RapidSwitch review | TechRadar
With more than two decades of invaluable industry experience, RapidSwitch is one of the leading dedicated server hosting companies in the UK, operating more than ten data centers and over 20,000 servers inside and outside the borders of its homeland. Since 1999, RapidSwitch has been providing enterprise-level, cost-efficient and reliable hosting solutions backed by competent customer support and expert technical team.
Formed in the UK, RapidSwitch exists as a trading name of iomart Hosting Limited, one of UK’s top providers of managed hosting and cloud computing services. With its main office in Maidenhead (the UK), RapidSwitch operates 10 N+1 data centers in the UK and 17 centers around the world. Some of their more distinguished customers include Joomla Wired, Last.fm, Livestation, TrueAchievements and PageTiger.
Putting modesty aside, RapidSwitch claims to have the largest network in the UK and (what is more) operate as “the number one server and infrastructure specialist in the world” that is “big enough to offer every possible infrastructure service available”.
RapidSwitch’s main site gives off an impression of novelty, simplicity and clear understanding of intuitive design. More importantly, it also provides a decent amount of data about the company itself and its services. Unfortunately, there is no official blog featured on the website, nor do they have an active presence on social media sites.
Plans and pricing
As a provider of premium web hosting services, RapidSwitch not only provides great value for the money, but actually fits in the cost-effective category. One of the reasons they are capable of providing this pricing is the fact that RapidSwitch completely owns, manages and maintains its own physical infrastructure.
At the moment they offer about 30 different-sized plans for pre-built dedicated servers ranging from £34.99 ($49.40) to £799 ($1,128.50) per month. Although the site promises pre-built servers starting at as cheap as £25 ($35.30), we failed to see any at that price on the list, concluding they must be currently out of stock. Fully custom dedicated servers start at £99.99 ($141.30) per month, but their price can rise up pretty quickly, which is understandable. Colocation hosting is available as well and all users are welcome to build their unique solutions.
Although RapidSwitch provides no money-back guarantee, their uptime guarantee is at 100%, which means that every customer that experiences any downtime is eligible for partial refund.
When it comes to payment methods, RapidSwitch accepts most major credit/debit cards (where American Express is excluded), bank transfers (even if you are not in the UK) and PayPal (in recent times).
Ease of use
If you are on the lookout for high-availability dedicated machines, RapidSwitch’s hosting plans are sure to provide something responding to that need. Even if none of the pre-built packages appeal to you, there is a choice to build your server from the scratch (so to say) by selecting a custom server option. However, when opting for a pre-built server you’ll likely notice that some of them, although listed, are not available at the moment.
As part of customizing your server you’ll be able to select a base system (bronze or gold range), hard disk, a RAID configuration (or to go without it), operating system (there are different versions of Linux, Windows, FreeNAS and an option for you to install you own OS), control panel (different editions of cPanel, Plesk or none), MS RDS licenses (1, 5, 10 CALs or none), and MS SQL licenses (the available choices are 2012, 2014 and 2016). Here, if nothing happens to be specified, RapidSwitch’s technicians will proceed to install the latest version available.
You might have noticed that some aspects of your hosting package haven’t been mentioned and that’s because these aren’t customizable: processor (it’s Xeon 4 Core), memory (it’s 64GB of RAM), port speed (1Gbps/300Mbps is guaranteed) and bandwidth (which is, needless to say, unmetered).
While you’re here, you can think about including a few extras and for an extra price, as expected. These include dedicated OOB port for remote management, three levels of server SLAs (unmanaged, proactive M&A and premium) and additional IP addresses.
After you decide upon every little detail, you’ll have to create an account with RapidSwitch (provided you don’t already have it) and this procedure is everything one would expect (adding personal data and verifying your identity) from this type of interaction.
Following a successful payment, your new server should be up and running in a matter of hours. MyServers, which is a management portal for customers to monitor and manage dedicated or colocated servers, is intuitive in design and it shouldn’t take much effort to navigate around.
Speed and experience
Having come face to face with the question of “Why RapidSwitch?”, we got a description of the quality (and quantity) of their services as well as a brief exploration of their key features. One among them is a promise of “a fast, interconnected UK network” which is attributable to the use of powerful machines with 10 Gbps connectivity and 100% network uptime guarantee.
To test the speed of RapidSwitch’s main website we relied on the assistance of GTmetrix (our tool of choice), which wasn’t too impressed with the whole performance. The page fully loaded quite quickly (in 2.3 seconds) and required 47 requests at the same time (which is as half as much as it is needed on average). However, both initial server response time and total blocking time were considerably higher than recommended, which consequently lowered the grade for overall speed performance to C (67%).
As we hoped it would, the tool that monitored the uptime of RapidSwitch’s main site (UptimeRobot, that is) failed to record any downtime whatsoever. At the same time there were no major oscillations in response time and although it wasn’t as fast as lightning, it certainly leaves the impression of overall stability.
Instead of outsourcing their support in the name of greater profits, RapidSwitch has decided to keep it in-house. This should imply they have a complete control over their support staff, as well as that their staff (being local) has more in-depth knowledge about their infrastructure and that it should deal with any issues much quicker based on its more intimate insights into the inner workings of this provider.
In any case, RapidSwitch’s support is available through several channels including a telephone line, live chat and email (if you don’t require a rapid response). Someone from the support staff should be available night and day to help you with everything from simple questions and concerns to providing assistance while solving account or server issues.
If you aspire to be more self-sufficient, RapidSwitch’s knowledgebase (titled as “MyServers FAQ”) comprises about 280 fairly short articles written in a straight-to-the-point manner that you can browse through the nine built-in categories or by using the search box.
One of the most popular choices for dedicated server hosting (and web hosting in general) is (not surprisingly) Bluehost, which is currently managing over 20 million websites, and that is nothing short of impressive. Unlike RapidSwitch, Bluehost is a US-based company (with all its servers in the USA), so it might be less convenient for customers from Europe, although its partnership with Cloudflare might even the odds.
HostGator is another fan-favorite choice quite similar to Bluehost in terms of hosting types, features and pricing. Like RapidSwitch, both hosts provide reasonably priced dedicated servers. Unlike RapidSwitch, they also provide shared, VPS and WordPress (managed and unmanaged) hosting solutions.
Webhosting UK and RapidSwitch are both UK-based providers known for their speedy, powerful performance and fairly priced plans. That being said, if you are looking for something simpler, Webhosting UK has more options to offer, including shared, cloud, WordPress, VPS and e-mail hosting.
InMotion Hosting is yet another well-rounded host, offering a myriad of options for all kinds of businesses. While it offers more hosting options overall, when it comes to dedicated servers, RapidSwitch is a clear-cut winner.
At the end, to answer the question of how well RapidSwitch holds to our standards, we have to ask yet another one. How would you find a 20-year old web hosting provider offering cost-effective, highly scalable, stable and swiftly deployable dedicated solutions, backed with round-the-clock customer support and 100% uptime SLA? If you are in search of a dedicated server for a demanding business set on a path of long-term growth and success, RapidSwitch might be one of the best choices for you.
However, if you need something much simpler for a personal blog, uncomplicated website or a little online shop of wonders, RapidSwitch will be too much of a good thing and overly eager to lighten your pockets. This is why you should take a look at other hosts such as HostGator, Hostinger or Bluehost who offer more hosting options overall.