I’m always a little dubious when I see a host offering managed WordPress hosting at rock-bottom prices, but when I put Bluebird Hosting to the test, I was pretty impressed. Yes, there were a couple of teething problems at first (although nothing to do with the actual hosting), and the amount of storage you get on the Starter WordPress plan is downright ludicrous, but for performance, Bluebird Hosting really stands out.
Budget-Friendly, Feature-Packed Hosting with a Major Drawback
I’d never heard of Bluebird Hosting until I started testing Canadian web hosts in my search for the best, but after spending three months evaluating Bluebird Hosting, it’s certainly made it into my top three.
Bluebird Hosting has two main data centers in Canada – in Montreal and Toronto. There’s also a smaller facility in Beauharnois in Quebec (plus a datacenter in Frankfurt, Germany, for European customers). Its servers all run on CloudLinux OS, so there are no Windows hosting plans, but there are various shared hosting types to choose from.
You can choose regular shared hosting, WordPress shared hosting, or Elastic shared hosting, if you need a more powerful solution. Elastic shared hosting is an alternative to VPS (virtual private server) hosting that is easier to manage while still giving you the extra power and resources you need to run a large e-commerce website.
Bluebird Hosting’s plans are affordable and have (almost) all the features you need to get your website online quickly and easily – but there is one drawback that I’ll be explaining more about in the next section: storage limits.
For this review, I signed up for the Starter WordPress plan and put every aspect of Bluebird Hosting’s features to the test. I built a WordPress website, ran performance tests, and contacted support. Now, I’m here to bring you a hands-on overview of what you can expect if you host your website with Bluebird Hosting.
Great WordPress Tools, but Storage Limits Are Really Small
I honestly thought there was a typo on the Bluebird Hosting website when I saw that the Starter WordPress plan only comes with 2GB of storage space. I thought those hosts that only give you 5GB were stingy, but 2GB seems to be a little ridiculous.
I mean, you can build a website and have space to spare with 2GB of SSD – but you’ll have to pre-optimize HD images before you upload them (rather than using a WordPress image optimizing plugin like Smush) if you have an image-intensive website like a portfolio. It’s not a deal-breaker, but if there was one thing I could change about Bluebird Hosting, it would absolutely be the strict storage limits!
Even the top-tier Pro WordPress plan only comes with 10GB of storage (which is often the entry-level amount for international hosts like Hostinger and SiteGround). If you choose regular shared hosting, the limits are even more ridiculous – 500MB (Brood Plan), 1GB (Hatchling Plan), 5GB (Nestling Plan), and 10GB (Fledgling Plan).
The Elastic Shared Hosting plans aren’t much better than the WordPress ones. The bottom line is that the maximum amount of storage space you can get is 20GB, with the “Very High-Performance Elastic Plan”.
Other features worth mentioning are the unlimited email accounts, SpamAssassin spam protection, high-level security firewalls and DDoS protection, and the option to host multiple websites from a single account (except on the Starter WordPress hosting plan). Some plans also include a free domain name, but only if you pay upfront for one year or more (again, Starter WordPress is not eligible for this offer).
WordPress Management Tools
When you choose a WordPress hosting plan, you can choose to have WordPress pre-installed for you so you can skip the 1-click installer and just log in to your WordPress admin area with the details that Bluebird Hosting supplies.
Additionally, you can later configure the time and frequency of automatic backups and activate automatic updates for the WordPress platform, themes, and plugins. Bluebird Hosting doesn’t advertise its WordPress plans as managed, but essentially, you are getting a managed WordPress service for the price of shared hosting.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know how much it drives me mad when a web host doesn’t offer free SSL certificates or at the very least, make it easy to use free SSLs from Let’s Encrypt or Comodo. There’s really no excuse for not providing SSL certificates these days!
Fortunately, with Bluebird Hosting, Let’s Encrypt is fully supported and you can easily activate your free SSL certificate(s) from the DirectAdmin control panel (as shown in the screenshot from Bluebird Hosting below).
Free Website Migration
If you already have a WordPress website hosted elsewhere, then you can choose to have your existing website migrated to Bluebird Hosting. Some hosts will charge for website transfers, but Bluebird Hosting includes an expert migration for free.
