pCloud Review

Welcome to our pCloud review. Today we’ll be looking at one of the newer players on the saturated cloud storage market. So, is this a solid competitor to industry giants such as iDrive, Backblaze, Acronis True Image,and Carbonite, or just an unfortunately named cloud storage provider? Perhaps a bit of both.

With a generous free plan that can provide you with up to 10 GB of cloud synced storage, as well monthly, yearly, and heavily discounted pCloud lifetime plans, there is something for everyone here. Well, almost everyone. Despite a wealth of features such as excellent file versioning, locally encrypted data storage, and top-notch cloud syncing, the hard cap on storage is 2 TB, which just may not cut it for some people. 

Key features:

  • Unlimited number of devices supported
  • From 500 GB to 2 TB
  • Up to 10 GB of free storage
  • Integrated media player
  • Third party app integration

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Excellent value with lifetime subscription plans
  • A solid free package
  • Excellent file management and versioning
  • Social media integrations
  • Great upload and download speeds
  • Local encryption services cost extra
  • Desktop and mobile apps come with some limitations
  • No document editing options
  • Maximum storage is only 2 TB

Pricing

When it comes to pCloud pricing, the first piece of good news is that the company offers a very serviceable free plan. It starts off with 4 GB, which you can instantly upgrade to 5 by verifying your email address. From there, you can theoretically get up to 10 GB of storage by getting friends to sign up with the service. It’s a standard (if somewhat annoying) practice with software providers these days, but it does give you the option to get up to twice the free storage offered by iDrive through a bit of virtual legwork. Remember, most online storage options don’t provide a free plan at all.

The best cloud backup solutions usually fall into two categories: unlimited storage (Backblaze) or unlimited supported devices (iDrive). pCloud belongs to the second camp, with no limit on the number of devices you can connect (and sync) but only two plans, one providing 500 GB and the other 2 TB of online storage. There are no differences between the plans other than the storage limit. The 500 GB plan is currently discounted to $47.88 per year, or $175 for a lifetime subscription, while the 2 TB one costs $95.88 or $350 respectively. There are also monthly plans costing $4.99 and $9.99 for those who’d rather not commit.

Our review of pCloud should also mention the heavily discounted Family Plan, which offers 2 TB of storage shared across up to five users, as well as pCloud Business, which adds several company-focused perks such as team organization, file access management, and activity monitoring. The Family plan is currently discounted to a one-off $500 lifetime payment, while the Business plan scales according to the number of users, comes with a 30-day free trial, and covers a minimum of three users. Prices start at $287.64 per year or $29.97 per month.

Finally, adding client-side encryption to your plan of choice will cost an additional $47.88 annually or $150 for a lifetime subscription. More on this in the security section of this article.

Ease of use

The next part of our pCloud review will talk a little about the installation process, device compatibility, and general user friendliness of the software. One of the key principles the founders of pCloud adhered to when creating their platform was that simplicity should not come at the cost of a limited feature set.  Whether using the web application or the Windows, Mac, or iOS/Android apps, everything is intuitively laid out while still providing advanced functionalities for power users.

pcloud web

After registering with an email address and password (or a Google or Facebook account), installing and running the program, then going through the pCloud login procedure, a separate pCloud drive is created on your computer. While some critics think in terms of pCloud vs Google Drive, the program itself is much more similar to Microsoft’s OneDrive. Fantastic file management skills mirror what you’d find when using a dedicated file manager with your own physical drives, and you can search for files and even filter results based on a range of criteria. The simplest option is to drag and drop files from anywhere into your newly formed pCloud drive.

pcloud settings

You can use the settings menu of the desktop app to limit upload and download speeds to stop them from throttling your connection, as well as setting up disk usage limits and controlling how the software interacts with File Explorer. The Sync menu of the desktop app allows you to add folders or set up file type exclusions.

Another handy feature that mirrors that of the best personal cloud storage options on the market allows for intuitive right click menu integration in File Explorer. Unfortunately, unlike iDrive, the ‘Sync to PCloud’ option only works on folders, not individual files.

