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Proton Drive Review

Proton Drive Review

Features - 87%
Usability - 92%
Security - 97%
Support - 91%
Pricing - 88%

91%

Very Good

Proton Drive is a well-designed and easy to use cloud storage service, one which not only provides a good set of default features to both free and premium users, but one which clearly takes privacy and data security seriously

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Proton Drive

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    Proton Drive, a new service from the developers behind the secure email service Proton Mail, is a security and privacy focused cloud storage solution offering end-to-end encrypted storage and enhanced privacy by default!

    As a relatively new cloud storage service (launching only in September of 2022), Proton Drive is taking the route of offering their users some of the highest levels of data security and privacy features enabled across all files stored upon the service by default. A key component of this is the strong elliptic curve cryptography technology which is backed up by many other useful cloud features including secure file sharing (with time-limited shares), encrypted file search, multi-factor authentication plus any data kept on the service being subject to strong Swiss privacy and security laws amongst other things.

    With all of this in mind, Proton Drive looks like a very promising cloud solution for anyone taking the privacy and security of their data seriously! Time to sign-up to the service for myself and see the service in action, let’s go!

    Looking for Cloud Storage?

    Are you looking for practical help and advice in choosing cloud storage? If so, then be sure to check out our various guides including our Top 10 Free Cloud Storage guide, our guide to the Best Free Cloud Storage Services plus our guide to the Best Cloud Storage for Photographers amongst several others!

    Key Features

    • Easy to use web-based interface
    • Secure and automatic end-to-end encryption
    • Highly privacy-focused cloud storage solution
    • Encrypted file sharing functionality
    • Encrypted file search
    • Stored data protected by Swiss privacy laws
    • Open-source software
    • No desktop software
    • Pricing from just €3.99 / month (for 200GB)
    • 1GB Free account available for all!

    Proton Drive Usability

    In this section of my Proton Drive review, I will be signing up to the service for myself and testing out the usability aspects of the service. This will cover the actual signup process itself, how easy the service is to configure, use and how well the service functions whilst performing core tasks such as uploading files, sharing them with others and so on.

    Signing-up to Proton Drive

    Signing up to the Proton Drive service is thankfully very quick and easy, no personal details are requested other than a username for logging into the service (and a password, of course) and the account creation process only takes a few seconds based upon my own experiences. Best of all, if you already have a Proton account (such as a Proton Mail account as can be seen below) then the new Proton Drive service will already be linked-up in the background and ready to go!

    try proton drive bar in proton mail

    Once signed-in to Proton Drive for the first time, the service will greet us with some information boxes showing some useful details about the service. If you are using a free Proton account then be sure to take notice of the box describing how to get the full 1GB allocation of free storage as this does require a few simple tasks be completed first (as can be seen below).

    proton drive review - get 1gb storage

    Another useful setting available upon first signing-in to the account is the option to set the default Proton theme. This can be ignored if you are happy to stay with the default Proton colours, however, there are various other options including Snow, Classic and Carbon (which is essentially a dark theme for those who prefer such a theme).

    Moving on and with all the initial settings now configured, the new Proton Drive account will be ready to use!

    proton drive review - initial web interface view

    Adding files to Proton Drive

    With a new Proton Drive account now set-up and ready to use, one of the core tasks for such a service will be the uploading, accessing and then downloading files. The upload process begins by clicking on the “New Upload” button found on the left side menu (which will open the Windows Explorer file selection tool) or can be initiated by simply dragging and dropping selected files over the webpage to initiate.

    proton drive review - upload status box

    As can be seen above, whilst uploading files, Proton Drive provides a compressive upload manager tool which, amongst other things, allows for uploads to be paused or cancelled as well as providing details on files previously moved using the service. Once any file uploads have completed, the files will be browsable in the main file window as is the case with many other cloud storage / cloud drive services.

    NB – If you are looking for cloud storage then remember to check out our other cloud storage guides, this includes a guide to choosing the best free cloud storage and the best cloud storage for photographers amongst others in the BestBackupReviews.com guides section.

    With files now added to the account, downloading them is as simple as selecting one (or more) items within the web-based tool and then either right-clicking and choosing the “Download” option or selecting the download icon form the top menu bar (as is shown in the image below):

    proton drive review - web download options

    Other options which can be made use of within the Proton Drive interface itself (as can be seen in the context menu above) include the ability to rename files, create and organise files into folders, create sharing links (which will be looked at in the next section) and the deleting of files (to the trash can) amongst various other features of the service.

    Sharing Files within Proton Drive

    One of the most important functions of a cloud storage service for many will be the built-in file sharing capabilities. Thankfully, despite being a relatively new service overall, this is an area in which Proton Drive really seem to have got things working well right from the start!

    proton drive review - get link context menu

    Creating a new sharing link begins by selecting the “Get link” option from a file’s context menu (or the “Get link” icon found on the top menu bar when multiple items are selected) and then simply copying the newly created link when the sharing box appears:

    proton drive review - initial sharing link view

    NB – It is important to note that, by default, anyone with access to your Proton Drive sharing link will be able to access your shared files and folders! If the information within these items is in any way sensitive, then be sure to also make use of the password protection and expiration date features provided for additional security as is mentioned below!

