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pCloud cloud storage review
7:30 pm | March 26, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

We’ve tested some of the best cloud storage services out there, and no list would be complete without pCloud. The Swiss-based service has an impressive list of features at a price point that make it a very appealing choice for sharing large files with friends and family or to sync them across all your devices.

But how does a product released in 2013 fare in a market dominated by mature platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and the rest of the field? 

pCloud: Pricing & plans 

One of the big draws for pCloud is the competitively priced plans. You can register for one of the best free cloud storage accounts, nabbing up to 10GB in the process. However, like Internxt, there are hoops you’ll need to jump through to maximize the free storage capacity.

When we activated a free account, we found 5GB waiting for us. If you choose "unlock more space", you're asked to invite more friends to sign up to pCloud. If they do so, you'll receive 1GB of extra free storage per friend. Sign ups from the same IP address are limited to 10 to prevent abuse. Signing up friends also enters you into a free competition where you can win 500GB free storage. On the free tier, you can also use the service to send files up to 5GB in size that can optionally be encrypted as well.

Broadly speaking there are two paid plans depending on the amount of data you need to share - the company also frequently runs deals and discounts, too. 

The Premium plan offers 500GB and costs $50 a year. The 2TB Premium Plus is priced at $100 a year.

Unlike most of its peers, pCloud offers a one-time payment plan that’s valid for 99 years. Premium and Premium Plus cost $200 and $400 respectively if you opt for the one-off cost over an on-going subscription. 

A Family plan, offering 2TB of shared storage space among up to five pCloud users, is available with a lifetime purchase only for $595.

Business users are limited to a subscription-based membership. This costs $10 a month or $96 per year, per user. A minimum of three users is required. Each user gets access to 1TB of storage and 180 days’ of file versioning, compared with the standard 30 days for personal plans.

All pCloud accounts, whether free or paid, offer the same set of features. However there are a couple of add-on services that you can subscribe to for added benefits. 

One is called Extended History. By default pCloud retains files you’ve deleted for 15 days in the Free plan and 30 days with the Premium plans. However you can extend this period to 360 days for $80 a year. pCloud Crypto, which adds client-side encryption to your account for $50. With this add-on you have the ability to encrypt your data in a dedicated 'crypto drive' folder using a multi-layered algorithm. 

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing different pricing plans

(Image credit: pCloud)

pCloud: Interface & experience 

If you’ve ever ambled down a typical street in Geneva or Zurich, you’ll immediately recognize the same regimented and refined air carried across the cloud storage app. Visiting the country, we were struck by how clean and tidy the whole place was, as it’s immaculate for the most part. The same can be said for pCloud.  

That’s not to say that this is the best designed cloud storage solution on the market. Frankly, the interface can sometimes feel a little aged. But we found the parallels irresistibly hard to ignore. 

To get started you can register with the service manually or use the single sign-on to log in with your Apple ID, Google or Facebook accounts. Out of the box, the service has a handful of folders with sample data to help you get started by exploring its sharing features.  These include some colorful pictures, music, a video and a PDF on getting started with pCloud. 

The service has impressive file manager features, letting you sort and search through shared files with relative ease. You can also search for files, then filter the results based on file types. It's all pretty much the same as using the same options as you get with the file manager in your operating system. 

For uploading, it’s just as simple. You’ll be dragging and dropping files from your desktop into the pCloud web app or using the upload manager. This option helps you keep an eye on the files as they are being uploaded into your pCloud account. 

To ensure you are using the service to the fullest, pDrive’s web interface has a six-step wizard at the top of the interface. For example, it’ll guide you to install the desktop and mobile apps. As an incentive, completing each step will unlock more storage space. 

The multi-platform desktop client is fairly intuitive, installing as a desktop applet in the status bar. It adds a virtual drive in your file manager, which is a mirror copy of your pCloud account, similar to how Dropbox operates. If you’re using an M1 Mac, you’ll likely need to reboot the device in a reduced security mode to allow the deeper integrations required by pCloud’s file syncing drive.

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing the website with the app displayed on a laptop and text encouraging downloads of the desktop app

(Image credit: pCloud)

Upon first install, we noticed that pCloud automatically created a network drive to install files. On our Windows 11 machine, appropriately enough it also assigned itself the drive letter 'P'.

Any files placed in this drive will automatically be synchronized with your pCloud account and can be accessed from anywhere using the web interface. They do not take up any space on your hard drive itself. 

There’s also an offline mode that makes the shared files available to you on your computer even when you aren’t connected to the internet. This allows you to work on the files while you are offline and then automatically sync the changes as soon as you're connected to the Internet. 

You have the option of directly sharing files with your friends and family from the pCloud virtual drive. To share a folder you can send email invitations using pCloud and select whether you want to allow them to edit the contents of the shared folder or just view its contents. pCloud lists two separate URLs if you want to share using links. There’s one that’ll allow the recipients to download the contents of the folder and another if you want them to be able to upload content into the folder as well.

The mobile app offers one additional option - a setting to upload videos and photos to pCloud directly from your phone. By default it’ll upload all photos and videos but you can tweak its settings to restrict uploads. 

Besides their desktop client, pCloud also offers browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. Once installed, you can use the extension to save audio, video and pictures straight from a web page to your pCloud account. You can also save a selection of text that’s automatically saved as a text file. 

When it comes to using the browser for accessing your files, the process should be easy for most with things laid out as you would expect. The desktop client is full of features. We value the bandwidth throttling control, which by default is set to unlimited. However, we were disappointed to see that it's not possible to maximize the window in order to lay out all the options as clearly as possible. 

If you choose to try out the client-side encrypted drive pCloud Crypto, this should mean everything remains protected even from pCloud workers thanks to zero-knowledge security. Consequently, you need to make a note of your secure key because not even pCloud can help you gain access to lost files.  

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing local folder syncing

(Image credit: pCloud)

pCloud: Features 

pCloud offers all the essential features you’d expect from a sharing and syncing service. In addition to an intuitive web interface, pCloud also has clients for all the major desktop operating systems including Windows, macOS, and Linux as well as apps for Android and iOS. 

The service makes it easy to share individual or groups of files and folders without much effort. There is also no restriction on the size of the files you share as long as they are within the storage limits of your subscription plan, and upload and download speeds are also free of any restrictions.

Beyond sharing, you can use the desktop app to sync any local folder from your desktop to your pCloud account. Be aware that any files deleted in pCloud will also get deleted from their primary location on your computer, and vice versa.

On top of it, the service does block level syncing. This means the transfers will be a lot faster as only parts of the files that have changed need to be synced.

pCloud: Media support 

You can share all kinds of files on pCloud - but its handling of media files deserves special mention. The web interface of the service includes audio and video players that enable you to play the shared media files straight from pCloud itself. While a web browser that can play media is hardly sensational, we noticed that during our tests that when we opened a file from an audiobook, the interface automatically created a playlist. There's also a dedicated audio section in the pCloud web interface where you can manage your albums and playlists. 

Then there’s the video player that lets you watch the videos in picture-in-picture mode to help you continue using your browser while watching the video. You can even create slideshows for any shared images. 

Social media backups are also one of pCloud’s specialties. We found that without much effort, you can connect the service to popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, then backup images and videos on your accounts directly into pCloud. There is added support for OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive backups, too.

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing the app's built-in media player

(Image credit: pCloud)

pCloud: Apps

We found a good range of flexibility when it came to platform availability. On desktop, you can use Windows and macOS, with a Linux version available in AppImage format. There are cloud storage apps for Android and iOS. And web access is great, with extra functionality with the browser add-ons. Overall, a good package. 

pCloud: Security 

In terms of security, all the file transfers are conducted over a TLS/SSL encrypted channel to ensure that your data remains secure. pCloud also claims to replicate your files in five different server locations to safeguard against data loss and ensure availability. The service also offers two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security. 

Encryption is secured during file transfer and storage, however for a more complete guarantee non-business users will want to pay extra for client-side encryption which means that content is fully encrypted end-to-end. 

In fact, pCloud is so confident of their security, they offered $100,000 as part of the 'pCloud Encryption Challenge' to anyone who could break their system. None of the 2,860 participants could do it, even after six months of trying.

As reassuring as this is, we do wonder if pCloud would be better off publicly releasing the source code for their client-side encryption feature so it can be constantly reviewed and updated by the community. 

The service is also good at data control, letting you choose where you store your data - either in Luxembourg, which is part of the European Union, or its data center in Texas, USA. Swiss privacy laws are extremely strict and the company claims to be fully GDPR-compliant.  

pCloud: Our tests 

We ran three core tests on pCloud, measuring sync speed, file recovery and versioning. Our tests were done on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the pClouddesktop client.  The VM was connected to the internet via fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps  

  • Test 1 - Sync speed

Our very first test involved syncing a folder containing 22 files of assorted MP3s, images, metadata files, and a PDF. When we opened the desktop client we set it up as a 'sync' folder. The status bar in the client gave us a helpful readout of the remaining files and amount of data left to upload as well as an ETA. It took a little over 96 seconds to sync the 625MB contained in the 22 test files. This means pCloud measures very well against the likes of iDrive, Internxt, and  Apple iCloud

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing file recovery

(Image credit: pCloud)
  • Test 2 - File recovery

In this test we simply deleted the now uploaded folder from the application directory, removing it from the device. After confirming deletion, we checked if it was possible to recover them. 

With a local folder and pCloud synced, we deleted the folder from My Documents, mindful of the warning of the desktop client that files removed from our device would also be removed from the cloud. However, when we looked, the folder was still in the pCloud network drive. We went into the client and removed the sync for the folder in question. The client didn't alert us that it was unable to sync the folder. 

