pCloud is a secure and easy-to-use service that lets you store up to 10GB for free, offers lifetime plans for up to 2TB and generally will make storing files easier than most of the competition. Though it's not completely without its flaws, we won't hesitate to recommend it to most people.
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If you’ve read our best cloud storage article, you’ll know that pCloud is one of our favorite services. This is due to several factors, like how it uses a virtual hard drive to extend your drive space by up to 2TB, or allows you to sync any folder on your computer without needing to mess with your folder structure. It’s also the only one of the many cloud storage services that lets you decide which of your files you want to protect with zero-knowledge encryption. On top of that, it’s easy to use, provides speedy sync and comes at a very affordable price.
However, if you’d prefer the ability to choose which files are protected with zero-knowledge encryption, then pCloud is an excellent choice. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer in this pCloud review.
- Great value
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Fast syncing
- Bitcoin payments available
- Sync any folder
- Integrated media player
- Encryption costs extra
- No document integration
- pCloud10 GB Free Storage
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit pCloudpCloud Review
- Sync.com★★★ Best Cloud Storage ★★★
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Sync.comSync.com Review
- Google Drive
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit OneDriveOneDrive Review
The most essential feature of any cloud storage service is its file syncing, which pCloud does incredibly well, unlike a bare-bones service like MediaFire. However, pCloud comes with a number of additional features that add to your experience, but we’ll be honest — some of these are better than others.
As a plus, pCloud has some useful media features that helped it beat the competition in our best cloud storage for music shortlist.
First, we’ll talk about the music player — few cloud storage providers do this well enough to make it worth talking about. You can play your music files from within the pCloud web interface or smartphone app, thanks to the pCloud audio player.
It comes with many of the features you find in dedicated music apps, such as the ability to search by song, artist, album or playlist, as well as the ability to create and edit playlists. You can also shuffle songs and loop albums or playlists.
All of these playback features appear on the smartphone app, too, and you can also download music to your phone if you want to listen offline. If videos are your thing, you can play videos through the web interface or in the pCloud mobile apps, too. If the video isn’t in an appropriate format, pCloud will convert to a web format before it plays.
If you’re storing your media collection with pCloud, you might be interested in its integration with Kodi, the popular media player. An unofficial add-on for Kodi allows you to stream directly from your pCloud collection, making it one of the best cloud storage for Kodi streamers.
You can also download your converted files and export them elsewhere using the “download converted” option, which — along with no file-size limits that beat the 10GB Dropbox max file size — helps to make pCloud the best cloud storage for video.
The pCloud “rewind” feature allows you to recover files from a previous date if, for some reason, you delete your files or they become corrupted (ransomware, look out).
This feature isn’t an option with a free pCloud account, but with the Premium and Premium Plus plans, you can rewind your account by up to 30 days. This allows you to see a snapshot of how your files and folders looked at a specific date and time.
This gives you the option to restore any of your previous files and folders from that date. Rather than simply reverting your account to match how it looked then, pCloud will give you the option to either download the files and folders you want to recover or restore them individually.
However, restoring them doesn’t mean placing them back nicely in your previous file structure. Instead, everything is dumped into a folder, with no directory structure. If you’re trying to restore a large number of files and folders, this could prove difficult to organize.
You can opt to pay an additional $39 to extend pCloud “rewind” restorations for up to a year. This also applies to file versioning, which is a similar feature for restoring individual files to a previous state. In fact, pCloud makes it onto our list of the best cloud storage for versioning.
pCloud also extends into your browser with pCloud Save, an extension for Opera, Firefox and Chrome. This extension allows you to save images directly to your pCloud account with a simple right-click on any images you want, with these images being saved in a special “pCloud Save” folder.
One major flaw with these extensions is that, if you have two-factor authentication enabled (something we will look at later), you’re unable to log in to use pCloud Save. Even if you turn 2FA off in order to sign in to the extension, it will kick you out of pCloud Save as soon as you turn 2FA back on again.
