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How To Boost Your WordPress Blog With Rackspace Cloud Files!

rainmaker
How To Boost Your WordPress Blog With Rackspace Cloud Files!

rackspace wordpress

You got a growing blog? Is your server not powerful enough to support it anymore? Is it getting slower every day? Have you tried to do everything you can like minifying your scripts, adding css sprites and even caching your site? Did they work? Right now you might be out of tricks and thinking about moving to another server. But, there’s another trick you can use… Why not host the static part of your website in a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? It will not only take some of the load off your server, but it will also give a performance boost to your site!

A CDN will allow you to store your data in several servers distributed around the world so if some one tries to access your site, the content which you have uploaded to the CDN will be served from the nearest server! If that data is located in your server, every client have to go to that server to access your data, some may be close but others might be at the other end of the world. So, a CDN can save a lot of time by serving the files from a server which is closer to the client.

Ok, now the next question is… Is a CDN cheaper than going for a VPS or a Dedicated Server? Of-course it’s very cheap. Most of the CDN services charge only for what you use. For example, Rackspace charge only 15 cents per GB per month (for storage). For bandwidth out, they’ll charge 18 cents per GB per month. Recently, I switched to Rackspace Cloud Files on my own site. For me, I only pay about $3 per month. Actually, it depends on how much you use their service.. So, before you start, use their price calculator to know how much you have to pay.

Setting up RackSpace Cloud files and WordPress

So, done setting up your mind? Then, let’s go ahead and add Rackspace Cloud Files to your WordPress blog. It’s a bit easy, you don’t have to know any coding stuff. We are going to use W3 Total Cache Plugin to help us :

  • First of all, signup for Rack Space Cloud Files. Sometimes, they’ll want to verify your account and they’ll try to call you. So, remember to put a working phone number!
  • Next, login to the cloud control panel. You will be using this control panel to manage all Rackspace cloud based services.
  • Now, got to Hosting > Cloud Files as shown in the image below. In here, check whether you get a message saying that you have to activate cloud files. If you get one, click on it to activate cloud files. If you can’t see any message, you’re good to go!
cloudfiles

Cloud Files

  • Next, go to Your Account > API Access. Here you’ll find the API key. Click on Show Key and copy it (For example, copy it to notepad).
apikey 550x239

API Key

  • After you get the API key, you’re done with Rackspace. Next, head over to your wordpress blog and install the development version of W3 Total Cache plugin. It’s very important to use the development version because Rackspace have recently switched to Akamai and their URL format have been changed. The current version of Total Cache won’t support this URL format! (First, go to W3 Total Cache and click on other versions link located in the right side of the screen. Next click on the Development Version at the bottom and download the zip file. Now go to your admin area, under plugins, click Add New. Next go to Upload link located at the top of the add new plugin page, choose the zip file you have downloaded and click Install Now)
  • Now, you’ll see the plugin’s settings panel on your admin area :
w3 totalcache settings

W3 Total Cache Settings

  • First, you need to say that your going to use Rackspace. Go to General Settings (Under Performance menu). Now, scroll down until you see the section called Content Delivery Network. Set the CDN Type to Rackspace Cloud Files. Make sure the Enabled filed is unticked! We don’t want to enable it until we upload the files.
  • Now, head over to the CDN menu and scroll down to the Configuration section :
cdn settings 550x226

CDN Configuration

  • Now lets fill in the blanks :

Username : Enter your Rackspace username

API key : Enter the key which we copied earlier

Location : Keep it as it is unless you know what you’re doing

Container : Add any name containing only characters. Even without spaces. For example : shoutmeloud

  • After you fill the Container, click on Create Container button and it will automatically create a container and fill in the host name filed. If they didn’t get the host name, head over to your Cloud Control Panel > Hosting > Cloud Files and select the created container. Now copy the CDN Url and paste it without http://.
  • Don’t add a CNAME because currently Rackspace doesn’t support CNAMEs (But they’ll add it soon).
  • Now click on Save Changes
  • After that, go to the top of the page and click on export media library to CDN. Also tick other files you need to upload like the wp-includes and hit the relevant upload buttons.
  • Sometimes, they won’t upload all of your media library. To fix this, add wp-content/uploads/* to the custom file list, tick and upload custom files.
  • Now you’re ready to go! Go to the General Settings and tick the Enabled filed under CDN which we unticked earlier and save. Now, go to the top and click on Clear all Cache.

Now, run some speed tests and see how your page speeds have improved! Got some improvements? Like Rackspace cloud files? Now you can stay with your own host for some more time. If you get any problems during the installation, leave it as a comment!

