FatCow or NearlyFreeSpeech?
October 16, 2009 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Which I should choose to host my personal website: FatCow or NearlyFreeSpeech?

I need a cheap but reliable host for my personal website (professional pages with some pdfs, two Wordpress blogs, family pages with photos, etc). I might want to monetize the blogs eventually but not now. I've narrowed down the choice to FatCow and NearlyFreeSpeech. Can anyone advise as to which I should choose, please?
posted by kitfreeman to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've never used FatCow, but NFS has been a very reliable and cheap host for me for about a year now. I've never had any problem that hasn't been quickly sorted. It's better suited for more learned webmasters, but it's not too difficult. I host two Wordpress based blogs there.
posted by Solomon at 12:53 PM on October 16, 2009

I've never used FatCow either, but I've recommended NFS here before. They've upped their prices a teeny tiny bit in the last couple months, but they're still ridiculously cheap and I haven't had a single problem with them either that wasn't handled quickly and professionally. I love these guys.
posted by cgg at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2009

Another happy NFS user here, coming up to third year soon. I have no experience of FatCow so can't offer a comparison. NFS have been responsive and helpful with the few questions I've had. My sites are very low traffic but have had no problems.
posted by anadem at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2009

I used to work for FatCow. I used to work for the company that bought them in 2004 as well. Chances are you would be perfectly happy there for your needs, however, I can tell you that I did not use them even when I worked there. I have no experiences with NFS though, so I cannot say anything about them.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:18 PM on October 16, 2009

Best answer: Same as Solomon, never used FatCow but quite happy with NFS. I poked around the fatcow website and here are some things I noticed:

* FatCow's one of those "unlimited"-style hosts, as opposed to NFS, which charges you for what you use (per megabyte of storage, per Gig transferred, per day of MySQL process running, etc). Theoretically, at least, that means NFS's incentives are aligned with yours, while FatCow's are not. i.e. NFS wants you to have a successful, fast, website with good uptime, since the more views it has, the more money they get. FC, by contrast, gets your money no matter what happens (as long as you don't leave), so it's in their interest to keep transfers barely acceptable, and so on. Also, I notice their terms of service gives you unlimited use as long as it's "normal" use, but doesn't specify what that is. NFS would have no problem with you hosting a video for anyone to download, since they get paid per transfer, while a frequently downloaded video might raise some eyebrows at FatCow.

* It looks like FatCow might give you more in the way of email than NFS, which I believe will only forward mail to some other address. FC says it has "unlimited POP3 mailboxes".

* NFS is definitely oriented to more of a "poweruser" than FC.
** NFS doesn't have much in the way of support (unless your site is down, or some issue with their hosting -- then they're very responsive), while it looks like FC encourages you to chat with them when you need help building a site. I saw some nice little video tutorials on FC's site, too.
** NFS doesn't have an automatic WordPress installer like FC does -- you have to ssh in, wget the files, install, and so on. It's not too bad, though, and NFS has helpful forums. I setup WordPress on my site in about 30 minutes. It looks like there's a little button you press at FC to setup WordPress.
** OTOH, I don't know what kind of control you have over your site at FC, if you can ssh in and fiddle with files directly -- I see that it's got a "website builder" but I don't know if it lets you do more. NFS also has more languages you could write programs in, like Haskell, for instance.

* I was sad to discover NFS doesn't allow continuously running processes -- I had to scrap the Django site I wanted to build. Not sure if FC allows that.

If your site stays small for a while it may be cheaper on NFS. I've had two very small sites since the beginning of July (personal blog, and web page for sister), and spent $8 on hosting, which includes about $3 of "Privacy Protection" so my information doesn't come up in a whois. Recently, though, they've raised their rates.

Although, FC's electricity is all generated by the wind.... :-)
posted by losvedir at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2009

Start away from Fatcow. I have used them for years for few sites & also iPower (who bought them or vice versa or some shit) & have been less and less happy with their service. Slow database servers & frequent outages caused me to move my important site to pair.com a while back.
posted by john m at 3:39 PM on October 16, 2009

I have never used Fatcow, but if you google "Fatcow sucks" you see that they have google bombed the hell out of the phrase to cover up any actual criticism of the service. That seems shady to me.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2009

wow, I have used FatCow for years with no problem but then, my website is rather simple, albeit with a lot of photographs. Last year, they did send around a message saying uh, something had been hacked and that I had to change my account password to one which was very long and complicated.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:49 PM on October 16, 2009

Another very happy NFSN user here. I've had two very minor problems with their service (that didn't actually effect anyone's ability to use my web site in any way) over the years that I've hosted there, and in both cases their support was excellent and resolved the issue promptly.

It's not a web host that will hold your hands. They expect you to have a certain amount of technical knowledge (or at least the ability to research and learn), but the forums are very helpful. For me, this is a plus, because it also means they're very flexible.

It would be really nice if they allowed continuously running processes on their servers... it's a highly requested feature and they say they're working on it, but they've been saying that for quite some time now.
posted by Emanuel at 5:35 PM on October 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone and a special thank-you to losvedir for the detailed assessment.

I'm very attracted to NFS, and the only thing that's holding me back is a worry about the degree of expertise required. I'm a complete novice in this area (for example, I've no idea what "ssh" "wget" mean). I'm not scared of tech stuff and am willing to learn, but I don't have a lot of spare time right now and want to get my site up and running quickly. Could anyone give me an idea of how much there would be to learn, please? For example, could I reasonably expect to get a Wordpress blog set up on NFS in a single evening?
posted by kitfreeman at 6:07 PM on October 16, 2009

Switched to NFS recently, and have been happy with it over the first month or so. Wordpress is a pretty easy install, and you'll find help both on the wordpress site and in the NFS forums. In fact, there's no reason why you couldn't peruse their help forums right now to get an idea of what you're getting into.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:06 PM on October 16, 2009

Best answer: Another happy NFS who recommends them to everyone. The technical stuff can be a little overwhelming, but it's actually not too hard. And, heck, you'll be learning something in the process.

For setting up professional pages with pdfs or family pages with photos, all you need to know to get them on NFS is how to use an ftp program. Wordpress is a little more complicated, but the installation remains pretty simple. Wordpress have a guide for that.

The most difficult part of that is setting up the database; with NFS, you want to use the instructions for phpMyAdmin. And to find that in the NFS admin section, just click on "mysql" in the top tabs, and then "create a new mysql process" on the right. And then, when that's up and running, click "open phpMyAdmin." And remember when you're setting up wordpress on NFS, the server hostname is not going to be localhost; wordpress config files suggest that localhost is the usual hostname, but not with NFS. You can find all the information for the wordpress config files on the "MySQL Process Information" page, reached by clicking "mysql" on the top tab in NFS, and then clicking on the name of your process (it'll be something like myprocess.db, where myprocess is whatever you called it).

A little complicated, but not too bad.
posted by msbrauer at 7:20 PM on October 16, 2009

I set up a WordPress install on NFS in one evening before. Piece of cake; just gotta find a good tutorial. Though I'm rolling with Blosxom now (Perl-based blogging system almost no one uses anymore), I definitely didn't have a problem getting WordPress going. Love NFS.
posted by limeonaire at 9:52 PM on October 16, 2009

posted by phrontist at 10:25 PM on October 16, 2009

Response by poster: Well, I'm convinced. NFS it is. Thanks everyone!
posted by kitfreeman at 7:58 AM on October 17, 2009

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