With literally thousands of web hosting companies in industry all vieing for your business, carefully consider these key points to ensure you make most well informed decision possible.
1. Server Space
First, think about how much space your site will take up on a server. Unless you are planning on running a software repository or an image gallery, files that make up your website will probably only use between 1 and 5 megabytes of disk space. Many companies will offer several hundreds of megabytes of webspace for a very reasonable price in attempt to out perform their competitors, but ask yourself "Do I really need that much space?". Though it's true that you should allow your site "room to grow", don't opt for what seems like a great deal on a massively sized account if you'll never use all of space offered. Chances are you'll find an even better deal on an amount of space more suitable for your site size.
2. Data Transfer Allowance
This decision should be based on same principal as above. Though you may be convinced that your site will be next Amazon or Yahoo and receive a gazillion visitors a day, you really shouldn't need an extremely high data transfer allowance unless, as stated above, you're running a software download site or a large image gallery. Even heavily trafficked normal HTML sites usually only use a few gigabytes per month in bandwidth allowance. Don't go overboard just because it seems like an awesome deal. You may also want to be wary of companies who offer "unlimited" data transfer as there are usually some fine-print stipulations that make this claim not entirely true. Be sure to read their terms and conditions very carefully before opting for this type of account. A five or ten gigabyte bandwidth allowance is usually plenty enough for a small to medium sized business or personal site.
3. Technical Support
A very important point to consider when choosing a web host is types of technical support offered by company and how easy they are to contact when you need them. Ideally, a company should offer 24/7 toll-free telephone support and email. I have seen companies that do not even offer a telephone number on their website. You should look for a company that is very easily accessible in your time of need. Nothing is more frustrating than being in middle of working on your site and needing an important piece of information to finish job and not being able to contact your hosting company to find it out.
4. CGI-Bin Access
No matter what type of site you are planning on running, chances are you will eventually need to install some type of CGI script. Whether it be a mailing list management script, contact form processor, or maybe even a fancy credit card processing script, your hosting account will need to allow you to install and run them. This requires access to a special folder on your server called "CGI-Bin". Some hosting accounts will only allow you to use "pre-installed" scripts as a security measure. These are scripts that owners of company have installed and configured so that they know that they will work properly and not adversely affect their server's performance. That may be all you need, but if you have knowledge, it's always nice to have ability to install your own scripts and configure them to suit your individual needs. You should also be sure that account you choose supports language in which your scripts are written, such as PHP, Perl, etc.