What is Rackspace?
Rackspace is a San Antonio-based, publicly owned web-hosting company that specializes in managed hosting for businesses and corporations. Founded in 1998 by Pat Condon and Dirk Elmehof, Rackspace has data centers in Dallas, San Antonio, Vancouver, and Hong Kong. Rackspace was recently sold to Apollo Global Management, so some details may have changed since the transaction.
How Good is Rackspace Hosting?
Rackspace is a premium hosting company with extra support and services geared toward businesses. They are not for your average user, with hosting starting in the triple digits per month. That's a hefty price for sure, but the benefits are numerous. The company promises no downtime and has more experience with OpenStack than any other company on the market. Certainly, Rackspace isn't the best decision if you're just looking to host a single website. But those looking for managed hosting, cloud services, and infrastructure services all in one will find it with Rackspace. However, competitors Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud offer larger service portfolios for considerably less money.
Our Official Rackspace Hosting Review
Rackspace has an upscale reputation based on its fanatical customer support and its hands-on managed service. The company has more than once been called “the Nordstrom of the cloud.” Their target market is medium to large-sized businesses that can afford their higher pricing and is especially well suited for companies with a lean IT department. Those looking exclusively for hosting services but the same boutique feel should look into WP Engine, a managed WordPress solution without cloud services.
Best Features of Rackspace Hosting
Rackspace has been changing up its naming and service offerings over the past few years as they try to regain its footing and decide what type of company they want to be in the wake of Amazon Web Services, Pair Networks, and other very cheap providers. Their higher-end branding is key in this reframing since so many competitors have hit the market.
Rackspace Customer Service is Quick and Classy
On the most basic plans, you have access to email, live chat, and phone support – emails are generally answered in under 20 minutes with incredibly thorough responses, and live chat responses are usually received in under a minute. The Rackers can be reached by phone 24/7 and are very helpful on the phone.
Much of the support staff will go above and beyond to give you extra great support. On an infrastructure-level account, support won't log in and make changes for you, but in perilous situations, they may go ahead and do it anyways. The higher-end plans allow for this, which can save you a lot of time and grief. Rackspace prides themselves on providing world-class support, and on the whole, they deliver.
Plentiful Features & Web Apps
Rackspace has tons of features and is able to customize almost any configuration for your site. When talking with an account manager they'll dig in to find the features you really need and ways to improve your structure. Rich media, mobile apps, e-commerce, SharePoint, SaaS systems, and many more are all available within Rackspace and run seamlessly. Their hardware is top-notch and allows you as many relevant servers as necessary.
Rackspace runs off of dedicated servers and backs up your information daily, allowing them to quickly adjust and move things around when faced with threats of downtime. Where many have accused Amazon Web Services of overloading their servers, Rackspace really seems to get this aspect right. They really have the numbers to prove it, too. Since 2005, Rackspace has run a nearly perfect 99.99% uptime.
Rackspace Pricing is Use-Based
Starting at $499 per month, per server and capping at $1,249, Rackspace's dedicated servers are priced according to the server space that you use. Their account managers will assess the services you require based on your business needs and recommend a fair hourly rate for your plan. This kind of smart server management is hugely helpful for businesses that plan to scale and want to take their hosting and cloud services with them.
Downsides of Rackspace Hosting
Rackspace isn't perfect, and they've been experimenting with different pricing plans and services in response to changes in the industry. And since they are some of the most expensive providers around, it is well worth your time to look closely at where they fall short, keeping your eyes out for any dealbreakers.
Admin Panel and Structure Needs Work
Their back end is pretty clean and fast by a lot of standards. But it still has some cleaning up to do. If you're used to cPanel, they don't use it, so be prepared to get used to another system. Another downside related to this is if you have multiple account levels, you'll have to sign in and out of several of them. The organization isn't completely intuitive and can make for a steep learning curve for those used to more basic level hosting providers.
If you want to change your account status or discuss pricing you'll have to discuss it with dedicated account managers, you can't simply go in and change it yourself. If you're someone that likes to be walked through everything, this can be a benefit, but if you like some degree of control and have a DIY attitude, then this can prove to be an additional obstacle.
