For example, you may certainly contact your host at any time, but when are they available to respond to your questions and concerns? How long will it take for someone to get back to you? Will there be someone to help you if your mission-critical website goes down at 3:00 in the morning? What language(s) do your host providers speak? Support in Malagasy is probably essential if you live and work in Madagascar, but fairly useless if you are in North America.
You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
The user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (user is denied root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. The user is disallowed full control so that the provider can guarantee quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems. The user typically does not own the server. The server is leased to the client.
Free hosting simply isn’t capable of things greater than practice. If you to learn how to do the basics or even set up a simple website, free website hosting is going to be just fine. For big dreams and big projects, however, you’ll need something that’s more powerful, more capable and more reliable. I, however, don’t think you need to spend big bucks. There are plenty of amazing cheap web hosts to choose from.
In order to register any domain, you must provide certain personal information that you may not wish to be publically searchable in the Whois database. Signing up for WhoisGuard is a great way to keep your registration data private. WhoisGuard acts as a "shield" for your searchable information, displaying the address, phone number, and email of the domain registrar (Namecheap, e.g.) instead of your own. Keep in mind that WhoisGuard is an optional security add-on that must be renewed separately when you renew your domain.
Moving to another website consists of transferring the website’s files and databases, configuring your site with the new host, and directing your domain’s DNS to the new host. Once you pick a new site host, they can usually help you out with this process. The cost will depend on the host you’re switching to, but it will probably be anywhere from $150-$400.