If you’ve never been to Switzerland, we were struck by how clean and tidy the whole place is, as it’s immaculate for the most part.
We mention that because the company behind pCloud are based there, and this product has the same regimented and refined air as a typical street in Geneva or Zürich.
But can a product that was only launched in 2013 take on the mature platforms like Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, Box and Amazon?
The approach of pCloud is a familiar one to anybody who has used a decent Cloud storage solution on the PC or Mac, or mobile devices.
Once you’ve created an account, you are invited to download an application that installs on the hardware. Once that software is in place and you’ve logged in, you can define which folders you’d like to secure, and they’re then synchronised to the pCloud storage automatically.
What we liked most was that there are no restrictions on the folders we could sync through a PC. Network drives. External USB storage, local hard drives, pCloud just doesn’t care.
Files are locally cached on the computer and then sent to the Cloud, and you can define how much cache space is used if you are short of local disk capacity.
A pCloud drive letter is also created so that any application should be able to save directly on to the Cloud storage with needing to be aware that it is now Cloud connected.
By default, and at no cost, pCloud gives you 7GB of free space to use on its service, and another 3GB for verifying the account’s email, and more for installing the mobile application and setting it to sync photos automatically. Invite ten of your friends to check out pCloud, and you can get another 1GB for each of them, giving you 20GB of free space. And, you are also entered into a prize draw, where you might win 500GB of space for free, forever.
The software tool that pCloud has developed is small, quick to install and provides a quick overview of what space you have and what folders are synchronising.
Adding a new folder is very simple; navigate to the Sync tab of the app, click ‘Add New Sync’, find the folder and the link is established.
You can stop syncing a folder at any time, and you can have the same folder synced to multiple machines at no extra cost.
Those that need to share folders with others can also create shares with the app, and those users don’t need to have pCloud installed to access those files.
If you ever need to access those files remotely, a web interface is available at my.pcloud.com and using that you can also create and revise shares, and also define backups of other online services. These currently include Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram and Microsoft OneDrive.
Any music stored on the system can also be played, and pictures viewed, through the web interface.
There is a fine balance between functionality and keeping things simple, and the pCloud interfaces on both the client tool and web portal strike just the right balance for us.
One interesting aside to the pCloud solution is that encryption is segmented as a separate product, called Crypto.
This mechanism enables client-side encryption and guarantees that files can’t be intercepted as they traverse the internet before being secured on the pCloud servers.
This isn’t to say that with Crypto your files are easily accessible, but it’s an additional layer of protection that you can add or remove as your needs change.
The pricing approach of pCloud is quite different from other providers and in a good way.
Premium and Premium Plus are the only tiers and include 500GB or 2TB of space respectively. You can opt for monthly, annual or a lifetime option. Annual pricing is 20% below monthly cost and works out at only $3.99 (£3.59) for 500GB or $7.99 (£7.09) for 2TB per month when factored per month.
That’s some of the cheapest Cloud space around, with relatively few competitors offering 2TB to individual customers.
But, even better economics are on offer with the lifetime deals, where 500G costs just $120 (£160) and 2TB only $250 (£320). Therefore, a one-off-payment and you get 2TB of space to use indefinitely, assuming pCloud don’t go out of business. Anything more than three years use, and you’ve made a sound investment.
In addition to these personal solutions there is a pCloud Business option where you can get five users packages, but at roughly the same costs per user as the 500GB Premium plan.
The only caveat to these plans is that limits are placed on the amount of traffic, so you can’t have a 2TB facility, but upload a different 2TB every day. You are limited to the whole amount in traffic per month, although remote traffic with files you’ve shared isn’t included in this cap.
For most users, this won’t be an issue, as they’ll be doing one big upload and then incremental changes going forward.
Encryption costs $3.99 (£4.49) per month, should you consider that your files need additional protection. Not everyone will need it, and adding this to the Premium Plus account still doesn’t stop the 2TB account being a highly competitive price.
pCloud has a clean and surgical application that does what most people want from a Cloud storage service, and the current pricing plan structure is a bargain across the board.
Our only reservation is that it doesn’t have any collaboration modes for business users, but the number of customers that will want that isn’t high.
More people need to try pCloud because for many of them it might be the perfect solution.
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