Ticket Support Takes Time
Sometimes, you don't want to get on the phone and talk to somebody. for those times you just want to fire off a ticket and have your issue resolved, you may have to wait about 30 minutes. This is faster than many hosts but is not as fast as Siteground. Sometimes they'll offer to recap your phone conversation in the ticket, however, which is helpful. They also promise immediate responses to “emergency” situations, but your definition of emergency may differ from theirs.
First Impression is Overwhelming
The Rackspace website can be incredibly confusing for laymen who aren't well-versed in the cloud and VPS. Rackspace offers a huge amount of services and their plans can be combined in an infinite number of ways, which means that your first visit to their website can feel like wandering aimlessly in a labyrinth. Plus, to make a purchase you need to sign up first, bombarding yourself with promotional emails. Do yourself a favor and do not put your primary inbox as the contact email if you're just looking to get some more information. However, Rackspace does a wonderful job making onboarding easy as pie, so if you can make it past this initial stage you can expect smooth sailing.
The bottom line is that Rackspace is for businesses, especially businesses with large and/or technically complex websites. If you run a Magento shop and need complex hosting, consider Rackspace. If you're looking for a technology partner, throw them into the mix. Rackspace outshines many of its cloud competitors in its customer support and uptime. But is that enough to make up for their premium prices? For some, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. But if you are looking for a cheaper option with less hands-on management, more familiar features, and aren't afraid of a bit of downtime, you'd be happier with another service.
Rackspace Hosting FAQs
What is unique about Rackspace?
Rackspace hosting is a web hosting service provider that is the largest managed Cloud hosting provider. It serves more than half of the Fortune 100 companies and is considered an industry leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-enabled managed web hosting. Rackspace hosting serves both big corporate enterprises and small businesses, with a team of skilled experts ready to provide all of the best and up-to-date web hosting solutions from security management to website hosting, e-commerce solutions to database management, and email hosting.
What kind of hosting services does Rackspace offer?
Rackspace hosting offers dedicated hosting, Amazon web services, Microsoft Cloud or Azure hosting, and OpenStack Cloud. For dedicated hosting, Rackspace offers more than 3,000 hosting engineers across Linux, Windows, and Vmware. For Amazon web services, Rackspace has over 370+ AWS-certified professionals who support all 11 AWS public regions. For Microsoft Cloud/Azure, Rackspace is a five-time Microsoft Hosting Partner of the year, winning the award more times than any other web hosting service provider currently available. Finally, for OpenStack Cloud, Rackspace is the co-founder of the website hosting service along with NASA, meaning Rackspace has the most experience in the world by one hundred times.
What are Rackspace's top-rated features?
Rackspace Hosting has been reviewed by users for four top qualities. These four top qualities are support, features, value, and support. Across the board, Rackspace hosting has been the top-rated by users in uptime, the second most in features, and the least in support and value.
How many domains can a client host on Rackspace?
Like most website hosting platforms that offer shared hosting services, there is no limit to how many domains one can have hosted through Rackspace hosting platforms. A client will be in control of everything on their Cloud server if they are hosting domains through Rackspace.
Will Rackspace be difficult for those who are new to or unfamiliar with web hosting?
Rackspace hosting may be difficult for those who are new to or unfamiliar with web hosting services, but it depends. One’s level of difficulty with dealing with Rackspace hosting services will mostly depend on their familiarity and level of experience with being a systems administrator for Linux or Windows web hosting servers. However, their Cloud-hosting specific services are specially geared towards clients and customers who are new to website hosting and want to start their website hosting from scratch, rather than have pre-installed features like with Linux or Windows Server website hosting services.
What can one do with a Cloud server through Rackspace hosting?
So long as it is legal and abides by Rackspace’s acceptable use policy, one can do anything with a cloud server through Rackspace hosting. The Rackspace Cloud Server hosting service is an unrestricted, root/Administrator level access, Linux or Windows environment type of website hosting service that can run on any type of application or service from a traditional, physical, or dedicated-unmanaged operations server through the Cloud.
Can Rackspace help me with the installation of a software package?
