- pCloud is a fast, secure cloud service and is reasonably priced.
- It’s based in Switzerland and has to adhere to strict Swiss privacy laws, meaning more protection for your files.
- Customer support is less than stellar, and is the main area where the service lets itself down.
- This cloud storage service is a fantastic option for most personal and business users.
pCloud is a cloud storage service that ticks several boxes: it’s fairly priced, has a dedicated media player and offers added encryption for your files. It can’t rival Google Drive and OneDrive in terms of document creation and collaboration, but it beats them hands down when it comes to privacy.
One thing that sets pCloud apart from some of the big-name players in the game is zero-knowledge encryption. Having total control over who can access your files is a must in this day and age. However, with pCloud, there’s a catch: you need to pay extra to access what it calls “pCloud Crypto.”
If you’re looking for a cloud storage service that includes zero-knowledge encryption for all of your files without an additional fee, then you should consider a service such as Sync.com — our best pCloud alternative — (read our Sync.com review).
However, if you’d prefer the ability to choose which files are protected with zero-knowledge encryption, pCloud is an excellent choice. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer in this pCloud review.
We also have a video review if you prefer your information bite-sized. Learn more about pCloud and its CEO, Tunio Zafer, in our pCloud edition of “talk with the boss.”
Updated the review to include the new pCloud 10TB lifetime plan.
pCloud Video Review
10/16/2021 Facts checked
Performed a fresh review of pCloud, including new upload and download speeds and images.
Because pCloud is located in Switzerland and has to adhere to strict privacy laws, the service is extremely trustworthy. It also states that it doesn’t sell user data to third parties, making it a better option for those concerned about their privacy.
For security and privacy, yes. However, Google Drive provides better collaboration tools and has quality native app integrations through Google Workspace. Find out more in our pCloud vs Google Drive guide.
pCloud is extremely safe. Not only does it use industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, but you can also use pCloud Crypto to ensure that only you can access your files.
pCloud was founded in 2013 by Tunio Zafar. The company is registered and based in Switzerland, making it one of few cloud storage providers that must adhere to strict Swiss privacy laws.
Alternatives for pCloud
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Great value
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Fast syncing
- Accepts bitcoin payments
- Sync any folder
- Integrated media player
- Lifetime plan options
- Encryption costs extra
- No document integration
The most essential feature of any cloud storage service is its file syncing, which pCloud does incredibly well, especially compared to a bare-bones service like MediaFire. pCloud also comes with a number of additional features that add to your experience; admittedly, some of these features are better than others.
pCloud Cloud Storage Rewind
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).
You can use rewind to access old files for up to 15 days with a free account. However, the Premium and Premium Plus plans allow you to rewind your account for up to 30 days. This allows you to see a snapshot of how your files and folders looked at a specific date and time.
In comparison to other cloud storage providers, Dropbox allows users to rewind up to 180 days, and so does Icedrive (check our full Icedrive review), so pCloud’s 30 days isn’t all that much.
The rewind feature allows you 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.
You can extend the rewind feature for up to a year, but it will cost you $39. 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 interfaces with your browser via pCloud “save,” an extension for Opera, Firefox and Chrome. This extension allows you to save images directly to your a special “pCloud save” folder by simply right-clicking on them.
It’s important to note, however, that enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) — something we will look at later — renders pCloud save unusable.
If you already use Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, but are thinking about trying out pCloud, you can back up all your data from these services straight into pCloud.
- Go to pCloud’s “backup” section
- Choose the provider you want to back up from
- Sign in to link your account and pCloud will copy all of your files and folders into a new folder called “backups”
You can also back up your photos from social media, like Instagram and Facebook, in the same way (we also have a separate guide on how to back up social media). 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 recipient can add as much as they want to the shared folder without using up any of their storage 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.
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. While this feature isn’t available on a free account, you do get a seven-day trial when signing up for the service.
pCloud Crypto Feature
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.
On pCloud’s website, you might see Crypto referred to as pCloud Encryption, instead. This is done to avoid any confusion between the security feature and cryptocurrency, though the feature’s official name is still pCloud Crypto.
pCloud recently introduced what it calls “pCloud backup.” Through your desktop, you can select which folders you want to back up automatically to the cloud. For example, if you back up a folder of images, each time a new image is saved to the folder, pCloud backup will automatically sync it to the cloud.
