You Don't Need to Pay an Arm and a Leg for Web Hosting
If you're in the web hosting market for the first time, the options available to you can be daunting. You probably know that getting web hosting is a necessary part of getting a web site online, but if haven't shopped around and are vague on some of the technical aspects of web hosting, you have a little bit of a learning curve ahead of you.
First, web hosting is hard drive space and bandwidth
To keep it simple, web hosting is simply hosting your data (in this case, web site data) on someone else's computer that has a perminant connection to the internet. The owners of the computer monitor the amount of data you transfer through their internet connection, and that's called bandwidth.
Second, size does matter (with web hosting)
You get what you pay for with web hosting, but sometimes you end up paying for stuff you just don't need. Most web sites start out needing very low bandwidth since a new site only gets visitors after promoting it somehow. The upshot is that most of the time, it's best to start out with a smal web hosting plan, and then work your way up from there.
A rough plan for basic web hosting
To start out with, a gigabyte of bandwidth and 100 megs of space are typically 5-10 times what you actually need, but they tend to be the among the least expensive hosting plans available. Prices for these kinds of plans range from $7 - $20 a month. This is typically a low monthly bill, but price shopping can help you get the most bang for your buck.
Contrary to the general principle of going for the chepest service provider, I would say that first on your comparison shopping checklist should be finding a web hosting provider with good customer reviews. It's relatively simple to set up a web hosting business. The challenge is providing good tools to your customers and good customer support.
Since the cost of web hosting is fairly low, trying to snip of a couple of bucks from your overhead every month by chosing a hosting company that doesn't put their customers first can turn into a huge problem later on.
Don't forget to look at uptime
One more thing, as you're shopping around for a web host: make sure they mention something about their uptime. Uptime is the percentage of time thier servers are up in any given month.