The mobile app is highly intuitive as well; it provides the additional functionality of uploading photos and videos from your phone’s gallery directly to the storage cloud. We only had a copy of pCloud Premium to review, but remember that both paid versions support unlimited devices, with the only difference being the increased storage space for the Premium Plus plan. As such, you can easily set up real-time syncing between your computer and mobile phone, instantly getting access to all of your phone’s multimedia content without having to transfer the files to your computer manually.

pccloud sharing

Finally, you can use the web interface at the site (www.pCloud.com) to directly play files from your audio and video storage which is a great feature for previewing your device’s media. Unfortunately, there is no editor to do the same with your online document storage.

Features

Backing up and restoring files

The ‘core’ of the program lies in its cloud based storage platform. As we’ve mentioned earlier in our pCloud Drive review, the system works similarly to Microsoft’s OneDrive by adding a dedicated drive, whose size depends on the plan you’ve chosen. You can choose to populate this drive automatically (by default, My Documents will be included, as with OneDrive) or add files and folders to it manually. You can do this by using the Sync tab of the desktop app, dragging and dropping files from a file manager of your choice, or using the right-click ‘Sync to pCloud’ contextual command (this works for folders only on the desktop app).

pCloud reviews the files regularly and deletes those that you’ve deleted locally. However, you can always keep backups of those files by making extra folders within the sync drive. You can also set up file types and patterns that the sync process will ignore, such as system files (though, unlike some competitors, you can back those up too, if you wish to). In addition to your local files, you can also import file backups from your other cloud backup solutions. We’ll talk more about third-party integrations later in the review.

The restoration process is also very simple, but note that you can’t see previous file versions from the desktop app, but only through the web interface. You can pick files from your pCloud storage to review at any time by looking at the Rewind option. They can be previewed, restored as the current version, downloaded, or deleted for good. You simply click on the rewind button, then select a date from the calendar and voila – you’ve just activated your own personal time machine. Free accounts only get access for 15 days, while Premium and Premium Plus users will be able to dial back time for up to a month.

Cloud sync and sharing

Cloud storage reviews often mention the importance of easy file sharing and synchronization between devices. As we’ve mentioned, cloud-based sync is incredibly simple and intuitive with pCloud, and all your devices will automatically be in continuous sync with each other, as long as they’re connected to the internet. Alternatively, you can turn on offline mode, which gives you access to your shared files. Any modifications will be re-synced once you are back online.

When it comes to file sharing, it’s very simple. As with the best cloud storage providers, you simply select the folder you wish to share and decide whether you want to give people edit or view-only access. There are a lot of similarities when comparing this functionality of pCloud vs Sync or Google Drive, for example. If you upgrade from pCloud’s free plan to the Premium or Premium Plus plans, you can also create a Public folder from the web interface, suitable for hosting static HTML websites, embedding images, or just providing direct access to a selection from your online file storage. Family and Business accounts can also easily share files between all user accounts.

pCloud transfer

One of the issues with a lot of the desktop app’s functionalities is that syncing and sharing is done on a folder-wide level. You can get around this by using the web interface, or pCloud Transfer. We won’t be doing a separate pCloud Transfer review here, but suffice to say that it’s a neat (and completely free) option for sending files of up to 5 GB in size. In fact, you don’t even have to register an account with pCloud to use this service.

Simply enter your email address and that of the recipient, drag and drop the files, choose whether or not you wish to encrypt them with a password or leave an optional message, and click on the “send files” button. The only downside here is that you can’t choose access privileges this way, so it’s not the best method for sharing sensitive documents, for example.

pCloud Save

Another useful feature we need to mention in our pCloud review is its browser extension. Supporting Chrome, Firefox and Opera and installing within a matter of seconds, this handy little tool will allow you to save any image from the web directly onto a specialized folder on your pCloud account.

Third-party integrations

pCloud has excellent support for external app integrations. For starters, you can connect all of your social media and email accounts, allowing you to make a copy of photographs and other important files seamlessly.  Additionally, you can use integrations with top cloud backup solutions such as Google Drive to make additional cloud copies of the files you have there (though why someone would assume pCloud would outlive Google is beyond us, but extra precautions can’t hurt).

