There are many cloud storage services to choose from and we at Cloudwards.net strive to make it easy for you to do so. It’s particularly annoying when you can’t decide between two services. In this article, we’re going to do a pCloud vs. Google Drive head-to-head to help you pick one. pCloud is near the top of our online storage price comparison, while Google Drive has 800 million users.
Cloud storage services focus on different factors, such as productivity, security and third-party integrations. pCloud and Google Drive don’t target the same market, but we can compare them in the same categories. It’s up to you to determine which is the most important.
We’re going to provide an overall winner at the end to make it easier.
You can also refer to our separate pCloud review and Google Drive review to learn more about the services. If you still can’t decide which is best for you, our best cloud storage guide will help. Both pCloud and Google Drive are in it.
Over the next five rounds, we’re going to compare both services and help you decide which fits your needs. At the end of each round, we’re going to name the winner and we’ll conclude by naming our top pick overall.
1. Storage Cost
Storage cost is determined by the price of subscriptions. The more plans a provider offers, the better your options will be. How much space it provides for the money determines its value. If you’re looking for a bargain, read our best deals in cloud storage. It’s great if a service offers a free plan or trial, too, because then you can test it before buying.
Both pCloud and Google Drive offer a free plan. pCloud’s free plan provides 10GB of storage, to which you can add 4GB by completing a multi-step process after registering. Plus, for every friend you refer, you get 1GB of additional space up to 20GB.
Google Drive’s free plan gives you a generous 15GB of storage and the same features premium users get. Those include its suite of office apps, Google Photos and other services that integrate with Google.
pCloud only has two paid plans to choose from: Premium 500GB and Premium Plus 2TB. The first plan costs $4.99 per month, while the second will set you back $9.99 per month. If you pay for the year, the prices come down to $47.88 and $95.88, respectively.
If you like the service and plan to use it for the long term, you can buy a lifetime plan for the best value. A pCloud lifetime subscription for Premium 500GB costs $175 and Premium Plus 2TB is $350.
Google Drive offers a lot of flexibility with its six paid plans. You can get 100GB for $2 a month or $19.99 a year. If you need more, the 1TB plan costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year. Higher tier plans don’t offer an annual discount. They start at 2TB for $19.99 a month and end with 30TB for $149.99 a month, and none are among the best values in cloud storage.
While Google Drive offers more flexibility with its number of plans, pCloud has a couple that count. Premium 500GB is more than twice the price of Google’s 100GB plan, but offers five times more storage. Premium Plus 2TB is 50 percent cheaper than Google’s counterpart when paying monthly, though, and the gap is even wider if you pay for the year.
pCloud doesn’t have plans that offer more storage, but a representative told us in an email that it can provide more space if needed. Though Google Drive does provide plans with more storage, they’re more expensive, so we’re giving this round to pCloud.
2. Security and Privacy
How useful cloud storage is without good security is debatable. During the transfer, your data might be subject to man-in-the-middle attacks and, once your data is in the cloud, hackers won’t hesitate to target it.
To combat that, cloud security uses protocols that protect your data during transfer and encryption that work in-transit and at-rest. Encryption algorithms can be AES 128-bit or 256-bit, while TLS protects your data during transfer. Private encryption ensures that only you can read your data.
Two-factor authentication is useful if someone steals your password.
Google Drive uses AES 128-bit encryption to scramble your files while they’re stored on its servers. It’s not AES 256-bit, but it does the job. In-transit, the TLS protocol protects them. Two-factor authentication is available to protect you, as well.
Privacy has been an issue for Google since it was connected to the PRISM project and sharing data with the U.S. National Security Agency. The company also scans your emails and personal files to give you tailored ads, custom search results and more. If you want to avoid that and strengthen your privacy, you can use Boxcryptor, a private encryption add-on.
pCloud doesn’t need Boxcryptor because it has its own add-on called pCloud Crypto, which you can get for $3.99 per month. That means the company doesn’t include private encryption with its plans, though.
If you use pCloud, your data may fall under U.S. cloud laws and regulations, so Crypto might be a good investment (read more in our what is pCloud Crypto? guide). You also have the option of storing your data on pCloud’s server in Luxembourg for GDPR protection.
pCloud uses the TLS protocol to protect data in transit to servers. Once your data reaches one of its data centers, it’s replicated across at least five servers. On them, your files are encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption. It has two-factor authentication, as well.
Google Drive isn’t stellar in regards to privacy and doesn’t match pCloud’s encryption level, so pCloud wins this round.
3. User Experience
User experience reflects how enjoyable it is to use the service. It’s better if it’s straightforward and not clunky or complex. The service should work on desktop, web and mobile, and the apps should have attractive and intuitive interfaces.
Google Drive’s web interface is similar to other Google apps. It’s intuitive, pleasant and easy to navigate, so you’ll probably use it more than the desktop client. While it has many features, they are carefully placed so as not to overwhelm you.
