Have you been trying to cut through all the confusion and find a web hosting company that will be right for your websites? Here is a one-on- one comparison of two businesses that have been in business since the 1990s – GoDaddy began in 1997, FatCow in 1998.
GoDaddy is a well-known domain registrar, but it also hosts 13 million customers. FatCow’s focus is on making things simple for the customer by eliminating what they call the “techno-babble.” Both GoDaddy and FatCow have shared hosting, managed WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server plans. GoDaddy offers Linux and Windows options for all plans; FatCow is Linux-based. GoDaddy and FatCow both provide shared hosting, managed WordPress hosting, and VPS and dedicated server plans. Arvixe has both Linux and Windows options, while iPage is Linux only.
GoDaddy has won numerous “best of” awards and gained notoriety for its controversial ad campaigns. In 2012, it was named a Fortune 100 “Best Company to Work for.” FatCow has also won many awards – though the majority of “best of” honors were awarded in the early-to- mid-2000s.
Beginning as Jomax Technologies in 1997, Go Daddy in 1999, and becoming GoDaddy in 2006 (the two names were combined), GoDaddy is owned by a private investment group – though founder Bob Parsons is still the largest shareholder. FatCow was purchased by Endurance International Group (EIG) in 2007.
EIG owns many web hosting companies but operates them under their own original names. Though they are not clones, they are similar, and if you have had an issue with an EIG owned host, you may have the same problems with another EIG owned host.
Uptime and Reliability
Uptime. Uptime is one of the most important things a web host can provide. If their servers are down, your site is down and you lose viewers and customers. GoDaddy guarantees an uptime of at least 99.9%. If the site falls .1% or more from 99.9% in one month, you are credited 5% of that month’s hosting fee. FatCow does not offer an uptime guarantee.
Performance. GoDaddy uses Core i7 processors in its shared plans, and Xeons in its VPS and dedicated plans. FatCow uses SSD storage in its WordPress Essentials plan.
Testing a site hosted on GoDaddy yielded a load time of 2.91s, faster than 56% of the sites tested with Pingdom. A comparable FatCow site loaded in 2.54s, faster than 62% of the sites tested.
Reliability. GoDaddy has a data center it owns in Phoenix, Arizona, and it leases two other Arizona centers at Mesa and Scottsdale. GoDaddy has other data centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Ashburn, Virginia. A European center is located in Amsterdam, and an Asian center is located in Singapore. The data centers are powered and cooled with redundancy and diesel backups.
FatCow uses two data centers in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. The data centers have 24/7 monitoring onsite for security and management. They are also fully power redundant and reliable with redundant Internet connections. The data center servers are load balanced and utilize NetApp clusters, which improves speed and reliability.
Opinion on GoDaddy and FatCow Performance
FatCow does not have an uptime guarantee, which could be a concern, though FatCow is slightly faster than GoDaddy in the load time and response test.
Compare Key Features
Note: Unfortunately, while they are popular words with web hosting companies, “Unlimited” or “unmetered” do not mean “all you can use.” Instead it refers to what the hosting company “deems reasonable usage.”
Domain Registration. While both hosts are domain registrars, GoDaddy is the industry’s largest registrar with over 60 million domains under management. GoDaddy offers one year of free domain registration for the initial term when the term is 12 months or longer.
FatCow also offers a free domain registration for a year, and free domain transfer if you are registered elsewhere and want to move it to FatCow.
Website Builder. GoDaddy has Website Builder, which has a drag-and- drop interface, starting at a promo price of $1 per month. FatCow offers Weebly Basic free, which is limited to five-page websites. The Pro version is available for an additional fee.
Databases. Depending on the plan chosen, GoDaddy offers from 10 to unlimited MySQL databases. FatCow has unlimited MySQL databases on all its plans.
Email Accounts. GoDaddy offers 100 to 1,000 accounts with 100 MB to 1 GB of storage, depending on your plan. FatCow provides unlimited email accounts and email forwarding on all its plans.
WordPress Hosting. GoDaddy and FatCow offer managed WordPress plans. Though managed WordPress plans usually cost a little more, the technical side, such as updating and patching software, is done for you by the host – freeing you to concentrate on your site’s content.
GoDaddyGoDaddy has four WordPress plans. The Basic, which is limited to one site, 25,000 visitors per month, and 10 GB of SSD storage. Deluxe with one site, 100,000 visitors, and 15 GB storage. Ultimate with two sites, 400,000 visitors, and 30 GB SSD storage; and Developer with up to 5 sites, 800,000 visitors, and 50 GB of SSD storage. All plans come with a free domain when ordering an annual term. The top two tiers also come with an SSL certificate free for one year, and the Ultimate plan includes free SiteLock.
FatCow.FatCow has two WordPress plans, Starter and Essential. Both have unlimited storage, unlimited number of sites allowed, and unlimited bandwidth. The main differences are that Essential storage is SSD (Starter’s is not), and Essential has enhanced security included.
eCommerce Solution. GoDaddy offers free shopping carts, such as Magneto, ZenCart, PrestaShop, and others, through the control panel. FatCow offers ShopSite Basic for free, and more advanced ShopSite plans for additional monthly fees.