We finally deleted the test folder from the pCloud network drive. When we logged into the web interface we saw the Trash option, then opened it to view and restore our deleted files without issue. 

pCloud cloud storage service in action showing file versioning

(Image credit: pCloud)
  • Test 3 - Versioning

File versioning is especially important if you’re working on a larger project and don’t want to lose all the changes you make. This means if you change something you shouldn't have, you can just roll the file back to before this happened.

On testing pCloud, we placed a copy of the test Microsoft Word document in the pCloud network drive and allowed it to sync. We then opened it and removed all text except the introduction, then allowed the updated file to sync with pCloud again.

When we logged into the web interface, the Word document immediately appeared under 'Files'. We right clicked and under "Revisions" found both the current version of the document and the original. In just two clicks we restored the original undamaged document to the network drive.

This is also where we learned that the free version of pCloud only stores file revisions for up to 15 days. If you want to extend this, you'll need a paid plan. 

pCloud: Verdict

pCloud is a clinically clean application that does what most people want from a cloud storage service, and the current pricing plan structure is a bargain across the board but particularly when it comes to lifetime plans.

Our only reservation is that it isn’t as slick a product as some other alternatives. Nor is 2TB considered a lot of storage by today’s standards. Taken as a monthly cost, $4.99 isn't much to add client-side encryption, though we were surprised that it and the 'Extended File History' feature aren't bundled in the cost of all lifetime plans as a 'free' extra. 

Overall, thanks to its incredible value for money and extensive list of features available to all users, it’s easy for us to recommend pCloud as a secure cloud storage platform to both individuals and families, however business may want more flexibility.

CrashPlan review
7:33 pm | March 19, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

If you’re looking for the best data recovery software, it’s worth taking a close look at CrashPlan. This data recovery and backup platform is one of the simplest options for small businesses. There’s no limit on the number of computers or servers you can have on your account, and no storage limits for individual devices.

 CrashPlan: Plans and pricing

CrashPlan’s pricing is about as simple as it gets. After a one-month free trial, just pay $10 per month per computer you want to back up. We say 'computer' because at the time of writing, there's still no CrashPlan mobile app. 

The only downside to signing up for the free trial is that you'll need to provide a valid credit card number for sign up and remember to cancel via your online CrashPlan if you decide not to continue with the trial. 

We also found that using a disposable virtual credit card number provided by our bank didn't work for signup so we had to use a permanent number instead.

The CrashPlan pricing scheme as of 2023

 CrashPlan charges just $10 per computer on your account per month. (Image credit: Crashplan)

There are no data storage limits on the connected devices and no limit on the number of computers you can add. That makes CrashPlan a lot cheaper than many cloud storage providers, including iDrive, pCloud, and Box, that charge by capacity. But, paying monthly can make this software pricey as a data recovery solution. 

CrashPlan: Features

CrashPlan is a little different to most data recovery platforms. In fact, it’s a file backup tool first and foremost. But, thanks to the fact that backups are unlimited, it’s easy to use it as a way to recover deleted or corrupted files as well. 

CrashPlan review

You can customize your versioning settings to better recover after a ransomware attack.  (Image credit: CrashPlan)

CrashPlan comes with its own unlimited cloud storage space, which serves as the default launch point for file recovery. But, you can also back up files to multiple storage locations at the same time. That means you can create one or more physical recovery hard drives as well as keep a catalog of files for recovery in the cloud.

CrashPlan comes with unlimited cloud storage space, the interface for which serves as the default launch point for file recovery. You can also back up files to multiple storage locations at the same time.

That means you can create one or more physical recovery hard drives as well as keep a catalog of files for recovery in the cloud. The online web portal allows you to inspect individual devices and even end backups or remove them altogether.

With file versioning, you’re able to keep old versions of files indefinitely: a significant amount of control over your data in the cloud. That’s vital when recovering from file corruptions or ransomware, since you may need to go back a few versions to find a clean copy of your damaged files.

CrashPlan: Client and client setup

CrashPlan is available as a desktop platform for macOS, Windows, and Linux computers, or it can be installed on Linux servers. There’s also a web client that enables you to schedule backups.

The lack of a mobile app isn't so bad: you can, in a roundabout way, back up the contents of mobile devices to a computer that's then backed up with CrashPlan. But it's not ideal.

CrashPlan is truly cross-platform otherwise: there are both 32-Bit and 64-Bit versions available for Windows, and a macOS client. The Linux client will also run on any distro that's compatible with Red Hat or Ubuntu.

The CrashPlan file restore feature

CrashPlan’s file restore interface.  (Image credit: CrashPlan)

The software tags files by folder location rather than file type, which can be both good and bad. Making sure you’re backing up all your files to a recovery drive or your cloud space is straightforward, but it's also too easy to forget to tag a folder for backup.

CrashPlan: Performance 

For us, CrashPlan's upload performance was disappointing out of the box. The software took a full 20 minutes to upload a 1 GB file to the cloud on a 25 Mbps connection— about four times as long as expected. 

Turning off data deduplication in the program’s advanced settings made a huge difference - that same 1 GB file uploaded in under five minutes - but that's something to bear in mind.

The CrashPlan backup feature

With CrashPlan, you can to choose multiple data storage locations, including local drives.  (Image credit: Crashplan)

Downloading was much better from the start. We were able to download the 1 GB file in just under four minutes with a 44 Mbps connection.

Since CrashPlan mostly operates in the background, the occasional lengthy upload won’t be a huge issue for many users. On top of that, CrashPlan offers incremental transfers and block-level sync, so most file uploads shouldn’t be particularly large after your initial backup. 

Unfortunately, CrashPlan doesn't offer multi-threaded backup and recovery, so large recoveries may take a while.

CrashPlan: Efficiency 

One of the biggest advantages to CrashPlan is that not only can you set the software to continuously back up files from your computer to the cloud, but also schedule periodic transfers, seamlessly incorporating the application into your workflow.  

Crashplan's backup throttling settings

Usage settings allow you to throttle your backups to limit the amount of processing power used. (Image credit: CrashPlan)

It’s also worth noting that CrashPlan gives you the option to throttle your file transfers to save bandwidth. This setting is sensitive to when your computer is idle, so it’s easy to have the bulk of your uploads take place overnight. 

CrashPlan: Support 

Crashplan's dedicated support pledge - chat and email, Monday to Friday

CrashPlan support is available by chat, email, or phone during normal business hours. (Image credit: Crashplan)

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to recover deleted files, you can get in touch with CrashPlan’s support team by live chat, email, or phone. Phone and chat support are only available during normal US business hours Monday to Friday. 

Email help is available 24/7, although you may wait several hours for an answer if you send a request during the middle of the night in the US.

For questions about the software and data restoration, CrashPlan also has an extensive online documentation library. Most of the help articles come with walkthrough videos, which is helpful when you’re first learning the software.

CrashPlan: Final Verdict 

While CrashPlan is backup software first, it doubles nicely as a recovery tool that's incredibly easy to use and so perfect for small businesses to create their physical and cloud backups with.  

Our biggest gripe remains that the interface requires you to tag specific folders for storage and recovery, making setting up automated backups time-consuming.

CrashPlan: The Competition 

However, CrashPlan won’t help you get files off of a damaged or reformatted drive without an existing backup. If that’s what you need, check out Data Rescue 5 or OnTrack EasyRecovery.

As for hybrid backup and recovery solutions, Backblaze is the closest competitor to CrashPlan. It’s a bit cheaper, starting at just $5 per computer per month. But, you lose out on advanced file versioning options and the ability to back up to physical drives as well as the cloud. 

To see how CrashPlan performs against other data recovery software, read our Best data recovery software buying guide.

CrashPlan: how we tested

Our tests were done on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the CrashPlan desktop client. 

Our VM was connected to the internet via fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps 

We ran a total of 3 tests measuring sync speed, file recovery and versioning.

Test 1 - Sync Speed

We ran a backup of our local 'Documents' folder, which contained a 650 MB folder of Sherlock Holmes audio books from the Internet Archive

We measured how quickly the desktop client was able to sync the files to the cloud. The folder contained 22 files including MP3s, images, metadata files, a PDF and a Word document.

Test 2 - File Recovery

We then deleted the audiobook folder and checked to see if the files had been removed from the cloud backup drive and if it was possible to recover them.

Test 3  - Versioning

If you're writing a long, important document, like a novel, the last thing you want is to make changes that you can't roll back.

Many cloud backup providers prevent this by regularly saving different versions of a file, so if you change something you shouldn't have, you can just revert a file back to how it was on a previous date.

To test this in CrashPlan, we copied a Microsoft Word (.docx) file of the public domain story 'The Purple Cloud' to the cloud application folder. Once it synced, we then deleted all the text except the introduction, then saved and closed. We then tried to restore the document back to its original form, complete with all chapters. 

We do our best to conduct tests fairly. However measuring metrics like upload speed are very difficult as it depends on a lot of factors including how many other people share your broadband connection, how busy your cloud providers servers are and naturally the speed of your own connection.

Sync software offered by cloud storage providers is also under constant development so by the time you read this, they may contain new features.

For this reason, you should use our test results as a guideline only. We always recommend trying out the 'free' tier for cloud storage providers to check if it's right for you before signing up.

How we tested CrashPlan's performance

Test 1 - Sync Speed

As we've discussed above, one of the areas in which CrashPlan fell short In our original 2020 tests was performance. 

However, in our most recent tests using an average upload speed of 17Mbps, the 'Documents' folder was able to sync in just over four and a half minutes. We'd usually have expected this amount of data to take at least 30 seconds longer, so were very impressed by CrashPlan's improvement in performance.