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Article by Pubudu Kodikara

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    { 36 comments… add one }

    • karim

      Google dont like CDN because of content duplications so be careful

      Reply
    • phploh

      Hi,

      Thanks for the article. I want to give it a shot but I am using WP- Super Cache instead of W3 Total Cache.

      The congiguration appears different from what you have outlined in the article. The WP-Super Cache has fields for:

      - Offsite url: _____________
      - Include directories: _____________ (default is: wp-content, wp-includes)
      - Exclude if substring: ____________ (default is: .php)
      - Additional CNAMES:

      and two tick boxes that say:

      + Skip https urls to avoid “mixed content” errors.
      + Enable CDN Support

      Would appreciate any advice on what to fill into these.

      Much appreciated.

      Thanks

      Reply
    • Nadiar

      Oh my god, they don’t accept paypal as payment method… i don’t have CC or debit, i’m using vcc to verfy my paypal…

      Reply
    • Nihar

      Great post!

      Is this rackspace cloud files service free?

      Reply
    • richard

      Does anybody know of a ‘gallery’ plugin that pulls the images from my Rackspace account and displays them in my blog?

      Reply
    • Hasitha

      I want Cname support for rackspace cdn.
      @subesh
      yep, MaxCDN sucks. Seems like they haven’t edge locations in sri lanka or south india.
      Very slow speed, horrible downtime & image crashing problem experiencing while reading every maxcdn powered blog.
      I’m disappointed with their performance.

      Reply
    • Kurt Avish

      I’m using Rackspace cloud files since about 1 month now, and all I can say is GO FOR IT. It’s cheap and rackspace customer care service are among the best I have seen till now. Even at midnight you will be having someone on live chat to help you.

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        One happy customer from Rackspace :D

        Reply
    • Sandeep@Curious Little Person

      thanks for the info on CDN. This is the first time i’ve heard about CDN and think that it’s pretty cool..

      Thanks

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        You welcome mate :D

        Reply
    • Iain Cambridge

      Rackspace’s CloudFiles sucks, let’s be serious no cname support, no gzip support, also when last benchmarked it came in behind both NetDNA’s MaxCDN and Amazon’s CloudFront.

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        Yes they don’t have CNAMEs but they will implement it soon. Im just testing bro.. I also have Amazon CloudFront but wanted to try our Rackspace. In cloudfront, i had some problems with Gziped files. But rackspace is working fine with them. MaxCDN is too much. You need to pay $99 for 1TB at first. I won’t even use 1GB.. so, its useless paying that much!

        Reply
        • Iain Cambridge

          On the GZIP issue, when you talk about your usage you’re referring to techhamlet? If so it’s not returning GZIP static text files. Which is an optimization flaw. CloudFront will return GZIP static files a slong as you upload them to the S3 bucket gzipped and put the meta data in for deflate. I believe W3TC doesn’t do this? One of a few flaws with that plugin.

          On the MaxCDN issue, I am sure if you contacted their sales team and said you would like to start off pay as you go and not with 1TB bandwidth they would sort you out. Also the 1TB bandwidth lasts a year and is only $39.

          Reply
          • chillout

            1TB lasts a year. So why would I buy 1TB if I’m not going to use it with in a year. That’s one of the huge problems with maxcdn and reason i enjoy cdn77 pricing model. 100$ a year every year + 40$ for 1TB which does not run out.. in other words use 100 gb a year and it will last you 10 years give or take + the 100$ a year of course. They also give 50gb storage free for life.

      • Subash

        MaxCDN Sucks!
        Even it’s not a cdn, terrible downtime, slow speed & images broken every time.
        Some web hosting packages provide much speed & reliability than maxcdn. Mashable recently leaves maxcdn due to poor performance, they now use panther express cdn.
        Amazon Cloudfront, VPS.net (Level3 Reseller) & Rackspace are top CDN providers.

        Amazon Cloudfront:
        Pros=100% uptime SLA , Low bandwidth cost,multiple edge locations across US,EU &Asia, Cname support.
        Cons=You also pay for GET & PUT requests, Slow speed than VPSNET L3 & Rackspace.

        VPSnet Level3 CDN:
        Pros=High Speed, Proven Performance, multiple edge locations across US,EU &Asia, Cname support, No get,put costs,Low cost.
        Cons= No.

        Rackspace CDN:
        Pros=High Speed(as Pubudu said they recently switched to Akamai for delivering cloud files- Akamai is the best CDN network on planet – they have edge locations in almost all populated countries),No get,put costs.
        Cons= No Cname support.

