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pCloud Review: Is It The Best Secure Cloud Storage?
Updated: 2022-04-05 / Article by: Timothy Shim
Background: pCloud is a Cloud storage service provider with a solid range of plans. It provides high levels of encryption at rates rivaling those offered by Google. Aside from that, one of its most attractive features is the support for media streaming directly from the Cloud.
pCloud isn’t your run-of-the-mill Cloud storage service provider and focuses on a few important elements. It’s one of the few that supports media streaming from the Cloud, albeit with some limits. The system is easily usable while offering the security that makes it suitable even for business users. For the latter, plans scale up virtually without limits, making it a storage service for all user levels. Overall, it hits many good notes, addressing issues that seem well-suited for today’s digital environment. It’s an excellent alternative to many big brand names around that are somewhat dubious regarding user privacy and security. To learn more about this secure Cloud storage service provider, read on or visit the pCloud website.
If you’ve used a web-based file storage service before, the pCloud interface will be familiar. The left side of the display offers quick access to directory browsing and various pCloud features. On the main display area, you’ll see an expanded view of the directory currently selected.
The basic use of pCloud’s system should be familiar to most. As the name implies, you simply drag the files you want to copy onto the window, and it’ll upload them to your Cloud Storage. It’s simple yet effective.
Navigating this system is a breeze since it’s not much different from others. The one thing you’ll need to learn, though, is some of the terminology pCloud uses. For example, “Rewind” is a slightly more unique feature that lets you restore your entire account to a previous state.
2. Overall, Impressive Security Features
At its most rudimentary level, pCloud implements a similar security system to many Cloud storage service providers. SSL/TLS encryption protects data transferred to and from pCloud servers. It’s secure but also pretty standard.
pCloud’s backend is more interesting since it distributes your data across at least three separate locations (within the region you select). That gives an additional layer of data resilience that ensures you won’t lose anything.
Crypto Client-side Encryption
For even greater security, you can pay an additional fee for a pCloud service called Crypto. This feature provides client-side encryption capabilities. While it may add some resource overhead on your machine, only your device will have the keys necessary to unlock your content.
3. Lifetime Plans – Pay Once, Use Forever
While I’ll cover pCloud subscription plans later, one distinct feature needs special mention. pCloud offers lifetime plans meaning you pay a one-time fee and get to use pCloud services forever. Well, for as long as the company survives, at least.
It’s an excellent way to avoid paying steep annual fees or buying hardware that you’ll have to monitor and replace constantly. Remember, you’re paying for a full service, not file storage alone.
4. Supports Online Media Streaming
Perhaps the most exciting feature of pCloud is its native support for media streaming. There are Cloud storage service providers that allow this – Google, for example. Yet, not many implement it with the convenience that pCloud has done.
Your media files (video and audio) are uploaded and handled like any other. To play them back, pCloud has native web-based apps to handle it. The experience is similar to Youtube, with options to change stream quality, volume, and more.
Video playback is in either 514p or 1528p, the latter of which is slightly better than 2k format. While it isn’t quite 4k, it’ll still work in a pinch.
5. Your Choice of Region for Data Storage
Another thing that many Cloud storage service providers don’t typically offer is letting you choose the data storage region. This feature isn’t quite as important to individuals but more for business users.
Some counties impose restrictions on where businesses are allowed to store and process data. If you happen to be in those locations, pCloud has you covered. When signing up, you can choose either the US or Europe for data storage.
6. Full GDPR Compliance
Thanks to the Eurozone’s strict privacy regulations, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018. The framework outlines how companies in the zone are allowed to store and manage personal information.
pCloud is fully GDPR compliant and will notify you in real-time if there is a data breach, allow you to confirm how information is processed, and even ensure complete information removal if you want that.
7. pCloud Has Dedicated Mobile Apps
Like any other good web-based service, you can access pCloud from almost all devices. These include the usual desktop platforms, but there are also apps for mobile devices. I loved the Android version of their app.
pCloud managed to expertly design the app to offer all features available on their web interface yet light enough for a smaller mobile display. It was also fast and snappy, something at which many service providers seem to struggle.
Cons: What I Dislike About pCloud
1. Limited Support Options
Customer support on pCloud is only available via email. It’s a little limited and not quite what I expect of a web-based service in this age of digital. Live chat would have been better, but at the very least, they could provide a ticketing system to ensure more transparency in customer support.
However, this isn’t the end of the world since the response times I noted were reasonable. I sent an email to customer support and got a response within the hour. Customer support was courteous and professional too.
2. Web Interface Seems a Little Buggy
When I first signed up for pCloud and logged into my account, the navigation seemed a little odd. Clicking on navigation options saw me getting bumped out of my account each time and having to log in again.
I made this issue part of my conversation with the support team, and they provided me a simple solution – clear the browser cache. While that worked, it would have been nice not to have this occur at all.
pCloud Plans and Pricing
pCloud has extensive subscription options that fall under annual or lifetime subscriptions. Earlier I discussed the lifetime plan, which is where you pay a flat fee in advance. Annual subscriptions are paid in lump sums as well.
Plans come in three main categories; Individual, Family, and Business.
Individual plans come at $49.99/yr and $99.99/yr for 500GB and 2TB of storage, respectively. There are monthly plans available in this category, but those cost more overall at $4.17/mo and $8.33/mo. If you opt for the lifetime arrangement, the prices to consider are $175 and $350.
Family plans only seem to be available as a lifetime subscription for a flat rate of $500. For that price, you get shared storage of 2TB for up to five pax. There are no annual or monthly options even to consider.
Business plans are available in monthly or annual varieties. You need a minimum of 3 pax for business plans with prices starting at $29.97/mo or $287.64/yr. Each user gets 1TB of storage space.
The average cost is $9.99/user/month for monthly subscriptions or $7.99/user/mo for annual subscriptions. One thing to note is that the rates are flat and don’t drop as the user count increases. There is also a max cap of 99 users unless you contact their sales team directly.
Unlike Individual and Family plans, pCloud business users get access to 180 days of trash history and access level management features.
There’s a Free Plan Available!
For those getting a bit overwhelmed by the diversity of plans, don’t fret. Hop onto the pCloud website and sign up for their free ‘Basic’ plan. That’s right; they offer an introductory gratis account that’s forever free for you to test the system. It’s only 4GB, though.
Verdict: Should You Sign Up for pCloud?
pCloud is one brand in a market space that seems pretty congested. Yet, it has done well to focus on areas that seem essential to users these days – media file handling and security. These particular areas also make it suitable for a broad audience base, hence the variety of plans available.
While prices aren’t lower than most competing sites, their lifetime subscription plans are a solid value proposition. You also aren’t buying in with a brand known for data sharing like Google or Microsoft. Simply put, there are many advantages to considering pCloud as your Cloud storage provider.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.