The choice between web hosts is a confusing one. I've been looking up all the suggestions made so far, and deciding between the options available is making my brain hurt. It's almost reached the "information overload" point, where I tend to just go with my gut instinct by default. In this case that would be my initial choice of DreamHost, as my instinct can weasel out of the decision if it turns out unwise by pointing out it was mainly based on a gut feeling. Whereas if I use logic to pick something else and it turns out to be a mistake, my instinct will point out how stupid my logic was and make me feel like a big idiot. My gut instinct can be a real bastard like that.
The main thing the sceptic in me is concerned about is that DreamHost's bandwidth allotment is way higher than the competitors, which rings a few alarm bells in my mind; I'm wondering what the catch is. My hunch is that they're attempting to lure in the people who think that enough of the world cares about their blog about their cats to warrant that much bandwidth, but I'm not sure if there's something else I should be worried about, such as potential problems with uptime. Although most of the complaints I have read seem to stem from someone else on their server hogging the CPU, which was fixed in a few days and will be a problem with every shared hosting plan.
That being said, everything else seems fine and I've read many good opinions of DreamHost from people who are doing the sorts of things I'd like to do there. I'm not sure if it'll be the best hosting if I ever decide to start running an Internet business (still on the cards), but to start up a web journal, host a few games and start up this web comic I've been meaning to start for a year now it looks like a good place to start.
I'm still going to wait to the end of the week before making any decisions, because I need time for everything to sink it. I'm just a bit worried that this could become a major point of procrastination. My feeling is that it's just better to pick something and learn what I need through experience. The worst that could happen is that I'm down a hundred bucks or so if I need to swap provides (well, actually the worst that could happen is that the hosters then destroy my website, but I don't think any of the big named providers would do something like that).
What's in a Name? Enter the Web Domain
The next big choice I'll have to make is what to call my website. I've got a few ideas that I'm bouncing around, but the tricky part is planning for the future. There's a good chance that the name I pick will stick with me for a while. Plus if I go commercial in the future, I'd probably like to keep a similar name to the website where I'm offering my freebie games.
I've made my mind up on a few things already. I don't think I'll go with the Australian country code prefix ".au" at the end of my address. On the Internet as long as you aren't selling local services no-one really cares what country you live it. Plus I'd have to go through an Australian registrar to get it; most of the U.S. ones don't have the capabilities to offer the Aussie prefixes. No big loss.
I'm still undecided about whether to go with a dot-com or a dot-net. To me, dot-com seems more appropriate for a business oriented site, so if I were interested in eventually selling things it's the option of choice. Plus it's the default that everyone uses. However for a personal site I'd probably prefer a dot-net, as it just sounds more techy. I could always go with both, and just point them both to the same place while I'm learning the ropes. Internet domains are pretty cheap these days.
The other question is where to register my domains, especially if I do decide to go with multiple ones eventually. Most web hosting offers a freebie web domain, but I'm unsure if it's considered good practice to make that one your "main" web domain; I've read concerns about ownership of the domain space. I've also read that Go Daddy is good for registering domains if you have hosting some place else; they do seem to offer a good price, but I'm not sure if that's the only reason they are recommended. Some advice on this would be welcome!
A lot of questions I need to find answers for. I'll probably spend a fair bit more of today doing my own research so I can put my mind on other things tomorrow. I think I'll aim to come to some conclusions by the end of the week so I can get this process moving.
Any suggestions (particularly about the domain hosting issue) are still welcome; I'm grateful for all the suggestions made in the previous post.