Finding the cloud storage service that best fits your needs isn’t an easy task, and it gets harder every year as more providers join the fray. Icedrive is fresh on the scene, which means we have another contender for our favorite cloud storage. The already-established pCloud is quite high on our list, so let’s take a look at how they compare in this Icedrive vs pCloud battle.
If neither Icedrive nor pCloud seem up your alley, you can check out our full list of the best cloud storage options, where you’re sure to find a provider that suits your needs. (Our current top cloud storage pick is Sync.com, which we also compared with Icedrive in our Icedrive vs Sync.com battle.)
Updated article to reflect the addition of two-factor authentication to Icedrive.
Icedrive vs pCloud Matchup
For this comparison, we’ll be running Icedrive and pCloud through six rounds to determine which one is the better cloud storage service. Each round is worth one point, with the service that earns four or more points taking the overall victory. The rounds are focused on features, pricing, usability, file syncing and sharing, speed and, finally, security and privacy.
Because there’s an even number of rounds, we might end up with a tie. If that’s the case, we’ll place more weight on some of the rounds, such as pricing or file syncing and sharing, as these are more likely to matter to a larger number of users than speed or features not directly related to cloud storage.
We’ll begin by taking a look at what features Icedrive and pCloud offer. As you may have guessed from the round names, we’re combining file syncing and sharing into its own round, as it’s arguably the core functionality of any cloud storage provider. For this round, then, we’ll be checking out the additional features each service offers.
Since Icedrive is the more recently launched service, we think it’s fair to give them attention first. Overall, it’s a relatively feature-light service, focused on providing an easy-to-use and clean interface instead of jamming too much advanced functionality into its product.
There are some things worth mentioning, though. The first is the ability to preview files and stream media, which is uncommon for encrypted storage. The built-in media player lets you watch video files without downloading them first, and you can edit documents on the fly as well.
Unfortunately, though, there are no collaboration tools to speak of, meaning you can’t invite other people to edit your files directly in online storage. This isn’t unexpected, as advanced collaboration tools and client-side encryption are generally mutually exclusive.
The service retains deleted files forever, though these are placed in a trash folder that takes up online storage space. Previous versions of files are also kept, and Icedrive places no limits on this, meaning you can go as far back as you want for any file. However, we talked to customer support who informed us that Icedrive plans to change this in the future, once the service reaches a certain number of users.
Moving on to pCloud, features have always been one of its strong suits. First up is its music player, which allows you to stream audio content directly from online storage without downloading the files, and the player itself is pleasant to use as well.
pCloud dubs its versioning “pCloud rewind,” and it allows you to restore deleted or changed files for varying amounts of time depending on your subscription type. Free accounts can rewind for only 15 days, while Premium and Premium Plus plans can rewind for up to 30 days. You can also extend this to a full 12 months by paying an additional $39 per year.
If you’re already using Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, you can migrate your files automatically from any of these services to pCloud. You can also set up backups for social media accounts, such as Facebook and Instagram (we also have a separate guide on how to backup social media).
Although there’s no integration with Microsoft Office or Google Docs — which keeps pCloud off our list of the best cloud storage for collaboration — you can create a “fair share” folder where other people can add or edit files directly. You can also set up a public folder that everyone can access, regardless of whether they’ve been invited or not.
Another really great pCloud feature can be found in the browser extensions for Opera, Firefox and Chrome. These allow you to right-click images on websites and save them directly to your pCloud storage. Since the extension works on Chrome, it’s also compatible with other Chromium-based browsers like Brave or Vivaldi.
There are numerous other minor features included in pCloud, like automatic screenshot upload, bandwidth throttling, disk usage limits and context menu options. For the sake of brevity we won’t touch on literally everything pCloud can do, so make sure to head over to our pCloud review to learn more.
All this taken together means that pCloud is off to a great start with an easy win in this category. While Icedrive certainly isn’t bad in terms of features, especially for such a new service, it simply doesn’t have the same breadth of functionality that the more established pCloud offers. That means our score starts out at 0-1 in pCloud’s favor.
Icedrive and pCloud are both very reasonably priced, with relatively similar price tags for storage space. Plus, they both offer generous free plans with 10GB of free storage and even lifetime subscriptions that require just a single payment.