If you already use Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, but are thinking about trying out pCloud, you can backup all of your data from these services straight into pCloud. Go to the “backup” section, choose the provider you want to backup from, sign in to link your account, and pCloud will start to copy all of your files and folders into a new folder called “backups.”
You can also backup your photos from social media, like Instagram and Facebook, in the same way. Currently, this service doesn’t work if you’re trying to back up Dropbox Business or OneDrive Business accounts.
If you’re interested in collaborating with other pCloud account holders, you may want to give pCloud’s “fair share” feature a try. If you share a folder, the recipients can add as much as they want to the shared folder without using up any of their space allocation. The shared folder will take up space only on the account of the person who originally shared it.
There’s no integration with either Microsoft Office or Google Docs, unfortunately, so pCloud doesn’t make it onto our list of the best cloud storage for collaboration.
pCloud Public Folder
There’s also the option to set up a public folder. This can be used for a number of purposes, such as hosting static HTML web pages, creating direct links to files or for embedding images as an alternative to image hosting sites, such as Imgur. However, you’ll need to pay for the privilege because this isn’t available on a free pCloud account.
One of the best features, though, is pCloud Crypto, which allows you to protect some of your files and folders with end-to-end encryption. We’ll take a look at this in more detail in the security section of this pCloud review.
pCloud Features Overview
pCloud is reasonably priced and a good value for money, with only Sync.com beating it in the battle of the best deals for cloud storage. You can learn more about Sync.com in our Sync.com review, but as you’ll see, pCloud competes very well on pricing.
1-month plan $ 4.99/ month
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1-year plan $ 3.99/ month
$47.88 billed every year
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1-month plan $ 9.99/ month
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1-year plan $ 7.99/ month
$95.88 billed every year
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1-month plan $ 9.99/ month
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1-year plan $ 23.97/ month
$287.64 billed every year
If you’re looking to give pCloud a try, then take a look at the free account first. It tops our list of the best free cloud storage and offers up to 10GB of free storage space, although you start with only 2GB — you’ll need to unlock the rest. Sure, that’s less than Degoo with its free 100GB of space (see our Degoo review), but it’s significantly better in almost every way.
You can “easily” earn an additional 5GB with pCloud by verifying your email, uploading a file, downloading both the desktop and smartphone apps, and turning on automatic photo upload on your smartphone. The final 3GB are earned by successfully inviting other people to sign up.
There are two tiers available for paid, personal accounts. The Premium plan offers 500GB of space, and there are three ways to pay for it. You can choose to pay $4.99 each month or pay upfront for a whole year, which drops the price to an average of $3.99 each month.
There’s also the option to pay for a lifetime subscription for $175; you’d need to use pCloud for at least 44 months for this to make economical sense. With pCloud Premium, you get 500GB of pCloud download traffic each month and 30 days of trash history.
Alternatively, pCloud Premium Plus comes with 2TB of cloud space for $9.99 every month. If you pay annually, this drops to $7.99 per month, putting it on a par with Sync.com, and well ahead of the significantly more expensive 2TB plans from providers like Dropbox. You can learn more about Dropbox pricing in our Dropbox review.
You can also make a one-off payment of $350 for a pCloud lifetime subscription, which — once again — is the cheapest way to pay if you’re planning to keep your pCloud account for 44 months or more. The Premium Plus plan comes with 2TB of download link traffic per month and the same 30 days of trash history.
If you want a cloud storage account to share with your family, then pCloud offers a plan that gives 2TB of storage that’s shareable with up to five people. However, the downside to this is the enormous price; you’ll need to pay $1,400 for a lifetime plan (although large discounts are available from time to time.)
You can manage how much space each member gets, but the lack of monthly or annual payment options makes this a less-than-tempting offer for almost all users.
If you’re a business user, pCloud’s Business plan offers 1TB of storage per user, costing $9.99 per user each month. You can also pay annually, which costs around $7.99 per user per month. One huge benefit of pCloud Business is that it includes Crypto at no additional cost.
pCloud also includes additional team tools, such as being able to set individual access levels and comment on shared files and folders. However, the features aren’t quite strong enough to see pCloud make it onto our rundown of the best cloud storage for enterprise, where providers like Egnyte and Tresorit dominate.
