iDrive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are top dogs in the cloud storage market, but from what pCloud’s offering, it clearly wants a piece of the cloud service action. pCloud offers top-notch client-side encryption. Its prices are incredibly competitive, with lifetime subscriptions available.
So let’s weigh up those pros and cons, explore pCloud’s cloud storage service features, and check out its pricing plans in this pCloud review.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent value cloud storage provider (lifetime plans from just $175).
- 10GB free storage (forever free account).
- AES encryption key as standard.
- 30-day file history – pCloud Rewind for deleted files and important files.
- User-friendly cloud storage solution.
- Instant file synchronization (even for large files).
- Embedded player to play media files.
- pCloud backup, file-versioning, restore deleted files, and shared folder file sharing.
- Client side encryption and one-year file history cost extra (zero knowledge encryption pCloud Crypto folder).
Ease of use
There’s a vast amount of virtual storage services out there, and the majority of us are just looking for something simple to use.
Signing up to pCloud is exceptionally straightforward, and there are no tedious forms to fill out — I just entered my email address and created a password.
Instantly I was sent an email to verify the account. Alternatively, you can sign up using a Facebook, Google, or Apple account.
Once signed up, pCloud prompts you to download pCloud Drive on your desktop. Whether you’re using a laptop, desktop, phone or tablet, pCloud Drive gives you access to your files anywhere, thanks to instant file synchronization.
All you need to do to make the magic happen is install pCloud Drive. Then sign in with the same login details on all your devices.
There are three pCloud apps available; web, mobile, and desktop.
pCloud for the web is accessible through any browser on any OS. With the web interface, you’re able to preview, upload, and download files.
Sharing files is done at the click of a button. You can browse files and folders or drag and drop them into the Upload Manager to transfer. You can also drag files out of pCloud onto your desktop to download.
The pCloud application is available for Android and iOS. Giving you the ability to share, upload, preview, and download files while you’re on the move. The mobile app has an automatic upload feature that backs up photos as soon as you snap.
The mobile app UI isn't particularly appealing, but it's simple to use. All of your folders are displayed on the screen as soon as you open pCloud Mobile. Tap the kebab menu to the side of the file you want to transfer. From the list of options, select what you want to do with the file.
pCloud Drive is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s a desktop app that enables you to make changes to your settings and account.
To edit folders or documents, open them up in file explorer. pCloud Drive works precisely the same way as HDD, but it takes up no space on your computer.
Easy File Retrieval
pCloud is extremely easy to navigate, and retrieving files is fast. Simply enter the file name into the search field at the top of the app’s window.
I can also filter my search by file format, instantly narrowing it down by clicking on an appropriate icon, such as images, audio or video.
Passwords are the first security measure you take when aiming to block unauthorized access to your account. pCloud offers several ways you can manage and strengthen your password protection.
Choosing a strong password is the first step to securing your account. pCloud adds to your security by giving you the option to activate Two-factor authentication. This stops any untrusted devices from accessing your account.
This extra security layer asks for a six-digit code to verify my identity during any login attempts. You can have this code sent via text and system notifications or google authenticator. When you set up two-factor authentication, you’ll be given a verification code to finish the setup. You’ll also receive recovery codes in case you ever lose your device.
Changing Your Password
Changing your password is a straightforward process. First, click on your account avatar, then settings, and security and fill in your old and new password.
When you log in, you have the option to allow pCloud to auto-fill your details. Activating auto-fill creates quick and easy access the next time you log in on a personal device.
Passcode Lock is an extra security feature you can add to your mobile app. By enabling Passcode Lock, you activate an additional step to accessing your account. You can either set up a security code that you will have to enter each time you log in or add a fingerprint/face ID.
All files stored on pCloud are secured with a 256-bit Advanced Encryption System (AES). AES is the most widely used encryption algorithm for protecting data; it’s safe and fast, encrypting data during and after transfer.
Additionally, once transferred, pCloud applies TLS/SSL channel protection. Meaning files are not only protected from potential hackers but, they’re also protected from hardware failures. Five copies of uploaded data are stored on at least three different servers and monitored 24/7.
If this isn’t enough protection, pCloud also offers client-side encryption at an extra cost. We’ll discuss Crypto in more detail later on, in Extras.
pCloud allows you to choose which files you encrypt and which files you leave as they are. It may seem strange to offer encrypted and non-encrypted folders in the same account. Why not just encrypt everything? Would this not be safer?
Well, the issue with encrypting all files is that it limits server help. For example, servers would not be able to generate a thumbnail preview for encrypted images or convert encrypted media player files.
As an extra precaution, you can review recent activity on your account by accessing your security settings in your pCloud. This lets you check when you’ve logged on and with which devices. If you notice any suspicious devices, you can instantly unlink them from your account.
