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pCloud Review: Personal, Fast, Secure Data

With years of experience and growth, pCloud is still modest in its reach for popularity. From its advertising and marketing platform to its layout, features and support, the cloud storage service stays true to its namesake and strives to be one thing above all the others – personal.

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pCloud Features

Space 

pCloud, short for Personal Cloud according to its developers, has been around for a while. The cloud storage service grew to a modest popularity due to its initial free storage space of 10GB.

This storage space can potentially be doubled by referring family and friends to the site. Each referral grants an additional 1GB of storage space. Probably the best thing about pCloud’s referral system is that the referral accounts do not have to be paid accounts in order to grant the extra storage space.

With up to 20GB of storage space, the company continues to offer one of the largest cloud storage sizes for free. Interested users can always try out the free download here.

Speed 

Another one of pCloud’s well-known features is its speed. Both upload and download speeds are limitless. pCloud was among the first cloud services to not throttle or regulate the speed with which users upload or download their files.

Accessibility 

Platform support is broad. The desktop version is available for Microsoft Windows (up to 8.1), iOS 10, and Linux. The mobile version is available for Android and iOS. pCloud also has a browser only version that works on almost any device with an internet connection.

The pCloud download for PC is straightforward, having a few easy and intuitive steps to go through in order to properly setup the backup drive. The mobile apps squeezed together all of pCloud’s options without making them look cluttered. The browser variant comes with self-explanatory tutorial-style tooltips in case users are new to cloud storage interfaces.

Support 

Also in regards to users new to the cloud, pCloud offers one of the most comfortable and accessible learning curves. Learning how to use all of pCloud’s options takes minutes, not hours.

Regarding learning, this company also has one of the best written and organized knowledge bases. From cross-platform troubleshooting to small tips and tricks on optimizing storage space both on and off cloud with archives, the knowledge base feels more like a pCloud how to use data center. For most technical aspects, users who access it will not really need any other form of support.

Live support can be a bit of an issue, as the only way to directly contact pCloud support is through e-mail. There is no live support chat or phone number available. Thus, the live support service feels slow, as it can take up to a whole day for any issue to be addressed. Nevertheless, the support specialists are quite professional, polite, and composed. It is definitely worth contacting them if any issues occur.

Security

However, all the storage, speed, or support do not account for much if one question above the others is not answered – Is pCloud safe?

The results of the pCloud Crypto challenge

In order to demonstrate how safe pCloud’s Crypto TLS/SSL encryption algorithm really is, the company offered a $100,000 prize to any programmer or hacker who could break it. The challenge even lasted for half a year, but nobody managed to claim the prize.

pCloud Drive & Applications

After setting up pCloud, users will be able to access their storage via the assigned Drive. Instead of adding a separate folder, the company went with the approach of a separate drive, similar to a hard-drive partition or a different physical storage device connected to the platform.

After performing a thorough Drive review, it did not reveal any unexpected faults or issues.

Data sorting felt rather simple, however. By default, the pCloud Drive will only sort audio files and shared data into separate categories. Documents, photos, and videos are by default bundled together, although users can easily create separate folders and manually organize the data.

Related to the data, the cloud will duplicate the user’s files and folders over multiple servers. The company chose this approach in order to guarantee file safety in case of hardware malfunctions, and also to facilitate efficient download and upload speeds.

Once uploaded to the pCloud Drive, any file, folder, or archive can be directly shared. This option allows anyone with the access link to directly interact with and permanently add, change, or delete data.

pCloud Availability and Accessibility

However, pCloud’s biggest fault lies in regards to this form of data access. The company does not have any form of collaboration options set up meaning that there is no log that records changes done to files or to any data. Once access to a folder is granted, other users could add or remove files altogether.

With this mentality, it is quite clear that pCloud’s developers aimed to make the service meant to be for personal and private storage.

However, pCloud can also give users a shareable upload link when they add new content to their storage, as it is being added, or a shareable download link.