With so many cloud storage options out there, providers like pCloud that lack the mass public name recognition need to nail down one thing if they want Joe Public to subscribe: ease of use. Thankfully, pCloud doesn’t disappoint, although there are a few areas for improvement.
Signing up to pCloud requires an email address and password, or you can sign up with your Google, Facebook or Apple account. You’re then encouraged to download pCloud Drive to set up a virtual drive on your system, which is all very straightforward. This turns your documents folder into a sync folder by default, meaning your documents are automatically synced to pCloud.
Following in the footsteps of Dropbox and others, pCloud uses the tried-and-tested cloud storage model, with a sync folder on your PC and a system tray icon to change your settings.
Some desktop apps, such as the recent update in Dropbox, allow you to explore your files and folders within the app. However, the pCloud desktop app is purely for making changes to your account and settings; you’ll need to open Windows File Explorer to edit your files.
The menu links across the top of the desktop app allow you to switch between account information, your sync folders, shared files and folders, pCloud Crypto, settings, support and information on the app itself.
The desktop app is easy to navigate, but it doesn’t have the most appealing interface we’ve ever seen. The app is available for macOS, Windows and Linux, making it on our best cloud storage for Linux shortlist.
If you want to access your files when you’re away from your computer, you can use the web interface. Like the pCloud app, there are menu links for browsing your files, accessing your public folder, pCloud Rewind, your backups from other cloud services and your trash folder. Beneath this are links for accessing your Crypto folder, shared folders, your download links and your audio files.
You can add files and folders directly into pCloud by dragging and dropping them into the web interface, but this is a little clunky.
Instead of allowing you to drop the files into specific folders by hovering over them, as you would in Explorer, pCloud opens an upload screen that shows your file uploading to the currently open folder. If you want to upload to a different folder, you’ll have to open that folder first before you start the drag-and-drop process.
There’s also no way to drag a file out of pCloud and drop it on your desktop; you have to select it and choose the download option. Other online storage services, such as OneDrive, allow you to drop files into individual folders, which is quicker and more efficient. Take a look at our OneDrive review to learn more.
pCloud Mobile App
The mobile app is available for Android and iOS, and it has a similar menu system as the web interface, with links to your files, pCloud Crypto and more. Adding files is simple: simply hit the plus sign at the top of the screen and select the files you want to upload. Unfortunately, moving files in the app is a little harder, with no option to drag and drop.
Otherwise, the experience of using the app is pretty smooth, which is why it’s one of our best cloud storage for Android picks. If you’ve uploaded photos and videos, pCloud will prompt you to delete them from your phone to free up some space.
You can also make files available offline with a couple of taps, which is particularly useful if you want to listen to music or watch videos on the go.
Ease of use is incredibly important, but even more essential is file sharing and syncing. After all, that’s the whole raison d’être of storage services like pCloud, OneDrive and Sync.com.
Thankfully, it’s also one of pCloud’s strong points, making it one of the best file sync software. Its use of a virtual drive model and the ability to sync any folder on your computer are features that put it ahead of most of the competition. Sharing files and folders is also simple to do and can be accessed in a variety of ways.
We’ll start with the virtual drive. One problem with the traditional sync folder model for online storage is redundancy. It keeps files on your drive, then copies them to cloud servers, making sure that files are mirrored equally between the two. However, this isn’t great if your local storage space is limited.
In many cases, if you choose not to sync everything to your PC, then you generally can’t interact with it. pCloud gets around this by creating a virtual drive that takes up none of your disk drive space at all — this is pCloud Drive.
Using pCloud Drive, you can navigate through all of your cloud files and folders in File Explorer as if they were on your drive itself. This adds up to 2TB of storage space to your computer.
Files will open as if they were stored on your hard drive, and once you close them, they return to the cloud. One downside of this system is that you can’t access the files if you’re offline, but it’s simple enough to remedy this by setting up a new sync folder.
