Is there any real performance gain on a virtual hosting over a shared hosting? Do you recommend any virtual hosting costing bellow $100?
The answer is "it depends." Shared hosting is usually defined as having non-privileged access to a server along with multiple other users. You are not able to start/stop services, deploy custom system applications (Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc.) and usually cannot edit things like Apache configuration files (which is why .htaccess files were born). The resources are managed by the host and you share with others. If one site uses all the resources other sites will suffer.
VPS solutions offer more isolation and give you some kind of "root" control. This is accomplished through chrooting, UML or virtualization, usually. More control over your environment is afforded and the isolation is greater, depending on the mechanism used.
I would recommend looking at http://slicehost.com for a high-quality, low-cost modern VPS solution. Slicehost offers VMs on Xen hypervisors enabling you to run one of several Linux distributions. Prices start at $20/mo for 256M RAM slice. Select your distro and set up the server as you see fit.
If you want a shared hosting-type platform that does not require setting up the server look at http://mosso.com's Cloud Sites offering. This is not "shared" in the traditional since, but a "cloud" cluster of resources to host PHP, ASP, .NET, Ruby on Rails applications with MySQL or MSSQL database backends. Load the application and data and allow the Mosso admins to manage hardware and all the system and services for you. Unlike shared hosting if you need more resources the "Cloud" delivers them automatically.
Other alternative exist, such as Amazon's EC2.
Hope that is helpful.
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