When you sign up to pCloud, you can choose where your data is stored; the United States or Europe.
Being a Swiss company, pCloud complies with Swiss privacy laws, which are extremely strict regarding personal data.
In May 2018, the European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). pCloud data centers endure rigorous risk assessments and take the necessary steps to ensure it’s GDPR compliant. This means that:
- You’ll be instantly notified of any data breaches.
- You have the right to confirm how your information is processed, where and what for.
- You have the right to have all personal data deleted from a service and stop your data from being circulated.
Automatic upload is a special feature within the mobile app. It instantly uploads any photos or videos taken on your phone to your pCloud storage.
Check out how to use this great feature in this quick video.
When you turn on Automatic Upload, it gives you the option to upload everything from your camera roll or from that day forward. If you’d love your photos uploading, but you’re not so bothered about videos, you can filter your preferences.
When the upload is complete, you can allow pCloud to delete photos and videos from your camera roll to free up space on your mobile device.
Once uploaded to pCloud, all your pictures and videos are accessible from any device at any time or place. They’re automatically well organized, and the preview is the same as viewing the picture on your smartphone.
pCloud Save is a browser extension that allows you to save images, text content, and other files directly from the web to your pCloud account.
It’s available on Opera, Firefox, and Chrome. However, this feature doesn’t work if you have two-factor authentication or Google authenticator activated on your account.
pCloud Sync is a feature of pCloud Drive that allows you to link files and folders that are stored locally on your PC to pCloud Drive. It’s easy to sync a file; all you have to do is select Sync to pCloud, choose a location, and confirm.
When you edit or delete the data synced with pCloud on your computer, these changes will replicate in pCloud Drive.
The benefits of Sync are that you can work with your documents offline.
There is no need to worry about power outages or servers going down; as soon as your connection is restored, pCloud Drive will update everything.
There’s also peace of mind that you’re always using the latest version of your file.
pCloud’s Backup feature lets you automatically save files and folders from your computer to your pCloud account. Everything you do in Backup is synced in real-time, safely, and securely.
When you delete a file or folder from Backup, it will disappear from all your devices and land in pCloud’s Trash folder.
If you’re planning on switching from your current storage service, you can backup data from Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive. You can also link your google photos account and social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram.
Linking services is easy once you’ve clicked on the Backup tab in the menu, choose which service you want to sync, click ‘Link,’ and sign in to your account. Once accounts are linked, pCloud makes copies of all your files, folders, and photos and stores them in a folder labeled ‘Backups.’
The clearly labeled folder makes accessing them simple. Although, you could end up with many random files in one folder if you don’t organize your backups regularly.
With the pCloud Player, I can access my music on the go using the pCloud smartphone app. It’s also accessible via pCloud’s web interface. I can shuffle content or loop my playlists and albums. I can also download music for offline play with one click of a button, which is music to my ears.
While using the smartphone app, once I hit play, I can switch the Player to background mode, reducing battery usage. During background playback, I still have complete control of my music. I’m able to pause, skip, and play tracks using Bluetooth headphones or any other connected device without switching back to the main screen.
Rewind allows you to view your account from a specific point in time. Using Rewind is simple, click on the Rewind tab in the menu, select a date from the drop-down calendar and a time, then hit Rewind.
This feature is limited to the past 15 days with the Basic account. Premium and Premium Plus accounts are less restricted, giving you the ability to view up to 30 days into the past. Rewind allows you to restore or download deleted files as long as they’re still in the trash folder. It also enables you to restore and download corrupt files and previously shared files with permissions now restricted.
When restoring files, a folder named Rewind is automatically created. If you’re restoring a significant amount of files, this could prove challenging to reorganize as they get lumped together in one folder.
If you find 30 days just isn’t enough, you can purchase a Rewind extension for an annual payment of $39. This optional extra unlocks all Rewind features on all your devices and enables access to a year’s worth of file history.
Sharing and Collaboration
pCloud has several file-sharing options:
Generating a link – Providing recipients with a link gives them an instant preview of shared content even if they don’t have a pCloud account. A premium account holder can add passwords or expiration dates to shared links.
File requests – This function allows people to upload files to your account without giving them access to your data.
The Public Folder – This folder is included in Premium and Premium plus accounts. You can use it to embed images, host HTML websites, and generate direct links. Basic account holders can try the Public Folder free for seven days or subscribe for $3.99 per month.
Invite – The ‘Invite to Folder’ sharing feature is an excellent tool for collaborations. It enables me to control the level of restriction on a folder by setting it to “view” or “edit” before inviting team members to collaborate.
‘View’ gives members ‘read only’ access to my folder. Viewing access is excellent if, like me, you have policies or agreements that need reading by your team, but you don’t want any accidental edits.