Sync folders are additional folders from your hard drive that you can choose to sync to pCloud. Unlike with some other cloud providers, you can choose any folder to be a sync folder and can have as many as you like. It means you don’t have to mess with your folder structure if you want to add files to your storage, as you can leave everything exactly where it is.
Adding a new sync folder is as simple as right-clicking on the folder in Explorer and choosing the “sync to pCloud” option, but you can also set up new sync folders within the desktop app. It’s important to remember that your sync folder will mirror what is stored in the cloud, so if you delete any files on your desktop, they will disappear from your account, too.
If you’d rather be able to decide on a file-by-file basis which ones remain in the cloud and which ones stay on your hard drive, then take a look at Dropbox Smart Sync.
Sharing files is also simple and helps pCloud to make it onto our best cloud storage for sharing shortlist, alongside Google Drive and Dropbox. You can share files from within File Explorer or through the desktop app, web interface or mobile app. Like Google Drive, pCloud allows you to share links directly to your shared files or you can invite pCloud users using email.
You have the option to grant read-only or read-and-write access using the shared link, as well as password-protect it and set an expiration date. You can also choose to generate a shorter link, although pCloud will remind you that these links are less secure. However, you can’t share files stored in pCloud Crypto unless you have a Business account.
A useful part of the sharing window is the “stats” page. This allows you to see when the link was created, how many downloads you’ve had and the total download traffic. Because download link traffic has a maximum limit per month, it’s useful to be able to track this metric if you plan on using this a lot. There’s also a nice graph to show your weekly traffic stats.
Sharing via the smartphone app is also simple. A quick tap on the sharing icon beneath each folder allows you to send invitations to the folder or to generate upload or download links. You can set permissions to view or edit, although you can’t set passwords or expiration dates from within the app.
As a top-tier provider, we’d expect file speeds from pCloud to be good, and that’s exactly what we found. To make sure, we tested pCloud transfer speeds ourselves, using a 1GB file to test upload and download times.
We tested this from a location in the UK, with an average of 80 Mbps download speeds and 6 Mbps upload speeds. Both the upload and download speeds were pretty much exactly what you would expect, based on the connection speed.
|First attempt||Second attempt||Average|
If you want to send large files or if you’re moving a lot of files around, you may want to limit your download or upload speeds. pCloud allows you to do this in its settings area, but it’s set to unlimited by default.
pCloud also makes use of block-level sync to speed up the process of syncing files that have been edited. In essence, your files are broken up into small pieces, and only the pieces that have changed are synced. It means if you edit a large file, it will sync in a matter of seconds, rather than several minutes. If you edit a lot of large files, this can make a real difference.
Not all providers offer this, so if you’re looking for alternatives, you’ll need to consider providers like Dropbox or OneDrive, instead (check out our pCloud vs Dropbox comparison review for more).
Security is important, especially in an era when data breaches are a daily — rather than rare — occurrence. pCloud has some excellent security features that help it find its way onto our list of the most secure cloud storage, so we’re pretty confident in recommending it for those who are worried about their data security.
Some of these features require you to pay extra, though, which is a shame. Providers like Sync.com offer similar features at no extra cost, so it’s something to bear in mind.
When we consider data security from cloud providers, we’re looking for the holy grail: zero-knowledge encryption. This type of encryption gives you control over your encryption keys, which the provider doesn’t hold. This means that only you can decrypt your files — not pCloud, not the law and not a rogue hacker with access to its servers.
This layer of security is important because it means your files remain completely secure from outside snooping (as long as your encryption keys are kept secure, too.)
The downside is that, while pCloud does offer this, it isn’t included as standard. It costs $4.99 a month extra for pCloud Crypto (the pCloud brand name for zero-knowledge encryption) or around $3.99 a month if you pay upfront. However, Business pCloud users will get it for free.
As we’ve already mentioned, some providers already offer this for free, but others don’t offer it at all. pCloud Crypto is a middle-ground option, allowing you to choose which files you want to protect with zero-knowledge encryption. Anything in your Crypto folder is impossible for the server to read, so you can’t see any previews, or play music or videos from within pCloud.
