1- Choose hosts that offer Unix or Linux operating systems, because this is a stable platform and easy to use. The vast majority of clients will not need Windows‐based hosting unless your site was written using ASP.
2- Features: The host should offer PHP 4 or 5, MySQL 4 or greater and support for, at a bare minimum, the number of databases used on your site (one for your forum, one for your blog, etc.). You should be able to set up databases yourself, or have your web designer do it for you; there is no need to go with a host that charges you extra to do this or makes you wait for them to take care of it when they find the time.
3- The web hosting provider should offer an easy‐to‐use control panel like cPanel; phpMyAdmin or a similar easy for managing databases, simple data backup options, and FTP access via a desktop client.
If a host tells you they only offer command‐line access to the hosting server or databases, run away; there is no need to settle for older technology like this, and very few hosts still force their clients to do it.
4-Webmail, spam filtering, email virus scanning, and the ability to white‐list and blacklist IP addresses are important features to look for in a hosting provider. Many hosts automatically refund downtime that exceeds their uptime guarantees, and this is a good sign of a trustworthy host.
5- Some websites will require more specialized options or other server types, and most web hosting companies offer many more features, but a host that meets these minimal requirements will work very well for the majority of clients.
From experience I can recommend inmotion hosting.
Several of my sites are currently hosted there, and most of my clients are now hosted there as well. inmotion hosting gets consistent high marks among hosting reviewers.
They have fast shared servers, up‐to‐date applications including built‐in scripts for setting up blogs and many other tools, and exceptional tech and customer support that has repeatedly gone above and beyond, inmotion including live chat during business hours.
You pay nothing, and should expect very little in return. This is in my opinion not a viable option for a business web site. Paying
more does not necessarily mean you’ll get a better host, but it usually means you’ll at least get better support.
In general, I believe that the old saying ‘you get what you pay
for’ is very true. If you choose to save a few dollars each month by going with a discount or free host, expect more downtime, less support, and more maintenance needed to keep your site running smoothly.
I cannot make any recommendations for free hosting companies, but can only say that my business is too important to take risks involved with using some of the hosts with which I’ve seen my clients struggle.
If this is your business, why run the risk of running into a major problem at the most inopportune time? Would it be an issue if your site or email service is down in the middle of a busy sales period? Is the money saved worth turning away potential customers and losing sales? In my opinion, the hassles and potential losses are not worth the dollars saved by using a free host. Choose a reliable hosting company at a fair price and you shouldn’t have to think about your site’s hosting very often.
Please keep in mind that I can make recommendations only for the hosting companies I’ve used myself; these are just my opinions. These recommendations are focused on the shared hosting packages that most clients will use, at least when starting out.