Encrypted Cloud Storage

Review: pCloud (Encrypted Cloud Storage)

pcloud illustration

pCloud is currently our encrypted cloud storage service of choice. It’s very feature rich service.

Eve and I use pCloud and are pretty happy with it. It isn’t the most bullet proof or secure cloud storage reviewed on this website but it meets our needs well. There are many useful features to pCloud including an mp3 player, different sharing options etc. pCloud does need to improve the Crypto Drive functionality however.

By default pCloud is a server side encrypted service. That means that your data is stored encrypted and is generally very safe. You have to pay extra for client side encryption, which is an add on called Crypto Drive. So an advantage that both Tresorit and Sync.com have over pCloud is that they are client-side encrypted by default. I actually appreciate the fact that client side encryption is optional. The annoying thing about client side encryption is that while it offers maximum privacy, you sometimes can’t view image thumbnails or get media previews etc. I think client side encryption is great and should be used for sensitive material. However for things that I don’t care as much about, I like using the server side encryption of pCloud.

Get pCloud

pCloud has a free option and some of the most inexpensive options for premium plans. Even with Crypto Drive added (the client side encryption tool), pcloud works out as only marginally more expensive than Sync.com. The big advantage that pCloud has is that because you have the Crypto Drive separate, there is a double lock on your account. That means if you want to enter pcloud in front of somebody and not show them certain files, you don’t have to. This is a really great feature that I wish Tresorit and Sync.com had.

pCloud works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. The applications I’ve used are Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. For me they all work great. I find the service fast though a tiny bit slower than Tresorit.

pCloud is based in Switzerland however they also have a datacentre in Canada. They plan to bring in a tool so that you can choose whether your files are hosted in Canada or Switzerland soon (for now I’m not sure which  of the two countries they are hosted in). Switzerland offers better privacy laws than Canada, so it’s always better to have a data centre there.

One of the biggest pet peeves I have with pCloud is that photo albums placed in the Crypto drive don’t have image thumbnails in the grid view and it also isn’t possible to view the photos without downloading them. This makes keeping photo albums inside Crypto Drive frustrating. pCloud supports WebDAV which is great because I can set Standard Notes to store encrypted media files in it. However pCloud doesn’t currently support either CardDAV or CalDAV, so I can’t sync my phone’s contacts or calendar to it.

I’ve had to contact pCloud support several times and they usually get back to me within 24 hours. More than good enough for me however that isn’t as fast as either Tresorit or Sync.com during my brief tests of those company’s services.

Pros

  • ItemFree options
  • Server side encryption even in free plans
  • Most feature rich
  • Has a media player for videos and music
  • Has a separate Crypto Drive meaning you can double lock some content
  • Works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS
  • Auto photo upload on mobile devices
  • Sharing options are great
  • Easy to use
  • One of the most inexpensive options
  • Company HQ based in Switzerland
  • Good level of encryption
  • Supports WebDAV

Cons

  • Not zero knowledge without Crypto Drive add on
  • Not client side encrypted by default
  • Not open source
  • No image thumbnails in Crypto Drive mobile
  • No image previews in Crypto Drive mobile (you have to download anything you look at)
  • Confusion as to the location of the data centre (either Switzerland or Canada)
  • Unless you put files in Crypto Drive, pCloud can see the meta data of your files (they can’t see the content though)
  • No CardDAV or CalDAV support

Get pCloud

Score: 7 / 10

Reviewer: Adam Rouge

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