First trick is the 200mb bandwidth cap - or at least some bandwidth cap on most of these cheap options. About 1000-1500 visitors a month is usually enough to kick your bandwidth over 200mb. This threshold can be considerably smaller if you're looking to host a blog - because the front page can be up to 5 times as large as a standard website (10+ posts on one page plus a preponderance of widgets!).
And then... the coup de grace.
What you're seeing above is called a PING test. The top window shows a ping to a "cheap hosting server", while the bottom window shows a ping to one of the servers in our rack at IS. Cough. Cough. Pat on back.
For those readers not completely up on the geek speak - a ping test is simply like shouting out to another server across the Internet - and seeing how quickly they shout back.
Cheap hosting HELOOO = 353 milliseconds.
Good local hosting HELOOO = 25 milliseconds.
MILLIseconds you say? Bah. Doesn't sound like much? BUT... if you're writing complex hosted apps or even simple Web 2.0 apps that do a lot of AJAX'ing (and other acronyms I would hate to get wrong) - you're doing THOUSANDS of shout-outs every session. So normalise it out - and your apps are running 11 times slower for local users if you host cheaply / oversees.
And yet, our bandwidth crises is so bad - most bloggers and startups are forced to host oversees anyway. Pity.
What are your PING rates looking like for your blog hosting? Drop us a comment. It's a PING OFF.
(Thanks to Brett, for actually having the nouse - great word, click for definition - to check when I accused him of paying too much for our server rack!).