Woelkli (spelled “wölkli” on the website) is a cloud storage service based in Switzerland, which means its users’ files are protected by strict Swiss privacy laws. However, Woelkli is seldom on a list of the best cloud storage services, and it couldn’t be further away from the mainstream — but don’t count it out just yet. Stick with us as we dive into the details with our full Woelkli review.
- Woelkli offers robust security, as it follows Switzerland’s strict internet protection regulations.
- The service has some useful features, such as encrypted email, a word processor and built-in antivirus protection.
- The service is expensive and offers less storage than most of its more affordable competitors.
- In terms of performance and usability, it feels like it’s stuck in the dark ages, which really lets the service down.
This cloud storage service follows a rich Swiss tradition: Everything is expensive. It does offer a free plan, but it only comes with 1GB of storage space. As free cloud storage goes, that’s quite pitiful. Aside from its high cost, Woelkli does have other flaws. Functionality could be a lot better, and speed, well, we’ll get into that later.
So, what are the advantages of choosing this cloud storage service? First, Woelkli is based on the open-source Nextcloud platform, which means that all of its source code is freely available. This guarantees that there are no suspicious activities going on under the hood.
It also has effective sharing tools and is good for collaboration – if you’re prepared to use the native integrated applications. Keep reading our Woelkli review for our brutally honest evaluation and if you should use this cloud storage provider.
10/14/2021 Facts checked
Fresh review of Woelkli, including new speed tests and images.
Because Woelkli adheres to strict Swiss internet safety regulations, it is an extremely secure option for those wanting strong cloud storage protection for files and data.
We recommend three services: Sync.com, Icedrive and pCloud. All three offer zero-knowledge encryption and have several security features to ensure your files are protected at all times. They’re also featured on our list of the most secure storage services.
Cloud-based storage allows users to upload files — such as documents, photos and videos — to the internet. The files are backed up to a cloud storage provider and stored on its servers. Cloud-based storage is great for freeing up space on your hard drive and also for accessing files from multiple devices.
Alternatives for Woelkli
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent security
- Great sharing features
- Based in Switzerland
- Open source
- Useful collaboration options
- Expensive paid plans
- Small 1GB free plan
- Not easy to use
- Expensive document editors
- Paid customer support
- Very slow upload speeds
Woelkli offers features that many of its security-oriented competitors do not. It has its own encrypted email service, and you can use it for collaboration via secure communication channels.
It has some nice multimedia features, such as a dedicated player for photos and video files. You can use this player to create photo albums and watch slideshows. Opening the player’s sidebar menu also lets you share your files directly from there.
There is no music player, though, so if you want a good storage solution for your music collection, you can find one on our list of the best cloud services for music.
There is also a very capable note-taking app that’s better than most of the competition. It has various formatting options; it allows you to add headings and lists, and you can also attach hyperlinks and image files to notes.
Productivity and Secure Collaboration Features
Woelkli has several productivity features that set it apart from its competition in the secure cloud storage business. One such feature is the dedicated task-scheduling app. There is also a calendar app to help you keep track of your work schedule. However, while these are good features on the surface, we experienced the spinning wheel of doom occasionally when trying to access them.
The service offers native integration with OnlyOffice and Collabora Online. These two open-source office suites let you edit and create documents in common formats, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Only Collabora Online lets you work with Open Document Format files, though. Integration is always a plus for any online storage service, but we’re deep into niche territory here.
These two office solutions allow multiple editors to work simultaneously and in real time on a document. Plus, all of that communication is encrypted on a private channel. All the documents you create with OnlyOffice and Collabora Online are stored on Woelkli’s encrypted servers in Switzerland, so you know they’re secure.
However, to use these applications with Woelkli, you need to pay a premium, starting at $260 annually — plus a 7.7% VAT tax — for each app. (Note: All the prices have been converted from Swiss francs, so exact pricing will vary.) These plans provide multi-user licenses, though, which explains their high cost.
There are cheaper alternatives, such as Google Drive, which has native integration with the Google Workspace office apps. Google offers better collaboration, but at the cost of your privacy.
The service also offers a private encrypted email client called Woelkli Mail, which opens up new routes for collaboration. There is a free version that gives you 200MB of encrypted storage for your emails and attachments.
Woelkli 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|
Woelkli’s services are clearly targeted toward businesses that can afford its high prices and prefer an open-source provider with robust privacy features. It offers a total of eight individual and multi-user plans.
