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300MB of bandwidth? Assuming you mean 300MB per month, that is a fairly small amount. Let's say your home page is 30K (Check its filesize on your machine and compare). Then 300MB would be sufficient to allow visitors to download that page 10000 times per month. Of course if you have 9 more pages on your site, and every visitor requests all 10 pages, then your quota would allow 1000 visitors. This would do for a small specialty site, but I emphasize small and specialty!
10MB of disk space... Well, how big is the hard drive in your computer? How much of it is taken up by your local copy of your site files? Again, 10MB is fine for a small specialty site, but not for a bigger one.
Just for comparison, an account I control for a small site has a bandwidth limit of 7500MB, and a disk quota of 200MB. This is in the "$29.95 a month" category of shared server pricing.
The numbers you are quoting can be had for free along with a well-advertised national (USA) dial-up ISP service costing $10.00 per month.
I hope this helps you "get a feel" for the numbers - You will develop a sense about these things over time. I would advise you to start with more server capacity than you need and scale down from there, rather than getting a small quota and banging into the quota limit three days after you take your site live! This happened recently to someone here at WebmasterWorld, and his only alternatives were to pay a ridiculous "over-quota" fine, or take his site off-line for several days. I believe he opted for the off-line method... OK for a hobby site, but not good if you're an e-commerce site!
Hope this helps,
10 megs maybe enough depending on what the site is doing. Static html and small graphics don't take too much space. Dynamic database driven sites with user content takes a whole lot more.
FWIW Brett says he uses 2 gigs a day in bandwidth for webmasterworld.
I'm in the same boat you are - maybe a few years along. I log in here at WebmasterWorld to learn! Every once in a while, I can contribute something...
On the few sites that I run (I have a different day job), I always sign up for the longest term available if I have prior experience with that hosting provider. It's just a better deal, and moving sites is not my favorite thing to do. Lower price, less paperwork, less maintenance with a longer-term account.
Time to get on-line? In my experience registering a domain name and buying hosting space in a package deal, it took 3 to 5 days. Buying separately takes longer, since you have to get your new IP address from the hosting service, and tell the domain name registrar so they can set up the Domain Name Server. You can upload your site and begin testing as soon as you have your IP address if you use relative, rather than absolute links on your pages.
Rip-offs? Stay away from any hosting service that won't give you enough control to block bad robots. For Apache/Unix hosts, this means you need .htaccess with mod_rewrite enabled. For IIS and other servers, this means your control panel must allow you to block access by user agent, IP address, and referer at a minimum.
There are a lot of "resellers" out there. They buy bandwidth and disk space in bulk from major providers, and re-sell it by running virtual hosting programs on the server. In general, the measures they must take to prevent their users from interfering with each other's sites limit how much "power" they can allow you to have in controlling your server environment - That's a problem. So, I prefer to go with the companies that actually own and administrate their own servers. (I hope I have stated only the truth here and don't offend any resellers who are present.)
Exactly when you might run out of bandwidth is dependent upon how much you are allowed, and how much you and your users consume. And don't forget all those e-mail harvesters, site downloaders, and search engine robots. If you don't control which of them can access your content, you can easily lose control and quickly go over quota. It might happen on the 28th of the month, or on the 2nd! That's why I insist on the hosting provider giving me the tools to deal with this issue.
A good rule of thumb is to guesstimate your need (by looking for competitive sites that have "hit counters" on them, and looking at their page sizes). Then double it. Then double it again (and maybe once more) to be safe. Like I said, better to pay for too much bandwidth at first and then scale down than too pay for too little and get cut off mid-month. (This does argue in favor of a short-term contract until you get used to these ideas.)
I don't want to violate the WebmasterWorld TOS by posting my personal preferences, but there was a thread here within the last few weeks about web hosting services - do a site search for related terms.
I hope I answered most of your Q's well enough to keep you busy for awhile - It is time to retire in Texas...
Since I didn't actually use my true URL to begin with, what will happen if I change my host?