To be very honest... I actually own a hosting company (we have over 3000 customers, all by word-of-mouth referral.. let me know if you'd like more info.. plus you can get snippetmaster PRO for free since I'm the owner..)... so this issue is very near and dear to my heart.
Of course, the first thing that pops into my head as a response is that your host should have given you a better response to your questions.. but not all hosts are as good as my guys.
So... What I recommend is first:
- Check to see what version of PHP 5 they are using. If it's latest version, then good. If not, then ask them to upgrade. There is no problem with php 4.4.9, but PHP 4.x has been discontinued by the PHP developers, so it's really any day now before some hacker figures out a security issue, and then you'll be in trouble if you're using any software with PHP 4. It's better to switch to PHP 5 now.. this way, your host can upgrade and you won't have any problems.
- Second... you should use a hosting provider that runs PHP using "cgi mode". This means that the PHP software runs as your account user, instead of under the "nobody" user.. so that you don't have to give world-write permissions to the files you want Snippetmaster to be able to edit.
Any good hosting provider should run PHP like this. Most don't because it is easier to run PHP using "nobody" user.. and also takes less resources, so the host can stick on a few more hundred users on the server to make more profit.
Third... in order to make things as secure as possible.. you should always run the latest version of all software on your account.
Other then that... not much else you can do.
Let me know if I can assist with anything.