pCloud test - cloud storage with encryption and auto-uploads

If one of the storage devices on the iPhone runs out or space is required on the Mac hard drive, cloud storage can be the right alternative to external hard drives, DVD-RWs and USB sticks. A provider of cloud storage space that offers not only automatic uploads but also client-side encryption of data is pCloud. In the test of the service, I looked at the individual functions and options. I put particular emphasis on the use of pCloud with the iOS app on the iPhone. But you can also use the cloud storage on a Mac, on a Windows or Linux PC or on Android or use it to exchange files between the devices.

2-TB lifetime for 350 EUR / one-time: View the offer here at pCloud

The pCloud test with iPhone, Mac and browser - here you will find the possibilities of using the cloud, advantages and disadvantages.

The pCloud test with iPhone, Mac and browser - here you will find the possibilities of using the cloud, advantages and disadvantages.

Preliminary remark on the pCloud test

For this pCloud test report, in which I would like to share my experiences with the cloud with you, the creators of the service gave me a premium account with 500 GB of storage space. However, this has no effect on my opinion of the offer. Even if I was allowed to use the online storage for free, the following statements are based on my experience and my objectively formed opinion on the product.

pCloud App for iPhone - App from the store

The pCloud app for the iPhone is very easy to use download it from the App Store. The download is free, but there are various in-app purchases that can be made, in line with pCloud's offers. The registration in the app works with a user account or via Facebook. After logging in, various options can be selected and functions activated; for example the automatic upload of photos and videos. This can be very helpful, especially when the memory of the iPhone is getting full and you want to outsource some things or new content. The automatically uploaded data (if activated) are then located in the "Automatic Upload" folder.

Other folders automatically created at the beginning are “My Music” for music, “My Pictures” for pictures and “My Videos” for videos. They contain sample files that can be safely deleted. Incidentally, during this campaign, you will also receive an e-mail with the information that something has just been deleted for the first time. But do not be afraid of spam: Such e-mails only come in for a few actions that are carried out for the first time. There is not a notification every time, after all you know what you are doing;) It is of course also possible to create your own folders and folder structures.

Incidentally, the deleted files are not lost immediately, but are moved to the recycle bin on the cloud drive. What I found a bit strange was that there is no folder for this recycle bin in the folder overview or in the menu of the app. This makes for a better overview, but confuses at first. You can then find the deleted files via the settings. To do this, you tap on the three lines in the upper left, chooses Settings and then See deleted files. This displays the recycle bin, from which files can now be permanently deleted. Even more important: The crypto folder can be used to create a specially encrypted location for files. More on this below.

Settings in the pCloud iPhone app

Here I would like to give you a small overview of the setting and customization options that can be found in the settings of the pCloud iOS app. I leave out some standard items such as “clear cache” or the version display, as they are not directly related to the cloud service. So in the settings you will find this:

  • Memory allocation and upgrade options
  • Password and passcode options
  • Adjustments for notifications via push and email
  • Creation of a crypto folder for files and folders encrypted on the device
  • Selection of file types for automatic upload (photos, videos, both or neither)
  • Display of system files
  • Offline settings for the use of mobile data for pCloud services

pCloud App for macOS - My Little Odyssey

For me, installing and using the macOS app from pCloud was a little odyssey, which does not mean that it has to be the same for every user. I failed briefly with the security settings of the Mac, but was able to solve the problem in the end. When mounting the cloud drive, the message came up that I had to install "FUSE", a necessary additional program, and first give access to it. FUSE ensures that third-party apps such as pCloud can access Finder functions. After I had agreed to open the software in the Mac's security settings, the pCloud installation was also complete. Only the app could not be started and activation as a Finder extension also failed. 

Start of installation

FUSE is required

In the security settings you can initiate the installation and execution of FUSE

In the security settings you can initiate the installation and execution of FUSE

After restarting, pCloud was finally able to run on the Mac

After restarting, pCloud was finally able to run on the Mac

In the end, all I had to do was restart the Mac, open pCloud and everything worked as it should. Not only was the drive mounted and shown in the Finder; the pCloud program window also opened and the menu bar icon appeared.

