PCloud Review

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Hi there,

Here’s my impressions after some tests with a premium pCloud account (firs 500GB , then 2TB) plan with various devices: Android phone, Windows and Linux (Fedora) laptops.

First impression: Overall, it was quick to upload my 88GB files, with a lot of photos. Speed seems as good (or even better) as Dropbox (both use block-level sync). On all systems, the service seems to be stable and reliable. I’m just having a problem with a folder in the trash that can’t be permanently deleted (reported to tech support).

Web interface: It’s generally nice, but somewhat bloated with various promotional offers, even for already paying customers. There is no directly available right-click contextual menu for files, like Dropbox and Google Drive have. Content of Office files (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc) and LibreOffice text files (odt) (and maybe other types) can be displayed, but there are no editing functions. They have an audio (music) section to play music files stored on the sever, but the player seems very basic and is not able to display correctly my music tags and cover arts, which are recognized by most other players, including the one on my Nextcloud instance. Strangely, they only have a folder based browsing capability for displaying photos, as they don’t have a specific photo section (like the music one), to display photos by date (or even by other criteria). However, RAW files are displayed and there is a nice screenshow interface that appears when you click on a picture..

Security: According to pCloud FAQ, it should copy files on 5 different servers in 3 different locations. Coupled with the good versioning and rewind features, it seems very solid.

Privacy: It’s a mixed bag… It seems to be a European company (from Switzerland, but some say with offices elsewhere in Europe), but their servers are located in Texas, USA. Basically, that means that date stored on a US server could be submitted to European laws (GDPR) which is good… and to US laws, which is not so good… I read somewhere that they should have European servers at some points in 2019. Other than that, they have good 256-bit AES server-side encryption for data at rest and for data in transit. The paid option for client-side encryption (crypto) is great, but not as complete and well implemented as a fully client-side encryption like MEGA (which is usually slower though).

Android app ; Good enough, but photo section is badly implemented (reported to tech support), as it shows photos by upload time/date instead of by the date that the photo was taken (exif/metadata). Music player seems a little bit better than web version. The interface is correct, but no dark-mode yet.

Desktop clients in general: The pCloud drive, which is a virtual drive giving access to all the files stored on the server without taking space on the computer storage, is really great. The additional sync function that makes it work like Dropbox and others, is working fine. My only small (cosmetic) complaint would be that the pCloud green icon in the system tray (or upper bar) looks dated, as monochrome icons have become the standard on most modern GUI.

Windows version of desktop client: Well implemented, nothing to say here.

Linux version of desktop client: It’s OK, as it offers most of the Windows functionalities, but lacks some file manager integration features, like contextual menu to quickly share files or to make them accessible offline (locally synced), and there is no small signs on synced file confirming their sync status (like a green check mark). Awkwardly, it uses its own notification system, instead of relying on the one provided by the desktop environment (like GNOME). I suspect that these limitations are related to the fact that the Linux pCloud client is distributed as a portable appimage, which has the advantage of working across various Linux distributions, but is not the best option for full integration at the desktop level. Maybe it would be better to distribute it as a distro package (like deb or rpm) or even as snap or flatpak packages. Also, at the time of testing, I had a language localization problem, as I selected French, but the menu in the upper bar was still appearing in English (reported to tech support).

Support: Like stated here, I have reported various quirks to their (only email) support team and I got a polite and usually appropriate response (no useless standardized message), in a reasonable delay (like12-24 hours). I find it quite good actually. A proper ticket system or a “Stack Exchange” type of forum for pCloud users/staff support to report questions/problems and solutions would be great.

Pricing: With various good pricing options (monthly, yearly and lifetime), it appears to be very competitive when compared to others, especially when additional discounts are offered (usually around holidays, back to school, etc.).

Other features: there are some other niceties offered by pCloud, like backup from other online services (Google, Dropbox, Facebook, etc.), personalized links, public folders, etc.

Conclusion: Great service that is compatible with multiple platforms/OS, great pricing and great support, but with some half-baked or unpolished features that could be improved. You also have to accept (for now at least) that your data will (or could be) stored on US servers, despite the fact that this is a European company. Not perfect, but really good actually, at least for my needs.

Hope it helps!


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