Prices for web hosting are coming down all the time, and lower prices can actually put people off a host. Personally, I don't think price is a good indication of the quality of web hosting. Obviously, if a host offers you 15GB space for $1, the service is not going to be good, and they will probably cut you off if you were to use all your space. Just make sure that you can afford the hosting, and it is not expensive, and look for a decent host in the other ways:
Reliability is a big factor in choosing a web host. If you are on a host's site and it goes down more than once, then look elsewhere. Remember, there are enough hosts on the Internet for you to be picky. To check the uptime go to siteuptime.com, and set up a monitoring service on your hosts website (this can be free or paid for. Paid for is obviously more accurate). If your prospective host's website goes down much, then you know not to go there.
Check out your hosts News section. How many times are they pre-warning of upgrades, which may cause downtime? Just because they warn you about it doesn't mean it isn't a problem. You should expect some downtime from upgrades, but too much and you should go elsewhere.
Check out your host's help resources. Do they have manuals, video tutorials, FAQ's etc? Think about the ones you need the most and make sure your host has them. Make sure the resources are quality. Are the FAQ's giving correct answers? Are the video tutorials showing you the quickest way? Are the manuals showing all the options?
Look at how your host gives customer support. Phone, email, live chat, IM? Make sure you host has the ones you need the most. Check that your host answers quickly and correctly by asking them a simple question- do they have an uptime guarantee, for example. Make sure they are polite, answer correctly and quickly. If they take longer than 24 hours to reply then don't go with them, and if they guarantee a reply within a shorter amount of time, and don't fulfill this, then don't go with them. Make sure live chat is manned for a decent amount of time each day and whenever you ring them you actually get a person. There are obviously other checks you could do, but you get the idea.
If your host lists testimonials it has been given, along with the authors website, you could try emailing the customer on their website, asking for their opinion about the host. While you're there, check that the testimonial is genuine. If it's not, drop that host however good they seem to be.
To the average web master server specs are not an issue. Just check that your host will support anything you have that is 'different', like an uncommon domain extension or file type.
Security could be an issue, if you have an online shop or hold personal details on your users. If you have the money, you may want to do a security check at alertra.com. For the average webmaster though, just asking your host some questions about the security is enough. Make sure that they can give decent answers and are happy to answer the questions.
The other thing to think about is how fast your host is, in regards to page loading. Obviously steer clear of a host who's page takes ages to load, and then check where your host is ranked at hostingspeeds.com. Another test you can do is at hwww.iwebtool.com/speed_test. Put in your hosts website, and any other websites you know are hosted by them. If you are switching hosts, put your current host in to compare.
Do your plans give you enough resources, like email accounts or MySQL databases? Make sure that you have enough of each for your site now, and make sure you have enough spare for your website to grow.
Make sure your web host does not give you too much space or bandwidth for a too cheap price. It could mean that they don't actually have those resources if you were to try and use them (known as overselling), or it could mean if you did fill up your allocated space you will get cut off, without warning or explanation. If you are offered too much, it may be worth asking your host how they did manage it. Not all hosts will do the above (like cut you off), and will just upgrade their servers as they go along, which is fine.
If you do all the above then you will probably find a good host, but remember that a host that is great for one person may not be great for you. Remember to post reviews, good and bad, about your host, to help others, and good luck with your search!
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