Choosing between these two services isn’t easy, and to some extent the choice will depend on your personal priorities. However, in our view, there are enough points of difference between them to give pCloud the slight edge over SpiderOak, making it a better pick for most users.
Between this article and those two reviews, you’ll find more than enough information to help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs. For even more options, check out our complete list of the best online cloud storage services.
The Battle Rounds
We’ll be evaluating pCloud and SpiderOak ONE during four rounds of comparisons to help you pick the best cloud storage service for your needs.
On the matter of cost, a head-to-head comparison is complicated by the fact that pCloud gives away free storage space and SpiderOak ONE doesn’t.
The free storage from pCloud is quite generous, too. You get 10GB for signing up and can earn up to 20GB by referring friends and completing bonus steps like backing up your Facebook and Instagram accounts. In fact, pCloud ranks as our top overall provider for free storage.
Unless they’re backing up high definition photos and videos, many users may find the free allotment is all the storage they need (check out our article on the best cloud storage for photos and video if you belong to that group). From that perspective alone, pCloud draws ahead.
Here’s a look at the respective price plans for each service:
|Plan||SpiderOak ONE Trial||SpiderOak ONE 100GB||SpiderOak ONE 250GB||SpiderOak ONE 1TB||SpiderOak ONE 5TB|
$ 5 00monthly
$ 59 00yearly
$ 9 00monthly
$ 99 00yearly
$ 12 00monthly
$ 129 00yearly
$ 25 00monthly
$ 279 00yearly
|Storage||150 GB||400 GB||2000 GB||5000 GB|
21-day free trial.
pCloud offers much cheaper monthly rates and more storage, too.
$ 4 99monthly
$ 47 88yearly
$ 175 00Lifetime
$ 9 99monthly
$ 95 88yearly
$ 350 00Lifetime
|Storage||10 GB||500 GB||2000 GB|
Round One Thoughts
pCloud takes round one by offering free storage space and better subscription rates. Sweetening the deal even more, pCloud frequently runs promotions for discounted storage.
Granted, SpiderOak ONE includes zero-knowledge encryption by default, while pCloud’s zero-knowledge feature, Crypto, costs an extra $3.99 per month. However, math does not lie: pCloud offers 500GB for less than the cost of 100GB with SpiderOak. Even with the added cost of Crypto, pCloud is still a better deal.
For this round, we tested the upload and download speeds of each service using a 1GB compressed folder containing multiple different file types. Tests were conducted over a Wi-Fi connection in Thailand with a 1.05 Mbps download speed and 1.21 Mbps upload speed.
Although we found our pCloud transfer rate to be somewhat volatile, it was able to upload files faster than SpiderOak ONE. pCloud’s download run, meanwhile, was considerably faster. In fact, it was among the fastest services we’ve seen yet for downloads.
|Avg. Upload Time||Avg. Download Time|
While our tests proved pCloud faster for both uploads and downloads, results may vary based on a few factors. The speed of uploading and downloading is mainly dictated by your ISP and the quality of your hardware. Also, the method used for file transfer does seem to be a factor.
File transfer was somewhat faster on Linux than on Windows, and it was also faster when using the upload manager of the online interface than when relying on local file sync to upload a file.
Round Two Thoughts
pCloud has impressive file-transfer speeds, but with the connection speed varying by as much as 400 percent from one moment to the next, there’s definitely an element of chance involved in terms of how fast your files will move.
One thing that’s certain is that our own independent testing doesn’t support pCloud’s YouTube video claim of being five times faster than Dropbox for uploading. Even so, our tests still show that pCloud can be expected to perform faster than SpiderOak ONE. Sometimes much faster.
When it comes to downloading, pCloud leaves both SpiderOak and Dropbox in the dust.
Security & Privacy
SpiderOak includes zero-knowledge encryption for free, while, as noted, pCloud requires purchase of Crypto (there’s a 14-day free trial of the feature to try it out first, however). You also need to take into account privacy laws, which are largely dependent on location. SpiderOak is headquartered in the United States and pCloud is in Switzerland.
The Swiss have a remarkably good reputation for respecting privacy and secrecy, which is backed by the Federal Act on Data Protection. It’s very rare that any component of the Swiss legal system attempts to compel anyone to violate a client’s trust.
U.S. Privacy Issues
Quite the opposite is true in the United States, where privacy has been severely undermined due to national security concerns. Even though the justification for reducing personal privacy is based on national security, subpoenas and warrants issued to search cloud storage space aren’t always related to national security.
In fact these legal orders are frequently issued for matters like copyright investigations, tax investigations and searches for content that could be used as evidence in a criminal investigation. When zero-knowledge encryption is applied, neither service can reveal any truly useful information about you that would have value in legal proceedings. That’s because only you have access to the encryption key, meaning the service can’t provide plain-text copies of your content or even your file metadata.
