Hosting a Site on Rackspace Cloud Files

This is part of my series of try some alternative hosting options. This time I opted for one of the less common cloud providers: Rackspace.

Cloud Files is their equivalent of Amazon’s S3. It’s designed to store files (as the name suggests), but can also be used to host static sites. It can also serve them via a CDN.

Getting Started

There was a suggestion that developer accounts got some free credit, but I couldn’t see how to sign up for one of those.

The sign-up process is simple enough, a couple of forms. You do need to enter a valid payment method. Then you’re into your control panel and away you go.

That was when I found that, if I wanted to host my files in Europe, I needed to sign up for a separate UK cloud account (like that makes sense). I thought at least it was going to jump me through the account creation process as I reached the ‘activate my account’ page, but no. Cancelling my original account was simple enough.

I basically followed the instructions in this FAQ to get it set up. Creating the container was easy and it even has an option for ‘static website.’ Uploading the files was nice via the UI, but then I found it wouldn’t load directories, I would need to create those manually.

There wasn’t a nice simple way to do this, I had to try and find a third-party script to make use of the API or use something like Cloudfuse to mount the remote storage.

Then I found an email from Rackspace in my inbox, apparently they needed to call me to verify my account. Or I needed to call them. This was possibly because I had used a fake postal address and phone number. I don’t like giving those things to anyone, especially when I’m not intending to stay.

I emailed back to say that they could either activate my account immediately or cancel it (I was polite about it).

They said they couldn’t proceed without verification, which takes ‘less than five minutes’ apparently, but I was only looking to host a tiny, simple website so having to receive a phone call to run through this was way too much hassle. I asked them to cancel my account.

Speed

I didn’t get a chance to test this.

Summary

Set-up difficultyPoorHard to say for certain, as I didn’t complete, but the verification process is onerous and the lack of an easy tool to load folders was a pain.
Set-up timeUnable to say as I never finished.
SpeedUnable to test.
CostGoodNo free credit, but it would have been a few cents a month.

Final Thoughts

Rackspace was the only one of the services I have tried to use that has decided they needed to phone me in order to verify my account. I can understand wanting my address if you’re processing credit card payments, but why do you need to speak to me? They’d be on a loser for a long time compared to the amount of money I would be spending.

The general rule should be that you request as few details as possible and store them for as short a time as possible.

Other than that the service didn’t look too bad, I found documentation to walk you through the steps to get set up with a static site, they even have an option in the UI, which is better than the others I have tried thus far.

It was another service that lacked a decent upload interface though. Off course I’m going to want to load subfolders, why can I not do that all at once? At least Google’s offering provided a command line tool to do that, but not so for Rackspace, something else that needs addressing.

Disappointing. I can understand their decision, but it’s a waste of time for all involved.