Test 2 - File Recovery

Once deleted, the 625MB of data in our test folder took only around 25 seconds to download back to the 'Documents' folder during the restore process.

Test 3 - Versioning

After modifying our word document, we ran a backup and found that we could once again choose "Restore Files", view the version history, and revert to the original.

CrashPlan: Security

According to CrashPlan's support pages, the client app encrypts all user data before it leaves endpoint devices for storage using AES 256-Bit encryption. Data is transit is also encrypted using TLS.

CrashPlan claim that no user data can be restored or decrypted without the owner's CrashPlan account name and password. However on the same page they also say that administrators with advanced console access can reset names and passwords, and decrypt and restore user data.

This means that if CrashPlan is hacked, your data is likely to be safe but your information might be at risk if a disgruntled employee tries to access it. 

Previously it seems it was possible for users to create their own custom encryption key but this is a legacy feature, only supported on accounts that originally had it. 

CrashPlan is closed-source, so it's impossible to verify how it implements encryption. If you're concerned about the privacy of your data, you may want to secure files with encryption software before backing up. 

We were pleased to see that CrashPlan Small Business accounts require 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). During setup, you'll need to use an authenticator app to scan a QR code and enter the six-digit code to continue creating your account. 

CrashPlan's competition

Backblaze is CrashPlan's closest competitor for a hybrid backup and recovery solutions, and It’s a bit cheaper, starting at just $5 per computer per month. However, you lose out on advanced file versioning options and the ability to back up to physical drives as well as the cloud. 

To see how CrashPlan performs against other data recovery software, read our Best data recovery software buying guide.

Ontrack EasyRecovery review
2:13 pm | March 17, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Ontrack EasyRecovery claims to be one of the best data recovery software applications available on the market. It was developed by a provider of file recovery services who has been in business for 35 years. 

The program touts itself as being both simple to use as well as powerful enough to help you recover from a wide variety of data loss situations. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Plans and pricing

Several plans are available with Ontrack EasyRecovery. The Free plan, although it comes at zero cost, only provides 1GB of data recovery, so it’s only really useful for one-off recoveries. There's also a limit of 25MB for files, which made it unsuitable for our tests as some files were larger than this. 

The Home and Professional plans, which cost $59.99 and $99.99 on Windows and $69.99 and $99.99 on macOS, come with more useful options, including recovery from virus-infected drives, data from CDs and DVDs, and information due to server corruption. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

Higher tier plans are more expensive, but the Home, Professional, Premium, and Technician plans are competitively priced. (Image credit: Ontrack)

If you need more advanced data recovery features, you can upgrade to the Premium or Technician packages, which cost $109.99 and $199 for either Windows or macOS. 

These plans allow you to repair corrupt photos and videos and make clones of your HDDs or SSDs. The Technician plan comes with a license for commercial use and enables you to recover data from advanced RAID volumes, which are fault-tolerant storage drives.

The Toolkit plan, which is only available on Windows, costs $299. It can perform all of the recovery functions possible with the other plans but works with devices of every kind and can recover corrupt Linux files as well.

All of the prices quoted are for a one year license. For testing purposes we selected Ontrack EasyRecovery Premium, which we felt provided the best balance between price and features. 

The paid versions of Ontrack EasyRecovery can be downloaded on a trial basis but users can only preview files inside the program. In other words recovered data can't be saved to the hard drive. Still, this does allow you to check whether the utility can recover your data before handing over your money. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Features

According to the developer's website, the key features of EasyRecovery are:

Comprehensive data recovery options

You can recover files lost via deletion, reformatting, and other data loss scenarios such as virus attacks and server corruption. With Ontrack EasyRecovery, you can recover data from both internal external drives, including SSDs, conventional hard drives, USB/flash drives, and optical media storage devices.

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

EasyRecovery’s comprehensive feature list makes it a top choice for your data recovery needs.  (Image credit: Ontrack)

Deep scans

The developers claim that you can effectively scan your deleted files to quickly recover them, or opt for a more detailed scan for files that may be more challenging to recover. During our tests (see below) we found that this feature was buggy, as the program stopped working each time we used it, on each of the three drives we tested. 

Easy data management

This application enables you to initiate and execute data integrity and recovery steps at your own pace. You can preplan your system scans, monitor the health of your drives, and rebuild corrupt, damaged, or deleted drives as and when you need to.

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Client and client setup

Apart from the Toolkit plan, which is only available for Windows, all of EasyRecovery’s plans work on Windows and MacOS. In order to get started you only need visit the Ontrack EasyRecovery web page and download your chosen version.

This will download a small installer, which will in turn download additional files. You're then asked to confirm the install location and your chosen language. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

Available on Windows and MacOS, EasyRecovery is a great all-in-one tool for home and business use.  (Image credit: Ontrack)

How we tested 

For our data recovery tests we used a virtual machine with a clean install of Windows 11. The only third-party tools installed besides Ontrack Data Recovery Premium were VLC Media Player and GIMP. 

Data files

The files we chose for recovery are an album of Mozart's Music available from the Internet Archive. 

We did this as we wanted to see how the utility performed with a wide variety of files.The album included 4 music files (2 in Mp3 and 2 in FLAC) format, 6 JPG image files of album covers (with thumbnails) and 4 PNG image files. The files also included 2 XML files, a torrent file and an 'SQLite' file containing details of the album. There were 25 files in total. 

We copied the files in the music album to a 512MB virtual NTFS-formatted hard drive, which was then attached to the Windows 11 virtual machine.

Data tests

The tests were performed one after the other on three separate virtual drives:

1. File deletion: the album files were simply deleted from the drive and the Recycle Bin emptied. No other data was copied to the drive. We then tried to recover the files. 

2. Delete & format: The files were deleted as outlined above and we also performed a 'Quick Format' using the 'Disk Management' utility built into Windows 11. We then tried to recover the files from the formatted partition. 

3. Recover corrupted files: We used the freeware program 'Victoria' to overwrite the volume header of the drive containing the files with zeroes. The drive didn't mount automatically in File Explorer and showed as being unpartitioned in Windows "Disk Management" utility. We then checked if the utility could see it and if so, recover the files. 

We do not believe that running data recovery tools in a virtual environment has a significant effect on how they function. Still, if you're considering buying software we encourage you to read all reviews thoroughly and make sure that the developer offers a refund policy.

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Performance

Upon first launch, Ontrack displays a window with a simple layout stating "Choose What to Recover". From here you can select any and all data or specify a certain type such as photos or e-mails. 

You're next taken to the "Recover From" window where you're asked to select a drive, partition or disk image from where data should be recovered. 

There's an option at the very bottom left to run a "Deep Scan". During our tests we tried to run this each time, only for the utility to become unresponsive once the scan reached 99% whilst trying to read a particularly nasty data cluster.

Regular scans on the other hand ran extremely fast. Our first test on the drive where the files had simply been deleted then emptied from the recycle bin Ontrack EasyRecovery recognized all 25 filenames. 

We were especially impressed with the quick summary once the scan was complete detailing exactly how many files had been recovered and how much data they constituted.

There's a built-in "Preview" feature which not only displays photos but can also play audio and video files. In our first test we found that all of the 25 original files had been restored and could be opened without issue. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

Choose the files or folders you want to scan, recover to a safe and secure drive, and scan and recover multiple file types.  (Image credit: Ontrack)

Our next test on the drive which had been formatted in addition to the files being deleted recovered 13 system files but none of the media files from our test folder.

Our final test was on a drive with a corrupted volume header. Ontrack EasyRecovery's "Recover From" has a "Can't Find Drive" option, which we clicked and the external hard drive was displayed immediately.

On the first scan, the utility was able to restore the lost partition in order for it to be scanned. (We noticed that it still didn't appear in File Explorer however).

We then tried to run a regular scan. Unfortunately this was the point at which the utility became unresponsive, simply saying 0% scanned. We left it this way for around 15 minutes before being forced to exit via Ctrl + Alt + Del.

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Efficiency

Forced quits aside, when it's running properly Ontrack EasyRecovery is light on the system and works very well with a 1GHz processor and 512MB RAM. 

Once installed, Ontrack EasyRecovery Premium's folder took up less than 320MB. This leaves plenty of additional storage space to save your recovered files and folders or create backups of your data. As always, it's wise to install data recovery tools on a different drive or partition to the one from which you're trying to recover files. This way there's less chance of your data being overwritten. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

Small .exe file size, quick installation, and auto-scan options make EasyRecovery an easy tool to use. (Image credit: Ontrack)

Paid versions of Ontrack EasyRecovery such as the Professional and Premium editions also enable you to set up automatic scans, which can use it to passively monitor the health of your hard drives. 

This means you can keep tabs on things without being directly involved in system or risk management. Indeed, regularly scanning to check your hard drive health and making backups using Ontrack EasyRecovery's built-in tools may mean that you don't have to use the data recovery features in future. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Support

Upon visiting the Ontrack website, we couldn't see a dedicated "Support" section. However, when we clicked "Contact" we were pleasantly surprised to see that they're happy to answer general questions via e-mail or the supplied contact form. 

Of all the data recovery specialists we've reviewed, Ontrack certainly is the most international with multiple offices across both the United States and Europe.

There's also a US telephone number offering 24/7 technical support. This is different to the 800 freefone number advertised on their marketing material and it's not clear if the cost of this is included in users' annual licenses or whether support is provided to users of the free version.

The sales page does answer some general FAQs about the software but there's nothing specific about how to perform operations like selecting lost partitions. The FAQs also detail the absolutely colossal number of file types supported by the utility. 