These are the pCloud menu bar options.

These are the pCloud menu bar options.

The successful installation opened up new possibilities for handling files and folders in the cloud - you can right-click / secondary-click these options directly in the Finder:

  • Offline access (sync) - Download a file or folder for offline use
  • Invite to Folder - Invite other people to use the folder (share function)
  • Copy Upload Link - Creates a link that other users can use to upload files to a folder
  • Copy Download Link - Creates a link that other users can use to download selected files / folders 

Options of the pCloud Mac app

First of all, the note on deleting the files: They are also moved to pCloud's own recycle bin on the Mac. To do this, you can simply use the Finder's options, which are also used to delete local files. So right click and Put it in the paper basket, drag them with the mouse into the recycle bin on the dock, etc. Then you can find the files in the app, on the web and on the iPhone in the pCloud recycle bin.

Extensive use of the cloud is also possible with the pCloud Mac app

Extensive use of the cloud is also possible with the pCloud Mac app

Much more important, however, are the options that the app window offers. Information can be called up and settings made in various tabs such as Account, Sync, Shares, Crypto, Settings and Help. Here are the most important features:

  • Account: view user data and drive allocation, change password, view recycle bin, etc.
  • Sync: Display of the synchronized folders with a comparison of the local and the cloud version
  • Shares: Display of the upload and download links created and the number of interacting users
  • Crypto: Offer of crypto encryption and use after booking the service
  • Settings: Settings for app start and display, definition of the maximum upload and download speed in kB / s, options for drive usage
  • Help: Access to pCloud Support, pCloud FAQ and pCloud Blog
  • About: Information about the app version and updates

Use pCloud in the browser - super easy

If you don't want to use the Mac app, which you can download from the provider's website, you can simply log in with your access data on that same page. And then there is also the possibility of viewing, adding, editing, deleting files or copying them to a hard drive or another storage medium. In addition, all the other options offered by the iOS and macOS apps are also present; So sharing content, inviting users to download something from their own folders or loading something into them, downloading content and so on. Calling up the pCloud cloud in the browser is therefore also ideal if you want to keep your files tidy on your computer when you are on the move or on vacation.

Backup of various services - Interesting service

When using the service in the browser, I discovered the menu item “Backups” - this could be interesting for anyone who wants to back up other clouds such as Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox on a regular basis. In addition, social media friends get their money's worth, because the content from the Facebook and Instagram accounts can also be backed up regularly.

pCloud Crypto - encrypted upload and download of data

Already mentioned here and there, I would like to take a closer look at pCloud Crypto. This is an encryption service from pCloud. It works on both desktop and mobile devices. The files are encrypted directly on the device, and decryption is only carried out by the client on the machine being used. A crypto pass must be created for this, a kind of password with which you can confirm your authorization to decrypt and access the files. 

With pCloud Crypto-Folder there is no need to install and use additional programs to encrypt uploaded data. In addition, you don't have to have the appropriate software installed on every device that you want to use to access the data. It is enough to remember the Crypto Pass - and the files and folders can be conveniently viewed on the Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, Android smartphone and from many other locations. And only by the user who is also allowed to do so.

Important to know: pCloud cannot reset, change or send your Crypto Pass if you forget it. That would mean the point would be lost, because the providers should be able to access your data just as little as other strangers. I. E. the encrypted data is lost if you forget the Crypto Pass. 