Starting with Icedrive, there are three paid plans offered. These are called Lite, Pro and Pro+, which provide 150GB, 1TB and 5TB of storage, respectively. The Lite plan is billed annually at $19.99 per year ($1.67 per month if you break it down). The two larger plans, on the other hand, give you the option of yearly or monthly billing.
- : Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- : 150GB
- : Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- : 1TB
- : Bandwidth limit: 8TB
- : 5TB
- : 3TB
Pro will run you $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year, while Pro+ comes in at $17.99 per month or $179.99 per year.
Meanwhile, pCloud also offers three paid plans, but with slightly different storage caps and prices. The first two of these — Premium and Premium Plus — are intended for personal users and come with 500GB and 2TB of storage for $4.99 and $9.99 per month, respectively. Paying yearly makes them a bit cheaper, with annual subscriptions costing $47.88 and $95.88 per year.
- : 10GB
- : 500GB
- : 2TB
- : Price per user (minimum 3)
- : 1TB
The final plan, Business, works a bit differently than the others. Since it’s intended for companies or groups of people, you pay per user, with each person getting 1TB of storage space.
pCloud vs Icedrive Lifetime Deals
As mentioned, both Icedrive and pCloud offer lifetime deals on their services. This means that instead of paying a recurring subscription every month or year, you pay a larger sum up front and get access to the service in perpetuity.
At least, that’s the idea in theory, but as we reported in our state of the cloud, it’s not unheard of for companies to try to rescind offers like this. A company could also simply go bankrupt, at which point they can’t continue to provide their services anyway.
That said, both Icedrive and pCloud’s lifetime deals are excellent options if you plan to use the services for three years or more. Icedrive offers a lifetime plan on all three of its versions, costing $99, $229 and $599 for the Lite, Pro and Pro+ plans, respectively.
However, to avoid abuse, Icedrive imposes a bandwidth cap on lifetime subscribers, meaning that there’s a limit on how much data you can upload or download during the month. The limit is either 250GB, 2TB or 8TB, depending on which lifetime plan you purchase.
pCloud Lifetime, on the other hand, imposes no such restrictions. Only the Premium and Premium Plus plans can be purchased as lifetime plans, and they cost $175 and $350, respectively.
Finally, both services offer 10GB of storage for free. However, Icedrive gives you this with no strings attached, while pCloud requires you to perform certain actions to unlock the full 10GB.
You start at just 2GB and receive 1GB for verifying your email, uploading a file, downloading the desktop app, installing the mobile app and turning on automatic uploads. That means you can easily get up to 7GB, but the remaining 3GB requires you to invite three friends to use the service, which might not be possible for everyone.
All this adds up to two services with very little difference in terms of price. With the exception of the Lite plan, Icedrive gives you slightly more bang for your buck, both in terms of monthly or yearly subscriptions as well as lifetime plan prices.
Because of this, Icedrive wins this round by a very slim margin, despite the bandwidth caps it imposes on lifetime users. This brings our score to 1-1 as we head into our third round, focused on usability.
Even if a cloud storage service comes with a whole bunch of advanced features, it won’t count for much if the software is clunky or difficult to use. This is a pervasive problem in the cloud storage field, as most providers opt for cramming every part of their software into the system tray, relying on a web dashboard rather than a dedicated interface.
It’s a pleasant surprise, then, when the newcomer to this battle, Icedrive, bucks this trend and provides a fully functional desktop client that contains all the functionality you’d find in its web dashboard. Its interface is well designed and pleasant to use, with everything organized in a simple menu on the left-hand side of the window.
In addition to a desktop client that mirrors the web dashboard, Icedrive recently updated its virtual drive software to include a lightweight control panel. Here, you can set up sync folders, get an overview of your storage space, see any data transfers currently in progress and adjust some basic settings.
All that said, pCloud also offers a substantial client that gives you plenty of control over everything from syncing and sharing to account status and settings. However, although it’s not poorly designed by any means, it’s not quite as sleek as Icedrive’s client.
In addition to web dashboards and desktop clients, both services also offer mobile apps for iOS and Android. These allow you to sync files between your computer and mobile devices, and both are very easy to use.
