Ok, so I decided to go with Magento for my little project. I am confident that I made the right decision. However, I am in no way confident that I made the correct decision about my hosting company. I have a hosting package with 1and1 Hosting that I use for random testing, FTP, email, and random other geeky goodness. So far, for the small tasks I have thrown at it, it has been a solid host. However, after spending several hours trying to install Magento and dealing with several failed connections, corrupted files, and random other annoyances, I am ready to throw in the towel with 1and1.
Please understand, I do not in any way claim to be an expert when it comes to web-design, coding, or computers in general. However, I have over 15 years experience in the field and would describe myself as "capable." I have worked for companies where I was entirety of the IT Department and I have worked for companies where I was but a cog in the wheel. My experience covers the gamut of computer related specialties. Competent at all, Master of nothing; I suppose.
The first issue, which should have been a key indication as to their level of support, is that fact that they are still using PHP4 as their default. PHP5 is available if you simply place a line of code into your htaccess file. No biggie. Got that sorted. FINALLY got Magento installed after setting up the database and squaring away all of the pre-reqs. Did a couple security updates and... CRITICAL MASSIVE UBER FAIL.
Ok, maybe not that bad. But it seemed that every time I made a simple change in code I would run into problems. I admitted that it might have been me so I did another fresh install and did things by the book. I made no code changes myself and simply went with the bare stock files. Still had problems. So, I conned a friend into setting me up with some space on one of his GoDaddy accounts. Uploaded Magento, got everything running, and went at the code. Not a single problem. Everything ran extra smooth.
So, boys and girls, daddy is switching hosting companies and starting over.
Moral of the story? Fuck 1and1 Hosting.