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Reviews and expert opinion pCloud

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo Cloud Hosting Expert

pCloud is a cloud backup, a syncing service, and it gives you more ways to securely share your files than most of its competitors. You might have to pay more for its powerful add-ons and support may not be the best, but it’s a solid choice for online storage.

Overview

User-Friendly Cloud Storage with Plenty of Ways to Access Your Data

pCloud is a cloud storage service that’s not like most. In addition to storage, it also offers cloud backup and gives you more security and features than most of the competition.

In terms of storage, pCloud offers a free 10GB plan, and you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan for more space (that’s capped at just 2TB). Paid plans are available in monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions and give you more flexibility than most cloud storage services.

There are no unlimited plans with pCloud, but there are unlimited upload and download speeds with no bandwidth throttling, and some great syncing and sharing options.

pCloud provides user-friendly access to your data in several ways: there’s a desktop app, a virtual pCloud Drive (more on this later), and iOS and Android mobile apps. Another perk is that you can connect as many devices as you want.

pCloud has a lot to offer but it also has its drawbacks. Let’s take a close look at its features, performance, ease of use, and customer support to see if it’s the right cloud storage solution for you.

Features

4.8

Plenty of Features with Add-On Potential

Data Server Locations Luxembourg or Dallas, Texas
Backup and Restore Options Continuous backups, backup from external drive, backup status reports, bandwidth throttling, no offline backup and restore options
File Limits and Restrictions None
Apps and Operating Systems Windows 7 and later, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android
Encryption Keys 256-bit AES, optional private encryption keys
File Access Desktop, web, mobile, offline
File Sharing Yes

Although pCloud has an extensive list of extras, like built-in audio and video players, the option to save your favorite internet content directly to your account with pCloud Save, and filters to quickly search for content by file type, I’m going to focus on the features that make pCloud stand out for me.

Storage Made Simple with pCloud Drive

You can store and sync files from your computer via the web app and upload photos and videos with the mobile app, but the virtual pCloud Drive is what really impressed me.

The pCloud Drive links virtual storage directly to your computer so you can move files off your desktop to free up disk space. The drive acts just like any other folder on your computer, so you can simply drag and drop to get organized.

pCloud Drive
pCloud Drive’s drag-and-drop function makes moving files from your desktop to the virtual drive a seamless process

You can copy data from external hard drives and upload folders and files of any size and type to your virtual pCloud Drive, but if you want to upload folders through the web, you’ll need to use Chrome – otherwise, you’ll only be able to transfer individual files.

While there are no file type restrictions, pCloud says you may have syncing issues with the following file types: .pst, .ost, .git directories, hidden files, browser data, and email client data.

Real-Time Backups

Backup is different from storage because pCloud backup is designed to copy your computer’s existing files to protect you against loss or damage. If you move files off your computer, or delete them from your computer, they will no longer be backed up. And if you delete files from your backup, they’ll also be deleted from your computer.

You can’t schedule backups with pCloud, which is something most competitors offer, but pCloud runs continuous backups, so changes you make to files will update in real-time.

pCloud backup information
With pCloud’s continuous backups, your files will be saved in real time.

One downside is that you can only back up data at the folder level. But with direct integration, those folders can include digital content from Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Facebook, and Instagram.

Restoring Data Is Simple with Drag and Drop

pCloud lets you restore your data in several ways. The quickest and easiest way is to drag folders or files out of your virtual pCloud Drive and drop them back onto your computer. You can also download folders or files from the web app to your computer, and download and export individual files (but not folders) from the mobile app.

pCloud web app
You can download folders or files quickly with pCloud’s web app

But what’s most interesting about pCloud restores is its Revisions and Rewind features. Revisions let you revert to a particular version of a file based on its modification date and time. And you can use Rewind to travel back in time: restore not only files and folders, but even your entire pCloud account from a specific point in the past. (See Ease of Use for more.)

Layers of Security

pCloud offers strong levels of security. It’s true: it held a competition with a $100,000 prize, and after six months there were zero hacks.

Files are encrypted with 256-bit AES from the moment you start your transfer. pCloud also uses TLS/SSL protection during transfers and 256-bit SSL encryption for your payments.

You can get client-side encryption for files on your device before they’re uploaded. This level of security, called pCloud Crypto, won’t cost you any actual cryptocurrency (nor is it related to cryptocurrency), but it is an add-on service. With pCloud Crypto, you’ll be able to use a private encryption key.

You can also activate two-factor authentication for another layer of security.

Data Centers

pCloud’s data centers are in Luxembourg and in the US (Texas, to be precise), and you can pick where you want your files stored. Once stored, your data cannot be transferred to another location without your permission.

pCloud data centers have strict quality and reliability standards and comply with the highest level of physical and technical security requirements of both regions.