- Single-User Plan (free)
- Single-User Plan
- Single-User Plan
- Single-User Plan
- Single-User Plan
- Multi-User Plan
- Multi-User Plan
- Multi-User Plan
The prices on its website are all provided in Swiss francs, with no VAT calculated, but we’ve converted them to U.S. dollars and added the 7.7% VAT for you. This means the prices you see in this review are what you would pay, although the cost will fluctuate with the exchange rate.
Again, its free plan provides so little storage space that it’s hard to recommend, and the paid plans are prohibitively expensive for most individual users. It’s worth mentioning that all of Woelkli’s paid plans are billed annually, so you can’t sign up for a monthly subscription.
The basic free plan, called C1, offers 1GB of cloud storage space at no cost, but provides no customer support. If you only want a secure place to store a few sensitive documents, this free plan could be right for you. However, if you’re after a killer free plan with plenty of space, pCloud might be more up your alley (read our full pCloud review).
Woelkli’s CB, C2, C3 and C4 single-user plans are considered its “pro” accounts (if you want multiple users, you’ll need to check out the C5, C6 or C7 plans).
Paid plans start at Level CB, and costs around $70 per year for 10GB for one user. At the extremely expensive end of the single-user plans is Level C4, which costs around $800 per year for 500GB for one user.
Cloud Storage Plans for Businesses: Unlimited Users
Woelkli has three payment tiers for multi-user accounts. The first multi-user plan is the Level C5 plan, and it provides 10GB of storage space at a yearly cost of around $465. The Level C6 plan costs around $580 yearly and gets you 100GB of storage. Level C7 is the most expensive paid plan, and it comes with 500GB of cloud storage space for around $1,145 per year.
Each multi-user paid plan can serve an unlimited number of users. All paid plans come with several exclusive features, such as versioning, a separate bookmarks app, pro versions of its calendar, and gallery apps and several business-oriented options.
A paid plan will also give you access to customer service, even though customer support is normally expected of any cloud service.
Although Woelkli offers some attractive options for businesses, it is simply too expensive to recommend to the average user. Sync.com (read our full Sync.com review) is a cloud storage platform that offers similar security features. Like Woelkli, it comes with only a yearly subscription, but at a much lower price. Sync.com also has a much better free plan.
Ease of Use
Open-source products often receive a pass when it comes to design and functionality because many of them are free. That’s not the case with Woelkli — it’s actually quite expensive — which is why it earned such a low score here.
Landing on the site gives you a feeling of nostalgia — that’s because the design belongs 15 years in the past. Despite the dated design, the signup process is straightforward.
After you create your account, you’ll be taken to the web application to log in. Things do get a little better here in terms of design, but marginally. For example, there’s a welcome message on the main dashboard that’s almost impossible to see because the color of the text is the same as the background.
Above the welcome message is where you’ll find the function tabs. You won’t see them immediately, as you need to scroll up for them to become apparent. These might seem like minor issues, but they still contribute to a less enjoyable user experience.
Once you have moved past the less-than-desirable design, you begin to see a dramatic improvement in experience. Uploading files and creating folders is a breeze, and the in-house word processor is simple and pleasant to use.
Desktop and Mobile Apps
While the web application is decent enough overall, the desktop app is another story. You can access Woelkli via the Nextcloud client, and there’s a guide on Woelkli’s website on how to set it up properly. Clearly, though, any app that needs a setup guide isn’t going to be the easiest to work with.
The desktop app syncs all of your cloud-based files to a Woelkli folder on your computer. Plus, you can connect any existing folder on your hard drive to your cloud account for easy synchronization. The app is available on Windows, macOS and Linux.
You can install the mobile app on both iPhone and Android, and Woelkli claims it has all the standard features you expect from a cloud service mobile app. As with the desktop version, you have to log in to your Woelkli account through the Nextcloud portal.
When testing the app we were unable to access our account, experiencing shutdowns during each attempt. We’re unsure if that’s a bug with the application, or if it was because we were running the app on the recent iOS15 update.
Woelkli’s web interface has a few issues, though. There are visual bugs, and the interface sometimes freezes up until you refresh the page. If this is a problem for you, and ease of use and privacy are important, Icedrive might be a good alternative. You can check out our Icedrive review to learn more about it.
File Sharing & Syncing
Woelkli has some of the best sharing features for a cloud service, and its file-sharing interface has a unique look. It opens up in a separate sidebar, and if your file is an image, video or PDF document, you’ll see a preview of the file at the top.
To share a link, you first have to set a password for it, so all your shares are protected. If you share files via email, a password will be generated for you.
One way to share files is to send a sharing link to a fellow Woelkli user via email. This gives you the option to allow the recipient to edit your file. You can also set an expiration date for the link and leave a note for the recipient.
