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Choosing a web hosting

What should you consider when looking for a web hosting provider?

Obviously, the hosting plan must technically fit your needs, and there is a wide choice of offerings ranging from expensive dedicated server hosting to cheap PHP/MySQL hosting.

What makes the differences between the hosting companies has little to do with the disk space you get or how many free software they allow you to use. In my experience, there are two elements that make the difference: how fast is their network, and how responsive and qualified is their support staff. I have seen in this respect huge variations.
Big names are not a guarantee you'll get a good service. For example, although I've never tried Yahoo hosting, Yahoo domains is notoriously very bad. So, if you consider buying the service of a hosting company, I suggest you contact their support staff to find out what kind of reply you get, and how long it takes.
If you can't find how to contact them: run.

Speed information is available for most hosts from websites like Alexa and Netcraft, so do your homework and check this as well.

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