Ontrack EasyRecovery review

Support is available via dedicated lines, a comprehensive FAQ, and easy-to-use job tracking tools (Image credit: Ontrack)

Ontrack EasyRecovery: The competition

Arcserve UDP and MiniTool Data Recovery are two popular alternatives to Ontrack EasyRecovery. Both come with comprehensive file recovery options for events such as accidental deletion, virus attack, and disk failure. Arcserve is more geared toward business clients, and it is great at data recovery in environments that use large volumes of data. It is also very effective at minimizing data loss when it comes to cloud applications.

MiniTool is designed more for at-home or small-business use than it is for corporate settings, and the highest tier plan is, in fact, called Personal Ultimate, with a pricing scheme that changes with the duration of your license and not with any additional features or functionality.

Of the three, Arcserve is the best option for enterprise-grade data recovery, while MiniTool can only be used in private or home settings and EasyRecovery provides a great middle-ground for individuals and small or medium-sized businesses.

Ontrack EasyRecovery: Final verdict

Whether you are a home user, a small business, or a large corporation, Ontrack EasyRecovery can be used to retrieve lost data, recreate damaged or infected photos and videos, extract information from physically damaged devices, and perform deep scans of your system to extract data file by file and block by block. 

It’s easy to use, and the Home, Professional, and Premium plans are competitively priced. It provides a good mix of recovery tools and is an all-round winner in the hard drive data recovery and file recovery spaces.

We've listed the best data recovery service.

GHD Helios review
5:03 pm | March 13, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Hair Care Home Small Appliances | Comments: Off

• Original review date: July 2021
• Still the latest hair dryer from GHD
• Launch price: $279.00 / £159 / AU$280
• Official price now: The same

Updated: February 2024. Rejoice, the GHD Helios is now available in the US and Australia, and remains the best hair dryer we've tested. That should come as no surprise to those familiar with the brand; in the UK, certainly, GHD has long been the champion of haircare. However, next-generation hair technology is getting better, with many companies opting for the Dyson Supersonic-esque technology, utilizing far faster and more powerful motors. The jury's out on if that technology is really worth the lofty price tag; in our opinion, the still relatively expensive GHD Helios offers better value for money. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

It’s been eight years since GHD first entered the hair dryer game – one of the original brands to bring a salon-style, professional hair dryer to the masses with the GHD Air – and a lot has changed.  

There are now dozens of professional dryers from both traditional hair companies and non-traditional firms, which are more well known for vacuums than styling products (Dyson, we’re looking at you). In our GHD Air review, we explained that despite a rise in competition and an improvement in drying technology, GHD’s original hair dryer still more than holds its own and is one of best hair dryers you can buy. Yet, it was starting to show its age. A point that appears to have not gone unnoticed at GHD. 

(Image credit: Future)

Taking what we loved about the GHD Air and fixing a number of the points we didn't, the hair giant has launched the GHD Helios. We’ve been using the £159 hair dryer exclusively for the past fortnight and we’d be as bold to say that we have a new favorite hair dryer – it's high price tag notwithstanding.  

Design

Hair dryers have largely moved away from the black (read: boring) designs that are popular in hairdressers. They have become an accessory, rather than just a tool, and come in a range of colors from bright red to “Fuschia” and beyond. The Helios follows suit, but in a classy, elegant way that we’ve come to expect from GHD. 

(Image credit: Future)

We tested the white and rose gold model and it’s absolutely stunning. It also comes in maroon and gold, black and silver, and navy and black. The different colored versions of GHD Helios’ plastic shell are additionally covered in a thin coating that feels almost like silicone to the touch and this gives the dryer a smooth, luxurious feel.  

Weight-wise, the Helios is lighter than the Air tipping the scales at 780g compared to its predecessor’s 1.54kg. What’s more, where – on paper – it’s heavier than other dryers we’ve tested, the Helios is incredibly well-balanced so it doesn’t feel any more bulky and it isn’t any more difficult to use. There is a downside to this, however. The extra weight on the GHD Air made it feel expensive and sturdy, which helped us to rationalise its high price. The Helios’ light weight, by contrast, feels just like many of the other cheaper hair dryers on the market. A feeling that even its elegant colorways and smooth shell can’t quite counteract. 

(Image credit: Future)

Everything else, including the placement of the two-speed and dual-temperature switches, the cold shot button and the branded grille are almost an exact copy and paste from the Air. 

Performance

GHD claims its Helios is “faster, lighter and quieter” than the Air. We’ve already confirmed it’s lighter, but does it live up to the other claims? Yes – very much so! Its motor is marginally more powerful – up from 2,100w on the Air to 2,200w – and the holes in its grille have apparently been redesigned to reduce noise. It is noticeably less loud in real-world use, and when measured with a decibel meter, it’s a whole two decibels quieter than the Air.  

When it comes to speed, the Helios similarly smashed it out of the park. Not just in comparison to the Air, but when pitted against the drying speeds of every hair dryer we’ve ever tested. Until the Helios, the Dyson Supersonic was the fastest dryer – taking our hair from wet from a shower to completely dry in 2 minutes 6 seconds. The Helios took an entire minute off this time. This meant our hair was rough dried in 1 minute and 6 seconds and is an absolute game changer. 

(Image credit: Future)

 The Helios was similarly a minute and eight seconds faster than the Supersonic at drying our hair after a swim, offering a total dry time of 1 minute and 50 seconds. With the concentrator nozzle attached to the Helios – a nozzle which has been made thinner with a curved edge designed to reduce turbulence – it took us just two minutes and 20 seconds to style our hair. Again, a minute faster than the Dyson Supersonic. 

We didn’t even have to sacrifice hair quality and shine for this improved speed, either. After every use, our hair was almost frizz-free with only minimal flyaways and we never once had to resort to running straighteners over it to complete the look. Two weeks into testing and our hair definitely feels stronger and we’re seeing fewer breakages and less hair loss in the shower. 

There is a but, though. Helios’ lightning speed and precision, which made our hair so smooth and shiny, left it lacking volume. It’s almost as if the flow of air is so powerful, it beats the hair into submission. This was disappointing, particularly when everything else was going so well. 

Verdict

Just as cheaper rivals were starting to catch up on, and overtake, the power and performance of the original Air hair dryer, GHD has come out swinging with the Helios. A dryer that surpassed most of our, already high, expectations and one that we’ve found ourselves gravitating towards over every other hair dryer in our collection. Until the release of the GHD Helios, our go-to dryer was the Dyson Supersonic. This is now in second place. 

Sadly, £159 for a hair dryer will be out of the reach of many people meaning its superior performance is out of reach, too. As a result, the Helios is unlikely to be an impulse buy and will be considered an investment. An investment we highly recommend you make. 

CareCloud Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
9:00 pm | March 12, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

CareCloud focuses on cloud based practice management, serving doctors in fifty different specialties across the US. It started back in 2009, with a headquarters in Miami, Florida, and over 240 employees.  

Growth has been strong with a product entry into the remote area, and record bookings in 2022.E. It is currently used by over 40,000 medical providers, across 70+ specialties in all 50 states.

Features

 CareCloud offers their medical practice management solution under the ‘Practice Management’ banner, designed from the ground up to provide automation from routine activities, which frees up the office manager to do more important things at the practice . While it does provide a medical billing solution which can produce ‘Cleaner claims,’ and also enhances the efficiency of the workflow. It also provides real time analytics to provide information on the productivity of the practice as a business.

It starts with a comprehensive scheduling module that has a simple to use online drag-and-drop interface for patient scheduling of appointments. Incorporated is a multi-view calendar, that is designed to handle the complexities of a modern practice’s workflow in a way that a venerable Day Runner could only dream of, such as insurance verification, automated patient reminders, confirmation of appointments across multiple practice locations, and streamlined check in and out of patients- all to enhance front office staff efficiency. The views are powerful, and flexible, making it simple to see a provider’s appointments- for today, the future, or for prior dates- by the day, week or month. Insurance eligibility can be checked prior to the scheduled appointment, including the details of deductibles, copays and coinsurance, to ensure cash flow to the practice remains steady.

A significant issue at any practice is the denial of claims, which then delays payments, and takes precious time for staff to resubmit. CareCloud incorporates in their CollectiveIQ module, a comprehensive set of advanced, automated billing rules, that ensures submitted claims are ‘Clean claims,’ making them far more likely to not get rejected. Even when claims do inevitably get rejected, CareCloud has your practice covered with collections, so the practice can get paid for its work. In the Collections app, each rejected claim gets listed for the reason of denial, and even claims that were submitted and no action was taken by the payer get listed here as a reminder to followup. By listing denied claims by payer, age, and reason, trends emerge into actionable intelligence to minimize further issues, such as seeing an insurance company that takes an excessive amount to pay, and a decision can be made by the practice to no longer participate when the contract expires.

The Financial workflow app also makes things simpler for the office staff. Claims can be submitted without needing to re enter all the information, as the patient’s demographic information is used to auto-populate fields, which significantly reduces the workload. In addition, there is the ability to lookup codes by both diagnosis and CPT. 

Drawbacks

In terms of medical practice management, CareCloud does cover plenty of needs. One deficit is it lacks the ability to handle inventory management. The medical scheduling function is missing scheduling for on call providers, and has issues with setting up recurring appointments, such as for an annual physical.

User reviews list some issues, which can be frustrating. They include frequent downtimes, and when customer support is contacted they read off a script. Others complain that the analytic reports cannot be customized, that labs are not integrated, and that some feel stuck with a multi-year contract they feel that they were pushed into. 

Support

Support for CareCloud is listed on their website via a single toll free number for phone support. The hours and days of operation are not listed anymore; it was previously business hours on weekdays  It is stated elsewhere that the tech support is US based.