Security and performance

In terms of security, we have both good and bad news. The company uses a TLS/SSL encrypted channel for ensuring data safety, and it supposedly makes copies of your files across five servers to make sure that the data is always easily available and won’t get lost in case of a server malfunction or failure. pCloud also offers easily toggleable two-factor authentication and local file encryption.

So what’s the bad news? Well, for starters, as any pCloud Crypto review would tell you, this service is not free. In order to get local file encryption with a zero-knowledge policy, you have to pay additional money on all account types ($47.88 annually or $150 for a lifetime subscription). Secondly, the two-factor authentication works as advertised, but it can be problematic when using the pCloud Save extension, as it simply turns it off due to a potential security loophole.

pCloud encryption is still excellent and can work as secure document storage for anyone who can live without a zero-knowledge policy or doesn’t mind paying extra money to get pCloud Crypto.

Another important consideration when talking about top cloud storage providers is how quickly they can do their job, both when uploading and later downloading your files. Unlike some industry heavyweights like iDrive and Carbonite, pCloud doesn’t offer you the option of shipping you a physical storage device to speed up the process. This is also the reason why the company suggests not syncing more than five devices, even though you have the option.

Luckily, pCloud delivers where it matters. In our tests, it surpassed both iDrive and Backblaze, living up to its promise of up to 40 MB/s downloads for free users and double that for Premium or Business users. We were also able to stream our large video files easily, and even our pCloud vs Dropbox comparison ended up in favor of pCloud. By making smart use of block-level sync, pCloud can make sure to only upload the edited parts of files that are already on the cloud when syncing them again, which greatly speeds up future uploads.

Conclusion

pCloud honestly surprised us a bit. Although it’s been around for a while, it’s a lot less popular than the large cloud storage names we’ve already discussed, such as iDrive, Backblaze, Google Drive, and DropBox. Despite this, it turned out to be one of our favorite options, combining affordable plans (with a generous free option), excellent upload and download speeds, numerous third-party integrations, user-friendly and intuitive apps, and more. 

It’s not perfect: our pCloud security review points out that you need to pay extra for locally encrypted file storage, and the storage offered maxes out at only 2 TB, while rivals such as Backblaze offer unlimited space. There are also issues with two-factor authentication and the browser extension, and we wish that all features from the web interface worked within the apps, too. All that said, pCloud still represents an incredibly affordable cloud storage solution that punches well above its price range and competes with the best in the industry.

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Excellent value with lifetime subscription plans
  • A solid free package
  • Excellent file management and versioning
  • Social media integrations
  • Great upload and download speeds
  • Local encryption services cost extra
  • Desktop and mobile apps come with some limitations
  • No document editing options
  • Maximum storage is only 2 TB

FAQ

Is pCloud any good?

A resounding yes. 

Read our review of pCloud to get a better understanding of why it’s one of our favorite cloud storage solutions on the market. In short, we love its great upload and download speeds, excellent features, and affordable price.

Is pCloud safe to use?

Yes. Doubly so if you use pCloud Crypto as well. 

The answer to the question “is pCloud safe?” depends on whether you consider locally encrypted file storage the only safe option or not. pCloud stores your data across several servers and has strong encryption protocols, but if you need the extra peace of mind, you need to pay for pCloud Crypto. Just be aware that losing your master password means that access to your files is lost for good, and even the company cannot help you get it back.

Is pCloud better than Dropbox?

In our opinion, yes.

Our pCloud review already mentioned that pCloud is faster than Dropbox.  Which cloud storage is the most secure? pCloud features better security out of the box if you pay extra for pCloud Crypto local file encryption. Dropbox does offer more storage space in its upper-tier plans, though, and it has some other advantages when it comes to document integrations with Google Drive and OneDrive, for example. 

Can pCloud see my files?

The company’s staff can see them but the files cannot be decrypted without your encryption key.

Where are pCloud servers located?

The servers are located in the company’s secure data center located in Dallas, Texas.

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Price $47.88/year
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