Backups. GoDaddy has a site backup and restore plan for a monthly fee with its shared plans, and free daily backups on WordPress, VPS, and dedicated plans. FatCow does daily server backups. For an additional monthly fee, they offer Site Backups and Restore, which does automatic backups, and allows restores at the file level.
Hosting Security. GoDaddy scans and proactively acts against DDoS threats, and provides what it calls “CageFS”. CageFS allows you to set up user privileges to limit access to content. GoDaddy provides SpamAssasin, as well as BoxTrapper, for email filtering. FatCow also has spam filtering for email.
FatCow offers free shared SSL, and Private SSL may be purchased. GoDaddy provides free shared SSL for its plans, with the top tiers getting Private SSL free.
GoDaddy offers Windows or Linux options for all its plans; FatCow is Linux-based.
Control Panel. GoDaddy uses cPanel, but it has done some customization, which may make it unfamiliar to regular cPanel users. FatCow uses vDeck. The latest Version 4 has made it more powerful, but not having cPanel may be an issue in transferring your site should you change hosts later.
Green. FatCow uses wind power to achieve 100% of its power. If you want to advertise the fact, FatCow supplies badges to put on your website.
Extras. Besides hosting plans, GoDaddy also offers SEO, online marketing, and design services for fees. Both GoDaddy and FatCow have reseller plans and affiliate programs. FatCow provides $100 ad credit to Bing/Yahoo and $100 credit to Google AdWords.
Opinion on GoDaddy and FatCow Key Features
GoDaddy is the industry’s go-to site for domain registration, but FatCow’s unlimited bandwidth, databases, and email feature for all its plans gives it an edge, and FatCow states it focuses on small businesses. However, GoDaddy has better security features, and it uses the industry standard cPanel.
Hosting Plans & Pricing
Note: To remain competitive, special pricing promotions are common in the industry. The pricing here is what was being offered at the time of this comparison. You should note that promo prices are only good for the first term of service and renewal prices are often much higher, so signing up for a longer term means better savings. In fact, signing up for longer terms, regardless of ongoing promotions, usually results in a price break.
Shared Web Hosting
GoDaddy. GoDaddy offers six shared plans – three for Windows and three for Linux servers. Economy allows one site, unlimited bandwidth, and 100 GB of storage, for $3.99. Deluxe, at $4.99 per month, and Ultimate, at $7.99 per month, offer unlimited websites, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited storage. All the plans come with a free year of domain registration on an annual plan. Email accounts are limited to 100, 500, and 1000, respectively. The Ultimate plan adds a free SSL certificate for one year.
FatCow. FatCow operates on the belief that simply is better. They offer one shared plan for $49 per year (renewal pricing is nearly three times more). It comes with a free domain registration for one year. It features unlimited bandwidth, email, MySQL databases, and storage.
Managed WordPress hosting GoDaddy offers four plans. It allows one site on the two lower tiers, while the top tier allows five websites. GoDaddy limits visitor numbers per month based on your plan, and the amount of SSD storage varies by plan. GoDaddy prices are $3.99, $4.49, $7.99, and $13.99 per month.FatCow offers two plans, both with unlimited storage and bandwidth. The starter is $3.75 per month, and Essentials is $6.95 per month – with the main difference being speed and security features are better for the Essentials plan.
VPS and Dedicated server hosting GoDaddy offers more VPS plans, with five plans for Linux and five for Windows – the Windows plans cost around $10 per month more. The GoDaddy plans offer unlimited bandwidth and 40 GB to 250 GB of storage (depending on the tier). FatCow offers three plans, priced slightly lower to GoDaddy pricing for similar features. However, FatCow’s plans have limited bandwidth and storage.
GoDaddy also offers five dedicated plans for Linux and 5 for Windows. GoDaddy’s Windows plans run around $30 more than its Linux plans. GoDaddy’s dedicated plans all have unlimited bandwidth. FatCow has three specialized offerings. FatCow’s plans are priced slightly lower than GoDaddy’s, but they have less storage and limited bandwidth.
Credits GoDaddy offers different marketing credits depending on your location. FatCow provides free marketing with $100 credit for Bing/Yahoo and $100 for Google AdWords. Both sell domain names, and both FatCow and GoDaddy provide one free year of registration for new accounts.
Money-Back Guarantee: GoDaddy and FatCow offer money-back guarantees. GoDaddy offers the standard 30-day guarantee for annual and above terms. For monthly plans, GoDaddy’s full refund is limited to 48 hours and is pro-rated after that. FatCow has an industry standard 30-day guarantee (if purchased with a credit card). If you have the free domain registration on GoDaddy or FatCow, they will withhold the domain registration fee from the refund, and you will keep the domain name.
