FatCow and HostMonster are two of the main players in the shared hosting field. They both provide affordable plans that are used to power thousands of blogs and online businesses, and they offer enough room for anyone to grow.
Among all their available hosting services including shared, VPS and dedicated servers, this comparison only concentrates on the popular shared hosting. The two web hosts’ features, pricing, refund policies, performance and support are all evaluated in order to deliver a convincing yet unbiased comparison that really helps you get a complete understanding.
Combining the official information, user feedback and server monitoring results, we’d like to present you the following ratings before detailing the two companies’ shared hosting services.
Plans and Prices – All Things Related to Your Money
To find out which company provides more affordable and trust-worthy services, we have taken all of the regular price, available discounts and refund guarantees into consideration.
Prices for the first purchase and renewals
Since the inception in 1998, FatCow has always been offering one single plan regarding shared hosting. This plan has a very attractive price for the first term – $49 only per year which averages $4.08/mo.
The problem, however, is that this low price doesn’t apply to any renewal. If you place a one-year order when purchasing FatCow shared hosting plan, you have to pay $12.95/mo when renewing the plan. The renewal price triples the cost of the initial term, which has been a common complaint of FatCow customers.
For all lengths of terms, FatCow waives the setup fee and up to one year’s registration fee of a new domain.
Compared with FatCow, HostMonster is kinder to provide three shared hosting plans which can be upgraded or downgraded at any time. Currently, all the plans are discounted over 40% from the regular price for those participating in the HostMonster promotion through the following link.
- Basic: $3.95/mo, 51% off regular $7.99/mo, best for beginners who want to set up one website quickly.
- Plus: $5.95/mo, 46% off $10.99/mo, best for those desiring to host multiple websites with the minimal cost.
- Pro: $13.95/mo, 42% off $23.99/mo, best for businesses and others who need enhanced security with SSL, dedicated IP and premium backups.
All of HostMonster plans include a free domain, and the two more expensive plans also come with free ads credits which value $150 and $300 respectively.
Promise of refunds
To offer you a chance to try their services without any risk, both FatCow and HostMonster provide a refund guarantee. They allow all those who cancel their accounts within 30 days of signup to ask for a refund of the hosting fee with a deduction of the domain registration fee or any add-on service payments.
However, we do think HostMonster has done better in the refund guarantee. The reasons are listed in below.
- The company issues pro-rated refunds for accounts cancelled after the guaranteed 30 days.
- It refunds hosting fees paid via all the payment methods that are supported, including credit cards and PayPal. FatCow only refunds payments made via credit cards.
Shared Hosting Control Panel and Features
In terms of features, although FatCow allows unlimited sites at quite a low price, HostMonster still wins because it offers a more easy-to-use control panel, and supports more advanced features.
vDeck or cPanel
FatCow doesn’t mention much about its control panel in the feature list of the shared hosting plan. Nor does this company provide a control panel demo or explain the features built in the control panel.
In fact, in all these years, FatCow has been utilizing a control panel named vDeck. vDeck has straight-forward navigation, but if you are a cPanel user, you will find it’s not a pleasant experience to use this control panel. The outdated design brings a feeling that vDeck hasn’t been updated for years, and the developers do not really care about user experience.
HostMonster, however, seems to be more careful in the selection of control panel. It offers cPanel for all shared hosting users, and enhances the control panel with many useful features including Mojo Marketplace. cPanel has a much better reputation than vDeck due to the graphic design, easy integration and dozens of management features.
Web hosting features
When it comes to the server resources and other common shared hosting features, FatCow and HostMonster both have their own advantages and weaknesses when compared to each other.
The advantage of the former lies in the unlimited websites, email accounts, databases, etc, and that of the latter is the support for some features like SSH and Perl. For more information, read this feature table.
|Disk Space||Unlimited||50 GB|
|Monthly Data Transfer||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|How to Claim||–||Link Activation|
Of course, if you want SSH or Cron Job while hosting multiple sites, you can purchase the Plus or Pro plan from HostMonster. The former plan enables you to host up to 10 websites, while the latter allows “unlimited”.
There is one thing to pay attention about the unlimited disk space and bandwidth offered by FatCow. As the company doesn’t state any clear usage limits, your account might be suspended for excessive resource usage at any time.
Web Hosting Performance
According to user feedback, both of FatCow and HostMonster can do quite well in uptime, while their differences in speed are sharp.
The two companies are usually rated 4 out of 5 stars or higher in terms of uptime. Being impressed by the excellence, we added them to our monitoring system about two years ago. During such a long time, they have not disappointed us. The monitored uptime was a little more than 99.9% in almost any 30-day period.
The excellence of FatCow should largely attribute to the N+1 power redundancy, secure network, and the clustered servers which back every website up with a standby server when the primary server crashes. Below is the company’s service uptime shown in our monitoring.
The great performance of HostMonster, however, relies much on the custom-built data center and servers which are secured, optimized and upgraded constantly. The 24×7 monitoring of all networks and servers also guarantees better uptime by ensuring timely responses to any unexpected issue that may affect users’ websites.
To be honest, HostMonster is better than FatCow because its uptime was over 99.95% on average in the entire year that has passed by.
During our monitoring, HostMonster delivered much faster speed than FatCow. The latency was always kept to the minimum, and our test site loaded fast at all times.
FatCow is not among the slow web hosts, but its speed in server response and page loads recorded by our monitoring system is not good enough, either. The reason can be seen in the comparison below.
Technical Support Response Time & Quality
FatCow and HostMonster offer the same communication channels – live chat and phone – for those who need instant assistance from their support team. However, it’s probable that you will spend less time waiting for a support agent to reply your question when contacting HostMonster. The average waiting time of this company is within 90 seconds.
Besides, the two web hosts offer a helpdesk. By logging into the helpdesk with your account, you can describe your problem in a ticket and then submit it to the support team. A support agent, then, will look into your problem and offer a solution by replying the ticket.
The ticket system is useful when you need to seek help about technical issues. However, there is a concern that FatCow has been criticized by a large number of users for the low efficiency and inconsistency of its ticket support.
In addition to all these facts, we have also found the following benefits from HostMonster support resources.
- HostMonster offers various video tutorials for email setup, domain transfer, webpage redirection, Cron Job and many other common web hosting topics.
- The company has built up user forums to encourage communications between users and to provide another way for users to seek technical support.
The resources listed here are not available on the FatCow website.
It’s Time to Make the Decision
In the comparison above, we have analyzed all the two web hosts’ advantages and shortcomings in the important aspects that you need to care about. As a result, you may have already found that HostMonster is the better option for shared hosting when compared with FatCow.