After you upload your data to pCloud, it will keep five copies on at least three different servers within your region to ensure physical protection and recovery ability. Each data center is monitored and physically protected 24/7/365 (366 on leap years).

See full list of features

Ease of use

4.8

Sharing, Accessing, and Restoring Your Account Is Easy

pCloud is all about giving you as many ways to access your files as possible. If you can access the internet, you can use pCloud’s key features via the web app. pCloud Drive lets you easily store, backup, sync, and share files, and the mobile app makes it easy to back up photos and videos and access files on the go.

Here are some great features that give you added accessibility and ease of use:

Many Ways to Share Files

You can share file links, invite people to your folders (even if they’re not pCloud users), and share publicly via Public Folders, email, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also password-protect and create expiration dates for shared links. Files from friends, family, or colleagues can be shared directly to your folders without requiring account access.

pCloud shared links screen
pCloud offers more sharing options than most cloud storage providers

Custom Branding gives shared links a unique look with a title image, headline, and description. This distinctive feature also keeps track of views and downloads.

If you don’t have a pCloud account, you can still use pCloud to encrypt and share files up to 5GB for free, which I think is pretty neat.

Access Your Files from Any Device

Sync is a pCloud Drive feature that lets you connect your computer’s local folders and files to the virtual drive so you can access and edit them from any device. Sync isn’t like storage or backup because you don’t upload files to pCloud: they stay right on your PC. Changes you make to synced files, including deleting files, will show up in real-time across all devices.

pCloud sync warning
I was disappointed that I didn’t have the option of choosing whether I wanted to keep deleted files on my computer

With Sync, you have the option to make files or folders available offline, which means you can access your files even when you have a poor or limited connection to the internet. If you make offline changes to files, they will automatically sync as soon as you’re back online.

A Simple Way to Restore Your Account

Rewind makes it easy to restore a file, folder, or your entire pCloud account from a specific point in the past. You can even Rewind to shared files or folders that have been removed from your account or deleted. (Though if they’ve been permanently deleted, you’re out of luck.)

pCloud’s convenient web app allows you to manually choose a date and time to Rewind to. Files can be previewed, restored as the current version, downloaded, or permanently deleted.

pCloud Rewind
Recovery is as easy as selecting a date and time and pressing Rewind

Setting Up an Account

There are a couple of ways to set up a pCloud account. You can download and install the pCloud Drive desktop app on your computer, or you can set up an account on the website.

It’s a smooth process no matter which option you pick. Setup requires just an email and password, and you’ll need to accept pCloud’s terms and conditions and pick your data region. You can also register using your Apple ID, Facebook, or Google account.

pCloud create account screen
When you sign up with pCloud, you’ll have to choose your preferred data region before registering

If you sign up on the web, you’ll land on your my.pcloud.com web portal as soon as you’ve registered. If you opt for the pCloud Drive setup, you’ll need to install the desktop app before you can register your account.

Installing the desktop app is quick and painless. pCloud walks you through the process step-by-step, including how to download the Drive software to your computer. Next, the introduction wizard shows you how to use the software.

Once your account is set up, you’re in complete control of what you store, back up, or sync.

Using the website requires a couple of steps, including selecting the folder or file you want uploaded:

pCloud website upload
On the pCloud website, just click Upload to select the folder or file you want to upload

And with the mobile app, it takes just a few easy clicks:

-pcloud-cloud-storage-review-9 (1)
With the mobile app, you can create folders, take and upload photos from your phone, and select files to add to your pCloud account

pCloud Backup can only be done from the pCloud Drive desktop app. Backup selects the Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Movies, and Music folders on your computer by default, but you can deselect any or all of them and add additional folders.

pCloud desktop app
With the desktop app, selecting, deselecting, and adding folders to your backup is simple

See if pCloud is Right for You

Performance

4.6

Decent Speeds and Solid Functionality

I created a 3GB folder of documents, photos, and videos to test pCloud’s storage, backup, and restoration capabilities. I found that each feature offered average to above-average speeds with above-average functionality.

Storage Tests

I started my first storage upload by dragging and dropping my folder into the virtual pCloud Drive at 11:15 a.m. on a Tuesday. I could see my folder on the drive as soon as I dropped it in, but it took 1 hour and 7 minutes before my files were fully uploaded and accessible, though individual files became available as soon as they were uploaded.

During upload, you can see the status of each folder and file on your virtual pCloud Drive. A blue circle means the upload is in progress and a green circle means the upload is complete.

Virtual pCloud Drive
Easily track what’s uploaded and in progress from your virtual pCloud Drive

On the desktop app, you can also get an overall status update on the Account tab, though it’s barely visible on the bottom left-hand corner of the app. This update lets you know how many files are remaining and the expected time until completion.

pCloud desktop app
You can find the status update on the bottom left-hand corner of pCloud’s desktop app

I also uploaded my 3GB folder through the web app (on Chrome) on Friday at 1:35 p.m. This upload took 1 hour and 5 minutes.