While it’s a useful feature to keep your files regularly updated, we found it to be a little inconsistent. We saved 10 new images to our folder, and not all of them were reflected in the cloud. During our testing we were unable to determine why this happened.
Media Player: Music & Video
pCloud has some useful media features, making it our number one choice for the best cloud storage for music.
pCloud’s integrated music player is available on the web and smartphone app. In addition to being able to play your music files, you can search for songs and artists and create playlists. You can also shuffle songs and loop albums or playlists, making pCloud’s audio player one of the best.
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.
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 using the “download converted” option, which — along with no file-size limits that beat the 50GB Dropbox (2TB on Dropbox for desktop) max file size — helps to make pCloud the best cloud storage for video.
pCloud Features Overview
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Encryption Protocol||AES 256-bit|
|Live Chat Support|
pCloud is reasonably priced and a good value for the 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 vs pCloud comparison, but as you’ll see, pCloud competes very well on pricing.
- Price per user (minimum 3)
- Price per user (minimum 3)
If you’re looking to give pCloud a try, take a look at the free account first. It tops our list of the best free cloud storage and offers up to 10GB of storage space with free accounts, 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 other way.
To unlock an extra 5GB of free storage, you need to verify your email, upload a file, download the desktop and smartphone apps, and turn on automatic photo uploads on your smartphone. It’s a cumbersome process, but it’s worth it for the extra storage space. The final 3GB are earned by successfully inviting other people to sign up.
In addition, pCloud has a free, stand-alone file transfer service known as pCloud Transfer, which enables you to transfer files of up to 5GB. Check out our comprehensive pCloud Transfer review to learn more.
Personal plans are split between two options: Premium and Premium Plus. At the time of writing, the Premium plan costs $49.99 per year, which gives you 500GB of storage space. The Premium Plus plan costs $99.99 per year for 2TB of storage. Both plans are paid annually.
pCloud Lifetime Subscription
For lifetime access to pCloud storage space, you can pay $175 for the Premium plan, $350 for Premium Plus or $990 for the 10TB “custom plan.” If you don’t plan on switching providers, it’s certainly a good value in the long run.
If you want a cloud storage account to share with your family, pCloud offers a plan with 2TB of storage that can be shared among up to five people. Previously, pCloud priced this plan at $1,400, which is a lot; however, the plan has been discounted to $500 for quite some time.
If this is the plan for you, we recommend that you sign up as soon as possible, since there’s no way of knowing how long this discount will last.
pCloud Account for Business
If you’re a business user, pCloud’s Business plan offers 1TB of storage for $9.99 per user per month. You can also pay annually, which brings the price down to $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 the ability to set individual access levels and comment on shared files and folders. However, these 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 dominate.
Ease of Use
With so many cloud storage options out there, providers like pCloud that lack brand 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 computer and a system tray icon to change your settings.
Some desktop apps 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.
The menu links across the top of the desktop app allow you to switch between account information, your sync folders, backup options, 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 short list.
If you want to access your files when you’re away from your computer, you can use the pCloud web interface. Like the pCloud app, there are menu links for browsing your files, accessing your public folder, pCloud rewind, 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 to 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, pCloud opens an upload screen that shows your files uploading to the folder that is currently open. If you want to upload to a different folder, you’ll have to open that folder 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 cloud 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 menu similar to the web interface, with links to your files, pCloud Crypto and more. Adding files is easy: simply hit the plus sign at the top of the screen and select the files you want to upload.
The experience of using the app is pretty smooth, which is why it’s one of our best cloud storage for Android picks. Once 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.
File Syncing & Sharing
pCloud is one the best file syncing services on the market. You can sync any folder on your computer, and the virtual drive allows you to free up space on your hard drive. Sharing files and folders is also simple to do and can be done 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 or Mac, 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 hard drive. In essence, 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 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 you can have as many as you like. That means you don’t have to mess with your folder structure if you want to add files to your storage — you can leave everything exactly where it is.
