Choosing a hosting provider is one of the most important steps in building a website. InMotion Hosting and FatCow are both established U.S. companies with years of experience, but which one is the right provider for you?
We’re all budget savvy and looking to save where possible, but bargain prices alone don’t make for great hosting. Your provider needs to be compatible with the kind of website you’d like to host, and depending on your level of expertise, you might need support to give you a nudge or two in the right direction.
That will get your website up and running, but that’s just the first step. You want your website to succeed.
You need rock-solid performance to ensure the site is always online, and speedy loading times so you don’t lose any visitors. In addition to that, you’ll need airtight security and backups for rainy days. Because it’s going to rain.
We tested InMotion vs. FatCow in five areas to determine which one can make your website reach its true potential. Keep on reading to see the results.
InMotion Provides Outstanding Performance – FatCow Drags Behind
Performance may be the most important factor in your website’s success. What good is a beautifully designed website if it’s not always available and loads slowly? This is one area where InMotion really knocks it out of the park, providing a level of service the FatCow just can’t match. Let’s go over the details.
Generally speaking, websites achieve high performance through a slightly confusing combination of server infrastructure, data center (where the server is physically located) engineering and location, amount of allotted resources, and optimization. Optimization is mostly your job, but all the other factors are in your web host’s hands.
Regarding server locations, InMotion operates two data centers, one in Los Angeles and one in Washington DC. FatCow’s servers are located in Boston. This already makes InMotion more able to provide quality service to visitors from all over the U.S., as the closer the website server is to the visitor, the faster it’ll work (depending on the other factors).
In terms of allotted resources, both companies advertise plans with unlimited storage and bandwidth. This means that technically, you can upload thousands of HD videos to your website, but in reality we’re talking “fair use.” What’s fair use? Well, according to users with both companies, with InMotion, that actually means any amount of data you want to use.
With FatCow, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Users report arbitrary notices on “exceeding fair use” leading to a prompt cancellation of their service and shutdown of their website. This is the nightmare scenario: having your website just disappear one day. I wouldn’t want to use a provider where this could just happen.
Adding to FatCow’s list of troubles are user reports of slowdowns, downtime (times when the website isn’t available), slow page loading speeds, and abrupt account cancellation after a day of a payment being overdue. InMotion, on the other hand, enjoys a solid reputation as a great provider – fast speeds and almost perfect uptime.
It should be noted that FatCow does allow you to host an unlimited number of websites on its plans, while InMotion limits the number of domains to just a few – depending on the plan.
Our winner in performance is definitely InMotion. The company’s service is fast, dependable, and they really allot you almost limitless resources.
InMotion Provides the User-Friendly cPanel, While FatCow’s Control Panel Is a Confusing Upsell Mess
The control panel is your main hub, and it allows you to run your site – and run it the way you want to. A good control panel provides easy access to the following:
- Automatic installations
- Email account configurations
- Domain setup
- SSL certificate installations
InMotion offers you cPanel, the golden standard in the web hosting industry. cPanel is by far the most popular control panel available, and that popularity results in constant updates, ongoing improvements, and an ever-growing number of useful plugins and add-ons.
FatCow, on the other hand, uses a customized vDeck control panel. vDeck is a relatively new control panel, one considered among experts to be more advanced in its capabilities but less beginner-friendly.
One of your first steps after purchasing hosting will probably be to install your Content System Management (CMS) of choice. This can be either WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or an e-commerce system like PrestaShop and Zen Cart.
With InMotion’s cPanel, you’ll be able to do this with Softaculous. With FatCow, you’ll have to use its own installation scripts. The catch? You’ll have to first find the feature in the control panel, and that’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds.
cPanel is clear as day. The automatic installations are easy to locate and run. FatCow’s service is trickier. The control panel is cluttered with what feels like a never-ending list of options, and it’s going to take you some time to figure out what’s what. Installing the SSL security certificate is similar – Both providers include it, but it’s harder to do with FatCow.
This leads us to the bigger problem. FatCow’s control panel is not just cluttered. It’s basically an upsell advertisement board. A huge number of “features” aren’t really there, and are merely more products and services you can purchase. Sure, some are available for a free trial, but these features are not part of your plan.
This results in a doubly frustrating experience: not only is the control panel less user-friendly to begin with, it’s been made much worse thanks to the company’s attempt to upsell you.
You could’ve probably guessed, but the winner is… InMotion. The company’s control panel is clear, tidy, better suited to the average user, and doesn’t contain upsell attempts.
InMotion’s BoldGrid Gives You Wings – FatCow Traps You in a Weebly Prison
Let me explain. When you choose a web host, you’re making a commitment, but it doesn’t have to be “till death do us part.” Things change, your needs evolve, and in a few years’ time, you might find yourself wanting to move your website somewhere else. The catch – it’s not necessarily easy.
If you’re an advanced user, you can take full control of WordPress or one of the other CMSs and dive into the code and databases. You can build every webpage and popup from scratch, and you know how to take what you’ve built and move it somewhere else.