Even more security through AES, TLS and SSL

In addition to the crypto folder, all other files are of course also protected during transmission and storage on the pCloud servers. A 256-bit AES encryption method, for example, is used to prevent unauthorized access by hackers. When the data is transmitted, TLS / SSL channel protection works against possible third-party queries. In addition, the files stored in the cloud are also protected against hardware errors. You can read the following from the provider:

Backing up your files isn't just limited to potential hacks, it is also about protecting against a possible hardware failure. After your data has been uploaded to the pCloud server, we keep 5 copies in at least three server locations in a highly secure data storage center, monitored around the clock.
pCloud Crypto, on the other hand, is an optional additional layer of protection for your sensitive personal data, which encrypts the information you upload to your device before it is transmitted.

pCloud Crypto Hacking Challenge - Nobody Made It

Also worth mentioning in this context is the so-called “pCloud Crypto Hacking Challenge”, in which anyone who wanted to take part and win should crack a user account created for the competition. The prize was $ 100.000 or the Bitcoin equivalent. 2.860 participants (including 21 technical universities and 613 hacker organizations) did not want to miss this opportunity. However, none of them were able to hack the account in a period of 6 months. If that doesn't speak for the security of the service!

pCloud Pricing - What Does the Fun Cost?

Such a service with up to 2 TB of storage for private and professional users as well as many ways to use it naturally costs money. The two most prominently advertised account versions are pCloud Premium and pCloud Premium Plus. The prices depend on the type of payment - monthly, annually or once for a "lifetime" offer.

pCloud Premium (500 GB) pCloud Premium Plus (2 TB)
Monthly payment 4,99 € 9,99 €
Annual payment € 47,88 (equivalent to € 3,99 / month) € 95,88 (equivalent to € 7,99 / month)
One Time Payment 480 € (currently € 175) 980 € (currently € 350)
Action - -

Then there's the Family Plan for family use of an account. Here, too, 2 TB are made available, but these can be divided between up to 5 users. Currently the price is for pCloud for Family at € 500 (instead of € 1.400). This is a lifetime offer. Finally, however, a professional business offer is also made; in the form of pCloud Business. You can test this package free of charge after specifying your company, name, contact details and number of users. I think an individual offer is made here and no flat rate is charged.

Disadvantages - translation or language selection

Additional storage of 500 GB or 2 TB that can be used over the Internet is not bad. In addition, other clouds, the local drive, photos and videos from the iPhone and other data can be created as (automatic) backups. In addition, there is the encryption of data in the crypto folder. Further advantages include the possibility to share files and folders or to let others fill them without them being able to look inside. However, there are a few downsides to pCloud here and there. Especially in the area of ​​linguistic design. 

While the iOS app for the iPhone is displayed completely in German and there are no comprehension problems, this is the case with the other solutions relevant not looking so good. The pCloud macOS app, for example, was installed with a German description, but it is ultimately displayed and used in English (but I was promised by the developers that a German version should also be available soon). And in the browser there is sometimes a mix of both languages, if you call up the menu item “Public” and land in “Public folder”.

Also interesting: VirtualBox - Free virtualization app

Conclusion on cloud storage

My conclusion is positive. I like that pCloud offers a solution for all possible devices and not only enables communication between them, but also offers many external options. Regardless of whether you want to share files with others or receive them from them - there are well thought-out options for both. Backups and automatic uploads are also no problem. Not only the iPhone can be relieved by this if the memory is running out again. Fortunately, I can personally ignore the language problem thanks to my knowledge of English; In the future there will also be a completely German Mac app. The prices are not too high, if you consider the scope of the offers in addition to the pure storage space. 

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2 comments

  1. Pyro says:

    Such "lifetime" offers somehow always have a taste. What is Lifetime? My lifetime or its lifetime?

    Then they save everything on US servers. Even if it is a Swiss company, this state of affairs is in turn filled with flavors for a European.
    So whether their own crypto history is really end-to-end and tight cannot be said. I have not found any information whether their client is open source. If not, one can almost assume that back doors are integrated.

    That you have to use fuse is annoying. You don't have to with other cloud services.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      There is always the risk that the company will go bankrupt. But pCloud is relatively big (in the top 5 worldwide) and has paying customers. If you've been there for three years and they don't go bankrupt, then the lifetime amount has already been worth it.

      As far as encryption is concerned: If you like to encrypt everything and everyone, you can also use pCloud with BoxCryptor and thus encrypt your files. Then nobody can read along - if they want to / do it at all.

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