No. of Recommendations: 6
What's the best low cost web hosting service?

Haha!! You ask that question as though there might be a finite number of hosting services. I offer hosting and many, many associates of mine offer hosting. "Best" is in the eye of the beholder. While I can recommend a few, including my own, I'd advise you to be more specific - best for what?

For instance, there are Unix-based servers, Windows-based, etc. Since you will be doing development, a lot depends on what you'll be using for development. If it'll be straight html, you can probably use just about anything. If your eventual shopping cart needs a specific environment, you should plan ahead for that. For instance, i believe that Mals-e, which is free, uses MySQL which runs under Unix. Other shopping carts may use SQL Server, etc.

You may need a host that will charge a lower rate for high traffic. Or offer a faster backbone for graphics intensive pages. You get the idea - define your needs, then look for the provider that best meets them.

What e-commerce 'features' are important, required, overhyped?

Here I can't give any direct advice, but I can say that the cost varies widely, from free to thousands. And your family member will need to decide what types of payments will be accepted (credit card, PayPal, etc.). If credit cards will be accepted, then the "e-commerce solution" must be compatible with your family member's merchant account and vice versa.

What hidden costs will I need to worry about?

Incremental costs of extra storage and usage limits. DOWNTIME (too expensive at any cost, IMO). Technical issues/incompetence of your host.

What is the one feature I can't do without?

GOOD customer service. No matter what happens, you want someone who will be available to solve problems and/or provide guidance. If this is the first time you're doing a site yourself, a little extra $$ for good service may more than pay for itself in saved time and aggravation.

If you'd like specific recommendations of providers, contact me directly via email (I don't want to be accused of selling on the site). And no, I wouldn't recommend my own services. I don't cater to the "do-it-yourselfer," I'm a more "full-service" kinda gal.

SoftSimp

BTW, what sort of business will your family member be running? (Just curious.)
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