Many introductory hosting offers include a free discounted domain name for the first year. After the first year the full annual renewal price will be in effect. You will want to know the cost of the full price annual domain name renewal hosted by your provider. The free domain may not look so good when the non-discounted domain renewal price is determined.
The difference in most web hosting companies is NOT the hosting Control Panel. The vast majority provide cPanel. It's not still the year 2001 is it? The best alternative hosting Control Panel to cPanel is the modern up-to-date Hepsia hosting Control Panel.
The multi-lingual Hepsia Hosting Control Panel contains a domain manager, a drag and drop file manager, an email manager, a database manager as well as many other features. Besides English, customers can choose to manage their hosting accounts in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian.
The cPanel Hosting Control Panel is a Unix based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a web site. It is a popular control panel that various hosting providers pay extra for to provide to their clients.
Like everything else it is a matter of price/preference. There is usually access to a demo account of the hosting provider's control panel that will give an idea of the capabilities. It is worth checking out. Look for it on their site.
Unlimited Web Hosting*
Some of the best cheap web hosting providers are offering plans with unlimited amounts of specific resources, such as disk space, bandwidth, domains/subdomains, databases, and email accounts. They are claiming that access to these features is available without particular limits.
Upon a careful examination of the company's Terms and Conditions it will more than likely be determined that they have a fairly ambiguous definition of unlimited. A common web host provider's definition of unlimited is "normal usage."
Their term "normal usage" is derived from the average usage of their clients. The normal average disk storage of a typical web site is less than 5GB and that is also the threshold of the amount of disk space that will be backed up each day by the host provider.
The same goes for bandwidth. There is an average amount of "normal usage" that determines the unlimited amount that is specified by each provider. Exceeding these ambiguous limits will more than likely incur a cost increase or an upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Your hosting needs will entirely depend on the particular kind of web site that will be operated. A site with tons of graphics and pictures, audio and video files will require dramatically more disk space and bandwidth requirements. It may be necessary to bite the bullet and pay for an upgraded hosting plan that will suite your needs if large amounts of data storage and bandwidth will be required.
There are no 100% guarantees. The best cheap web hosting providers do what they can and do a fairly good job to prevent and/or recover from a failure. Hardware fails, software fails, electricity fails, it's not a matter of if but a matter of when. It all falls under the category of crap happens.
Some providers backup their servers daily, some on a weekly basis and some only backup periodically. A manual backup of your site can be made at any time through the hosting Control Panel. Some hosts offer a premium automatic backup service, for an additional monthly fee, that can be scheduled whenever you prefer. The provider's Terms and Conditions will probably specify that they are not responsible for your data.
The odds of never losing data are against you. Many providers make claims of 99%+ uptime and that is probably fairly accurate. I can't imagine not having backups/copies of everything on your site and on your computer. Well, I can imagine it I guess but I don't like to think about it. Be proactive. There is only so much they can do. It is ultimately up to you to have a Plan B.
Money Back Guarantee
Be sure the provider being considered offers a Money Back Guarantee. This means that if you are not satisfied with the web hosting services, you can receive a full refund for a cancellation within the specified Money Back Guarantee period. Typically, accounts canceled in the first 30 days of service qualify for a full refund.
For plans with an Anytime Money Back Guarantee, if you cancel the services any time after 30 calendar days from the date of purchase you will receive a pro-rated refund of the remaining portion of fees paid for the services.
However, all domain registrations and domain transfer services are final. They are not included in the Money Back Guarantee and will be subject to a fee that is calculated on the basis of the actual NON-PROMOTIONAL annual price of the purchased domain, multiplied by the number of years of registration.
This means that if your sign-up order includes a domain name registration/transfer service and you decide to make use of the Money Back Guarantee that is offered - a partial refund will be issued (you will receive back the difference between the total transaction amount and the domain registration/transfer fee).
The best cheap web hosting providers live and die on their customer support. Over the years I have seen very bad, very good and all the in-between. It is something that is fairly subjective and until or unless it is needed it will depend on how things transpire from the moment they are contacted about an issue.
Depending on your needs a full 24/7/365 customer support center with a low response time may be desired. Most providers tout their customer support departments and provide various ways to contact them on their websites. Once a customer is signed up the usual way to acquire support is through a support ticket system in the control panel.
Ideally a situation will arise within the Money Back Guarantee period and it will be an easy choice to make, stay or go. A factual statement I can make at this time regarding my personal web sites hosted at iDataSite is that the response time/resolution from support was less than fifteen minutes.