Why another Cloud Storage Review?
Yes, another cloud storage service to add to the list! This pCloud review explains what pCloud does that differentiates it from Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud and BackBlaze.
First, let me explain my own relationship with cloud storage. This is a subjective view informed by my life as a photographer, a consultant and an educator.
I use BackBlaze to back up my business files. It is by some distance the best backup solution available. I’ll post a review explaining why a little further down the line, but suffice to say wild horses would not drag me away from BackBlaze.
I use Google Drive to host files that I want to share with my clients.
I use Amazon S3 to host 360° Panoramic Photography created for clients.
I use iCloud as little as possible – too expensive.
Lately I’ve started to use pCloud as well.
So what does pCloud do that I can’t get from my other accounts? I’ll answer that question, but first I’m going to run through the thinking that got me from a place of one computer and a NAS, to two computers, three NAS drives, 5 Portable hard drives and three cloud storage solutions.
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We’ve looked at Mailer Lite in another post, the perfect companion to MailerLite is cloud storage that allows you to share links for downloads – pdf’s, images for printing etc. I think pCloud answers this particular question pretty convincingly,
But first, let’s go back to the beginning and answer the question “Why Cloud?”
First of all, let’s deal with the first use case which is to take storage away from the desktop.
Why would I want to do that?
It was my profession as a photographer that caused the penny to drop on this requirement. Firstly hard drives in laptops and Desktop computers are expensive and one installed, a pain in the arse to upgrade. Secondly media files, especially RAW images take up a ton of space.
Investing in portable drives made perfect sense, at 1Tb apiece, I could keep my current projects on a portable drive, I could organise my files and folders in a way that makes sense and duplicate that structure elsewhere. Edit the photos anywhere I wanted to and duplicate the drive every night in case of disaster.
This works well for me. I keep a years worth of assignments on a drive, offloading them to NAS whenever the drive gets full to the year ends, whichever comes first.
Network Attached Storage is my second line of defence in terms of back ups. I have three NAS devices, used for different aspects of my business. A Synology with 5 drives arranged in a RAID array. This simply means that if one drive goes down, the data is protected. I once had the whole machine die on me and Synology sent me a replacement free of charge. I simply plugged in the old drives and off it went. No data lost.
But what if somebody were to break in to my office and steal the drive? Local storage space is all good and well, but how about off premise storage?
I looked into running a second Synology device at home, synched to the first, but although it would solve the problem of fire and theft, the expense would be horrific.
At the time I was grappling with these problems, Cloud was in its infancy. Amazon and Google had made their presence felt but Amazon was too complicated and its cost unclear. Google was the opposite. Very straightforward to use but not suitable for back up through lack of synch. I needed an arrangement that would automatically synch the media I had on my NAS, to a location in the cloud.
Along came BackBlaze. Easy to set up on Synology, automatic synch, runs happily in the background. Peace of mind at a predictable and low, price. Can I do file share, No. Can I use it as a virtual drive, an extension of my laptop? No.
I use Google Drive to share live documents with my clients. Google offer a reasonable amount of free storage which is fantastic for document sharing where the document is accessed frequently and may even be edited in real time.
I don’t entrust my photographs to Google Drive because it would quickly take me on to a paid storage tier and I only want the storage, the editing doesn’t matter to me by the time the media is stored in the cloud.
Would it be good to synch photos and videos from my phone? Yes it would, not all of them, but certainly a good way of bypassing iCloud.
At first glance pCloud looks like many other cloud storage solutions. There are a couple of obvious differences. Most notable that pCloud is EU based which earns it a big tick from me.
pCloud offers a mobile app, a desktop app called pCloud Drive and tired bands of storage. There is a free pCloud account that allocates 10Gb storage free of charge for life.
So what do you get with pCloud?
There are two tiers of cloud storage available off the shelf from pCloud.
500Gb – Lifetime deal with one off payment
2Tb – Lifetime deal with one off payment
Servers are based in the EU by default, you can choose United States as a n alternative if you like.
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pCloud Drive is the desktop client that you use to manage your cloud storage services.
You can share files with friends, family and clients through the pCloud Drive app. You get 2Tb download link traffic per month.
Download Links can be personally branded on the paid plans.
Upload files individually by drag and drop through file manager (pCloud Drive appears as a virtual drive in Finder).
Large files or folders are best uploaded by synching or backing up – this way, if the internet connection is interrupted it can resume safely. Drag and drop cannot be resumed in the same way.
Playing Music & Video
You can play media directly from the virtual drive.
All connections are secured so all data is encrypted between your computer and the cloud. For a small extra payment you can have it encrypted by pCloud Crypto on the server.
You can also have your login protected by two factor authentication – Google Authenticator or text message to nominated phone number.
On mobile it is recommended to enable Passcode Lock – this can be linked to your thumbprint or Face ID as well as to a private four digit code.
Backups can be made via pCloud Drive of individual folders on your Mac or NAS. pCloud does not support Time Machine backups, but that’s usual for Cloud storage. You’ll still need a local attached drive for that.
You get thirty days trash history in your account so that you can restore older versions of files if you need to.
Why I recommend pCloud
I’ll be frank, I had my doubts about yet another cloud storage solution. The tipping point for me was when I realised the flexibility of this particular offering. It doesn’t tick all the boxes I need, but I have BackBlaze and Google Drive to cover off the use cases of business backups and live documents that I share with clients.
What pCloud brings to the table is ease of use, generous storage allocation that I can top up if needed. It’s EU based which is important for me as I’m EU based myself. It’s as secure as any other solution I’ve looked at and the clincher for me is that with the lifetime deal I can backup my entire music collection (450 GB stored on a 15 year old ReadyNas. I Know, I have sleepless nights) and also use it quickly and easily for user friendly branded downloads for my work.
pCloud is perfect for domestic and business use if you don’t have the time to fiddle around with Amazon S3 or you want a less expensive option than iCloud. Incidentally, for my money pCloud is technically way superior to iCloud as well.
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