Unfortunately, there is no listed option for an online portal or chat, which can be useful as options for communication is preferred without waiting on hold There is also an email, and a fax number. 

Pricing

(Image credit: CareCloud)

Pricing

CareCloud used to provide pricing for their solution, but that is no longer the case. There are no prices listed on the CareCloud website unfortunately, but rather a custom quote can be generated. While we can appreciate this stance, to customize the price to the solution, we still prefer some pricing upfront, with an idea of the tiers and the additional options available, but there is none to be found here.

The closest that we could find (and not on the website) is that for both the EMR and the Patient Experience Management the cost is $628 per month. While that may not be the current pricing, this still makes it a higher priced option than some other competing solutions.

Also realize that this is not a complete solution, with additional modules available to build this out, and that also will increase the cost. These include Telehealth, Revenue Cycle Management, and on demand remote workers via Workforce Extension.

Finally, keep in mind that it is a free demo, but there is no free tier or free trial to better test drive it prior to purchase.

Final verdict

For a medical practice management service, CareCloud ticks many of the right boxes, with robust scheduling, automated claims scrubbing, and upfront pricing. The higher price, lack of support hours and options, and user issues in reaching their support representative are some areas to be aware of. In summary, CareCloud overall is worthy of a close look, and the free demo is worth investigating how this can serve your practice’s needs.

Ally Invest review
8:50 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Ally Financial is a leading U.S digital financial services company, and is also ranked 19th among the largest banks in the United States. Ally Invest is their investment trading arm, though the name is considerably new in the stockbroker space. In 2016, a service called TradeKing was bought over by the parent company and was rebranded as Ally Invest. Ever since then, new features and benefits have been added to it along with the rebranding, turning it into a professional and reliable investment services platform.

What to expect from Ally Invest?

Since Ally Invest is a full-service firm, it provides diverse options to meet the requirements of investors and industry standards.

Among the key products that it offers are:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds 
  • Options

It also offers managed investments (robo-advice) through a service called Ally Invest Managed Portfolios. Going with the trend in the industry, Ally Invest has removed commissions from most of the U.S exchange-listed stock, options and ETF trades.

Ally Invest 2

(Image credit: Future)

Mobile platform

Ally Invest comes with a browser-based trading platform and does not require you to download any application. This works best for users who work from different locations. Both bank and brokerage can be operated using a single cloud-based application.

Ally also offers apps to trade via mobile devices. These apps are known as Ally Mobile or Ally Forex. These apps are custom mobile trading platform and are available for both Android and iOS. The apps offer similar features compared to the web-based platform.

While these apps offer most of the functionalities, they are not the among the best available in the business.

Tools

Ally Invest provides a range of different tools to help traders, such as:

  • Streaming Charts
  • Market and Company Snapshots 
  • Watch lists
  • Profit and loss calculator
  • Probability calculator
  • Market data and Options Chains

Accounts

As of now Ally Invest only allows users from the United States to sign up on the platform While the required minimum deposit to open an account at Ally Invest is $0, minimum deposit for various accounts can be found below:

  • Brokerage account $0
  • Managed Portfolio: $100
  • Forex Account $250
  • Margin account $2000

Ally Invest doesn't charge for trading in stocks and ETFs. For Options Trading, they have the tiered commission plans which can be availed at a slightly lesser fee based on the volume.

Ally Invest 3

(Image credit: Future)

Signing up for an Ally Invest Account is easy - just go to their homepage and click Open Account. The process of signup requires that a user makes a decision on what type of account they need. The system takes you through an automated process once you decide.

The different account types that are offered include:

  • Individual
  • Joint accounts
  • Business accounts
  • Retirement accounts (Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, etc.)
  • Education Savings Account
  • Pension accounts
  • Custodial account
  • Managed Portfolios

Accounts can be funded via check, ACH or wire transfer. Ally Invest doesn’t charge for funding an account and doesn’t offer an option of funding through wallets, credit cards or debit cards. ACH withdrawals are free but wire transfers are chargeable at $30.

Talking about trading charges, while online stock options and ETF trades are available at zero commission, Options Trades are available at $0.50 per contract. The $9.95 mutual fund trades from Ally Invest are lower when compared to any other full-service brokerage. Because of its charges, Ally Invest is not a ideal for penny stock trading.

Support

One of the highlights is that Ally Invest provides 24/7 customer support via a telephone helpline, email or live chat. 

Final verdict

Since Ally Invest is a full-service online brokerage platform, you can use it as a regular trading platform or even use it’s Enhanced Managed Portfolio to manage your funds.

A wide range of services and zero fees makes Ally Invest one of the better platforms to trade on. However, negatives include that it only allows trading in US markets, and the lack of physical offices might put some users off.

TD Ameritrade review
1:02 pm | March 9, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

TD Ameritrade is one of the prominent brokerages – no matter whether you are a beginner in the investment arena or even an advanced investor. It recently eliminated the commissions and has become one of the highly prominent choices for online stock, ETF trading, and other trading instruments.

Some of the features that it offers you include zero commission, an exceptional set of tools and products, comprehensive research, and a no account minimum.

What is TD Ameritrade all about?

TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage platform based out of Omaha, Nebraska. The company has grown into a considerable investment portal with a wide range of acquisitions and mergers. It does offer investments in just about every type of vehicle, and that includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.

It provides a combination for both online and mobile trading platform for investors. It also has a comprehensive set of research tools that can be helpful enough in building confidence for the least experienced investors. The tool provides you access to a host of investment analysis tools.

TD Ameritrade aims to work just as well for both new investors and established ones, because of both the zero minimum account as well as the extensive array of research and guidance on how to build your portfolio. 

TD Ameritrade 2

(Image credit: Future)

Features

Some of the features offered by the AD Ameritrade include the following –

  • Commission-free trading – TD Ameritrade provides commission-free trading for a host of trading instruments. In 2019, the company decided to cut down the commission. Some trades, however, come under a fee format of $0.65. There are over 4100 mutual funds, and all ETFs are available for free.
  • Investor Education – The digital education offerings available through the service are comprehensive. There is plenty of educational content in the form of videos, articles, slideshows, and quizzes. The platform also offers you reports from resources such as Morningstar, Credit Suisse, CFRA, The Street, and many others.
  • Visual Trading Simulator – This is basically designed for use for the likes of advanced and frequent traders. The service is available through the mobile trader app and the other platforms offered by TD Ameritrade.
  • Portfolio analysis and reports – Ameritrade provides you access to highly customizable portfolio analysis. The service is available both on its trading platform and the thinkorswim platform. You can even consolidate external accounts for a good look at your assets.
  • Mobile Trading – TD Ameritrade offers not one, but two specialized mobile apps in tune with its two trading platforms. This can go a long way in enhancing your experience in terms of improved trading experience. Mobile trading made simple; the apps work as a perfect extension of the online platform.

The platform offers you tradability across the following securities –

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • ETFs
  • Futures
  • Forex
  • Foreign ADRs
  • IPOs for qualified accounts

TD Ameritrade 3

(Image credit: Future)

The customer support offered by TD Ameritrade is comprehensive. Being one of the promising investment organizations in the US, it has set up an extensive customer support network. 

The customer service can be reached through the chat option on mobile and online platforms. The 300 branches across all states will ensure the option of in-person assistance in case your issues are not addressed by the phone, email, or chat support. Support is also available on the following channels Monday to Friday 7 am to 6 pm: text, Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct message, Apple Business Chat, and Amazon Alexa.

As stated before, TD Ameritrade provides you access to two mobile apps – the TD Ameritrade Mobile app and TD Ameritrade Trader app. These are designed for standard and thinkorswim platforms. However, note that TD Ameritrade Mobile apps are only available on iOS. The mobile apps mimic each of the desktop features and offer practical functionality on the go.

TD Ameritrade 4

(Image credit: Future)

You can opt for a multiplicity of accounts with the platform. Each of the account types is formatted for your exact requirements 

  • Standard accounts – You can have both individual and joint accounts with TD Ameritrade and gain access to comprehensive products
  • Retirement accounts – These would include IRA, Roth IRA, or Rollover IRA accounts. They can be well suited for taking care of your retirement goals
  • Education Accounts – Want to save for education? You can opt for state qualified 529 plans and similar
  • Managed Portfolios – A highly tailored investment portfolio managed by the professionals. The plans are backed by the experience of TD Ameritrade Investment Management

The above accounts apart, you can also have access to Specialty accounts and margin trading as well.

Who is TD Ameritrade suitable for?

Well, the online brokerage platform is suitable for a wide range of investors. No matter what level of experience you have, the platform offers something for you :

  • Beginner investors
  • Advanced traders
  • Investor education/advice
  • Commission-free trades
  • Fund investors

Final verdict

With no commission on stock, ETF, and other trades, it does offer an impressive set of tools for investors. The portfolio building guidance, courses, and high-end research are a few great features that should make it especially useful to learn the basics of investment.

Robinhood review
7:14 pm | March 6, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Comments: Off

Robinhood was the first mobile-investing app to offer commission-free investment in the US. Almost every other company followed them to make the investment process easier and affordable for all.

Even though it was founded in 2013, Robinhood has been able to create a solid base of over 10 million users transacting on its platform. Its biggest USP is the fact that it allows free trading in stocks, options and ETFs via a smartphone-based platform.

It allows users to trade in over 3500 US stocks including the likes of Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, Netflix and many more. It has access to stocks listed on Nasdaq and NYSE.

Robinhood also plans to offer savings accounts to the customers along with a higher interest rate, all this again for free.

