting. There is also a 45-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the service. This is a bit more than most other hosting companies which only offer a 30-day guarantee. And, if you need your site migrated over from another host, HostGator will do that for free. Plus, if you buy a premium plan, they'll do malware scans and fixes and give you a free SSL certificate, which is important for secure eCommerce and good SEO.

People like the familiar cPanel interface. However, some find that HostGator lacks CPU (processing) power and memory, causing CMS platforms like WordPress to install incorrectly. The VPS offering has also been reviewed as being lackluster when compared to shared hosting. However, most shared hosting customers aren't going to be as concerned about VPS offerings until their sites become popular enough to need VPS.

Other problems HostGators have reported include long hold times on phone and chat as well as long resolution times for email-based support tickets. One reviewer wrote about how his web development client's sites were frequently hacked and taken down by HostGator, which replaced the site with a "suspended" message. Upon calling support to resolve the issue, the support reps consistently told them they had to purchase other services to secure the sites. He canceled HostGator and moved the site to another hosting company, but was unable to obtain any refunds for the HostGator plan.

Backups at HostGator come in two types: "instant" backups, which the user initiates through the cPanel on an as-needed, manual basis, and truly automatic backups, which cost $15.95 per year.

HostGator's performance is on the slower side, being just under 1 second to render a page for one user on shared hosting. Their Cloud hosting service, being about twice as fast as their shared server offerings, is a much better option for all website performance concerns.

Uptime at HostGator could be much better. It registered at about 99.85% in one test, which is far below the industry average of 99.90% and the industry ideal of 99.95% or more.

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3 stars
Fat Cow

FAT COW Visit Site

FatCow was founded in 1998. Since then they've made a speciality of low-cost hosting for individuals and small businesses. FatCow uses energy generated from wind to power their services. Their brand is quirky and even includes a "heifercratic oath" stating, among other things, that their mission is to provide "around-the-clock phone and online support, a satisfactory resolution to any issue that may arise, and - most importantly - a consistently positive, can-moo attitude."

Hosting plans at FatCow include "Original FatCow" static website hosting, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated servers. For static web hosting, which is essentially unlimited in everything except cloud storage, they have a sale price of $49 for the first year, renewable at a regular rate. The regular renewal rate prices are:

  • $12.95 a month (billed $466.20 for 3 years)
  • $13.95 a month (billed $334.80 for 2 years)
  • $14.95 a month (billed $179.40 for 1 year)
  • $14.95 a month (billed $44.85 for 3 months)
  • $14.95 a month (billed monthly)

There is a $15 non-refundable domain fee if you register a free domain with monthly service through FatCow and later cancel.

For WordPress, here's what you'll expect to pay for the introductory rate:

  • $3.75 per month for WP Starter. This includes the core hosting plan, customized control panel, pre-installed themes and plugins, and standard support.
  • $6.95 per month for WP Essential, which is everything in the WP Starter plan plus Super Speed, enhanced security, and support from WordPress experts.

When you renew the WordPress packages at FatCow for the WP Starter, you pay:

  • $8.49 a month (billed $203.76 for 2 years)
  • $9.49 a month (billed $113.88 for 12 months)
  • $10.49 a month (billed monthly)

Renewal for the WP Essential plan will set you back:

  • $15.95 a month (billed $574.20 for 3 years)
  • $16.95 a month (billed $406.80 for 2 years)
  • $17.95 a month (billed $215.40 for 12 months)
  • $17.95 a month (billed monthly)

FatCow's reputation, in terms of net positive reviews, is higher than other hosting companies. But because it has grown beyond its kitschy beginnings, and has been acquired by Endurance International Group (a company that tends to drag hosting company brands down when it buys them), customers are starting to see and complain about FatCow's focus away from an optimal support experience in a perceived pursuit of more profits.

Performance of FatCow's web hosting clocks in at about 99.90% uptime, which is lower than BlueHost. In terms of overall percentage, it's not too terrible, but it still leaves about 9 hours that an average website might be down in a 12-month time span.

FatCow also has some pretty slow page speed times. One reviewer measured average speed of an active account's web pages over 12 months and found it to be 1.2 milliseconds. That is far slower than many of the speedier hosts out there which tend to fall into the sub-millisecond range.

Support includes live chat, a support ticket form with email notifications, and a toll-free phone number. However, even with FatCow's higher satisfaction ratings, there are still a significant number of customers who aren't happy with the company. One complaint was with a $35 fee charged for cancellation after the 30-day moneyback guarantee period. In other words, if you go past the guarantee period, you can't just walk away and cut your losses. You must pay to leave the service.

Backing up your site isn't free, either. You can get daily backups of your site for $16.95 per year.

Other complaints were about far too many upsells when signing up for the service. New registrants are encouraged to watch the line items at checkout carefully to make sure to not buy more than is needed.

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Continued from above

Some web hosting companies will offer you a lower overall cost if you choose to pay up front for multiple years. While some web hosts will seem really expensive compared to other, that's because they're usually offering more value for your dollar in more advanced or innovative features their cheaper competitors aren't covering. Whether you choose a more expensive host will depend on whether those features improve convenience or lead to a better return on investment (ROI).

That leads us to the next decision to make: features. You'll want to decide which features you genuinely need versus which ones you don't really need at all. Aside from the core service of hosting the actual website will be offerings such as web design, do-it-yourself site theme implementation, domain registration, email, eCommerce tools and setup, online advertising to promote your website, website development tools, and search engine optimization (SEO) help. Some of these will be important to you and others will not be necessary.

Security and performance are considerations that often get overlooked in the drive to find the cheapest web hosting available. Cheaper cost to you means the web host is cutting corners somewhere in how they host your site. Often that means "shared hosting", which means your site is put on the same web server as hundreds of others. There are security and site speed implications to this that often are not in your best interests.

Reputation can also be a key factor - web hosts with bad reputations or "fly by night" business practices can hurt your business or position in search results.

Finally, you want to know how reliable and supportive each web host is from the perspective of its customers. How many people are complaining about hacked sites, slow page load times, poor support, and price hikes over time? There will be many, many complaints across all web hosting options, so you'll want to narrow the list of things that are important to you and focus primarily on those as you evaluate options.

Once you have an idea of which web host you want to subscribe to, shopping online will make it easier than ever to find it. To summarize, as you decide which web host should get your business, keep in mind these criteria:

  • Features. Which features does the web host offer and do you need all the features or just some of them?
  • Cost. How are the hosting costs structured? Will there be monthly subscription cost hikes after a certain period of time?
  • Reputation. What are people saying about the web host online? Is the web host going to shut down or change names soon, and are they engaging in shady practices that can hurt your brand?
  • Security. How many security incidents has the web hosting company experienced? Are there widespread complaints of site outages? If so, how quickly and to what extent were those issues addressed?
  • Performance. Are websites generally faster or slower on one web hosting service compared to its competitors? Does the web host offer plans that handle increasing numbers of visitors or sudden traffic spikes with more ease?
  • Customer Service. If you experience problems with your website, what are the contact options for getting support, and how responsive are they? Are support representatives courteous and helpful, or are they rude and condescending? How long does it take to fix problems?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best web hosting companies available today. We hope these reviews will help you find the right web host to make your website appealing, secure, and affordable!

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