Another way to share files is by creating a sharing link. File sharing links have similar permission options. You can set expiration dates and leave notes as with the previous method. However, there are two additional checkboxes to enable editing permissions or to hide the download option.
Syncing files is a little more complicated because the desktop app requires a guided setup. Your computer connects to Woelkli’s servers via the Nextcloud platform. During the setup, Nextcloud creates a Woelkli folder on your computer where your files are synced. You can choose which folders on your account to sync, and you can sync other folders from your hard drive too.
Once your desktop client is ready, all you have to do to upload files is to add them to your Woelkli folder or any of your other synced folders. Any changes made to your cloud files are synced to these folders. There is no block-level sync, though, so don’t expect fast syncing speeds for your large files.
When we think of cloud storage speed demons, our thoughts turn to services like Dropbox (read our full Dropbox review). However, when we think of the snails of the cloud storage space, our attention immediately turns to Woelkli.
We understand that upload and download speeds rely heavily on the strength of your internet connection. However, considering that we uploaded a 1GB folder with an internet connection of 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads, the results were almost comical.
|1st attempt:||2nd attempt:||Average:|
Woelkli’s average upload speed for a 1GB folder was about an hour. In comparison, Dropbox can upload a 5GB folder in about four minutes. Perhaps it’s a bit unfair to compare Woelkli to one of the fastest services out there, but if speed is your concern, you should see what the competition has to offer.
The site paused between each file upload, and took a noticeable amount of time before uploading the next one. We also experienced some “file errors” and had to upload them again. To ensure this wasn’t a result of a corrupt file, we uploaded them to a different cloud storage service and faced no issues.
Download speeds were much better in comparison. Although we were not blown away, Woelkli held its own when it came to downloading our files.
Security is definitely one area where Woelkli shines. Everything on your account is encrypted using your password, including all your files and communication. However, it doesn’t use zero-knowledge encryption, which means the service itself could potentially decrypt your files. Those looking for a zero-knowledge provider should consider Sync.com.
That said, Woelkli never stores your password or your encryption key, which makes it more secure than services that do. There is a setting to activate password recovery, but this will give the service access to your password, allowing it to decrypt your files at will.
Even though it’s not fully zero knowledge, Woelkli comes very close to that level of security if you keep password recovery deactivated (which is the default setting). However, despite not storing your password, Woelkli can see it during login, which leaves an open end in its security.
Woelkli uses the TLS protocol to encrypt your files in transit, and 256-bit AES encryption keeps your files safe at rest. This means that your files are always protected from man-in-the-middle attacks. Paid users also get an antivirus solution in the form of ClamAV, which scans your files to protect them against viruses and trojans.
Communication via Woelkli Mail is also encrypted, which means that your emails can’t be viewed by anyone other than you and your message recipient. Sharing links are protected with a mandatory password, and you can beef up your login with two-factor authentication as well.
Because Woelkli is based in Switzerland, it follows strict Swiss internet safety regulations. Swiss laws are the harshest in the world, and it’s very difficult for anyone to gain access to your data, including law enforcement agencies. Plus, it is GDPR compliant, which means you have control over your personal data, and you can choose to delete it at any time.
Woelkli collects information only when you create an account, fill out one of its forms or communicate with its customer service, but it can never see your encryption keys or passwords (unless you lose it and need Woelkli to help you gain access to your account).
To sum it all up, Woelkli doesn’t collect sensitive data, and your files are protected with a password that it doesn’t store. Plus, your personal information is protected by strict Swiss laws and the GDPR. Overall, it’s a very secure and private storage solution.
Woelkli’s customer service is disappointing, considering all of its great features. Support is available via email and phone, but only during business hours and only for users with a paid plan. So unless you’re a paying customer, you’re on your own.
However, there is an FAQ section available to all users, as well as the Nextcloud user manual and documentation. You can also get help from other users on the Nextcloud forum, though these resources are about the general Nextcloud platform, and not specifically about Woelkli.
With any relationship — be it romantic or cloud-based — if the bad outweighs the good, it’s time to go your separate ways. That’s the case with Woelkli. It’s unreasonably expensive, has a relatively poor user interface and has upload speeds that are nothing shy of embarrassing.
Granted, it has very good sharing features, but there’s nothing there a service like pCloud can’t offer. While it may be located outside of the Five Eyes alliance, which does give you better privacy, it’s still not a zero-knowledge provider, so other services have the upper hand there as well.
Beyond the encrypted email and useful productivity features, there’s little reason for us to recommend the service. Tell us what you think. Does anything Woelkli offers justify the cost? Why would you choose it over a more robust, mainstream provider? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.