Whether Rackspace hosting will help a client or customer with the installation of a software package depends on the level of service that that client or customer has signed up for and is paying for. For Managed Infrastructure Cloud accounts, the client or customer is responsible for the installation and maintenance of all the software on their server, but for Cloud Servers with Managed Operations, Rackspace does provide technical support when it comes to the installation and maintenance of specific software packages and even server configurations.
Can I reinstall a different distribution on Rackspace's Cloud server? Or do I have to start over?
With Rackspace hosting, one can reinstall a different distribution on their Cloud server. There is no need to start all over. All one has to do is simply repress the Rebuild button in the control panel and then they will be able to select a new distribution. But before doing this, make sure that there is a backup of all of the data because there is a chance that this process of reinstalling a new, different distribution will destroy any previous data from the old distribution that is on the server. The process of rebuilding a new and different distribution also allows one to save their IP address from the old, previous distribution.
What if I make a mistake in my Cloud server?
If someone were to mess up their Cloud server, then they have many options to correct the issue. With Rackspace, if a customer messes up, then they can reboot the server, restore any and all data from the server in a backup, or just delete the server and start over from scratch. They also have the option to reboot into an emergency rescue mode and attempt to fix the problems themselves, or call technical support if applicable and if none of the above solutions do the trick. The best and easiest way to avoid making any mistakes on the Cloud server is to keep regular backups and make a fresh backup before attempting to make any major server configuration changes or before installing some new software.
Does Rackspace offer discounts for Cloud servers?
Yes, Rackspace hosting does offer discounts for Cloud servers but there are different types of discounts that are based on usage.
Can I buy extra storage for my server?
Customers can add extra amounts of available storage for their servers at any time with Rackspace hosting’s Cloud Block Storage service, but the native storage allocation for a Cloud server is based on the Cloud Server type that one selects.
For service performance, what are the differences, if any, between standard and general-purpose cloud servers?
There are a few notable and significant differences in service performance between the standard and general-purpose cloud servers at Rackspace hosting. First, general-purpose cloud servers use faster solid state drives, or SSDs, compared to the standard spinning disk allocation used by standard-purpose cloud servers. Second, general-purpose cloud servers have up to 120 GB of available RAM compared to standard-purpose cloud servers which only have up to 30 GB of available RAM. Lastly, the maximum network bandwidth for standard-purpose cloud servers is 300 Mbps public network and 600 Mbps private network, whereas, for general-purpose cloud servers, the maximum network bandwidth is 10,000 Mbps which can be divided between the public and private networks in any amount that the customer desires.
Will I still be billed if my server is off?
Yes, Rackspace hosting will still bill their customers even if the servers they are using to host their websites are powered off at any time and for any amount of time. When the server is created, customers are given a certain, dedicated amount of RAM and available hard drive space. As long as that server exists, then no one else will be able to use those resources that have been allocated. This is the primary reason why customers are billed per hour even if and while servers are powered off. If a customer would like to stop incurring charges for a server that is powered off, then they must delete that server in the Control Panel.
Also, if customers want to stop paying for a server, but still need or want to retain the configurations from that server, then their best option is to create an image of the Cloud Server. The system configurations on the system’s disk will be preserved in the image, and the image will be saved in the Cloud Files and accessible through the Saved Images tab in the Control Panel. However, there is a fee associated with Cloud Files storage but it is significantly less than the cost of running an active server. Customers will also need to save the data from their data disk out to Cloud Block Storage or Rackspace Cloud Backup in order to have it available on their next server. Then customers will be free to delete the original server, reassured with the knowledge that they can always provision a new server using the saved image of their old server and their old saved data. After restoring their server from the saved image, the primary difference between their servers will be that their new server has a different IP address from the previous one. Putting the new server into use may require customers to update any associated DNS records in order to reflect the new IP address.
How many users can go onto each machine?
The number of customers or users on a Cloud server host machine will depend on the size of the customers’ Cloud servers and the type of operating system that they purchase.
- Fanatical support
- Tons of features
- Business oriented
- Rackspace pricing is expensive for the average user
- Confusing accounts structure
- Different layers of support are unclear
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