This is a terrific site and I've learned a great deal.
After 25 years of running an HR consulting business, I've finally decided to create a website!
After lurking for weeks trying to find an appropriate host for a simple site, my head is spinning from everybody's likes and dislikes. My needs are minor.
At any rate, I'll post in the appropriate forum and try to get some concrete suggestions.
I do applaud all of you who take the time to educate and advise us newbies.
It is against the Forum Guidelines for Hosters to post about their Services so you will have to go by first-hand experience provided by others, about the Hoster they are with.
Best advice is to start making a list, and checking it twice.
Spreadsheet format might be best as you can detail why you like, don't like, someone's Service. Once you have a shortlist of about 5 names you start getting serious. Contact them by eMail, phone, whatever, and ask a few questions about their packages. That should give who to start with now and who to immediately move to, if plan B is required. And don't lose that list!
Some people like to go local but with IM programs like; Yahoo Msgr, Skype, etc. or for those that use Vonage, long distance doesn't really matter anymore. Even the cost of long distance calls are pretty cheap. Best to decide ahead of time though, as you could spend a fair amount of time communicating with your Hoster, at least in the beginning. Once you start getting the hang of how things work you'll have less need to contact your Hoster; unless there are problems with the Hosting service.
With any potential Hoster, Features / Price / Support can be checked out before signing up. The last point to consider, Service or Uptime, cannot usually be determined until one actually starts using it.
To help overcome that, there are various places that provide Free or Paid uptime monitoring and the following three provide both:
Using a combination of all on one Hoster or each on different Hosters, can give you a good idea on their Service before using them. And, as people are quick to complain and slow to praise -- just the way we are I guess -- look for a Forum at your potential Hoster. Reading through various posts will give a good idea of how other people judge the Hoster along with how they reply to posts.
Overall, research and patience are two important tools when checking most things, Hosting or otherwise.