Bluehost vs. FatCow

In this comparison, we’re looking at an interesting case of sibling rivalry as FatCow attempts to take on the ever-popular Bluehost. Can the seasoned provider win against its younger and more modern brother? Only one way to find out.

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Author Jason Moth
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Bluehost vs FatCow is a comparison between two hosting providers that have been around forever. Moreover, they’re both focused on shared hosting and are owned by the same corporation, EIG (Endurance International Group). Clearly, the two companies have a few things in common.

Don't have enough time to dive into the full comparison? Here's a summary of our research:

Bluehost
See Full REVIEW
4.80 / 5 Overall Rating
Pricing 4.9/5
Support 4.8/5
Features 4.7/5
Performance 4.8/5
Best Overall
Visit Bluehost
FatCow
See Full REVIEW
4.35 / 5 Overall Rating
Pricing 4.2/5
Support 4.5/5
Features 4.5/5
Performance 4.2/5
Has Monthly Plans
Visit FatCow

If this was a popularity contest Bluehost would win hands-down, but since it’s not, in this comparison we’re going to be looking at everything from performance and features to prices and customer support in order to determine the best host for the average user. In many of our past comparisons Bluehost managed to come out on top, but can it do so again? Let’s find out.

Performance

Good performance is crucial for any website as it affects not just the user experience but also its rankings with search engines. Although an experienced webmaster can make a wide range of optimizations in order to improve the performance of a website, there’s very little you can do in situations where your hosting provider has terrible servers. You can check out our Bluehost vs Wix comparison for a good example of this.

But what about Bluehost vs FatCow? Well, we already knew from our past tests that Bluehost’s performance usually falls anywhere between decent and good. The company is certainly above average in this department and doesn’t disappoint in terms of performance, especially if you’re running with one of the higher-tier plans. A simple website hosted at Bluehost tends to load in around 2 seconds, with that figure jumping to around 4.5 seconds if hundreds of users are trying to access it at the same time. Not too shabby all things considered.

When it comes to FatCow, the first impressions weren’t too great. The company’s website was unreachable the first couple of times I tried to access it, which is never a good sign. Once I did manage to access it and sign up for the service, I started to understand why the company chose the mantle of FatCow. True to its name, the service is slow and cumbersome. FatCow took far longer to load when compared to Bluehost even when there was next to no traffic on the site. We also tried a stress test but it was hard to gather any concrete data from it since our FatCow-hosted site crashed a couple of times during the process.

Overall, not a great showing from FatCow and some of the slowest loading speeds we’ve seen since our Bluehost vs WordPress.com comparison.

Location Coverage

To give credit where credit is due, FatCow has two data centers while Bluehost only has one (that we know of). Normally, this would be helpful for certain users, but since both data centers are located in the US, they won’t make much of a difference. Moreover, both Bluehost and FatCow make use of CDNs (content delivery networks) to improve the performance of users located outside the US.

At the end of the day, though, a CDN isn’t the same thing as having several data centers spread across the globe. I’m afraid neither FatCow nor Bluehost managed to impress us with their location coverage. If you’re looking for companies with more robust networks, we recommend checking out specialized options like DigitalOcean or perhaps even a cloud hosting provider.

Uptime

I won’t sugarcoat it – FatCow’s uptime isn’t particularly impressive. While the company has been working to improve this in recent years, you can still expect the uptime to sit at only around 99.95% to 99.96%. Meanwhile, with Bluehost, you’re looking at an average of 99.99%, which is pretty standard among the top hosting providers on the market. That said, we’re definitely disappointed that neither of these two companies has an uptime guarantee so, unfortunately, you won’t be compensated for any potential downtime regardless of which one you choose.

Pricing and Value

With prices starting at only $2.95 per month (with this special offer), Bluehost is affordable enough to have made it on our list of top cheapest hosting providers of 2020. FatCow, on the other hand, starts off at $4.08/mo, a fairly steep price but at least you do get a good amount of features in return. More on those a bit later on, though.

Similar to iPage, Bluehost offers a one-size-fits-all shared hosting plan that comes with everything you need to build and manage a website. The problem with this approach is that you lack any sort of scalability unless of course, you decide to switch to a different type of hosting once it’s time to upgrade. Luckily, you do have a couple of options at your disposal, including customizable VPS and dedicated servers that are fairly close in terms of pricing to what Bluehost is offering.