Opinion on Hosting Plans Pricing
At promo pricing, FatCow has an edge in pricing. Even at renewal pricing, FatCow’s plan is less than GoDaddy’s similar plans (but only slightly). However, if you don’t mind limited features, GoDaddy offers a choice of tiers for less than FatCow’s single plan. Window’s users would need to choose GoDaddy, as FatCow is Linux only.
Ease of Use
Control Panel. GoDaddy and FatCow use different control panels. GoDaddy uses cPanel but modifies the interface somewhat. cPanel’s user-friendly interface is the industry standard, and it has most of the features needed to administer your website. For its Windows plans, GoDaddy uses Plesk. FatCow provides the less widely used vDeck, which also is icon based, but more streamlined. It is also customizable.
One-click Installer. GoDaddy offers one-click app installation to hundreds of applications through cPanel. FatCow provides one-click installation of some apps through MOJO Marketplace. Both have a one-click installation of WordPress.
Website Navigation. Both GoDaddy’s and FatCow’s sites provide the information you need to choose plans that fit your needs. GoDaddy offers more products in addition to hosting, so it’s slightly more confusing to navigate, and its pages involve a lot of scrolling. GoDaddy’s homepage features its domain registration more than hosting. FatCow is cutesy with its cow- related theme, but the information is clearly presented and easy to find.
Opinion on Ease of Use
Both FatCow and GoDaddy have their pluses here. FatCow makes choosing a shared hosting plan simple – there’s only one plan. GoDaddy, however, gives you lower priced options (though with fewer features). GoDaddy’s control panel is based on the industry standard cPanel. FatCow’s website is easier to navigate.
Technical and Customer Support
GoDaddy would have to be considered no better than average, based on customer reviews. FatCow pledges high-quality support and states that if they fail in their promises, you will receive one month of free hosting. Both have support personnel that is considered friendly and knowledgeable.
Both GoDaddy and FatCow have a phone, email, and live chat 24/7, as well as extensive knowledge bases. GoDaddy provides informative articles in addition to its blog in the “GoDaddy Garage.” FatCow has a Community Directory that lists the websites hosted on FatCow, by genre. Both GoDaddy and FatCow have a blog (though the last entry in FatCow’s was in October of 2015).
Opinion on User Support
Both offer many methods of contact, so getting help is easy. GoDaddy support is rated average by the majority of customers who comment. However, either company would provide adequate support and customer service.
Note: Never use reviews as the sole determining factor in choosing a host. However, if something is constantly brought up in customer reviews, it may need to be investigated. Keep in mind that those who take the time to write reviews are generally the passionate customer – so most reviews are strongly negative or strongly positive.
Negative Reviews for GoDaddy and FatCow
GoDaddy.. Most of the negative reviews of GoDaddy concern poor customer support, the strict restrictions placed on some plans, and downtime.
FatCow. FatCow has gotten negative reviews for the way excessive usage on shared plans is handled. Customers feel there should be greater transparency as to what causes suspensions.
Positive Reviews for GoDaddy and FatCow
GoDaddy.. Positive reviews from customers of GoDaddy comment on its domain registration services, and its hosting pricing.
FatCow. FatCow gets positive reviews from customers for its service and the simplicity of its one-plan hosting.
Opinion on User Reviews
Reviews seem to show that GoDaddy concentrates on being a domain registrar, and website hosting is an afterthought. FatCow gets its fair share of negative reviews, but the majority seem to be more positive. Based on reviews alone, both could be considered slightly above average in web hosting.
Which hosting is best for you?
There are pros and cons for both of these hosting companies.
Reasons to choose FatCow over GoDaddy:
- Simplicity in choosing a plan
- More unlimited features in plans
- SSD storage in the Essentials WordPress plan
- Lower prices
Reasons to choose GoDaddy over FatCow:
- Sells multiple web products in addition to hosting
- Linux and Windows options for all plans
- More tiers for more options in plans
- Industry standard cPanel (though modified)
- Not EIG owned (which may be a factor for some)
GoDaddy might be best suited for beginners, since everything web-related from domain name to SSL, marketing, and SEO services, and online bookkeeping, can be obtained from one site.
FatCow offers the simplicity of one or two plans, which makes choosing easier. Small businesses will find FatCow’s unlimited bandwidth and storage appealing.
If you feel you may transfer hosts in the future, GoDaddy’s cPanel will make it easier for you to port to more companies than FatCow’s vDeck.
If you require Windows servers, GoDaddy is your only choice between these two, as FatCow only offers Linux plans.
There are, of course, other alternatives to investigate when searching for a web host. InMotion Hosting offers one of the best money-back guarantees in the industry – a 90-day money back guarantees, compared to the 30-day guarantees of GoDaddy and FatCow.
For those that don’t mind spending just a few dollars more than budget hosting to get premium features and some of the fastest loading and response times, SiteGround is a hosting company worth looking into.
Do you have any questions about GoDaddy or FatCow? What have been your experiences with web hosting? Leave your comments and let us know.