Speed Optimization on CloudLinux OS Servers
CloudLinux OS servers are already fast, but Bluebird Hosting also includes WordPress optimization features to maximize your website’s performance. The OptiCache caching feature can (potentially) increase the speed of your website by up to three times, resulting in faster page loading speeds and a better experience for your visitors.See full list of features
Ease of use
Beginner-Friendly Control Panel for Easy Management
Signing up with Bluebird Hosting was problem-free – the most difficult thing you’re likely to face is choosing a plan and whether you want to pay for a year upfront or not. I did hit a technical issue with signing up, but it was nothing to do with the actual sign-up process. My account was flagged as being potentially fraudulent – but that’s something that can happen when I test web hosting providers in this kind of “mystery shopper” way and is very unlikely to happen when you sign up!
Managing Your Account and Using the Control Panel
Like a lot of other web hosting providers, Bluebird Hosting provides the super-simple WHMCompleteSolution admin panel for managing your account. It’s incredibly beginner-friendly, with tiles for your services, domains, support tickets, and invoices all in one place for easy access.
One thing I do want to point out is that Bluebird Hosting doesn’t use cPanel with its hosting plans. Instead, it uses the DirectAdmin Control Panel, which it describes as being “the easiest and fastest control panel available”. In a lot of ways, DirectAdmin is quite similar to cPanel, especially since it got a facelift recently.
Compared to cPanel, however, I find DirectAdmin more user-friendly and easier to navigate. If you’re used to cPanel it may take a little adjusting to, but if you’re new to web hosting then you’ll find it pretty intuitive (and less intimidating than cPanel).
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
As I’ve already mentioned, with Bluebird Hosting’s WordPress hosting plans, you can choose to have WordPress pre-installed. If you don’t select this option, or you want to add another WordPress website to your account, Bluebird Hosting provides the Installatron 1-click installer. You can find it in the DirectAdmin control panel.
I devote a lot of time to running performance tests when I’m reviewing web hosts. That’s because as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter how many great features a web host offers if your website is slow to load or unavailable, causing your potential visitors to look elsewhere. All hosts claim to have fast speeds – but only a minority actually delivers on those promises.
Fortunately, Bluebird Hosting does make good on its speed promises. In fact, out of the ten Canadian hosts I’ve been testing, it achieved the fastest page loading speeds and the best reliability (uptime). Sure, there are international hosts that can give you page loading speeds of under a second, but Bluebird’s average of 1.2 seconds is still impressive. It also delivered a perfect 100% uptime for 30 consecutive days.
To test Bluebird Hosting’s performance, I signed up for the Starter WordPress plan and installed WordPress (I opted not to have WordPress pre-installed because I wanted to try out the 1-click installer).
I have a customized SimpleShift theme that I use to test all web hosts, so I uploaded that. The theme I use is designed to look like a regular one-page website or landing page – because, unlike some review websites, I don’t believe in testing the performance of a blank website! If you want the full details about how we test web hosts at Website Planet, you can check out this article.
The theme I use for testing has the text and (non-optimized) HD images that you might find on an e-commerce website (you can see a snapshot of how it looks in the screenshot below). I opt for non-optimized images so that I can test the host’s technical support, and see if they’ll notice when I ask for help with optimizing the website. The test website was online for around three months and was available at autonomous-shoes-canada-a.ca
GTmetrix is my first choice for running performance tests because of the variety of information it provides. As well as the fully loaded page speed score, GTmetrix also provides performance scores based on how well optimized your website is. The PageSpeed score is the most important since it’s drawn from Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Bluebird Hosting scored well both for the fully loaded score and the PageSpeed score. I always repeat my performance tests at different times of the day and different days of the week to see whether the host’s performance drops during peak periods. The longest page loading time GTmetrix recorded for Bluebird Hosting was 1.5 seconds and the shortest was 1.1 seconds.
To put those figures into context, Google recommends a maximum of three seconds for a page to fully load – so Bluebird Hosting delivered page loading speeds at least two times faster than Google’s recommendation.