        Maxcdn:
        Pros=Low cost, Cname support.
        Cons=Images broken on loading pages(load half of the image then disappear) , slow speed, Terrible downtime (90-95% uptime for some Maxcdn users.) But for their NetDNA (mother company of maxcdn) customers they provide higher speed & more reliability than maxcdn users.

        Reply
        • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

          Perfect review my friend.. you have explained everything! Talking about cnames in rackspace.. they have promised to add cnames as soon as they finish moving to Akamai! Actually i never knew that MaxCDN have so much trouble… Thanks a lot for the info!

          Reply
        • Iain Cambridge

          My mentioning MaxCDN was to point out that when I benchmarked them I was using multiple CDN providers. I know it sucks hence we don’t use it at my work.

          Also Rackspace CloudFiles isn’t faster than CloudFront or MaxCDN as I’ve benchmarked the speed and found that out. You’ve also failed to mention the pros such as ability to set expire headers and cons of no gzip support. Also I have no once experienced said broken images. Even when on poor speeds.

          Reply
          • Subash

            @Iain Cambridge
            Rackspace Cloud files is speeder than all other CDNs mentioned above, because they now using Akamai (since January 2011), you probably benchmarked before they migrate to akamai.
            About gzip & expire header support:
            amazon cloudfront support both gzip & expire headers. But in VPSnet Level3 & Rackspace CDNs you don’t need to manually add expire headers or gzip, both works out of the box , I like those set & forget feature and blazing speed. Vpsnet Level3 CDNs object caching mechanism superior than other 3 cdn providers listed above.
            (VPSnet+Level3) & (Rackspace+Akamai) are only CDN options for Small and midrange website owners. If you looking for 5TB+ bandwidth per month or you want to Streaming Audio or Video content Edgecast CDN , Limelight CDN are good options.

          • jinishans

            Hi – I’ve deployed one of my hosting site recently in rackspace cloudfiles. It’s really fast. All speeding sites like strangeloop, google speed sites are slower than cloudfiles CDN. Now, my doubt it, if i set cname, my images are not getting renderred from CloudFiles CDN sub-folders. Also, i need to setup frame based redirect to redirect to rackspace CloudFiles CDN url. This is wired. Moreover, I’m not sure whether i can put a .php file and render from a different server. if anyone of you can help me out on this, itll be great.

    • calvin

      is there minimum price to subscribe their service? I’m actually thinking to make download site (open source ones), is it allowed by the TOS? What files are usually allowed to host in the cloud hosting?

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        The cloud files is only for CDN… You can only store static fies. But you can also go for Cloud Hosting if you want to host a site… Go to their site and ask them, they have live chat support :D

        Reply
        • Iain Cambridge

          Umm two flaws with this, one CloudFiles is not only for CDN. It’s also for cloud storage which can be private and not have CDN activated. Secondly he question is what sort of files can be stored using it, which doesn’t automatically imply he is referrering to host say a WordPress install on it. I assume they are wondering if porn or large applications can be stored there, the answer which lies at http://www.rackspace.com/cloud/legal/aup/

          Reply
          • chillout

            So your english is better than his. Good for you! But there was no flaws in what he said. He’s also not a rep nor expert in rackspace that is why he recommends going to rackspace support..

    • Himanshu

      cool and cheap. thanks for the info. it will be very helpful for sure

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        You’re welcome bro :D

        Reply
    • Geet | HobbyIdeas

      CDN is indeed a better option for blogs with very high traffic. Performance is always better. But you may need to think twice about the pricing stuff…it’s still on the higher side, I guess. Not sure, though.

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        No my friend… the prices are very cheap.. Use their price calculators.. Amazon and Rackspace both got these calculators… You might have to pay only a few dollars per month!

        Reply
    • Siva

      Does Rackspace supports PayPal or just CC?

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        Sorry bro, they don’t support PayPal!

        Reply
        • Mani Viswanathan @ DailyBlogging

          Do they support Debit Cards or compulsorily CC’s ? And how does Amazon differs from RackSpace. Even it offers cheap rates. Then why you went for RackSpace ?

          Reply
          • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

            Im not so sure about that… go to their site and see :D

    • Jasmine

      Cool. CDN is certainly the way to go if your website or blog is growing. You will experience a much faster download, that’s for sure.

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        Yep… it can boost the speed of your site :D

        Reply
    • Anoop Sudhakaran

      Nice work! I never knew about CDN!
      What does the CDN in the wordpress plugin named super cache do?
      Is it related to this sort of stuff?

      Reply
      • Pubudu @ TechHamlet

        Yes bro… That plugin can also be used to add CDNs… But i haven’t used it, no idea whether it supports the new URLs of Rackspace :D

        Reply

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