Adding a new sync folder is as simple as right-clicking on the folder 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.
It’s worth noting that pCloud doesn’t preserve custom file permissions on Linux, meaning that certain file types — such as executables — need to have their permissions manually restored using the “chmod” command. This is a small issue that only occurs on Linux, but it’s something that could cause headaches for software developers and the like.
Sharing files is also simple and helps pCloud make it onto our best cloud storage for sharing short list, alongside Google Drive and Dropbox. You can share files from your computer 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.
There’s the option to grant read-only or read-and-write access using the shared link, and you can password-protect your file or 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 times the file has been downloaded and the total download traffic. Because download link traffic has a per-month limit, it’s useful to be able to track this metric if you plan to use it a lot. There’s also a nice graph that shows 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.
To put pCloud’s speed performance to the test, we uploaded a 5GB folder full of mixed file types, with a connection speed of 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads.
The results were impressive and continued the overall positive trend of this pCloud review. Upload and download speeds didn’t match those of the speed demon that is Dropbox, but they were marginally better than OneDrive’s performance.
|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 that 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 services 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 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. SpiderOak, is another platform that offers a hybrid solution that includes encryption for the entire account without any additional fees (refer to our pCloud vs SpiderOak guide for additional insights).
When we consider data security from cloud providers, we’re looking for the holy grail: zero-knowledge encryption. This type of encryption gives you complete control over your encryption keys. 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).
What most call zero-knowledge encryption, pCloud calls “pCloud Crypto.” It’s marketed as client-side encryption, meaning you’re the boss and have full control over who has access to your files.
While we appreciate having the ability to better secure our files, it’s disappointing that we have to pay extra. It costs $4.99 a month extra for pCloud Crypto or around $3.99 a month if you pay up front. However, Business pCloud users get it for free.
As we’ve already mentioned, some providers already offer client-side encryption 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 better protect. 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.
Not being able to preview media files directly in the pCloud platform is a small price to pay, especially when it means you can be certain that others can’t access them.
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. Find out why MEGA slightly edges out pCloud on privacy.
Something to be mindful about are pCloud’s server locations. It has two: the United States and Luxembourg. The U.S. is part of the Five Eyes Alliance, an organization made up of five nations, all of which have the power to access user data as they see fit (read more about the Five Eyes alliance).
If your files are located in the U.S., you can request to have them moved to Luxembourg, but you’ll need to pay $19.99 to do so. If you’re considering signing up for pCloud, we recommend you choose Luxembourg as your server location from the start.
Because it’s based in Switzerland, pCloud allows users to enjoy some of the best cloud privacy laws in the world — see our guide to Swiss privacy laws. It’s one of the reasons why companies such as Proton Technologies (the makers of ProtonMail and Proton Drive), which tops our list of the most secure email providers, choose Switzerland as their home.
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 remains 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 do so in the future. As a Swiss company that offers zero-knowledge encryption, pCloud doesn’t give us much to worry about on the privacy front.
We’ve praised pCloud a lot in this review, but one area where the company lets down its users 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, things get trickier.
If you want to contact pCloud directly to chat with a support agent, your only option is to call 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 readily accessible chat or phone support, your next best option is to get in touch via email or by using the contact form. We sent an email with a general query and received a response within 12 hours. The support agent answered our question in detail and we felt confident that they were knowledgeable about the product.
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 your files and folders without filling up your precious hard drive space, while the Crypto folder 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 need for your files.
If you’ve spent years building up a finely curated collection of music files, pCloud’s built-in media player makes streaming your music easy, whether that’s on desktop or on your smartphone. There are some other nice multimedia features as well, which allow you to resize your photos and compress your videos.
pCloud’s pricing is good, too, with plans that offer similar or better storage for lower prices than many of its competitors. While the pCloud lifetime plans remain heavily discounted, now is the best time to make the investment, if you can. The generous free version is a great place to start, at least once you’ve followed the steps to unlock more free storage.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about pCloud, which is why it continues to be one of our top recommendations for cloud storage across multiple categories. Do you think pCloud is one of the best cloud storage services available? Is there something you think the service could do to improve? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.