How to invest via Robinhood

While Robinhood aims to be a mobile-first company, investors can use the web platform as well to invest in their preferred options. It offers a wide variety of investment options such as stocks, ETFs, Gold and Crypto. The best part is that trading in all these options is absolutely free, including Options trading, which normally is chargeable with other platforms. However, you cannot invest in mutual funds, bonds or even futures trading at the moment. 

Among other features, Robinhood doesn’t charge you for selling your investments or even transferring the money to your bank account. It does, however, charge a fee of $75 to let you transfer your account to some other broker or platform. This fee is not uncommon and most brokers levy such a charge to demotivate you from switching.

Adding funds to your Robinhood account is simple and quick too. You can add funds the moment your account is activated. It offers instant verification with the bank to facilitate quicker transfer of funds. Up to $1000 can be added to your account instantly while any amount more than that takes a few days to process. 

Since the service is targeted at digital natives, there is no limitation of minimum amount to get started with. To open a margin trading account, you need to have a minimum portfolio of $2000, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority regulation applicable on all traders. 

One of the most unique parts here is that Robinhood offers yield on the amount lying in your account. This can be compared to the interest offered by the banks in savings accounts. Although the rate fluctuates based on the interest rates, it is indeed a bonus for keeping some extra funds in your account.

RobinHood 2

(Image credit: RobinHood)

As mentioned earlier, Robinhood offers Options trading without any fees or contracts or any commissions. This is generally for experienced traders and Robinhood offers filters and trade strategies to help traders. 

Another program that the company offers is called Robinhood Gold. It allows you to invest in securities using borrowed money or margin. Under this program, the broker offers research and exclusive quotes on over 1700 companies and access to margin loans. This is a paid-for service and is available at a monthly fee of $5. 

This fee includes the interest of the first $1000 borrowed from Robinhood. Any loan amount beyond $1000 is charged at 5% annual interest rate. To get upgraded to Robinhood Gold you need to have a deposit of minimum $2000 in your account.

Since Robinhood offers almost every thing for free, it does cut some corners which might impact users, especially the ones who are just starting. Limited research information or investor education is one such factor which might be a big trade-off for a starter. Though an experienced investor might not have to worry much about self education.

Robinhood Snack is the company blog that you can subscribe to in case you want to read some interesting editorials, which have some easy to understand daily market summaries.

Trading on Robinhood

The Robinhood mobile app is easy to use and offers everything that you need from any basic trading application. You get a watch list, charts, quotes, charts and analyst rating apart from news. Since this is a no-frills trading option, the features are fairly simple and offers you very limited information like last price and change in percentage, etc. Unlike other platforms, users are allowed to create just one watch list.

The mobile app does not support horizontal layout, thus limiting the information available to you in one glance while using it in a vertical layout. The next biggest drawback of the application is that until you put money into a particular stock, you can’t set price alerts for that stock. This is not the most ideal way to monitor stocks.

Users will find similar options on both the mobile app or the website. Since the service targets young users, the layout is minimal and easy to understand.

RobinHood 3

(Image credit: Future)

Support

Robinhood offers support via email only. Users are expected to use the self-help resources that are available via the FAQs listed on the website. Should you still need a human response to a query, then you can send an email to the support team. The lack of telephone support is almost certainly because of the service being free.

However, on that point, one way Robinhood does make money includes selling some of your data, as well as paid gold membership, rebates from market makers and trading venues, income generated from cash and other mediums like a stock loan, and Interchange fees. Many seasoned traders may have an issue with their information getting sold to companies.

Final verdict

Robinhood is able to attract the young and new investors with its zero-charge model. However, like all no-frills service come with some compromises, and Robinhood is no exception. 

Netpeak Spider review
6:39 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Netpeak Spider is an SEO tool that performs SEO audits and website analysis. During this, it highlights many critical errors, such as broken links, duplicate content, and issues with titles and meta descriptions. Plus, its comprehensive reporting capabilities make it an essential tool for SEO audits, competitor analysis, and routine website maintenance. 

Netpeak has distinguished its services in two broad categories. First, the Netpeak Spider is responsible for running SEO audits and generating crawling results within minutes. Next, the Netpeak Crawler does an in-depth check on any given URL. It runs various parameters on the website by integrating different industry services, including Moz, SimilarWeb, Ahrefs, Serpstat, Google Analytics, and many more. 

But is it going to help you during your SEO studies? Will it justify its cost? Does it stand tall against its competitors in the crowded SEO market? Don’t worry. We’ll answer all of these and many more queries in this detailed review of Netpeak Spider. So, let’s get started.

Netpeak Spider: Plans and pricing

Netpeak Spider pricing

(Image credit: Netpeak Spider)

Netpeak Spider’s paid plans provide powerful instruments for SEO audit, crawling, scraping, sitemap validation, research, analysis, and more, making it a valuable tool for a wide range of SEO tasks and projects. It offers three main subscription plans to meet the needs and budgets of different users. These plans are available for both Windows and macOS (currently in beta).

Starter Plan

This plan starts from $7 per month (billed annually at $84) and is ideal for freelancers and marketers working with small websites. This plan allows you to crawl websites and check for over 100 technical issues, delivering comprehensive SEO audits. It supports JavaScript rendering for accurate page analysis, quick search for efficient data navigation, and data filtering & segmentation for detailed analysis. You can even save and copy data for reporting purposes, utilize a multi-window mode for multitasking, and access built-in tools for custom website scraping and data extraction. 

Advanced Plan

Next up is the advanced plan which starts at $12 per month (billed annually at $144) and is ideal for SEO professionals working with larger websites. The Advanced Plan includes everything present in the starter plan. It further increases the number of crawling threads to 20, which significantly boosts your website audit speed. Plus, it supports unlimited URLs that would help you conduct extensive SEO analysis across larger websites.

Pro Bundle

The Pro bundle is $22 per month (billed annually at $264) and is ideal for SEO agencies and in-house teams. The Pro Bundle maximizes SEO analysis and crawling capabilities with up to 200 crawling threads that give you rapid audits of very large websites or multiple projects simultaneously. It also offers usage on two devices for a single user account, improving the flexibility of the package and making collaborations easier during analysis. This bundle includes all the features available in the Advanced plan, such as unlimited URL support, comprehensive SEO audit tools, custom scraping, and data extraction capabilities, making it the most comprehensive package for SEO agencies and in-house teams.

Netpeak Spider: Features

Netpeak Spider offers many valuable features for website auditing and crawling. Let’s examine them in more detail.

Integration with Google

The integration of Netpeak Spider with Google Analytics and Search Console is an impressive feature. It adds valuable user behavior metrics from Google Analytics to website audit data. This means that you not only identify technical SEO issues but also gain insights into traffic, goals, and conversions. Plus, if you run an e-commerce store, it even includes dedicated parameters that can help you audit such websites. 

Similarly, its integration with Google Drive and Sheets lets you effortlessly export reports directly to Google Sheets. This is very useful if you wish to share them with your team members or clients. For this, conduct a website audit, export the report as a PDF to Google Drive, and then simply share its link. This feature simplifies the report-sharing process, eliminates unnecessary steps, and enhances collaboration, as team members can access and edit the data in real-time.

Simplified Source Code and HTTP Headers Check-Up

Netpeak makes it much easier to inspect a page's backend details. Generally, users had to open a page in a browser to examine its source code. But with Netpeak Spider's built-in feature, you can now check a link's HTTP request and response headers, redirects, and extracted text without HTML code, and that too with just a few clicks. This is especially useful for quickly identifying redirect chains or server response issues, all of which are vital for SEO. 

Enhanced Internal PageRank Calculator

Another impressive feature of Netpeak is its internal PageRank calculator. It provides in-depth insights into a website's internal linking structure. You can analyze how link equity is distributed among pages, identify pages with high link value, and find those that are being overlooked. This will help you optimize your internal linking strategies. 

PDF Optimization Quality Audit

The SEO audit software from Netpeak Spider is highly effective. It quickly analyzes a website's optimization quality and presents the results in a clear and easy-to-read PDF format. The software goes beyond just providing raw data; it also visualizes the data through diagrams and charts, making it easy to understand the report at a glance. 

SEO Audit Reports with White Labelling

The white-label reporting feature lets you generate comprehensive SEO audit reports with a personalized touch. These reports can include your company's logo, contact details, and even customized recommendations from experts. This feature is powerful for pre-sales, as it not only demonstrates your analytical capabilities but also strengthens your brand identity. It adds a level of professionalism and customization to your service offering, making it perfect for client presentations and reports.

Personalized Website Data Scraping and Extraction 

The website scraping tool in Netpeak Spider is highly adaptable, letting you extract specific data from websites. You can set up to 15 different conditions and choose from four search types, including contains, Regexp, XPath, and CSS. You can customize the scraper to gather various data, such as contact details, social media metrics, competitor prices, and content. This feature is beneficial for market analysis, competitor research, and content strategy.

Complex Site Structure Analysis

Netpeak Spider provides a comprehensive breakdown of the site's structure based on link segments, giving valuable insights into the distribution of URLs across different levels. What sets this tool apart is its ability to filter data by specific site areas, enabling targeted analysis. Plus, it’s extremely useful for identifying structural issues or opportunities within a website. Whether the site is small or a complex multi-level platform, Netpeak offers a clear overview of the architectural layout, which is crucial for strategic planning.

Working with Heavy Data and Export 

Netpeak Spider excels in using RAM efficiently. With JavaScript rendering turned on, it uses 3x less RAM than other tools, and without rendering, it uses an impressive 8x less RAM. This efficiency is crucial for handling huge datasets without slowing down your system. Likewise, the process of exporting data is simple and flexible. After crawling a website, you can export the reports in various formats like CSV, XLSX, and PDF with just a few clicks. This feature provides versatility and ease for analyzing or presenting data to clients. 

