Recently my site was running very slow mainly due to the load my old server was under serving around 30-40 page requests a minute across a number of sites. This would lead to time out errors when some of the sites posted new content, advertisers been put off and visitor numbers falling. While I was always working to decease the server load by caching and side loading images from other servers this eventually hit a limit as well.

After hitting limit after limit I decided to move all the sites to a new hosting provider, Rackspace. With the Rackspace Cloud I am able to scale the sites automatically at low cost to well beyond what I in vision using, or at least by the time I get there Rackspace would of increased it’s infrastructure allowing me to continue growing without doing a thing. And that is the beauty of the cloud, auto scaling with massive amounts of power on tap and ready when you are.

I chose Rackspace as they have the 2nd largest cloud in the world, plus they are amongst the cheapest and have a proven track record. GDGT’s live blog is hosted on the Rackspace Cloud and during their live blog of the WWDC ’09 keynote they hit 4.3 million page views without skipping a beat, I won’t be getting that kind of traffic but knowing my host can handle that is comforting.

So far I have noticed a considerable speed increase after switching most of the sites I host over. When they advertise “fanatical Support” they really do mean it, I spent about 25 minutes in a live season talking to one of their sales people, and they weren’t all about selling Rackspace service. They suggested Amazon’s EC2 might be better for my needs, however I’d already ruled them out on price after some prototyping I did on there earlier in the year. We went through my needs and what I currently use and in the end we agreed the service was what I needed. Signing up took only 5 minutes, again in the live chat as I already had a Rackspace account.

Since signing up and moving my sites over I have used the ‘fanatical’ support again this time after moving this site across I couldn’t access the WordPress admin. The person I spoke to identified the problem as been the amount of memory allocated to PHP on my server and increased it for me, and then going on to show me how to do this myself via the .htaccess file. He also went on to show me how to increase the file upload size limits (default is 2MB).

To host sites on Rackspace Cloud you need to transfer your domain to them ($10) or change your name servers, ether way Rackspace will be handling all the DNS for the domain. I chose to change my name servers as I have domains they aren’t able to transfer. The DNS management interface is fast, quick and easy to use, I had my CNAMEs and MX records for Google Apps set up in under 2 minutes as oppose to the 10 minutes this takes with Godaddy’s DNS manager. While Rackspace also provide email for every domain you host with them I didn’t use it because all my data is already with Google.

The control panel while simple provides all the information you need, keeping you up to date with how many cycles, how much disk space/bandwidth you’ve used as well as allowing you to add more sites in less then a minute and database even quicker. While there is no one click install of popular applications like most shared hosts offer you can normally install applications manually, and often quicker thanks to the speed everything works at.

The Rackspace service is aimed at more professional users with large sites that need power and reliability, if that’s you I defiantly recommend their services, I will be posting some tips and how-to’s in the future as I move and create more sites over there.