Rackspace Cloud Files

Rackspace Cloud Files provides unlimited online storage for your public and private files. Public files are downloaded over Akamai’s blazing fast content delivery network.

Providing a service that includes file storage can be painful: security, disk space, folder structure, backups, etc. A file storage network takes the pain out of hosting files and allows us to focus on our core mission.

With Cloud Files you create a container and store your files in that. You can think of a container as a folder that can store files but not other folders. If you like to separate your images from your stylesheets into separate folders this is a bummer, but it can also help the loading time of your web pages, we’ll explore this further below. You do not incur fees based on how many containers you have but be sure to name them wisely.

You can signup for a Rackspace Cloud account here. You won’t be billed until you use their service.

The Remote Server Advantage

Loading your static files off of a remote server offers several advantages. Your browser will usually only load from 4-8 files off a single domain at a time. If you have multiple images, css and javascript files loading from the same domain, they will get queued and not download as quickly. With today’s internet speeds this isn’t a huge problem but it still exists. By pushing some of your static files to Cloud Files your web browser will load 4-8 files from each domain at the same time.

Another good use for Cloud Files would be to upload your video files and play them directly off the public link to the container. This means your server is no longer tied up streaming the video to web browsers. Not only will it stream faster using the Rackspace content delivery network but it will free up those resources on your own server.

The Price Point

Using Cloud Files isn’t expensive either. If that awesome video on your front page used up 50 gigabytes of bandwidth, your cost would be less than $10. Currently it’s $0.15 per gigabyte of storage and $0.18 per gigabyte of bandwidth. On their pricing page they offer a calculator so you can get an estimate.

All Talk, No Walk

Enough talk about what you can use it for. What about an actual use case. I use Cloud Files for two different reasons.

The first is I store a snapshot of my Cloud Server in a private container on Cloud Files. If I need to spin up an identical server, Cloud Servers will launch a new instance using the snapshot saved in Cloud Files.

The second is to store user uploaded images and stylesheets to serve over https via public containers. Each user has their own container so we don’t have to worry about overwriting file names. Working in the e-commerce world, displaying web pages over https is a must. With Cloud Files we are provided with an https URL at no additional cost. There is no need for a separate SSL certificate to serve static files off of another subdomain. It also allows us to stay focus on our mission. Do our customers have to use this? No, but it’s available to them. We have our customers upload the files to us initially. Once that happens the files are put into a queue to be uploaded to the content delivery network. Once the file has been uploaded it is then removed from our server. It was pretty simple to implement and works great for us.

A Few Available Tools

There are many tools available to assist using Cloud Files. Here are a few free ones.

Cloud Files Control Panel

Cloud Files control panel is accessible through your Rackspace Cloud account.

Cloud Files API

Cloud Files API allows you to build custom clients to upload to their network. Clicking here you can find the software development kits along with the API documentation.

FireUploader

FireUploader is an addon for Mozilla Firefox. It works very similar to an FTP client and makes uploading multiple files a synch.
fireuploader

Cyberduck

Cyberduck is an FTP client for Windows and Mac that can upload to several cloud providers to include Rackspace CloudFiles and Amazons S3.

Image via zentilia / Shutterstock

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  • Fawad Rashidi

    Jeff: thank you very much for the great article. RackSpace is definitely making great changes to its infrastructure. What are the key differences between RackSpace and AWS Cloud services? Are you going to prepare an article about this topic in the future?

    • http://hitmyserver.com Jeff Kreitner

      Fawad, I have used some of the AWS services but not to a great extent. Mostly just toying around seeing what they had. There may be an article about this in the future but it would be after I used AWS in the “real world”.