A key difference is that a court in the United States can order you to reveal your password. A recent case proved that Fifth Amendment rights may not always apply when refusing to surrender a password. Of course, this is also dependent on you personally being located in the United States. If you’re not, it’s much harder for a U.S. court to apply pressure upon you, even if you’re a U.S. citizen.
There aren’t any countries that would grant a legal extradition on the basis of contempt of court. So, where you’re located personally becomes more significant than where your cloud storage provider is headquartered, as that provider offers zero-knowledge encryption.
Also in the FAQ for pCloud, there’s a question that talks about download links being suspended because the content being shared is in violation of pCloud’s terms and conditions. This could mean that unless you use the encryption features, pCloud is monitoring what content you’re sharing for copyright infringement.
If you get a download link suspended even after applying encryption, we want to know about it. While we don’t advocate illegal file sharing, we also don’t approve of storage providers proactively working against the interests of their clients.
Round Three Thoughts
SpiderOak takes round three thanks to a more visible concern for user privacy. In particular, SpiderOak doesn’t grant itself blanket permission to share information with private parties, claiming to only share information under the directive of a court order. pCloud may also require a court order, but doesn’t say.
The simple answer here is that if you’re using pCloud and you need to keep anything private, you should either encrypt the content manually yourself before uploading it, or you should purchase the Crypto subscription (or both). Do that, and pCloud is as secure as SpiderOak ONE.
Ease of Use
There are some things pCloud does slightly better, but overall ease of use lands in favor of SpiderOak ONE. Still, it’s a tough call because pCloud has obviously worked very hard to develop a friendly experience. The big difference is that we discovered some odd quirks with how pCloud operates.
An example is pCloud’s use of the “stop” button next to objects in the sync area. It would be reasonable to assume this is similar to a feature in SpiderOak ONE that lets you pause syncing. In fact, this button permanently removes that item from your sync list. If it happens to be the pCloud drive, restoring that item to the list involves more work than a novice should have to deal with. pCloud also doesn’t have buttons to manually start a file-sync operation like SpiderOak does.
SpiderOak ONE also does a much better job of differentiating between sync and backup. pCloud’s documentation indicates the only things pCloud expects to be backed up are images and videos, and this is a dangerous direction, especially for users with free accounts.
This is problematic because free users can only restore items from the trash within 24 hours of that item being deleted. If a user accidentally deletes a file from their local pCloud drive, it will be instantly removed from the online pCloud drive as well. The difference is in the degree of permanence.
On the plus side, pCloud has a much better help system and the explanations given are more comprehensive and less technical, making it easier for a non-technical user to understand what they need to know.
Round Four Thoughts
SpiderOak did a better job of making an easy-to-use system and there are less ways for a novice user to make mistakes with it. pCloud isn’t difficult to use, it’s just that SpiderOak ONE is easier.
File sharing is a key cloud-storage capability for many users. pCloud earns points here with an innovative file-sharing system that outperforms SpiderOak ONE.
The SpiderOak approach to file sharing involves creating web spaces called “sharerooms.” These are just simple web pages that you can control access to. But they are read-only spaces, so users connecting to these sharerooms are only able to receive files.
Be warned that using sharerooms removes the zero-knowledge protection for the files involved. You can work around this by wrapping a shared file in an encrypted container before sharing it.
Instead of setting up a shareroom, you can also generate a shareable link pointing to a single file. These links expire automatically after three days, which helps maintain your file security. With pCloud, you can also create file download links. Or, if you’d prefer, you can email access to specific individuals.
Additionally, you can also create and share upload links with pCloud. Upload links let others add content to your pCloud storage space even if they’re not pCloud subscribers, themselves.
With pCloud, you can’t share encrypted files protected by Crypto. However, you can still share unencrypted files and files that you’ve manually encrypted outside of pCloud’s system.
Round Five Thoughts
pCloud really went the extra mile to create an amazing file-sharing system. There’s no way with pCloud to accidentally violate zero-knowledge conditions, which you can do with SpiderOak ONE. With pCloud, a file is either encrypted by pCloud Crypto or it’s not, and when it is, it can’t be shared. We also like pCloud’s upload-link feature and it’s generally simpler sharing model. Both services provide great file sharing, but pCloud gets the win with an overall better approach.
It wasn’t an easy choice, but pCloud has enough advantages to put it in the lead for anyone other than the most novice user. Those who are less confident in their use of computers may find SpiderOak ONE a little easier to start using.
The main points in favor of pCloud are better speeds, lower prices, provision of free accounts, a better help system and more flexible payment options. pCloud even lets you pay in Bitcoin if you want. SpiderOak ONE only accepts payment by credit card and debit card, which can create potential problems for some users.
Thank you for reading. We’re always happy to hear other opinions, so let us know what you think in the comments below.