The only way to get a status update on a web upload is via the web app’s Upload Manager. It shows you a green status bar with percentage completed for each file being uploaded.When minimized, it gives you an overall completion percentage.

I dragged and dropped my folder to storage for a third time on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. to see if a weekend upload would be quicker. My Saturday upload took 1 hour and 2 minutes.

Overall, upload speeds to storage didn’t vary by much, regardless of day or time.

I like to run internet speed tests during uploads to see if the service is throttling my bandwidth (which it claims it doesn’t unless I change my settings). Since I’m based in London, my data is stored in the data center in Luxembourg. My average speeds are only around 8Mbps for uploads and 29Mbps for downloads.

One cool thing about pCloud is that you can run a speed test straight from its web portal. I did this alongside my own online tests, and the results were similar on each day. Both came in a touch below normal on Tuesday and Saturday, but Friday’s results were pretty bad.

pCloud upload speed test result
My Friday upload speeds were a sluggish 4.39Mbps
pCloud upload speed test result
pCloud’s Friday speed test results were so poor that the online speed testing website suggested I contact my internet provider

Since Tuesday and Saturday’s speeds were normal and Friday’s upload time was in line with the other days, it’s reasonable to blame the poor speeds on heavy internet traffic that ultimately did not affect my upload time in any way.

Backup Test

I selected my 3GB folder for backup and gave it a try on a Monday morning around 9:00.

Backup worked great on my first test – my upload times were in line with my storage tests (1 hour and 1 minute) and internet speeds were about the same. But when I deleted my backed-up folder from my account and tried to upload it again, it wouldn’t work. In fact, pCloud Backup couldn’t seem to access my computer anymore, and it gave me this warning:

pCloud error message
Deleting an entire backup caused issues with pCloud

I reached out to support for help. (See what they said in the Support section.)

Restore Tests

I tried three ways to restore my 3GB folder: drag and drop, web download, and Rewind.

On a Thursday evening, it took less than 2 minutes to restore my folder to my desktop using drag and drop.

A full download of my folder from the web app took 25 minutes on a Wednesday morning, even though my download speed was only 22.91Mbps at the time. pCloud automatically restores files to the Downloads folder on your computer. Once the download is complete, you can move them to your preferred destination.

On to Rewind: from the web app, I picked last Thursday at 5:00 p.m. because I knew I’d added a folder that day, which I had since deleted. As expected, the Rewind restore took about the same amount of time as my other web restore: 24 minutes.

pCloud Rewind
Rewind lets you choose which previous version you want to restore

See if pCloud is Right for You

Privacy

4.8

Strict Privacy Laws… Depending on Location

pCloud privacy laws
I appreciate pCloud’s strict privacy policy

Although its data centers are in Luxembourg and the United States, pCloud is a Swiss company and abides by Swiss privacy laws. This is good news for you as a user because Swiss privacy laws are some of the strictest in the world.

That said, the collection, use, transfer, and disclosure of your personal data is still governed by applicable laws in these regions, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Whether this is good or bad depends on where your data is stored; for instance, the US has state-based privacy laws that often lag behind the European Union.

The only time pCloud may share your data is if required by law, such as under legislation of the Patriot Act in the US. But if you use pCloud Crypto and have a zero-knowledge, private encryption key, not only can pCloud not share your data, law and government officials can’t access it either.

While pCloud collects personal data such as email, payment details, and usage info to set up your account and provide its services, that information remains secure. All pCloud accounts also have zero-knowledge privacy, which means pCloud has no access to your personal files.

See pCloud Privacy Features

Support

3.8

Helpful but Slow Support

pCloud gives you three options for support: searchable FAQs, a contact form, and email – though the form and email are basically the same thing. The Contact Us page provides a phone number for pCloud’s Switzerland headquarters, but it’s not a support line. And there’s no live chat.

pCloud support contact form
You can only contact pCloud support through email or a contact form

I turned to the FAQs to find out how to view and disable my shared links but when I ran into issues with the Backup feature (that I mentioned in the Performance section), I used the support form to get help. I also asked some questions I couldn’t find answers to in the FAQs.

It took a day and a half to get a response from pCloud support. The support agent was friendly and gave me a way to fix my backup issue. He answered some – but not all – of my questions, and strangely, gave me info on things I didn’t even ask about.

Aside from having to send a follow-up email to get my outstanding questions answered, another annoying thing was the format of the response. It was a mashup of several answers squished into one big, hard-to-read paragraph.

pCloud support reply
pCloud’s email support was helpful, but the format of its reply was not

The backup fix required me to unlink pCloud Drive and log back in. When I did, the issue with Backup not being able to access my computer was gone. But that wasn’t the end of it.