Speaking of Bluehost, here you have four tiers of shared hosting to choose from, along with managed WordPress hosting starting at $19.95/mo. Given that Bluehost is one of only three providers officially recommended by the WordPress foundation, it’s safe to say that the company’s managed plans are well worth the asking price. FatCow also offers WordPress-centric hosting packages that are much cheaper at $3.75 per month, however, these aren’t managed so they’re essentially just like the shared hosting plan with a couple of changes.

Where FatCow edges out Bluehost is in the fact that the company’s shared hosting supports monthly billing, an option that Bluehost should seriously consider as well. But if you’re thinking long-term, Bluehost is definitely the cheaper option here. Its renewal prices are a bit high but, then again, the same can also be said about FatCow and most other hosting providers out there.

Customer Support

The support options found at Bluehost and FatCow are pretty much identical. You can count on 24/7 assistance via email, phone and live chat from both companies. The knowledge bases found at Bluehost and FatCow are very similar as well, but there are definitely a lot more resources to be found on Bluehost’s side. In addition, Bluehost is the only one of the two companies to offer a phone number for international customers, which is very helpful if you’re calling from outside the US.

The support isn’t necessarily mind-blowing at either company but it does get the job done for the most part. The wait times aren’t too bad either, though you can usually expect to wait less at Bluehost since the provider seems to have quite a few more tech agents at its disposal. In addition to regular support, the company also has a subscription-based professional support service that specializes in WordPress-related issues. FatCow doesn’t have an equivalent service.

Ease of Use

Just like DreamHost, FatCow decided to go with a custom control panel instead of opting for the traditional cPanel used by Bluehost and countless other companies. But while DreamHost is a good example of a custom UI done right, FatCow is an example of why sometimes it’s better not to try to reinvent the wheel. The company uses a modified version of vDeck as its control panel, which feels a bit outdated when compared to cPanel while also being less intuitive.

In terms of site builders, both companies give you access to the free version of Weebly, but you can use a different CMS like WordPress if you like. If you decide to go with the specialized WordPress plans, you can expect the CMS to come pre-installed on your site. Otherwise, you can use the 1-click installer to quickly set it up yourself.

Features

There are quite a few features to look forward to at both companies, many of which are locked behind specific hosting plans or add-ons. But as far as the average user is concerned, here’s what you can expect:

Bluehost

  • Free domain name for 1 year
  • Free SSL certificates
  • CDN integration
  • Unlimited SSD storage with all plans except Shared Basic
  • Managed WordPress hosting
  • VPS and dedicated hosting
  • Nightly backups
  • Unlimited emails
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

FatCow

  • Free domain name for 1 year
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Unlimited storage with all plans but not SSD
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Supports both Windows and Linux servers
  • Automated migrations
  • VPS and dedicated hosting
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Bluehost vs. FatCow – Our Pick

Comparing sister companies always leads to some close matches but in this case the slightly younger sibling takes the win. Here’s why we think Bluehost is better:

  • Performance: Despite having one more data center than Bluehost, FatCow was simply not able to keep up with its competitor in terms of performance.
  • Pricing and Value: Bluehost is easily the cheaper option here, especially during the initial term. That said, we do appreciate the fact that FatCow supports monthly billing.
  • Customer Support: You can expect similar support options from both companies but Bluehost has a better knowledge base and pays more attention to its international audience.
  • Ease of Use: While you likely won’t get lost trying to navigate FatCow’s modified vDeck, Bluehost's cPanel is a bit more intuitive. Still, the two are more or less equal in this department.
  • Features: As expected, Bluehost and FatCow offer most of the features you would expect from shared hosting providers. FatCow has a couple of advantages like automated migrations and support for Windows-based servers, however, the lack of SSD storage makes the service difficult to recommend over its competitor, especially since Bluehost is cheaper.
  • SEO: FatCow offers a pretty good SEO service aimed at webmasters who want to improve their content, but signing up for it will cost you no less than $99 per month. Meanwhile, Bluehost only charges $1.99 per month for its SEO add-on and even includes it for free with some of its more expensive hosting packages.
  • Security: You can expect basic features like SSL encryption and spam protection from both companies but there's nothing here that stands out in a big way, so we'll have to call this one a tie.
  • Scalability: Although both companies offer similar types of hosting services, you get better scalability at Bluehost thanks to its four tiers of shared hosting whereas at FatCow there's only a one-size-fits-all package.

All in all, a relatively easy victory for Bluehost, though the company is by no means perfect. If you’re still not sure which hosting provider to choose, make sure to check out our list of Bluehost alternatives.

Overall Winner Bluehost

Bluehost and FatCow may be sister companies but the former is easily better than the latter. With cheap entry prices, good performance, and a robust set of features, Bluehost is a great pick for novice webmasters and veterans alike.

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