    Additional sharing features which can help to enhance the security of any shared links (which leave shared files visible to anyone possessing the link by default) include the ability to set a password for the shared link as well as specify a time and date in which the link itself will automatically expire and become defunct.

    proton drive review - sharing security options

    Once the sharing link is created, it will remain active until either it is cancelled by the account holder or, if set, the link expiry date has been reached. All active links can easily be seen by clicking on the “Shared” section of the left side menu within the file browser at any time.

    proton drive review - sharing download page

    Moving on and with a sharing link created, anyone accessing the link will see a simplified access screen which makes downloading any files both quick and easy (and without the requirement to create an account for themselves) as can be seen in the screenshot above.

    Proton Account Security

    With the key usability aspects of the Proton Drive service now covered, the security and privacy of the service is the next key area to focus on. It is very important to note that one of the key features of the Proton Drive service is that all files and folders are automatically encrypted when being added to the account and are stored in an encrypted state the entire time!

    Proton Drive makes use of highly secure and advanced elliptic curve cryptography (ECC Curve25519) in order to help ensure they are providing their users with some of the highest levels of cloud security currently available. This is backed-up by all user data being stored in highly secured data centres and the company themselves being based in Switzerland which famously has very strong data privacy laws protecting such companies.

    It is also important to note that, by default, Proton themselves provide the free Proton Drive account (as with their other services such as the free-to-use Proton Mail) without requesting any personally identifiable information form their users. This means you could, in effect, maintain maximum privacy when making use of the Proton Drive cloud storage service (especially so when compared to many other services which, at a minimum, will require an active email address to get signed-up).

    proton drive review - account recovery options

    NB – Given that adding an alternative working email address to a Proton account (for recovery purposes) is optional, it is recommended that an account recovery passphrase is still generated to help ensure access can be maintained in the event a password is lost or forgotten.

    Proton Support

    Proton offer a ticketing-based email support system which can be accessed when logged into any of the Proton services via the top right user menu (found under the “Get help” option). Additional help, support and user guides (including from the Proton community forums) can be found at the official Proton support portal.

    NB – Proton provide support for all users, however, those on premium (paid for) plans ae offered priority support over free account users.

    Proton Drive Pricing

    Proton offer all users of the service a free Proton Drive account featuring 1GB of cloud storage and full use of all features and functions including the excellent secure file sharing facilities.

    NB – Initially, the free account is set at 500MB of storage but can easily be doubled to 1GB by performing a few simple tasks as will be explained when logging in for the first time.

    Proton also offer two additional premium plans which, amongst other things, provide more cloud storage within the Proton Drive service as well as boosting the offerings from various other Proton service such as providing more email aliases in the Proton Mail service and additional VPN functionality when using the Proton Unlimited plan.

    The premium Proton accounts are priced as follows:

    • Drive Plus @ €3.99 / month (takes Proton Drive storage up to 200GB)
    • Proton Unlimited @ €9.99 / month* (takes Proton Drive storage to 500GB)

    * Note that many other enhancements across the full range of Proton services are also available when taking out the Proton Unlimited plan, more information on the full range of account upgrades plus the option to save more on both 12 and 24 month fixed-term plans can be found at the official Proton pricing page.

    Proton Drive FAQ

    Yes, Proton Drive offers all users a free account with 500MB of free storage which can easily be extended to 1GB (for free) by completing a few simple tasks within the service itself (one of which being simply uploading a file).

    Proton drive provides up to 1GB of storage for free across all Proton accounts. The proton Drive Plus account extends this storge allocation to 200GB and the Proton Unlimited account extends this event further to 500GB (in addition to providing some other account benefits).

    Yes, as of time of writing (Oct 2022) Proton Drive is accessible via both the web-based user interface as well as via a smartphone app for Android users.

    Proton Drive Alternatives

    In this section of my review, I will be looking at some closely related alternatives to Proton Drive. This will be focused on cloud storage services which offer a security and privacy focused approach to cloud storage and place an emphasis on making secure use of the service as easy as possible.

    Remember, any ratings and opinions given below reflect my own opinions and should be treated only as a guide! When purchasing cloud storage (or any other cloud service) always be sure to check the details out for yourself and try and to make use of any free trials, whenever possible, to help ensure the solution is right before committing to a purchase.

    1) pCloud

    pCloud really stands out in the cloud storage world, this is thanks not only to their very generous lifetime storage plans but also their great sharing functionality, ease of use, great smartphone apps and compressive approach to data security, thus making them a great alternative to Proton Drive!

    proton drive review - pcloud alternative crypto view

    Based in privacy friendly Switzerland, pCloud make use of both US and EU based datacentres and store all files across at least 3 individual server locations to ensure additional resiliency of the service. Whilst, unlike with proton Drive, all files are not encrypted by default, anyone using a pCloud premium account will be able to make use of the pCloud Crypto vault service which does allow for strong AES 256-bit encryption to be applied to files on the client device. In addition to this, all files being transferred to or from the pCloud service make use of secure SSL/TLS connections regardless of encryption state.

