Web hosting. If the term means anything to you at all then you either already have a hosting provider or are looking for one. Either way I hope to educate you on some of the basics to look for in a hosting company. Personal, business, free, ecommerce or discount an educated consumer makes all the difference.
When reviewing hosting providers most people wouldn't put this point first, but I do. Support. Yes, most companies have some type of support, but not all are equal. First and foremost is availability. Support staff should be available 24/7 by phone and email. Response time should also be quick and wait times should be announced and published on the web site. Technicians should be friendly, educated and speak your language.
After support the next most important set of things to look for in a hosting company are features. If the company can't provide what you need then you might as well look elsewhere. Some basics are of course capacity and bandwidth, but more importantly is the ability to do what you need to with your site. Ecommerce, blogging, forums, scripting and databases are much more important anymore then the amount of space you get.
Last but not least is price. When I say price I don't mean to suggest you get the cheapest plan out there. You should find the plan that has the features you need and is affordable. Don't get more than you need simply because you can. There are many hosting companies out there with bargain basement pricing. They can do this because your server is in their basement next to their washer and dryer. Be careful who you do business with and remember you get what you pay for.
In summary I just want to point out that the hosting environment is changing. With blogs and the like becoming more prevalent hosting companies need to adapt to stay in business. You as the consumer need to be educated in what you need and don't be afraid to make a switch if you have to.