pCloud: Better than Dropbox?

Dropbox is a very popular service amongst genealogists. I have often mentioned Dropbox in my previous articles. (See https://goo.gl/sTtLwu for a list of my previous articles that mention Dropbox.) However, Dropbox certainly is not perfect.

My biggest complaint with Dropbox is that it has a rather weak method of encryption for storing your data on Dropbox’s servers. (See https://goo.gl/G7cxNF for an explanation of Dropbox’s encryption weaknesses.) Dropbox employees can read your personal data. If Dropbox receives a court order demanding they supply copies of your personal data to some government agency, the company must do so. Also, in theory, if a hacker ever gains access to Dropbox’s servers, that person  possibly could also read your data. The odds of a hacker gaining access are slim but not impossible.

Next, Dropbox only provides 2 gigabytes of storage space free of charge, significantly less than that of most of its competitors.

One new service is “just like Dropbox, except (1.) it is faster than Dropbox, (2.) it can encrypt every bit of data before storing on the company’s servers, making the service much more secure and (3.) it offers 10 gigabytes of free storage space with the option to obtain 20 gigabytes at no charge if a user makes some bonus steps.

pcloud-logopCloud is an online file storage service “in the cloud” that is almost unknown. However, in my opinion, pCloud should be considered seriously. Though far from the biggest name on the market, the company has a lot to offer, especially for those who are looking for a simple, easy-to-use, free service. It is a good alternative for those who are considering Dropbox or Google Drive or any of several other cloud-based file storage services.

pCloud is an online storage service for all of your photos and videos, your favorite music, and personal and work documents. You can make sure your files are always with you when you need them, and share easily with friends, family, coworkers and partners so you are always on the same page.

If you are looking for a safe and secure place to store backup copies of your critical files, you should consider the following:

pCloud is a Swiss company. Swiss laws prohibit Swiss-based companies from disclosing a user’s private information to anyone, not even to the Swiss government. That means if a repressive government (China, the Arab countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, etc.) obtains a court order against pCloud demanding that pCloud turn over your private files to that government, pCloud will ignore the court order and the Swiss government will also back up pCloud’s right to do so.

NOTE: While pCloud is a Swiss company, the servers are actually in Norway, a country with similar laws that prohibit divulging private data.

Unlike other cloud-based file storage services, pCloud (optionally) does not take space on your computer.

pCloud offers an encrypted option for an additional $3.99/month. This is in addition to the data transferred to pCloud’s servers which is always sent via TLS/SSL protocol. pCloud Crypto offers client-side encryption, i.e. the encryption process is performed on your device. The encrypted version of your files is uploaded to the pCloud servers and the plain text files never leave your computer. Your files can be encrypted and decrypted only with your Crypto Password that is known only to you. Even the pCloud system administrators will be unable to read your (encrypted) data.

pcloud_crypto

pCloud can share (unencrypted) files and folders even with users that are not pCloud users.

There is no size limit on individual files. That is, unlike Dropbox, pCloud can even store an 8-gigabyte video file.

pCloud is faster than Dropbox and with Crypto also is more secure because of private encryption.

pCloud has apps for Windows, Macintosh OS X, iPhone and iPad iOS, Android, and Linux.

pCloud can sync ANY folder, not just one folder the way Dropbox does.

pCloud has built-in audio and video players so you can stream music or video and watch it on your computer or tablet or smartphone while it is streaming.

If 20 gigabytes isn’t enough storage space for you, 500 gigabytes is available for $3.99 US per month, or 2 terabytes (2,000 gigabytes) may be obtained for $7.99 per month. I suspect that 2,000 gigabytes will suffice for most people.

pCloud users also can view the history of all file changes, open previous versions and restore them if necessary. History and old versions are available for at least 30 days.

There are dozens of cloud-based file storage services available today. If you are looking for one that is better than Dropbox, I suggest you investigate pCloud at https://goo.gl/WkTuyp before making a decision. Check out the “Plans and Pricing” page at https://www.pcloud.com/cloud-storage-pricing-plans.html.

18 Comments

I went to this site: https://goo.gl/WkTuyp. I saw nothing to indicate they offered any free storage. All I could find is a place to sign up for a 30 day free trial, and then $3.99 per month.

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From my reading of the plans page it seems as though the pCloud Crypto is not part of the free plan, but is offered as a 14 day trial.

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The free, 10 gb. version offers
“the option to obtain 20 gigabytes at no charge if a user makes some bonus steps.”
What exactly are the bonus steps necessary to obtain 20 gigabytes?

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You might want to check the website. Today it states that the price is $4.99/month after the first free 30 days.

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To be of value a service has to survive long term. “pCloud…is almost unknown…has a lot to offer…for a simple, easy-to-use, free service.” gives me some concern that it will be around for long.

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    I would have the same concern but also have the same concern for other online services. We have already seen other cloud-based storage services disappear, including Copy.com, Norton Zone, EMC’s Atmos Online storage service, MegaUpload (which is now back online with new owners), Windows LiveMesh, XDrive, and PogoPlug have all disappeared. But who cares?