    Overall, pCloud is a very generous service with lifetime plans starting at just $175 (for 500GB) and $350 (for 2TB). A very generous 10GB free account is also available for anyone wanting to test the service out for themselves – more information can be found at the official pCloud website.

    2) IceDrive

    IceDrive is another one of our favourite cloud drive services, one which offers a good alternative to Proton Drive thanks to its implementation of strong, client-side encryption which sees advanced Twofish cryptography being used to help ensure maximum file security.

    proton drive review - icedrive alternative features view

    With file security aside, IceDrive also offers its users a very well designed and easy-to-use interface, great sharing options, useful apps for both iOS and Android and a crypto vault service for all premium plans (meaning only files added specifically to the vault will take advantage of the encryption mentioned above).

    IceDrive offer some very keen monthly and annual pricing options which see 1TB available from just $49.99 per year alongside some great lifetime plans seeing 3TB for a single one-off payment of just $499! For more information on the IceDrive service itself plus some of the other pricing options can be found at the official IceDrive website.

    3) Sync.com

    Sync.com is an excellent choice for anyone seeking always-on and very secure end-to-end encryption, secure file sharing services and enterprise level access control making for a great alternative to Proton Drive, especially so for business focused users!

    proton drive review - sync.com alternative features

    Whilst file security is undoubtedly very good within the Sync.com service, it is backed-up by many other great features including Windows, MacOS and Office 365 integration plus real-time device backup, restore and synchronisation functionality (with 180 days+ days of historic versioning enabled by default). The service is also available via apps for both iOS and Android and also features a great set of team and collaboration features for those seeking such tools.

    Sync.com is priced from just $8 per month for an individual account featuring a very generous 2TB of storage with larger plans up to 6TB available for just $20 / month. More information on Business plans (with options up to unlimited storage) and the service itself please can be found via the official sync.com website.

    4) Mega.nz

    Built with advanced file security and user privacy in mind form day one, Mega.nz is a leading cloud storage service which provides some of the most advanced end-to-end encrypted cloud storage available as of today.

    proton drive review - mega.nz desktop features

    The secure end-to-end encryption of all files, turned on by default, is enhanced by some of the many other great features found within Mega.nz. These additional features include secure file sharing, an easy-to-use web interface and open-source desktop apps (for Windows, MacOS and Linux), a secure chat facility plus command line tools amongst many other useful aspects of the service.

    Mega offer a very generous 20GB free account for initially testing the service alongside some good premium pricing which sees 400GB available for just $49 per year and 8TB for just $196.01 per year. More information on other pricing options and the Mega.nz service itself can be found at the official Mega.nz website.

    5) iDrive

    iDrive is a highly featured cloud service which offers cloud backup, storage, file archiving, device synchronisation plus much more all from within a single account!

    proton drive review - idrive features

    Security wise and iDrive make use of strong AES 256-bit end-to-end encryption which means that all files moved to iDrive will already be encrypted on the client’s device first and transferred only over secure SSL/TLS connections (iDrive also allow for users to specify their own private key for even more secure encryption). Security aside and iDrive really stands out thanks to its very generous storage quotas and pricing options alongside the great set of features which, amongst other things, sees a great cloud backup client included in the desktop software!

    iDrive is priced form just $79.50 per year for a very generous 5TB of secure cloud storage. Other pricing options including multi-year discounts, the 5GB free account and more information on the service itself can be found via the official iDrive website.

    Proton Drive Review Summary

    It is immediately obvious that Proton Drive is a very well designed, easy to use and competent cloud storage service. A cloud storage service which not only provides a good set of default features to both free and premium users, but also one which clearly takes privacy of its users and the security of their data very seriously.

    Whilst the free account offering is, perhaps, a little on the low side (versus competitors such as IceDrive and pCloud who both offer 10GB for free), it should be pointed out that there are no other limiting restrictions on the free accounts meaning everyone can take advantage of features such as secure, password protected file sharing and encrypted storage for free if they so wish.

    Whilst the service is lacking still in some areas, for example, not yet having any Windows device software allowing for the storage to be mapped as a virtual drive within Windows itself, it does make up for this with the very easy to use web-based interface and by the very strong user privacy and file security features currently being employed by the service (for both free and premium account holders).

    Overall, a highly impressive cloud storage service which gets the basics right and provides excellent security and privacy or all users of the service, great work Proton Drive!

    Looking for Cloud Storage?

    Are you looking for practical help and advice in choosing cloud storage? If so, then be sure to check out our various guides including our Top 10 Free Cloud Storage guide, our guide to the Best Free Cloud Storage Services plus our guide to the Best Cloud Storage for Photographers amongst several others!

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