Furthermore, the tool's internal database manages a large number of URLs, making it ideal for SEO professionals working with extensive websites. You can even analyze links, redirects, images, and more directly within the tool, eliminating the need for external exports. This will save you time and enhance the tool's ability to handle heavy data loads effectively.

Netpeak Spider: Interface and in-use

Netpeak Spider 2

(Image credit: Netpeak Software)

Netpeak Spider is designed to make SEO analysis efficient and customizable. Its data filters and segmentation capabilities are exceptional and let you analyze large amounts of data with accuracy. This segmentation is vital for targeted analysis and makes the tool adaptable to different SEO needs. Additionally, the real-time interactive dashboard provides a dynamic overview of crawling data, keeping you informed and engaged. 

Plus, the crawling settings management feature gives you full control over the crawling process, allowing you to optimize each crawl according to specific site requirements. Lastly, the inclusion of templates for filters, parameters, and segments saves a significant amount of time and ensures consistent standards across projects. Overall, Netspeak’s interface is super user-friendly and is quite efficient in delivering its toolset in a very neat layout.

Netpeak Spider: Support

Netpeak Spider 4

(Image credit: Netpeak Spider)

Unfortunately, you don’t get any call support or live chat support with Netpeak. All you get is a chatbot that simply googles your queries and is not very useful. However, they have ticket support where you can raise your query, and Netspeak’s team will revert with a solution. During our tests, we got a response from their team after a couple of hours. However, if you want instant support, you can contact their team via mail at customercare@netpeaksoftware.com. Moreover, they have an extensive Knowledge Base that has plenty of information about Netpeak Spider. It covers everything from basic functions to advanced features, making it an essential resource for both beginners and experienced users.

Netpeak Spider: The competition

As an SEO crawler, Netpeak Spider faces tough competition from established agencies. Screaming Frog, for example, provides many of the same features in its free plan, while its Premium plan is still more affordable than the cheapest Netpeak Spider subscription at £149 (roughly $195) per year.

Data segmentation is the main advantage of Netpeak Spider over similar applications. It’s one of the only SEO crawlers with powerful segmentation tools that narrow down reporting and gather more valuable data.

Netspeak Spider: Final verdict

The thing we love about Netpeak Spider is that it keeps updating its suite. The users can now own a lifetime license, apart from their subscription plans. Plus, now it supports both Mac (Beta) and Windows. Moreover, it also integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics and Search Console. And, even after adaptability and UI issues, features like organized data display and customization options remain a plus point. Similarly, despite being a bit pricier, its ability to provide detailed competitor analysis and compare backlink statistics in a single glance impressed us. Overall, we find Netpeak Spider a solid choice for individuals looking to enhance their SEO toolkit with advanced website auditing and crawling. 

Shopify review 2024: Ecommerce website builder tested by our experts
9:41 pm | March 4, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

In our Shopify review, we’ll dive deep into one of the best website builders and most popular e-commerce platforms on the market. 

So, if you're thinking about using Shopify for your online store, you're in the right place. It's an all-in-one platform crafted to assist users in efficiently creating and managing their online stores, even if they have no coding or design background.

As trusted experts in website builders and e-commerce platforms, we've rigorously tested Shopify's features, performance, and user-friendliness to offer you reliable insights and recommendations. Whether you're a small business owner, international seller, or new to e-commerce, our Shopify review is here to guide you towards making an informed decision.

We'll delve into everything from Shopify's sales features to its ease of use, pricing, design options, and marketing tools. You'll discover Shopify's strengths, like its integrated tools for customer communication and sales optimization, as well as any potential drawbacks, such as transaction fees and feature limitations.

So, let's explore what Shopify brings to the table and determine if it's the perfect fit for your online store dreams.

Shopify stores: Selling online

Shopify starting page screenshot

Getting started on Shopify is a simple process.  (Image credit: Shopify)

You’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of e-commerce and you're considering Shopify as your platform of choice, right? Let’s go through the process of creating your online store and explore the suite of e-commerce features that Shopify has to offer.

Right from the start, we’ve appreciated how Shopify simplifies the process of setting up an online store. With its intuitive interface and beginner-friendly website design tools, getting started is a breeze. Once you’ve selected one of over 160 professional-looking themes, you can easily customize your site to your liking with Shopify's drag-and-drop editor.

Next, it's time to add your products or services. Shopify makes this process super simple, allowing you to upload product images, set prices, and write compelling descriptions with ease. We found Shopify Magic particularly helpful here as this AI tool generates product descriptions for you, saving you time and energy.

As keeping track of inventory becomes crucial, Shopify offers robust inventory management tools to help you stay organized. We like the ability to assign inventory to multiple locations, including retail stores and warehouses, and track inventory levels for product variants.

Arranging shipping for your products is made simple with Shopify's shipping solutions. It’s easy to set up shipping options, whether you're offering flat-rate, free, or calculated shipping. Plus, Shopify integrates seamlessly with popular shipping apps and carriers, ensuring competitive shipping rates.

Another essential for converting visitors into customers is a seamless checkout experience and Shopify delivers with its customizable checkout process. You can personalize the checkout cart with your brand colors and fonts, creating a more consistent shopping experience for your customers.

Thinking about embracing a point-of-sale (POS) system? Shopify's POS app can turn any mobile device into a sales tool, allowing us to accept payments, issue refunds, and manage inventory on the go. Whether at a pop-up event or a retail store, Shopify POS keeps the sales and inventory synced across all channels.

Screenhot of Shopify payment options

Being able to pick from a host of payment providers makes it easy for your customers to buy from you.  (Image credit: Shopify)

To simplify the online payment process you can utilize Shopify Payments, Shopify's own payment service. Plus, by using Shopify Payments, you can avoid transaction fees and support multiple currencies, providing a hassle-free checkout experience for your customers.

All in all, Shopify equips online sellers with everything they need to succeed in the competitive e-commerce landscape. Now, let’s take a look at other important Shopify features and tools.

Other Shopify features and tools

As you probably suspect by now, when you start your online store journey with Shopify, you're not just getting a simple website builder. Instead, you're tapping into a toolbox filled with powerful features and tools that can make running your e-commerce store smoother and supercharge your online presence.

Shopify themes

screenshot of shopify theme page

Shopify has a large range of stunning templates, but only a handful are free to use.  (Image credit: Shopify)

Shopify offers a rich collection of themes tailored to enhance your brand's identity and engage your audience. Whether you choose one of the 12 free themes or invest in one of over 160 premium options, which range in price from $140 to $400 each, you're bound to find one that aligns with your vision. What's more, if you don't find exactly what you're looking for, each Shopify theme is customizable, allowing you to tweak everything from colors and fonts to layout and buttons.

Furthermore, Shopify themes aren't just visually appealing - they're also highly functional. Each theme is designed to be mobile-responsive, ensuring that your store looks and performs flawlessly on any device, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

However, it's important to note that while Shopify offers a wide variety of themes, the selection tends to favor premium options. While there are free themes available that can certainly kickstart your e-commerce journey, the choices are somewhat limited compared to the paid options.

Shopify website editor

Sceenshot of shopify website editor

Although your website will be structured around a template, Shopify's website editor makes it easy to customize it, making it your own.  (Image credit: Shopify)

Crafting your store's design is simplified with Shopify's intuitive drag-and-drop website editor. Whether you're adjusting images, editing text, or featuring your logo, the editing interface provides the flexibility and control you need to create a captivating storefront. The drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to rearrange elements on your site, allowing for swift and seamless customization.

In terms of ease of use, Shopify website builder is generally straightforward and accessible to users of all experience levels. The drag-and-drop interface eliminates the need for coding or technical know-how, making it easy for beginners to build professional-looking websites.

However, some users may find navigating through the separate dashboard for managing product listings and other backend tasks slightly awkward, specifically when transitioning between different aspects of store management.

Despite any minor awkwardness, the Shopify website editor offers a range of helpful and useful features to enhance your online store.

Domains

When you start your Shopify store, you automatically get a Shopify-branded domain like “yourstorename.myshopify.com”. It's functional, but if you want to step up your game and look like a pro, you'll probably want a custom domain. Also, Shopify charges $15 per year for the domain, which is pretty pocket-friendly. Likewise, domains with extensions like “.store” or “.shop” are also affordable compared to competitors.

Screenshot of shopify domain options

Upgrading to a dedicated domain will help build trust amongst your visitors.  (Image credit: Shopify)

Getting a custom domain for Shopify stores is straightforward. You can purchase one straight from the Shopify platform by going to your dashboard, navigating to settings, selecting domains, and choosing to buy a new domain. Once you've got your domain, you'll just need to connect it to your Shopify store.

With a custom domain, you'll boost your brand more easily and build trust with your customers.

AI tools: Shopify Magic and Sidekick

screenshot of Shopify AI tools in use

AI tools are a great way to automate repetitive tasks such as creating descriptions.  (Image credit: Shopify)

Expanding on Shopify's latest AI innovations, let's dive into the world of Shopify Magic and Sidekick. These AI-powered tools are designed to revolutionize the way you manage your store and engage with your customers.

First up, Shopify Magic. This AI-powered tool takes the headache out of crafting compelling product descriptions. By simply inputting a few product details, Shopify Magic works its magic to generate captivating descriptions, saving you time and effort in content creation.

Now, you can think of Sidekick as your AI assistant, ready to support you with a wide range of tasks, helping you streamline your business operations. From setting up discounts and promotions to creating insightful reports, Sidekick is there to lend a helping hand. Want to analyze sales data to identify trends and opportunities? Sidekick has you covered.

