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, and 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 towards 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.
- 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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Our Official Rackspace Hosting Review
Rackspace has an upscale reputation based on their fanatical customer support and their hands on managed service. The company has more than once been called “the Nordstrom of 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 the cloud services.
Best Features of Rackspace Hosting
Rackspace has been changing up their naming and service offerings over the past few years as they try to regain their 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 are able to customize most 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 are all available within Rackspace and run seamlessly. Their hardware is top notch and allows you as many relevant servers as is 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 a 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 with a 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 their cloud competitors in their 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?
What kind of hosting services does Rackspace offer?
What are Rackspace's top rated features?
How many domains can a client host on Rackspace?
Will Rackspace be difficult for those who are new to or unfamiliar with webhosting?
What can one do with a Cloud server through Rackspace hosting?
Can Rackspace help me with the installation of a software package?
Can I reinstall a different distribution on Rackspace's Cloud server? Or do I have to start over?
What if I make a mistake in my Cloud server?
Does Rackspace offer discounts for Cloud servers?
Can I buy extra storage for my server?
For service performance, what are the differences, if any, between standard and general purpose cloud servers?
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.