The latter option, combined with the unlimited download speed supplied by pCloud makes the cloud storage service as efficient in data sharing as many torrent sites. Several early reviews pointed out that with clever networking, the pCloud torrent download speed could make it a worthy rival. Several pCloud users chose the cloud storage platform just for this very reason.

pCloud Deleted File Recovery & File History Security & Speed

pCloud openly disclosed that they duplicate user data over multiple servers from the very start. The disclosure was a direct attempt to demonstrate transparency. Users, however, saw it as a security risk.

Nevertheless, public opinion changed when pCloud demonstrated that multiple servers with the same data are a tremendous boon when it comes to download speeds, as well as file recovery.

Users new to the cloud do not keep backups and have a high risk of accidentally deleting their information. When new data is uploaded, it is uploaded to the closest server, guaranteeing the highest possible upload speed, but it is then quickly duplicated on several other pCloud servers.

Any changes made to already uploaded data is saved on the server. However, only a few of the initial servers adopt the changes. The others keep the original data as a temporary backup. Eventually, they do replace it with the changed one.

A similar process applies when data is removed from the cloud. A shadow copy of the data is still available on other servers in case the deletion was erroneous or malicious.

Users quickly realized that the same data duplicated over multiple servers was, in this particular case, a security bonus rather than a risk.

Pricing and Plans

pCloud Free offers up to 20GB, 10GB free on signup and another 10GB free through referrals.

pCloud Premium offers 500GB of cloud storage space for $3.99 per month.

pCloud Premium Plus doubles the storage space to 1TB and doubles the monthly fee to $7.99.

Finally, the pCloud Business Package starts off at 5TB and will include pCloud Crypto. The subscription fee is negotiable based on how much storage space and integration support is actually needed.

The company does not offer discounts on yearly subscriptions, however, bringing the cost per year for 1TB to $96.

Users who want to add another layer of security with pCloud’s TLS/SSL own encryption ciphers need to support an additional cost of $3.99 every month for pCloud Crypto.

Pros & Cons

pCloud has its pluses and minuses, with advantages on storage space and download speeds and drawbacks on file sorting and multiple users.

The Good:

  • Up to 20GB of free cloud storage space;
  • Unlimited upload and download speeds;
  • Accessible across multiple platforms;
  • Easy to learn and easy to use;
  • pCloud Crypto guarantees data security;
  • User data is copied on multiple servers to ensure it is not deleted.

The Bad:

  • File sorting is not very efficient;
  • No current collaboration options between multiple users;
  • No Support for Microsoft Windows Phones;
  • Technical Support can take up to a day to respond;
  • pCloud Crypto is not part of the free package.

Final Thoughts on pCloud

When put side by side, the 2016 pCloud vs the 2013 version shows how much progress the developers were able to add over such a solid starting structure.

A pCloud login on the same account can be done from multiple devices at once and due to its pristine multiple platform integration the pCloud remote upload and access options make it one of the most accessible cloud services to use.

For example, although they are both cloud services, a pCloud vs Dropbox comparison feels out of place.

The former lives up to its namesake. pCloud feels like it has been built from the start with the sole intent to keep backed up personal data such as photos or videos.

The latter, DropBox, has seen a lot of changes and improvements over the years and now serves the purpose as a cloud storage unit which is used to store anything the user needs. DropBox also features a comprehensive set of collaboration features.

In terms of both core security and storage fees Google Drive gets ahead of pCloud. Google, however, does not have in-cloud streaming, and unlimited fast upload and download speeds.

Microsoft’s OneDrive, another cloud service with a personal touch, also does not manage to match the torrent-like speeds of pCloud.

Cloud Storage 101 recommends pCloud to:

  • Users who are new to the cloud storage world and need less than 20GB of storage;
  • Users who want to easily access, upload, or download their data and files over many different platforms;
  • Users or companies who would like an extra layer of added security for their archives in storage.

We conclude our pCloud review with the following advice: no matter how safe and reliable a cloud service currently is, users should also always keep a hardware copy of their cloud files.

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