Questions about getting started and upgrading

I’m interested in putting my site up on DreamHost and would appreciate it if some existing users could answer some questions for me.

I know it’s long, but I tried to be as detailed as possible to (hopefully) get the best answers possible.

I would like to start out on the Shared hosting and move to a VPS later on if necessary.
I would like to spend as little money as possible as I am funding this project out of my own pocket and new websites won’t exactly generate enough revenue to fund themselves initially.
I have some experience with shared hosting with other companies, but I’m a total noob when it comes to everything else.

Questions about starting out with shared hosting:
When I open an account, I plan to start with 3 Wordpress sites, each running no more than 4 plugins, Including WP Super Cache.
One of the sites will host downloadable content and possibly also get a forum at a later stage.
The sites will probably start out with less than 100 hits per month, but the site hosting my downloads may rapidly grow and need to serve over 1000 users per day (possibly as many as 100 at a time) and transfer over 100GB per day. Given that I’ll be caching everything, it should all be served as static content until I add a forum later on.
My second site may host an image gallery that will need to serve about 50 users per day.

1. How much traffic can the shared servers handle?
I know this is difficult to answer as it is site dependent, but it would be great if people who have run WordPress on shared hosting could give me an approximate figure.
Do you think the shared servers will be able to cope with the usage outlined above, or will I need to upgrade before I get that many visitors?

2. Will I need to upgrade when I add the forum?
I’m suspecting that I will, given that forums rely heavily on the database.

3. What’s the policy on mass-mailing?
I may want to make subscriber mailing lists.
I may also want to use my site to return large amounts of e-mail to people that send me spam. (revenge spamming)

Questions about Upgrading:
1. How easy is it to upgrade to a VPS?
Will DreamHost transfer my site for me, or will I need to move the files myself and set it up again?

2. What happens to remaining credit?
If I pay up-front for a year of shared hosting and have a few months remaining, will it be transferred to an equivalent value of VPS hosting?

3. Hosting applications on a VPS?
Can I run other Linux applications/servers (e.g. Teamspeak Server) on my VPS, and how easy are they to manage?
I don’t really need to, but if I can, I will.

Thanks for reading. Any answers will be greatly appreciated.

Notice to the Mods: If you think this may get more/better answers in another section, please move it as required.

[quote]I may also want to use my site to return large amounts of e-mail to people that send me spam. (revenge spamming)

We have absolutely no interest in hosting a customer that would engage in this sort of purposeless, disruptive behavior.

I’m not serious about that one. I won’t do it if it’s not allowed. That’s why I’m asking ahead of time.
[size=-2]If I ever really feel the need to do this (which I may not) and you don’t want me putting it through your servers, I’ll set up my own SMTP server at home.[/size]

My purpose is to host a personal website, not to spam people.
[size=-2]I was just wondering about additional uses…[/size]

What I really need to know is how far I’m likely to get on shared hosting before needing my own VPS and how easy the upgrade process is.
[size=-2]Dreamhost’s shared hosting is a bit pricey but the VPS offers are great, so I wouldn’t mind starting with shared hosting here if the upgrade process is reasonably painless.
I’m also interested in the performance as, for the purpose of cost-saving, I’d like to stay on shared hosting until an upgrade is absolutely necessary.[/size]

I’d appreciate it if I could get the other questions answered.

The transition from shared hosting to VPS was nearly seamless for the two times I have done it. Remaining credit is added to your account and your monthly bill deducts from that credit before charging you.

So no reason not to start out small and then upgrade; however, it sounds like you have some plans for more traffic, in which case you might as well start with a VPS, since basic VPS is only a few dollars more than shared hosting.

The advantage being that with a VPS you can view your memory usage and get a better idea of the needs of your site, while a shared hosting account is affected by many factors and might not be your particular site that is slowing things down (so more guesswork involved)

Do a few quick searches of previous posts. No offence, but I don’t see any questions which have not already been answered here dozens of times before.