‘Edit’ gives my team members full access to work on my shared folder. As well as reading, editing access allows collaborators to:
- Create and upload additional content.
- Modify content by editing, copying, or moving files or folders.
- Delete data from the shared folder.
This feature incorporates ‘Fair Share,’ which means the shared folder only takes up space on the host’s account.
To use this function, all members you invite to your folder must be pCloud users. You’re also unable to invite pCloud members from other data regions.
Another excellent pCloud sharing feature is the ability to produce Branded links. Branding allows you to personalize download links, giving you the opportunity to make a great first impression on your audience. It also lets you express yourself in your work.
When you turn on Branding a customizable page pops up that lets you add an image, headline, and description to your link.
You can create a single branded link if you’re on a basic plan. If you have a Premium or Business account, you can produce multiple branded links.
Upload and Download Speeds
A problem I’ve found with some cloud storage is file and speed limitations on uploads and downloads. pCloud allows you to upload any type of file regardless of size as long as it’s within your storage quota—so uploading the company's 4K promotional video is no longer an issue.
Whether you’re a free or premium user, the file upload and download speeds are unlimited and dependent only on your internet connection. When using pCloud Drive, synchronization speeds can be limited if you wish to restrict them. Sync speeds are automatically set to unlimited by default, but limiting them helps when you want to move lots of files around.
pCloud has an extensive online help center to guide you through all you need to know. It’s full of frequently asked questions under appropriate subheadings, which makes it easy to navigate.
If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, you have the option of contacting pCloud via email. There is also an online contact form that you can fill out, and pCloud will email a response to you. However, there are no indications of response times to these methods of contact.
Unfortunately, unlike many other cloud storage providers, pCloud doesn’t have an online chat option. pCloud is also a Swiss-based company with a Swiss phone number. Considering the different time zones and where you’re based, it can be challenging to get in touch if you need an instant reply.
The Basic pCloud account offers 10GB of storage. However, this is set at 2GB to start with, and the rest needs unlocking. This may seem like a gimmick, but the steps to receiving the extra gigabytes are pretty straightforward.
The step that’s perhaps the most challenging is inviting friends as it depends on the invite being successful. Successful invitations earn you an extra 1GB of storage. pCloud allows you to earn up to 20GB of storage before maxing out the Basic account.
If you need more than 20GB of storage, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.
The step up from a basic account is the Premium plan. A Premium account provides 500GB of storage, 500GB of shared link traffic, and all the pCloud features we’ve discussed. Excluding extra services such as the Crypto Folder and one year extended file history.
The Premium Plus account offers 2TB of storage and shared link traffic. It also provides the same features as Premium.
If you’re after a storage account for the whole family, pCloud has just the solution. The family plan gives you 2TB of storage space to share between five people. All members of the family will be given a private space with their own user names. The Family plan owner can manage how much space each member gets and can control accessibility.
pCloud for business gives each team member 1TB of storage and shared link traffic per month. Additional organization and access levels allow you to organize your employees into teams and set group or individual access permissions.
You can monitor account activity, and it comes with 180 days file history with Rewind. It’s protected by client-end encryption as standard. So take the opportunity to make comments on files without worrying about information being insecure.
The Crypto Folder
The Crypto Folder lets you protect sensitive information, including videos, images, and documents, using client-side encryption. This means that your files are encrypted on your device before you transfer them, creating a secure folder in a zero-knowledge environment. Even the people at pCloud will never know what’s stored in your account.
Files can be encrypted and decrypted with your Crypto Pass. The Crypto Pass is a unique set of letters and numbers you create to control access to your Crypto Folder content.
All this sounds great! However, unlike some cloud storage providers such as Sync, which provide zero-knowledge encryption as standard, pCloud Crypto comes at an extra cost. You can try it out for 14-days free of charge, but a monthly subscription to Crypto costs $4.99 or $47.88 paid annually. For a lifetime Crypto account, it will cost you $125.
pCloud is highly confident in Crypto, so much so that they challenged hackers from 613 organizations to gain access. Not a single one of the 2860 participants succeeded.
pCloud offers yearly, monthly, or lifetime cloud storage plans for individuals. Families are offered a 2TB lifetime plan, while Businesses are given the option of monthly or annual subscriptions.
- Data transfer: 3 GB
- Storage: 10 GB
- Cost: FREE
- Data transfer: 250 GB
- Storage: 150 GB
- Monthly plan: not available
- Yearly plan: $1.67 per month ($19.99 billed annually)
- Lifetime plan: $59 (one-time payment)
- Data transfer: 2 TB (2,000 GB)
- Storage: 1 TB (1,000 GB)
- Monthly plan: $4.99 per month
- Yearly plan: $4.17 per month ($49.99 billed annually)
- Lifetime plan: $149 (one-time payment)
- Data transfer: 8 TB (8,000 GB)
- Storage: 5 TB (5,000 GB)
- Monthly plan: $17.99 per month
- Yearly plan: $15 per month ($179.99 billed annually)
- Lifetime plan: $499 (one-time payment)
To test the water, we have the Basic pCloud account; this plan is completely free for a lifetime.