The PageSpeed Score of 85% shows that when Bluebird Hosting claims to offer WordPress optimized servers, those claims aren’t just marketing hype like you find with some hosts. The average PageSpeed Score for websites is 75%, so Bluebird is 10 percentage points ahead of the average for optimization – and with a few tweaks in the WordPress dashboard or an optimization plugin, it wouldn’t be difficult to reach 95%+.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
The Sucuri Load Time Tester results give insights into how fast the test website is when accessed from different locations around the world. The sheer amount of green in the screenshot above indicates that Bluebird Hosting manages to perform well (incredibly well, in fact) and achieves a performance grade of A (which is actually quite rare for shared hosting).
The results from Sucuri show that you can rely on Bluebird Hosting even if you’re targeting a global audience. Only a few locations recorded it taking more than two seconds for the page to load.
Your web host’s reliability is almost as important as its speed, and most hosts offer some kind of uptime guarantee (usually 99.9%). I always use UptimeRobot to monitor the test website for each host from the moment it’s live, to ensure I get the most accurate information about periods of downtime.
A host with perfect uptime is a rare find! Although Bluebird Hosting did have one or two short periods of downtime (lasting less than two minutes) during the whole testing period, I want to focus on the fact that it had a 30-day period with absolutely no downtime. Even throughout the whole testing period, its uptime score only dropped marginally to 99.98%. Check Out Bluebird Hosting Performance
Fast Response Times and Helpful Support Agents
With any web host, you want to know that if something goes wrong and you need expert help to fix the issue, there are support agents waiting to resolve your problem. I always like to put support to the test on at least two occasions to see a) how long it takes to get a response, and b) what level of support you’re likely to get.
With Bluebird Hosting, the only support channel available is ticket support – but at least it’s available 24/7. You may see a Live Support button in the bottom right of your screen, but every time I was on the Bluebird Hosting website (no matter what time of day), live support was offline.
It’s easy to submit support tickets from your account dashboard and use the form in the screenshot below to request help. You can choose the priority of your ticket, too (high, medium or low).
Response times with Bluebird Hosting are really good. When I had an issue with uploading my website theme, I received a response within 30 minutes, resolving the issue. Not only did the support agent fix the problem with the max file size for uploads, but he also provided a screenshot as proof that that the fix had been made.
When I enquired about WordPress optimization, I actually got two responses. The first was advising me about steps I could take to optimize my website, and the second was a follow-up providing more information. I was impressed with the effort that Bluebird Hosting put into providing the best possible support.
Affordable Hosting Plans with No Surprises at Checkout
Many web hosts sneakily add “optional extras” at checkout – and pre-select those add-ons, perhaps hoping you won’t notice. Even more annoying, these “extras” are usually things I’d class as essential features that should be provided by default, like SSL certificates and backups. I was very pleased to see that Bluebird Hosting doesn’t do that. The only additional costs you might face at checkout are a domain name (depending on the plan you choose) and domain privacy.
Considering what’s included in the WordPress hosting plans (aside from the limited storage issue), Bluebird Hosting’s prices are very budget-friendly. You have the option of paying for 3, 6, or 12 months upfront – and there are no setup fees.
Bluebird Hosting accepts all major credit cards and PayPal. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee that means you can sign up risk-free. If you cancel within the first 30 days of your plan, you can get a full refund, minus the cost of your domain name, which cannot be cancelled.
Cancelling Your Account
Bluebird Hosting has a super-simple cancellation form that you can submit at any time. If it’s after the first 30 days, you won’t get a refund, though. When I went through the cancellation process, it literally took five minutes to complete. You do have to type in a reason why you want to cancel, but you won’t face any pressure from Bluebird Hosting to keep your account. Cancellations are usually processed quickly, too.
Bluebird Hosting is great for WordPress websites and its performance is outstanding. You get all the essential features, plus more, with its WordPress plans, and the only major drawback is the storage limits. Unless you’re building a portfolio-style website or an e-commerce site with lots of HD images and/or videos, the limited storage shouldn’t hold you back too much.
There is a wide range of hosting services available, from budget-friendly shared hosting to fancy dedicated servers. The best hosting for your website will depend on your specific needs. If shared hosting isn’t enough for you, there are several cheap and reliable VPS hosting services available.
How do I choose a hosting plan?
Try to estimate the size of your website, and how many visitors you think you’ll be getting each month. Since most web hosting providers will let you easily scale up your plan, it’s always the most cost-effective to start small and upgrade later.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying (in vain) to train his three beagles (who are better at training him than he is them!)