Shopify Magic and Sidekick are designed to streamline tasks, potentially saving you precious time while helping you make smart decisions to fuel business growth. However, it's worth noting that, like any technology, these tools may not be perfect right off the bat and will need some tweaking along the way.

Shopify app store

screenshot of Shopify app store

Shopify's app store makes it easy to extend the functionality of your online store.  (Image credit: Shopify)

The Shopify App Store provides a vast collection of apps and third-party extensions to enhance your store's capabilities. With over 8,000 apps available, you'll surely find solutions for every aspect of your e-commerce business, from marketing and promotion to inventory management and customer support.

The strength of the Shopify App Store lies in its diversity. Whether you're looking to streamline your checkout process, implement loyalty programs, or integrate with popular marketing platforms, there's an app to fit your needs.

Exploring the app store, we found a treasure trove of checkout apps, each offering unique ways to elevate your store's checkout experience. With almost 30 options available, we were thrilled to discover features such as upsell and cross-sell suggestions, age verification tools, and post-purchase surveys.

We were also impressed by Shopify's seamless integration with popular marketing apps like Mailchimp and Klaviyo, offering a robust set of tools to boost your marketing efforts. From crafting compelling email campaigns to running targeted social media ads and analyzing customer insights, these apps can aid in engaging with your audience effectively.

However, while many apps in the Shopify App Store come with no upfront costs, as we delved deeper into the ecosystem, we found that the cumulative costs of paid features can accumulate swiftly.

Website security

When it comes to keeping your online store safe and secure, Shopify has you covered. All Shopify plans come with SSL security, which encrypts data passing between your customer and your website. This is crucial for protecting sensitive information, such as payment details, from hackers.

Another important aspect of security is PCI compliance, and Shopify is Level 1 PCI DDS compliant. This might sound like a mouthful of legal jargon, but it essentially means that your store meets the necessary security standards for processing credit and debit card details.

One of the advantages of using a hosted solution like Shopify is that keeping your site secure is largely Shopify's responsibility, not yours. Unlike self-hosted platforms where you have to manage core software and plugin updates yourself, Shopify takes care of these updates in the background. This means you can be at ease knowing that your site is always up-to-date with the latest security patches.

What's more, Shopify has a strong fraud detection system in place to prevent card testing and account takeover fraud. They also use an alert system to notify customers and account managers of potential security threats, allowing you to take prompt action to secure your accounts.

Shopify pricing: Is Shopify good value for money?

Shopify procing page screenshot

Shopify offers several packages to pick from, which is right for you will depend on the size of your store.  (Image credit: Shopify)

When it comes to Shopify pricing, you might be wondering if there's a free option or at least a trial period to test things out. Well, while Shopify doesn't offer a forever-free plan, they do give you a 3-day free trial to get a feel for the platform before committing.

As for Shopify plans, there are three main ones: “Basic”, “Shopify”, and “Advanced”, where each plan has its own set of features and price points, catering to different needs and budgets.

Starting with the “Basic” plan at $29 per month (billed yearly), it's great for those just setting up their first online store. Despite the name, it gives you everything you need to get up and running smoothly, like unlimited products and basic reporting.

If you're ready to take things up a notch, the “Shopify” plan at $79 per month (billed yearly) might be more your speed. It offers lower transaction fees, better reporting tools, and more staff accounts, making it perfect for small businesses and international sellers looking to spring up.

Now, if you're running a bigger operation with an established customer base, the “Advanced” plan at $299 (billed yearly) per month could be the way to go. It comes with all the features of the Shopify plan, plus some extras like custom reporting and more staff accounts.

Moreover, Shopify offers four additional specialized plans tailored to suit specific types of businesses:

The "Starter" plan at just $5 per month (billed yearly) is perfect for sellers who have already established their audience on social media platforms or messaging apps. With this plan, you can instantly start selling through these channels or set up a small online store hassle-free.

Next up, we have the "Retail" plan priced at $89 per month (billed yearly), specially crafted for businesses focusing on in-person selling. This plan comes packed with advanced staff, inventory, and loyalty features, making it the go-to choice for businesses with physical storefronts.

Looking for exceptional value and growth opportunities? "Shopify Plus" starts at $2300 per month (billed yearly) and is tailored for high-growth businesses. Offering advanced features and personalized support, Shopify Plus is your key to efficiently scaling your business to new heights.

Lastly, "Enterprise commerce" offers custom pricing plans designed to meet the unique needs of large-scale operations. With a focus on agility, deployment speed, and performance, this plan ensures seamless support for your enterprise-level business.

Sure, Shopify's pricing might seem a bit steep compared to some other options out there, but when you consider all the features and support you're getting, it's worth it. Plus, they offer additional add-ons for in-person sales and high-volume stores with specialized needs. And if you want more detailed info on Shopify's pricing and plans, you can check out their pricing page.

Shopify help and support

With Shopify, you'll find a solid range of support options. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced e-commerce entrepreneur, Shopify offers comprehensive support channels to ensure you have the help you need when you need it.

One of the main selling points of Shopify's support system is its round-the-clock availability. Regardless of the time zone you're in, you can access support 24/7 through various channels, including phone support, live chat, social media, and email. This means you'll get much-needed assistance promptly, even during weekends or late at night when you're burning the midnight oil to work on your store.

screenshot of shopify support page

24/7 support is helpful for online stores that sell 24/7. (Image credit: Shopify)

At the Shopify Help Center, you'll find an abundance of information from step-by-step guides to troubleshooting articles - a wide range of topics to address common questions and concerns. However, some users may find the step-by-step instructions a bit confusing, especially when directed to the app store without further guidance.

For those seeking more personalized assistance, Shopify offers advanced specialist support, particularly beneficial for “Shopify Plus” users. With this level of support, you'll have your own dedicated support agent who will help you address any specific needs and challenges.

It's worth noting that Shopify's customer support extends across multiple languages, ensuring accessibility for users worldwide, although the availability of support in other languages may vary depending on your location.

Shopify's support services are pretty good, but it can sometimes be a bit of a hassle to get in touch with their support team. You often have to search through their help pages to find a solution to your problem before you can even access their contact details. While this approach is common, it can be a bit annoying for those who need help right away.

Shopify: What’s not included? What could be better?

While Shopify is a superb choice for setting up online stores, there are a few areas where it could be even better.

For starters, Shopify relies quite a bit on third-party apps to add extra features. Unlike some other platforms like Wix, which come with more built-in tools, you might find yourself adding several apps to match your store's needs. While this gives you flexibility, it can also mean more costs since many apps come with a price tag.

Another thing to consider is Shopify's transaction fees. Unless you use Shopify Payments, which they prefer, you'll end up paying extra on top of your regular payment gateway fees. This can eat into your profits, particularly if you're just starting out. So, while Shopify plans might seem affordable at first, don't forget about those extra expenses. Transaction fees and the cost of third-party apps can add up swiftly, making Shopify potentially pricier than you bargained for.

Plus, there aren't as many free themes on Shopify compared to the paid ones. It'd be nice to see more free options, especially if you're on a budget or just starting your ecommerce journey.

When you look at Shopify compared to Squarespace and Wix, each has its pros and cons. Squarespace has sleek designs, Wix offers a free plan and lots of templates, but Shopify shines with its e-commerce focus and tons of integrations.

So, while Shopify is a top choice for many, there's still room for improvement, especially in making things more affordable and less dependent on extra apps.

Shopify review: Final thoughts

As we wrap up our Shopify review, this all-in-one solution emerges as one of the best website builders for agencies and entrepreneurs venturing into the e-commerce realm. Throughout our journey, we've come to appreciate Shopify's dedication to customer support, ensuring that a helping hand is always just a click away. We've also found the platform's commitment to website security reassuring, with features like SSL encryption and PCI compliance providing peace of mind for both businesses and their customers.

However, we must mention a few areas where Shopify could improve. While it offers a wealth of features, we found that relying on third-party apps for certain functionalities can lead to higher costs. Additionally, transaction fees may eat into your profits, especially if you opt for non-Shopify payment gateways. Despite these drawbacks, we believe that Shopify's benefits far outweigh its limitations.

To recap, our experience with Shopify has been overpoweringly positive. We were impressed by its user-friendly interface, extensive theme collection, and the wide array of apps available to boost store functionality. If you're considering Shopify for your e-commerce venture, we encourage you to take advantage of the free trial to explore its features firsthand. Once you've had a chance to delve deeper into Shopify's offerings, you can choose the plan that best suits your business needs and budget.

Shopify review: FAQs

Is Shopify good for agencies?

Yes, Shopify is one of the best website builders for agencies. Its robust e-commerce platform offers a wide range of features and customization options, making it suitable for building and managing online stores for clients. Additionally, Shopify's partner program provides agencies with resources and tools to streamline client management and boost their businesses.

Is Shopify best for building online stores?

We've found Shopify to be one of the top choices for creating online stores. 

It's easy-to-navigate interface, wide selection of apps, and robust e-commerce capabilities make it a go-to platform for anyone looking to start or grow their online business. Whether you're just kicking off your small business, pushing forward as an entrepreneur, or running a large enterprise, Shopify delivers the kind of scalability and flexibility you’ll want to thrive online.

What can you sell on Shopify?

Shopify supports the sale of a wide variety of products and services, ranging from physical goods like clothing, electronics, and home decor to digital products such as ebooks, software, and online courses. In addition to this, Shopify allows merchants to sell services, subscriptions, memberships, and even event tickets. With its all-purpose platform and integrated payment solutions, Shopify provides the tools and resources you’ll need to sell virtually anything online.

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