There are two types of personal paid plans to choose from; Premium and Premium Plus.
A personal Premium plan costs $4.99 per month, or the annual payment saves $12 and costs $47.88. A 500 GB Lifetime plan costs an excellent $175 and lasts 99 years or until the account holder kicks the bucket, whichever comes first.
A Premium Plus subscription will set you back $9.99 per month with an annual price of $95.88.The cost of a 2TB Lifetime plan is $350.
Lifetime plans are excellent value against the annual subscription if the idea is to use pCloud long-term. A lifetime account costs less than purchasing a yearly plan four years running; the cost equates to approximately 44 months.
By offering the lifetime plan, pCloud has become a strong competitor in the virtual storage market. Very few providers offer this cost-effective, permanent solution.
However, the question is, will a lifetime of 2TB of storage suffice? File sizes are getting bigger due to higher resolution and other image improvement technologies.
This makes me think we may need to increase storage capacity in the future. But, realistically, I’m pretty sure most users will get their equivalent four years’ worth of use out of it before this happens.
Premium, Premium Plus, and Lifetime accounts come with a 14-day money-back guarantee. pCloud also accepts BitCoin payments, but these are non-refundable.
The Family Plan provides 2TB for the whole family, but it only comes as a lifetime plan at the cost of $500. Some may find this offer enticing, but the lack of a monthly and annual subscription might put others off. Not everyone can afford to fork out lump sums.
pCloud’s Business plan allocates 1TB of storage to each user at the cost of $9.99 per month. An annual plan costs approximately $7.99 for every user per month. There’s also a one-month free trial for up to five users, so you can see how it fits in with your business.
Is There a Size Limit for Shared Folders?
No, there is no limit to the size of a file you can share
Can I Use My Files Offline?
Yes, files can be made available offline. If you’re using Android, simply tap the more options menu, then tap ‘Make available offline.’ For iOS, you can long-press a file then tap ‘Make available offline.’
If you’re in pCloud Drive, select the file or folder you need and right-click, then click ‘Offline Access (Sync).’ You will then be able to choose a local folder and click ‘Add sync.’
What Happens to My Files if I Exceed My Storage Limit?
If your files exceed the storage limit, pCloud gives you a five-day grace period. When the grace period ends, files that exceed your account limit will randomly be moved to the trash folder. Deleted files are kept for a further 15-days and can be retrieved if you upgrade your plan.
How Long Do Items Stay in The Trash Folder?
If you have deleted files from your pCloud account, you may still be able to find them in your Trash folder. The length of time your files stay in the trash depends on the type of account you have. For free plans, this period is 15 days. Premium, Premium Plus, and Lifetime users get 30 days. Whereas if you’re on a Business plan, you will get 180 days of trash history.
How Many Devices Can I Link to My pCloud?
pCloud recommends that you link five devices maximum.
Can I Store Data in Multiple Regions?
No, when you set up your account and choose which region you want to store your data, it will all be stored there. You can change your region preference in your Account settings if you’re unhappy about where your data is currently stored.
Will Crypto Work On My Mobile App?
Yes, when you download pCloud Crypto, it protects your files on your mobile app and your desktop.
How Often Does pCloud Perform Backups?
Backups for linked social media accounts are performed every seven days. For other cloud storage providers linked to your account, a backup is performed every 28 days.
What is pCloud Lifetime?
pCloud lifetime is a one-off cloud storage subscription. No monthly or yearly payments, just a one-off payment to get lifetime cloud storage
Who are pCloud's competitors?
The best pCloud competitors right now are Dropbox (the most popular cloud storage service), Icedrive (similar and affordable lifetime plans) and Sync.com (similar encryption and security). Check out my pCloud vs Sync.com comparison, or browse this list of pCloud alternatives.
pCloud Review: Summary
pCloud offers a free basic plan and reasonably priced subscriptions with a good amount of storage. Its user-friendly interface is easy to navigate and accessible on all devices.
I found it has some excellent features such as Rewind, pCloud Player, and high-standard security.
However, some features such as extended Rewind and pCloud Crypto cost extra, adding to the final price of the product.
There’s also no sign of a document editor, meaning any editing has to be done outside your cloud.
I think this is fair enough for its cheap price. I would rather go for the more trusted names.
pCloud is indeed a blessing for me. It fits my budget very well as it's so affordable. Even the lifetime plans are pretty much affordable among others. Its features and support are really worth more than what you pay for. High 5 to pCloud.
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