Although Icedrive doesn’t give you offline access to your files on desktop, on the mobile app you can download them so that they’re accessible regardless of internet connection. All the other functionality is there as well, including file sharing and the ability to upload files from your mobile device.
pCloud is a similar story, with the mobile app offering all the functionality you’d expect compared to its desktop application. That said, it’s a bit tougher to learn, as all the actions are represented by icons rather than text buttons. Once you’ve figured out what everything does, though, it’s a breeze to use.
At the end of the day, this round is almost entirely subjective. Both services are incredibly easy to use, and we have few complaints about the interface design of either one.
When it comes right down to it, although we think Icedrive’s software is sleeker and more pleasant to interact with, pCloud packages everything into just a single application, making it a bit easier to deal with. This brings our score to 1-2 as we reach the halfway point of our pCloud vs Icedrive comparison.
4. File Syncing & Sharing
Finally, we come to what is arguably the core functionality of any cloud storage service, namely file syncing and sharing. As we mentioned in our first round, these features are so central to cloud storage that they get their own showdown instead of being lumped together with everything else the services can do.
As usual, we’ll begin by taking a look at Icedrive. Up until very recently, Icedrive didn’t actually sync your files at all, instead keeping everything on a virtual drive — meaning that you didn’t have offline access to your files. However, a recent update added the option of designating what Icedrive calls “sync pairs,” consisting of one local folder and one remote folder.
Adding a new folder to sync is as easy as opening the control panel, clicking on the “sync” tab and then on “new sync pair.” Then you just need to designate a local folder to sync from and a destination folder on your cloud storage, and you’re done. This means that you won’t have to move everything into a single folder as you do with Dropbox, for example.
Unfortunately, Icedrive’s file sharing leaves a bit to be desired. You can create public links for files that you can either send to other people manually or have Icedrive email automatically. If the other person has an Icedrive account, they’ll be able to access the file directly in their Icedrive application or web dashboard.
If you’re on one of the paid plans, you can set up password protection for your shared link, as well as an expiration date. While this is all good, we’d really like to see some more advanced functionality here, such as link access statistics, email notifications or self-destruct options.
Moving on to pCloud, the more established service takes a very similar approach to file syncing, in that you can designate as many local folders for synchronization as you like without reorganizing your file structure. While this means the files take up local storage space, it also gives you access to them even if you’re not currently connected to the internet.
If local storage capacity is an issue, you can set pCloud to selectively sync files, ignoring the ones that fit certain naming conventions or file formats. Files are synced using block-level file copying, meaning pCloud won’t waste bandwidth, resources and time re-uploading or downloading parts of a file that haven’t changed.
Like Icedrive, pCloud also gives you the best of both worlds in that it sets up a virtual drive in addition to your sync folders. This means that you can move files there, delete them from their original location, and you’ll still be able to access the files without using any of your local storage capacity, as long as you’re connected to the internet.
As for file sharing, pCloud does well in this area, too. It does so well, in fact, that it’s our second-favorite pick for our best cloud storage for file sharing list, just above Google Drive. You can share files in pretty much every way imaginable, whether that’s directly through file explorer or via the desktop client, mobile apps or web dashboard.
You can also enable password protection, set an expiration date and shorten your shared links. However, files protected by pCloud Crypto (more on this in our security and privacy round later), can’t be shared with other people. pCloud also offers you a bunch of statistics about your links, telling you how many times they’ve been accessed, the total traffic and a weekly activity summary.
All this taken together means that this round is a win for pCloud. Although both services do great with file syncing, pCloud brings a lot more to the table in terms of sharing files with others. That brings the score to 1-3, with two rounds left to go.
Although speed isn’t quite as important for traditional cloud storage services as it is for backup providers, since most users probably won’t be transferring as much data, it’s still something that can turn a great service into a chore to use.
To test the speed of Icedrive and pCloud, we uploaded and downloaded a 1.1GB folder twice on each service, and averaged the results. Although few internet connections are 100 percent stable at all times, we were using a line with roughly 10Mbps upload speed and 50Mbps download speed.
As the test was performed in Albania, pCloud’s servers in Luxembourg are slightly closer than Icedrive’s in the UK, but this probably won’t be a huge factor. Users located in Europe or North America (where pCloud has servers) are likely to get similar results for pCloud, while North American Icedrive users might experience somewhat slower speeds.