The desktop app consists of a sync folder and a system tray icon. You won’t have any issues using it as its clear and simple to navigate. It’s available for Windows and macOS.
The mobile app is preinstalled on most Android phones and enables you to access your files on the move. You can even edit them without downloading first, which many other services require. The app is available for iOS, too. Google Photos, which shares space with Google Drive, has automatic upload for your photos and videos.
pCloud’s desktop client is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. In fact, it is the best cloud storage for Linux. You can access it using a system tray icon or the pCloud drive in your system files manager (find out how to set up pCloud Drive). The interface is dark, but clear and intuitive.
The web app has more features than the desktop client, gives access to all of pCloud’s tools in one place and offers a fast, streamlined experience.
The mobile app doesn’t disappoint, either, as it enables you to get to your files on the move and can automatically upload your photos and videos. It’s easy to use and available for Android and iOS.
User experience is more subjective than other categories and both services offer similar features, but there’s no question that Google Drive is sleeker. Its desktop app isn’t available for Linux like pCloud’s, but it lets you edit files without downloading them to your phone and has Google Photos for easy photo management. Google Drive wins this category.
Once you’ve uploaded your files, you’re probably going to want to share them. Doing so should be easy, fast and capable of going directly to the big social networks, individuals and groups of individuals. You should also get proper content controls, so you can restrict unauthorized access with password protection, expiry dates and permissions.
pCloud takes good care of file sharing and its cool features earn it a place in our best cloud storage for sharing list.
You can share files and folders using its web app. Others can be invited to access folders or create upload or download links via their email or account name. An upload link lets them upload their content directly to your folder, while a download link allows them to view and download your files and folders. You can share to Facebook and Twitter, too.
The “my shares” view in pCloud shows you what you’ve shared with others and the “shared with me” screens tells you what others have shared with you. The service also provides a helpful table that shows statistics for your shares.
To prevent unauthorized access, you can set passwords and expiry dates to protect links. You can shorten them, too, but keep in mind that they will be less secure if you do because it will be easier to guess their address. If you’re using pCloud Crypto, you won’t be able to share your encrypted files.
Sharing files and folders with Google Drive is easy. You can generate a link and copy and paste it or send it by email. People who use it can view, comment or edit depending on the permissions you set. There’s also a table which shows you who has access to it. You can also share your content to social networks.
Though permissions are available, other content control features, such as expiry dates and password protection, aren’t. You can tell what others have shared with you by going to the “shared with me” folder, but there is no such folder for content you’ve shared.
It’s clear that pCloud offers more features for sharing and has much stronger content controls to protect your shares, so this round goes to pCloud.
5. Additional Features
Next, we’re going to take a look at features that aren’t standard for cloud storage services, such as media preview, integration with third-party apps and productivity tools.
Google shines in this category because of its vast arsenal of features. They include, most notably, Google’s office suite and large library of third-party tools. In fact, Google Drive is on our list of the best cloud storage for collaboration.
Google’s office suite includes Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. Docs lets you create and collaborate with others on text documents, Sheets enables you to work with spreadsheets and Slides lets you create presentations.
Because those apps correspond to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Google has a Chrome extension that lets you to view, edit and convert between its office files and Microsoft’s. If you’re mainly working with documents and Google Drive doesn’t suit you, consult our best cloud storage for documents list for other options.
Besides the office suite, Google Drive has a third-party library with hundreds of tools it can integrate with and many of them are free. It can preview images and play video and music files. We tried to play media files, though, and it was clunky. Videos might need conversion, but we weren’t notified of such a requirement by the app.
Google Photos, a photo management app, is also available. It makes it easy to manage your photos and lets you upload an unlimited number if you choose to do so in “high quality” instead of “original.”
pCloud also lets you preview your photos and play media files, but it has a couple of other features, too. Your photos don’t get resized when you upload them, but you can download them in a different resolution if you want. You can create playlists of your audio files which is great for music lovers. The audio and video players are attractive and work well.
Another interesting feature is the ability to move files from cloud to cloud. You can use cloud-to-cloud backup for Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive. pCloud can also backup from Facebook and Instagram.
Both services have something to offer, but Google Drive has more integrations and collaboration capabilities, so it wins this round.
6. The Verdict
Both pCloud and Google Drive are among our best cloud storage services. There can only be one winner here, though, and it’s pCloud. Its plans have better value and the service provides much stronger security and privacy. It also has better content controls for your shares.
Even though pCloud is the overall winner, Google Drive scores points, too. Depending on your needs, it might be a better choice for you, especially if you need to work with documents and collaborate with others. Its huge library of integrations is also enticing. You can also read our guide on how to use Google Drive to backup your data.
What do you think about these two services? Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below, and read how pCloud compares to Dropbox, too. Thank you for reading.