    With almost all online backup services, you have a copy of each file on the backup service AND AN IDENTICAL COPY OF EACH FILE ON YOUR OWN COMPUTERS. If you are using the backup service to copy files to your other computers, such as to a laptop, you already have multiple copies in your own computers. If an online backup service abruptly goes defunct, you don’t lose anything. You simply sign up with a new service and make a backup there.

    An online backup service abruptly going offline is an annoyance, nothing more.

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Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve used Dropbox for years but pCloud offers me a second opIon that is especially useful. I’m the family photographer for grandkids, pets, trips, etc. I used to have to write a CD and mail it or send separate links to individual photos in Dropbox. With pCloud I can simply make a folder, put the photos and videos in in, and send link to folder to my kids and grandkids. They can then view them all and download what the want. Then I can delete copies and have space back. Best of all I can also get them. From anywhere and it’s free. TC

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Call me dense but what if your computer crashes and your cloud services disappears, than what? I’m using Google Cloud now to store docs, pictures and gedcoms, and I sync my FTM file with Ancestry, but maybe I need to add a third backup option? Can I use more than one cloud service or? Is there any easy way to transfer files in the cloud to another cloud? What do you suggest?

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    —> Call me dense but what if your computer crashes and your cloud services disappears, than what?

    If both go bad simultaneously, you go to your other backups. Of course, the odds of both going bad at the same time are slim but not impossible. Luckily, that is easily solved in the same manner that professional data centers have been doing for decades. They never rely on single backups.

    I back up all my important data files to two or more cloud storage services PLUS I back up the same files to an external hard drive that plugs into the USB connector on the computer PLUS I have backup copies of my most important files on flash drives PLUS backup copies of all important files are stored on the desktop computer at the office PLUS backup copies of all important files are stored on the desktop computer at home. (When using a cloud-based file storage service, such as Dropbox or pCloud, those files get copied automatically. I don’t have to manually copy them myself.)

    The odds of all of those backup copies going bad at the same time are tiny.

    You need to figure out your own backup policy. However, I would suggest you never, ever place all your eggs in one basket and not all your backups in only one place. Keep multiple backup copies and store them in different locations.

    L.O.C.K.S.S. – Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe

    Why would you want to have only one backup?

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I have 2 desktops (1 XP & 1 Win10) & 1 notebook that I regularly use & had been using dropbox to send my files between all 3. A few months ago Dropbox has stopped supporting the XP so I was back to using a thumbdrive to & from that computer. I was thrilled to find that pcloud supports the XP. I easily installed it on all 3 and am very pleased.

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    That’s great to know, Ann! I believe you have sold me on pCloud. I rarely use my old desktop with XP as it is no longer supported, but I’d be willing to turn it on once, just to make sure I’ve saved everything I had on it. I also have Vista, no longer supported, on a laptop, and another laptop with Windows 10, Would be great to have files shared between the two of them,

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I was just about to sign up for pCloud, when I realized that MyHeritage does not allow a tree to be synced on two different computers. So will having files shared over 2 or 3 computers affect the way MyHeritage works? I have MyHeritage synced on my Windows 10 laptop, but I also have a MyHeritage on my old Vista laptap that was a trial version. Any thoughts on this?

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Terms of service says they can use what store!! “In consideration of being provided with use of the Site and the Services made available pursuant to these Terms, you give pCloud permission to use your User Content as follows: you grant to pCloud and its affiliates a worldwide license to use, copy, perform or display your User Content in connection with providing you access to the Site and/or Services only”

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    —> you grant to pCloud and its affiliates a worldwide license to use, copy, perform or display your User Content…

    Yes, and that is necessary and not unusual.

    In order to store your data and to display it back to you when you ask for it, you must give permission to pCloud and to any other company it subcontracts work to give them permission to copy, perform or display your User Content.

    If you do not give permission, the company legally cannot display the information even to you.

    The Terms of Service also state: “All User Content shall be owned by you or the person who made it available to you to store or upload via the Site or Services” and “We respect the intellectual property rights of others” and “pCloud respects your privacy. Our Privacy Policy explains how we collect, use, and disclose information about you. By using the Site or the Services, you also agree to our Privacy Policy” and especially this paragraph:

    “Among other services and applications, pCloud also provides an encryption service under the trademark pCloud Crypto. This app performs client-side encryption, which means that the encryption process is performed on the user’s device and the plain text files never leave the user’s computer. This ensures zero-knowledge privacy for user’s data, which means that we, as a service provider, have absolutely no information about the content users store in their accounts, such as file names or file types. The user content is stored in their Crypto Folder, which is locked and unlocked using the so called Passphrase. pCloud has no access to user’s Passphrase, and once lost, it can never be restored.”

    In other words, if you use the encryption option, the folks at pCloud cannot even see your data, much less do anything to it or copy it and use it elsewhere. Your private information remains 100% under your control, not under the control of anyone else.

    The Terms of Service also clearly state, “you own all rights to your Encrypted Content ”

    I am using pCloud’s encrypted service. I am also a former crypto technician in the U.S. military so I have rather good knowledge of encryption. I trust pCloud.

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