As you can see from these results, both services performed pretty similarly with regard to upload speed, but Icedrive was far faster for downloads, despite its servers being located slightly farther away than pCloud’s.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
That means that Icedrive wins yet another round, which leaves our score at 2-3 as we proceed to the final round. Security and privacy will end up deciding whether we have a tie or if the more established service will defeat the up-and-coming challenger.
6. Security & Privacy
Finally, we come to security and privacy. Depending on the nature of the files you store in the cloud, making sure that no one else — whether that’s cybercriminals, the government or the company itself — can access them might be of utmost importance, and some services are notoriously bad in this area.
Starting with Icedrive, it’s no exaggeration to say that the newcomer gets top marks in both keeping your files secure from illegal access as well as keeping them private from any prying eyes.
Everything is encrypted using the Twofish encryption protocol, which was the other main contender for the Advanced Encryption Standard (it lost out to Rijndael, now simply referred to as AES).
However, just because Twofish wasn’t selected doesn’t mean it’s significantly weaker in any way, as it provides equivalent protection to AES 256-bit, which is the gold standard. When your files are in transit, they’re protected by TLS/SSL, so that they can’t be exposed in a man-in-the-middle attack.
All encryption is done client-side, making Icedrive a zero-knowledge service, though this is only true for the files you place in the encrypted section of your storage.
pCloud, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated in this regard. Although the service does offer client-side encryption, you have to pay extra for the pCloud Crypto package to get access to it. This costs $4.99 if you pay monthly, or $3.99 per month if you opt for a longer subscription.
While it’s good that pCloud at least offers the option of zero-knowledge encryption, having to pay extra for it is incredibly disappointing, as other secure cloud storage services offer this as a core part of their products. That said, if you do pay for pCloud Crypto, the encryption you get is just as good as Icedrive or other services like Tresorit.
In addition to encryption, both pCloud and Icedrive also let you set up two-factor authentication, which protects you in case someone figures out your password. For Icedrive, this can be done via Google Authenticator (one of the best 2FA apps), hardware keys that support U2F/FIDO and SMS, with the last one being restricted to paid plans. pCloud, on the other hand, only offers Google Authenticator and SMS verification.
Another important aspect of data privacy is where the data centers that store your files are physically located. This is because countries have different digital privacy laws, and some governments can easily gain access to unencrypted files — without breaking any laws — while others are much more limited in what they can do.
Icedrive offers a single storage location — the UK — while pCloud lets you choose between the U.S. and Luxembourg. While there are many examples of the U.S. being terrible in this regard, whether it’s PRISM or the Patriot Act, the UK isn’t much better since the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016.
However, pCloud’s alternative location, Luxembourg, is far better. Being located in the EU means your data is protected by GDPR regardless of your nationality, and Luxembourg has solid privacy protections in general. That said, Icedrive also complies with GDPR, even if they might not be legally obliged to do so in the future.
At the end of the day, charging for private encryption in the form of pCloud Crypto makes this round a slam-dunk for Icedrive, despite the less private server location. As this is our final round, that brings the overall score to 3 to 3, meaning we don’t have an obvious winner.
With that, our pCloud vs Icedrive comparison has come to a close. Both services are excellent options for cloud storage, which is why we’re left with a tie. That said, pCloud wins our file syncing and sharing round, which at the end of the day is the most important part of any cloud storage service. It’s also a bit easier to use and provides more in the way of bonus features.
However, if zero-knowledge encryption or affordability are more important factors for you, then Icedrive is probably the better option.
If you’d like to see how the newcomer Icedrive fares against some other big names in the cloud storage business, you can check out our comparison with Sync.com linked above, or our Icedrive vs MEGA, Icedrive vs Tresorit and Icedrive vs Google Drive battles.
What did you think of our Icedrive vs pCloud comparison? Do you agree that pCloud’s superior file sharing and additional features give it the edge? Or do you think that Icedrive actually outperforms pCloud due to its superior security, speed and pricing? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.
- Yes, Icedrive is secure. Not only is Icedrive a zero-knowledge service, it also protects your files at rest with the Twofish encryption protocol and your files in transit with the TLS/SSL protocol.
- Yes, pCloud is one of the best cloud storage solutions available, having excellent features, usability, and file syncing and sharing capabilities.
- pCloud and Icedrive tied in this comparison, but we gave pCloud the win due to its superior file sharing and additional features. However, if security, speed or pricing is more important to you, then Icedrive might be the better fit.