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Some hosts allow to host more than one domain on your account. This could be a very great way to cut costs especially with new sites that may take a while to build up traffic. Once any of your sites grows too large you can always move it. Please be cautious though heavy interlinking between sites on same i.p. address may get you dinged by search engines.
For most part 6-10 dollars per month is what I consider great area to be in cost wise. Anything lower than 6 and I would get nervous. Anything higher than 10-15 per month and it better have a lot to offer that I can't get anywhere else like bandwidth, space, etc. That's a very basic rule of thumb from my own experience, but it all depends mainly on what your site needs are.
You need to know if there are any script limitations. Are there scripts like cgi, php, etc you want to use that your web host doesn't allow? Of course most are going to work with php and cgi with no problem. Also find out about how many SQL databases you can get and if they offer it at all. Databases can be a very powerful tool that can save you tons of time and are usually necessary for forums.
Do research. Check out sites with reviews from actual customers. You need to see what your average joe says about uptime and other factors of web host you're thinking about using. Remember, most people will complain more than take time to praise, but a really good host will have a lot more praise then criticism.
A new thing is starting to come up. Certain search engines may penalize sites that are on a server with red flag sites like gambling, spam sites, adult, etc. Gambling and adult sites tend to spam a lot so search engines may be penalizing whole servers that house these sites. Make sure your web host will put you on a server free of these types of websites.
Always think ahead to save time and money having to movie to another web host. Always get as much bandwidth and web space you can get at an affordable price. Ask yourself if your site grows faster than you predicted what is next level with web host your using? How much is it going to cost to upgrade if necessary, and what do they offer? Some companies that offer reasonable rates and good plans only offer one plan, but they tend to increase their plan's offerings every year or so. So keep that in mind as well when considering how much bandwidth and space your going to need in coming year or so.
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