If you’re a regular user, you just don’t have the time and ability to do this. If you don’t have coding experience, you’ll probably want to build your website the drag-and-drop way. That means using an interface that allows you to create and position elements with your mouse, add pictures, text, links, special effects, and whatnot.
InMotion provides BoldGrid, its proprietary drag-and-drop WordPress plugin. FatCow, on the other hand, offers the use of Weebly, a licensed drag-and-drop service. And hereby lies the catch.
A website built with InMotion’s BoldGrid is a 100% WordPress site. This means that down the line, you can always pack it up and take it somewhere else. If you want to add features, change up the whole layout, or even part with BoldGrid – all your website data remains intact.
Weebly is a whole different story. What’s built in Weebly stays in Weebly, and if you ever want to change up the scenery you’ll have to start over from scratch. Going back to square one in five years sounds pretty devastating to me.
In addition to the freedom InMotion offers you, the builder itself is just so much easier to work with. Highly praised in the industry, BoldGrid lets you run wild with your imagination and build your dream site. Adding any element is a cinch, styling is easily done, and everything can be optimized for mobile and tablet viewing.
Weebly is not a bad service at all (click here to read our expert review), but it’s very limited to its design template library. Furthermore, if you decided to purchase hosting and build your own website – why would you possibly limit yourself? Ask FatCow, they seem to know.
The winner here is InMotion, providing a better drag-and-drop site builder that puts you complete control over your website.
Would You Rather Try Out the Service for 90 Days with InMotion Hosting or for 30 Days with FatCow?
Reading feature lists and hearing about the possibilities sure is fun (not just for me, right?), but how can you really know a provider is right for you without having tried it first?
That’s why hosting companies offer money-back guarantees. That’s them guaranteeing you that if you’re not satisfied with the service within a certain amount of time, you can get your money back and take your business elsewhere.
There isn’t really an industry standard for this, as some companies don’t offer money-back guarantees at all. Many offer a 14-day guarantee, while some go the extra mile and provide a 30-day guarantee. That’s the case with FatCow.
What about InMotion? Oh, they’re wacko. They give you a whole 90 days – that’s three whole months – to make up your mind. Talk about good service.
And how are the prices? Pretty similar at first glance. Both companies offer a basic shared hosting plan for just a few bucks a month, although InMotion’s offering is slightly cheaper.
Annoyingly, with FatCow, this is just an introductory price that doubles after the first year. Sure, there are cheaper hosts than both, but after the first year, FatCow isn’t even a good deal anymore.
Additionally, FatCow users all over the web report what seems to be a recurring issue – FatCow charging huge, surprising sums off their credit cards, and no success in getting it back. This has yet to be verified and I haven’t encountered it myself.
Prices don’t differ much regarding VPS and dedicated servers either, but InMotion edges out an advantage here too, thanks to more powerful servers.
The winner here is InMotion. Its plans are cheaper, its prices don’t double after the first year, and its money-back guarantee is one of the most generous I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
InMotion’s Support Agents Are Real Pros; FatCow’s Representatives Use Answer Sheets
I hope everything will be hunky-dory for you and that you’ll never need to contact support. Even so, everybody needs help sometimes, and when that happens, you want to be absolutely sure you’re talking with true professionals who understand your issues and can resolve them with the utmost urgency.
Both companies provide 24/7/365 support, meaning somebody will always be there for you. Both companies offer support through phone, email, support tickets, and live chat, and with InMotion you can even use Skype. How good is the support staff? Let’s see.
InMotion is one of the few big hosting companies that’s still privately owned, and it’s run by people who really care about it. Having a knowledgeable support representative help you is great, but having a representative that cares is a whole different level.
InMotion’s staff answered all my questions thoroughly and kindly both when I was researching options and after I purchased my plan. They were able to iron out any issue I had (or claimed to have) with ease.
All support agents are U.S.-based native English speakers, but non-English speakers can contact them using chat or email and Google Translate or a similar service. They are very patient, and do everything in their power to help.
How’s FatCow? Phone support is U.S.-based and quite friendly, but live chat and email support have been outsourced to India. The agents are friendly, but their English just isn’t very good. They were able to understand most of my questions, but there were cases where I needed to rephrase and simplify an issue to help them understand.
In addition to English not being their first language, it seemed like they were reading off answer sheets. I asked and rephrased a question regarding their uptime three times, and got the same exact answer every time. This really isn’t support, more like an interactive FAQ section.
The winner here is InMotion, thanks to its excellent support representatives that are happy to help. The less said about FatCow’s situation, the better.
InMotion Hosting Is The Clear Winner, Leaving FatCow in the Dust
So what did we have here? InMotion, a giant of the website hosting industry, against FatCow’s barn-themed hosting solution. This really was no contest at all. InMotion is our winner, delivering a knockout blow to FatCow.
If you’d like to learn more about InMotion Hosting, read our expert review.
This isn’t to say FatCow’s service is terrible, but it just can’t match the level of service InMotion provides. If it was cheaper and had better support, maybe I could’ve recommended it for beginners and owners of very small websites, but that’s not the way it is.
For more information about FatCow’s pros and cons, check out our expert review.
No matter what kind of user you are or what website you want to build, if you’re down to these two companies, go with InMotion.