pCloud is terrible

tags: reviews

Incoming links: Setup

Posted on .

In which I try out the only cloud storage provider left to try and find it lacking.

I am trying to move away from Apple's cloud offerings in preparation for not running macOS as my primary operating system in the future. This means I am in the market for a cloud storage provider that isn't Apple for my setup.

What I need:

  • Selective synchronisation (my office machine cannot hold all documents)
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Preferably encryption
  • Solid Mac and iOS support
  • No sync bugs or oddities
  • Hosted within EU jurisdiction (e.g. full GDPR protection), or at the very least not in the US, Russia, or China.
  • No general creepyness.

So far I have ruled out:

Dropbox: They're creepy and they had Condi on the board.

ownCloud: The client has been absolute garbage every time I have tried it, and this time was no exception. I have not been able to get it to log in or sync reliably, and I frequently get weird UI elements stuck in some places.

Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive: ha ha ha, no.

Box: Can't use multiple accounts on one machine, and I already have a work account.

After ruling out these offerings, pCloud was the sole remaining contender. In theory it looks ok. It's hosted in the EU, offers end-to-end-encryption, and has extensive platform support, including an API that I could plausibly write a client for if I went with, say, Haiku as my future OS. Maybe.

However, the troubles started almost immediately. The Mac client uses a FUSE file system that requires special blessing to run. Ok, sure. It also requires special blessing on every OS upgrade. Annoying, but that's mostly on Apple, except that there is already a FUSE module that I have installed and blessed by the OS, and it seems to still work. They could have just released something that hooks into that, including the FLOSS clients they started working on seven years ago and then seem to have abandoned.

Worse still, both my Macs, one 2016 model perpetually on latest macOS and one old MacBookPro on whatever the last supported version for that was log me out of the app on every reboot. And my password manager doesn't interact well with the login screen. And logging in at all is hit or miss: sometimes the callback to the app never fires, and it just stays logged out. Reinstalling the application has not helped.

Oh, and on restart the app happily boots up and displays spam for upgrades, and you cannot compile a Rust project in the cloud storage folder, suggesting it does some deeply unsound file system-level operations (killing symlinks? case-sensitivity? weird caching? who knows!).

My current best plan for how to solve this is to build a NAS, mount encrypted SMB for iOS, and have SyncThing for my computers and hope SyncThing has gotten decent since maybe 2016 when I last used it and it was a janky nightmare.