pCloud is a relative newcomer to the cloud storage and file sharing space. This Switzerland-based provider launched in 2013, several years after competitors like Dropbox and Google Drive had already claimed a significant head start and market share.
But pCloud has a lot to offer if you can get past its lack of name recognition relative to these older and larger cloud storage providers. pCloud is one of just a handful of platforms to put significant emphasis on security, offering end-to-end encryption and making it standard for business users. On top of that, this provider offers a relatively seamless user interface, mobile apps, and integrated tools for interacting with your media files in the cloud.
Perhaps most impressive of all, pCloud manages to undercut some of its larger competitors on price. We don’t want to call this service cheap, but it’s certainly a bargain. Better yet, lifetime plans offer significant value if you need cloud storage for the long term.
So, does the young upstart pCloud edge out its more established competition? Let’s take a closer look.
- Read our guide to the best cloud backup services
One of the things that stands out most about pCloud is this provider’s focus on security. Your files are protected by 256-bit AES encryption on pCloud’s servers. When you upload to the cloud, pCloud automatically stores copies of your files on five different servers for redundancy. Best of all, pCloud offers an add-on service called Crypto that includes end-to-end encryption when you’re uploading files to the cloud or downloading them to another device.
We also like the way that pCloud handles file sharing. The software enables you to create and share download links for any file you’ve uploaded to the cloud. These download links can be secured with passwords and expiration dates. Even better, pCloud tracks all of the download links you’ve created and gives you the option to cut off sharing at any time.
File versioning with pCloud is significantly less robust, though. The platform automatically keeps old versions of synced files for 30 days, but you don’t have an option to keep them for longer periods. Considering the importance of versioned files in protecting against malware attacks, 30 days simply isn’t all that much time.
We also noticed that pCloud isn’t built for collaboration in the same way as some other file sharing platforms. You can create shared folders within your sync drive, in which case it’s possible to quickly share with other pCloud users through the cloud. But, there aren’t any tools for simultaneous editing or locking a shared file temporarily, so it’s relatively easy to end up with two people working at cross purposes.
While you can use pCloud to store and share any type of files, the platform’s support for photos, videos, and audio files goes above and beyond. The web client includes a built-in video player that lets you watch your video files without downloading them to your device. There’s a similar built-in player for audio files that you can use to curate online playlists within pCloud.
Better still is the built-in photo viewer. This tool lets you crop, resize, and touch up your photos, as well as create slideshows from your images for quick sharing.
If you routinely share photos and videos on social media, pCloud can also backup that content for you. It’s simple to connect to your Facebook or Instagram account, and pCloud will automatically sync media uploaded to those platforms to your cloud storage space.
For everything it offers, pCloud is surprisingly inexpensive. To start, you can store up to 10 GB of files for free with no restrictions on the platform’s features. If you need more space, 500 GB of storage costs $3.99 per month and 2 TB costs $7.99 per month.
Alternatively, pCloud offers lifetime pricing that’s good for up to 99 years. The 500 GB plan costs $175, while the 2 TB plan costs $350.
One thing to keep in mind is that Crypto, the end-to-end encryption tool, isn’t included in pCloud’s standard pricing. Crypto costs an extra $47.88 per year or $125 for life.
For businesses, pCloud has two different options. The first is a Business plan subscription, which includes 1 TB of storage per user for $7.99 per user per month. That price also includes Crypto. The second option is a Family plan, which enables you to create up to five user accounts that share 2 TB of total space. This is only available as a lifetime plan, for a one-time fee of $500, and doesn’t include Crypto.
pCloud runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The software integrates seamlessly with your existing file system, creating a sync folder on your hard drive and adding a send to pCloud option to your file manager’s menu.
The send to pCloud option is somewhat unique among cloud storage and file sharing software, since it doesn’t operate like a sync. Instead, it’s a one-time upload to the cloud to back up a file. This is particularly helpful for backing up files from an external hard drive, since they won’t disappear from your storage space if you unplug the drive.
We also liked that you can designate pCloud as a remote drive within your file system. That makes it much easier to access files and even run software from your cloud storage space. The only catch to this is that pCloud also creates a file cache on your system to facilitate uploads. If you’re tight on disk space, this might be problematic.
The sync folder is what you will use for syncing files between your computer and the cloud. pCloud supports block-level transfer, which saves a fair amount of time and bandwidth when working on synced files. You can also share files within your sync folder with other pCloud users, in which case this serves as a space for collaboration.
It’s also worth noting that pCloud includes a standalone desktop app, which is what you’ll use to manage sharing and security settings. The app is extremely easy to navigate, with separate tabs for your account settings, shared download links, and encryption options.
Given that pCloud launched many years into the smartphone era, it should come as little surprise that this provider took the time to build apps of its own. The service has mobile offerings for both iOS and Android, and in our opinion these are outstanding.
The apps give you access to your file sharing and security settings, just like the pCloud desktop app. But, they also go one step further by automatically syncing your photos and videos from your phone’s media folder to your cloud storage space (you can turn this off in the app settings). If you want to save any files from the cloud to your mobile device for offline access, all you need to do is mark them as favorites.
Interestingly, pCloud also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These enable you to save images and videos directly from a web page to your cloud storage account with just a click. You can even save text to the cloud just by highlighting it on the page.
pCloud may have launched a few years behind the big players in the cloud storage world, but it has quickly caught up. The platform boasts an impressive array of features, including an optional end-to-end encryption tool, online audio and video players, and simple file sharing. The desktop interface is extremely capable, and we were very happy with the simplicity and functionality of the mobile apps.
The only areas in which we’d like to see more from pCloud are file versioning and collaboration. Especially for businesses that depend heavily on teamwork, the lack of tools for simultaneous collaboration may be a red flag. But, on the whole, pCloud has a significant amount to offer for individuals and small businesses, and the plan options are impressively affordable.
- Check out our guide to the best cloud storage options for personal and business use