This allows you to have less-secure access to your media files, but it would allow you to keep sensitive documents secure from others.
Files that aren’t kept in pCloud Crypto are still protected by industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, and pCloud uses the TLS protocol to reduce the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. You can also use two-factor authentication to help protect your account.
Two-factor authentication requires you to provide a second form of verification in order to sign in to your account (usually an SMS message or a code generated using an authentication app). If someone gets hold of your password, they shouldn’t be able to log in to your account unless they also have access to your phone, which adds another layer of security.
If you’re concerned about the privacy of your data, then pCloud is a particularly good choice, although there are some small areas for concern. If you’re using pCloud Crypto, your files will be secure with zero-knowledge encryption, but everything else could be at risk unless you add other defenses, like two-factor authentication.
pCloud is based in Switzerland, which has some of the best cloud privacy laws in the world. It’s one of the reasons why companies such as ProtonMail, which tops our list of the most secure email providers, choose Switzerland as their home. However, pCloud’s data center is in the U.S., which has much more intrusive privacy laws.
Your personal data may also be shared with third parties in order to comply with the law, or if pCloud is compelled to do so by law enforcement or other government officials. If your data is stored in the U.S., it means that pCloud may be required to grant authorities access to your data under legislation such as the Patriot Act.
Any data stored in pCloud Crypto would remain encrypted, though, so the authorities would not be able to access its contents. It’s important to note that pCloud states that it has never sold data to third parties and has no plans to ever do this in the future. As a Swiss company that offers zero-knowledge encryption, there isn’t much to worry about here that we can see.
We’ve praised pCloud a lot in this review, but one area where the company lets down its customers is with customer service. Unlike many of its rivals, pCloud offers no live chat support and, in our experience, response times to queries were hit or miss.
There is quite an extensive help page that covers many of the features the service offers, but if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, then things get trickier.
If you want to contact the company directly to chat with a support agent, then your only option is to ring the company. However, the number is a Swiss number, and it operates on Swiss business hours, making this tricky for U.S. customers. Switzerland is nine hours ahead of California, so if you’re based in San Francisco, you’re going to need to call before 8 a.m. Not ideal.
This is one area that could be fixed with a live chat option but, as we’ve stated, this isn’t something pCloud offers. Other top-tier providers like Dropbox and Google Drive offer this, as you’ll see in our Google Drive review.
Without easily available chat or phone support, your next best option is to get in touch via email or by using the contact form. The first time we tried this, the response took more than 24 hours to arrive. The second time, we heard back within two hours.
The responses were useful and showed good knowledge of the product, but the response times were a little inconsistent.
As this pCloud review has explained, pCloud dominates with an easy-to-use service for an affordable price that makes it a go-to option for online storage in almost every situation.
The virtual drive system is a great way to access all of your files and folders without filling up your precious hard drive space, while pCloud Crypto allows you to decide which files and folders you want to protect with zero-knowledge encryption. Although this is a paid add-on, it does give you the security you’d need for your files.
If you’ve spent years building up a finely curated collection of music files, then pCloud’s built-in media player makes streaming your music easy, whether that’s on desktop or on your smartphone. There are also some other nice multimedia features, allowing you to resize your photos and compress your videos.
Data is stored on U.S. servers (for the time being, at least), but with the option to move your files to the EU coming soon and zero-knowledge encryption available, this isn’t as big of a problem as it could be. If you can’t wait, then consider the Canadian-based Sync.com instead.
Pricing is good, too, with plans that offer similar or better storage for lower prices than many of its competitors. The pCloud lifetime deal is expensive, but if you’ve got a thousand dollars to drop on long-term storage, it isn’t a bad option.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about pCloud; that’s why it continues to be one of our top recommendations for cloud storage across multiple categories. If you’re a pCloud user yourself, let us know your thoughts and comments on the service below, and don’t forget to check out our other cloud storage articles for alternatives. As always, thanks for reading.