pCloud has chosen a tough line of work. Pitching itself as the leading alternative to Dropbox, it’s in competition not only with that longstanding tech industry giant but with Google, Apple, and Microsoft, all of whom offer broadly the same service as pCloud for free.
That service, of course, is cloud storage. Google gives you 15GB, Microsoft gives you 5GB, and Apple gives you 5GB too. Dropbox, meanwhile, gives you just 2GB. So it’s great that pCloud stacks up favourably to these rivals.
It gives you a generous 10GB of free storage - though to unlock it all you need to jump through a few hoops.
And it comes with a range of reasonably priced paid options. At the time of writing an annual 500GB subscription is $47.88, down 20% from its advertised price of $59.88. A 2TB plan, meanwhile, is $95.88, down from $119.88.
There’s a 2TB family plan, too, and a business plan that comes with a free trial and bespoke pricing depending on the number of users. pCloud is accessible via a number of platforms. Our focus is the mobile app.
One of pCloud’s main advantages over its competitors is the option to pay a flat, one-time fee for lifetime access. These are the most generously discounted rates, too, with a lifetime 500GB plan costing $175 and a 2TB costing $350.
The family plan, meanwhile, currently costs $500. That’s 2TB of storage for up to five users - or, to put it another way, $100 each for a lifetime of storage and other premium features. Not bad.
In most other respects, pCloud does exactly what you’d expect in a competent cloud storage service. Through a simple, unglamorous, no-fuss interface you can upload, store, access, and share anything from music to documents.
pCloud lets you either share password-protected links for collaborative access, or request files directly to a folder. It lets you backup your local folders to the cloud in real-time, too, including your camera roll, and you can backup from other clouds.
For media files, pCloud comes with its own media player, but you can also choose to open files in the software you have on your phone, as well as renaming, exporting, and so on. There’s a useful sorting mechanism where you can file music by name, artist, and album too.
While some tools, such as video editing, are not supported by pCloud, the app still provides these services as menu options and opens the relevant programs on your phone if you choose them.
Another of pCloud’s distinguishing features is its Crypto folder. This has nothing to do with cryptocurrency, but rather with encryption. If you’re a paying customer, you can upload your files to a Zero Knowledge encrypted platform.
pCloud also lets you access previous versions of files. By default you get 15 days’ worth with the free version and 30 with the paid one, but you can extend this period by up to a year for an additional fee. The desktop pCloud Drive also has a full suite of options such as syncing and backing up data, which compliments the app.
Inevitably, the biggest downside with pCloud is that it’s not OneDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive. This may seem like a facetious point, but the fact is that much of the appeal of these cloud storage solutions is that they integrate seamlessly with your software platform of choice. In terms of UI, it’s also a bit less elegant than its more established rivals, though no less functional.
Another mild irritation is that the mobile app is missing some useful bits of functionality, such as the ability to review file versions and upload items from your Google Drive. However pCloud has constantly been updated and upgraded since it was launched, so we’d imagine these nitpicks will be ironed out soon enough.
pCloud is a solid cloud storage solution in a sector dominated by absolute giants. Competition doesn’t come much bigger than Google, Apple, and Microsoft, not to mention established players like Dropbox.
To stand out, pCloud had to bring something new to the table, and it has. Its Crypto folder is a unique draw for anyone in search of an extra layer of privacy, while its generous free version, lifetime subscriptions, and attractive subscription prices make it a real competitor.
There are niggles, and for most casual users the cloud storage capacity and features they already have through their Google, Microsoft, and Apple accounts is likely to be more than enough.