What all of those terms mean
This is how much space you get for your website and files – like your own little hard drive. How much space you need depends on the size of your install and media library.
This is the amount of data and traffic allowed from your site to your visitors. Your needs here will vary depending on the amount of visitors you receive, the size of your website, and if you have a lot of additional downloads offered on your site.
Backup copies of your website and database are worth their weight in gold. Gone are the days of fiddling with backup plugins or trying to remember to manually back up your site. Automatic backups mean they run on a schedule – usually daily – and safely store your backups for when you need them.
Secure File Transfer Protocol. This is just like the FTP you may be familiar with, but its much more secure. This allows you to securely connect to the server and upload/download files. This is especially useful if you are a developer or designer and need to maintain the site files.
Your IP is the actual web address of the machine where your website lives. In many cases, there will be many websites that share the same IP. With a dedicated IP, only your site is associated with your IP, giving you extra safety and security
Don’t worry about installing and configuring caching plugins. Most hosts should and can handle this on a server level. This means your website stays blazing fast without any ongoing maintenance or adjustments from you.
Some hosts don’t allow multisite setups on their system. There can be a few reasons like the additional configurations needed, or lack of support, but if multisite is important to you, keep an eye out for this.
One of the best features some hosting companies offer is the ability to quickly set up a clone or staging website of your production site. This is extremely useful if you want to test out changes before you apply them to your live site. It is as easy as clicking a button and your website is duplicated and you are able to have fun without the fear of breaking your website.
Big hosts will partner with security companies to include malware scanning on their servers. This keeps their system safe and secure, and is a great layer of protection for you. They are so confident, that they’ll fix your site for free if it gets hacked.
Help from people that know WordPress is an amazing thing if you’ve spent the last few years dealing with typical shared hosting tech support. Support ranges from email ticketing, live chat, to phone support.
When you need to accept payments through your website, or are handling sensitive data through forms, you’ll need to add extra security to your site with an SSL certificate This is the https:// you see in the address bar of some websites(like this one). When it is supported, you’ll still need to purchase a certificate either though the host, or from another reseller, but note some hosts charge a maintenance fee ontop of this either for setup or monthly.
There aren’t many times that you need direct database access, but it is nice to have when that time comes up. Whether it be importing a site, or you need to manually alter a table or row, phpmyadmin is there for you if you need it.
Don’t worry about CNAMES, A records, MX records, and all that. Hosts that utilize premium DNS partner with leading DNS companies like DYN to offer you a managed solution. Simply point your name-servers at the host, and they will deal with the configurations to make sure your email, and subdomains, and the ‘www’ and non-www versions of your domain redirect properly.