To see if this was a permanent fix, I went through the deletion and backup process again. After deleting my backup, pCloud couldn’t access my computer again. I unlinked my account for a second time and tried again, and after more testing realized you only run into the backup access issue when you delete your entire backup. It’s not an issue if you only delete a sub-folder.

It took two and a half days to get a response to my follow-up email, which I didn’t like, but I eventually got all my questions answered. This, plus a lack of support options and poor email formatting, makes pCloud’s support just average.

Pricing

4.0

Limited Base Plans with Add-On Options

 pCloud plans
pCloud only offers two limited base plans and caps storage at 2TB

pCloud offers a free 10GB plan, but when it comes to paid plans, there are just two to pick from: Premium (500GB) or Premium Plus (2TB). There are no unlimited plan options with pCloud.

With the free plan, you only have access to 2GB of storage until you complete a series of tasks (such as verifying your email and installing pCloud on your phone) that unlock 1GB of storage each. You’ll also get 1GB for each friend you invite. To get your full 10GB, you’ll need to invite at least three friends.

When you sign up for Premium or Premium Plus, you can choose from a monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription, which is more flexible than what most competitors offer, and you get your full storage capacity immediately. You’ll also get decent discounts with longer plans if you’re willing to pay more up front.

Premium and Premium Plus give you more features than the free plan, but to access pCloud’s full functionality, you must pay for add-ons like pCloud Crypto and Extended File History.

pCloud offers a 2TB lifetime plan for families, for up to 5 users. With these plans, all family members will have their own pCloud storage space and login info, but you’ll share the 2TB.

It also offers small business plans that can give your business custom branding, increased storage, and unique features like access levels and a scalable system to add more users.

pCloud accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, PayPal, and Bitcoin.

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The worst shopping experience I’ve had on Appsumo

The day they launched at $ 49 I asked a question that they never answered and when they did, I didn't even know why, the offer was no longer available. Finally, blackfriday came, and they came back with a price of almost triple the initial value. In their response they said that they offered 2TB more for $ 249 and when I visited their website they said it was € 349, about $ 394. I convinced myself that it was an upgrade offer only for Appsumo buyers, so I was encouraged to buy, but to my surprise, they actually offered me to upgrade, but when I clicked it took me back to the € 349 offer. I wrote an email 2 days ago to [email protected] and I still have not received a response, I tried the service, and although I do not need exceptional speed either, I wanted to buy it because of the number of integrations they have, but I already have Icedrive that I buy in Appsumo and that comparing speeds neither has anything to envy the other. If this has been my experience to try to buy, I do not want to imagine the relationship that I could have with them in a lifetime agreement asking for some support, I do not recommend it.

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Pablo, Spain
November 26, 2021
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Family sharingMulti User SharingExpert SupportBackupSmart syncPersonal SolutionBusiness SolutionTeams optionsOffline foldersFile history and recovery

pCloud REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

pCloud offers more features than almost all its competitors. And it’s reliable, secure, and easy to use. Having backup in addition to storage is great, and Rewind and Extended File History are top-notch extras.

Sure, pCloud can get pricey since you have to pay more to access all its extras, including its highest level of security. And no, you can’t schedule backups or take a mirror image of your entire computer, but what you get with pCloud’s base plans is more than enough to keep your data safe.

Bottom line: pCloud is one of the best cloud storage services I’ve tested.

FAQ

Is there a difference between online backup and cloud storage?Yes. Online backups keep copies of your files in the cloud as insurance against data loss. Cloud storage is like an external hard drive that lives online and gives you more space to save your files (and lets you free up space on your computer if you choose).Should you pay for cloud storage?Whether or not you should pay for cloud storage depends on how much extra space you need. Many cloud storage services – like IDrive – offer free plans that are capped at 5GB or 10GB. If you need more storage space than that, you’ll have to fork out some cash for it. Does pCloud have unlimited storage?No. The most storage pCloud offers is 2TB, even on its 5-person family plan. If you need unlimited storage, consider Backblaze (you can read our expert Backblaze review for more info).How is pCloud better than iCloud or Google Drive?iCloud and Google Drive offer a lot of the same storage functionality as pCloud, but you’ll get more features and options with pCloud. With pCloud, you can also back up files to protect yourself against data loss. It also has extensive versioning and restore options, security add-ons, and media players you won’t find with iCloud or Google Drive.

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo
Josh is a longtime writer and editor with experience in everything from content writing and copywriting to screenwriting. He has an MBA and loves analyzing and overthinking everything. His passions include creative writing, film and TV, sports, spreadsheets, and most of all, spending time with friends and family by the lake. Josh grew up in Maine, lived in California for many years, and now calls jolly-old England home.

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