MEGA vs Dropbox: head-to-head review

MEGA vs DropboxMEGA and Dropbox are cloud storage services that let you access your files anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

They both have similar features, such as file sharing and synchronization.  MEGA is a bit new to to the cloud storage industry, having been launched in January 2013.  Dropbox has been in business since 2008, giving it a 5 year lead.

Which should you choose to store and share your files?  I’ll take a look at these two services in this head-to-head comparison.

Ease of Use

Winner: Dropbox

With Dropbox, there’s only one folder.  Put stuff in your Dropbox folder, and it syncs to the cloud and all your other devices.  It’s as simple as that.

MEGA is slightly more involved.  You can choose which folders to sync on your hard drive.  There are more options in the sync client and web interface, while Dropbox takes a minimalist approach.  For instance, if you right click on a file in MEGA you’ll get an option to add a star, view properties, and download as a ZIP.  Dropbox doesn’t have any of that.

It’s also easier to restore deleted and changed files in Dropbox.  You can right-click a file and select Previous Versions, or click the Show Deleted Files button at the top of the screen.  MEGA puts deleted files and previous versions in a “Rubbish” bin.  The folders are organized by date, but there’s no clear organization for the files within the folders.  It’s more difficult to choose the correct file to restore with MEGA.

I was impressed with how easy it is to share files in both services.  If you right-click on a file and click “Share,” a link will automatically be created and copied to your clipboard.  It’s pretty neat.

Free Space

Winner: MEGA

Dropbox gives users 2 GB of free cloud storage space.  This can be increased up to 16 GB by referring friends.

MEGA gives users 50 GB of free space, making Dropbox’s 2 GB look puny by comparison.

Features

Winner: MEGA

MEGA has slightly more features than Dropbox.

Both services will let you:

  • Sync files between all your devices
  • Share files and folders
  • Collaborate on files
  • Restore previous file versions
  • Access files from mobile apps

Features specific to MEGA are:

  • Sync any folder on your hard drive
  • Set file sharing permissions: read-only, read/write, etc.
  • End-to-end encryption

Price

Winner: Dropbox

Overall, Dropbox offers more space for a lower price.

Dropbox’s Pro plan is 1 TB for $9.99/month.  There are also business plans available, at $15/user/month for “as much space as needed.”

MEGA prices are in Euros, so I will list the prices at current conversion rates (Sept 2014), rounded to the nearest dollar.

MEGA’s lowest priced plan is the Pro I, which offers 500 GB for $13/month.  The Pro II plan gives 2 TB for $26/month, and the Pro III gives 4 TB for $38/month.

Speed

Winner: Tie

Both Dropbox and MEGA are very fast.  They will sync files as fast as your internet connection allows.

In my speed tests, they were both able to max out my upload speed at about 8 megabits per second (Mbps).  Dropbox downloaded my files at 30 Mbps, while MEGA downloaded my files at 27 Mbps – not enough of a difference to matter.

Operating Systems

Winner: Dropbox Tie

Dropbox has sync clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

MEGA only has a sync client for Windows, although they say Mac and Linux clients are coming soon.  Update: MEGA now has software for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Tie

Both MEGA and Dropbox have apps for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry.  Dropbox also has an app for Kindle Fire.  Using the apps you can download, upload, view, and stream your files from anywhere.

I tested the performance of the Android apps, and I felt both services did a pretty good job designing them.  There’s very little difference between them, and they both give you easy access to your files.

Security

Winner: MEGA

MEGA promotes itself as “The Privacy Company,” so it’s no surprise it beats Dropbox’s security.

MEGA uses end-to-end encryption, which means your data is encrypted and decrypted only on the client-side.  Since MEGA doesn’t know the encryption keys, they can’t view your files even if they wanted to.  This type of encryption protects you from hackers, the NSA, and anyone else who might otherwise have access to your files.

Dropbox uses 256-bit AES encryption to store your data, and transfers it over SSL.  However, it’s still their encryption – not yours.  Dropbox does offer two-factor authentication, to help secure your account, while MEGA does not.

MEGA vs Dropbox: Which should you choose?

Do you want simplicity?  Go with Dropbox.  It found it easier to use, because there’s only one folder.

Do you want tons of space?  Better security?  Go with MEGA.  MEGA smashes Dropbox when it comes to storage space.  It also has much better privacy while storing files in the cloud, due to the end-to-end encryption.

Get MEGA at www.mega.nz

Get Dropbox at www.dropbox.com

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of BackupReview.com. He is a cloud fanatic and regularly reviews online backup services. He believes backups should be easy, affordable, and automatic.

Geoff Akerlund

@backupsoftware

Reviews and ratings of the most popular backup solutions

@FabacusSuite Just noticed your tweet! I’m not aware of any cloud storage needs specific to manufacturing. I’m open to insight/suggestions. – 6 months ago

 
  • Anonymous

    Dropbox has selective folder sync too.

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    • Yes, but it’s only for folders inside the Dropbox folder. In this case I’m referring to the ability to sync any folder on the hard drive.

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      • locoma

        THIS is what made me go with MEGA, there are folders in my HDD that I want to backup but don’t want to move, because I’ve kept them organized that way for years. I haven’t found a limit to the amount of folders I can configure this way yet. I hope there is none.

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        • studotwho

          To backup folders that aren’t in the dropbox folder, I create symlinks using the NTFS utility, “mklinks”. You can have files stored anywhere, create an NTFS link/junction in your dropbox folder and start syncing the contents as though the files were in the dropbox folder all along.

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  • samekto

    Mega now has a Mac client which works well. I find Mega generally faster in download than Dropbox Apart from the ubiquitousness of Dropbox, and the relative newness of Mega, the latter’s 50GB is a huge plus.

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  • diego

    copy is a great solution. Use this link to get extra space:
    https://copy.com?r=veI4IH

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  • Diego Garcia

    Hi,
    MEGA is not really that new. MEGA has received a lot of criticism because the owner K during 90s developed MEGAUPLOAD. To all the youngsters, Megaupload is the ancester of all cloud storage. So to say MEGA is new is not true. The fact they offer 50GB + encrypted key is already a winner, although we can question how safe that key actually is. They haven’t promoted themselves for the past few years, because of criticism and piracy issues from the past. I use their service, have 2 emails registered, so that’s 100 FREE CLOUD STORAGE. Their interface is amazing, fast, lean like a fighting machine.

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    • Thanks for your thoughts. Here’s a good article on MEGA’s security: http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/01/megabad-a-quick-look-at-the-state-of-megas-encryption/ The key itself is encrypted using the account password.

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    • Google Deive, OneDrive, DropBox etc. We can Trust More. i am afraid one day FBI or some agency shutdown MEGA. then How i get my files back? Still Megaupload people never get their files back!!

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      • akkadaya

        Mega saves files on 2 servers in 2 different countries so when one server is shut down you will be able to download from the other one

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        • Yes. Most services have mirror servers and backup. Even megaupload had similar setup.
          But… Where is user data stored on megaupload?

          Hop this service will not get any problems.

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      • You are definitely not wrong. Plus, MEGA net worth is somewhere around 200 million where has Google’s Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox net worth will definitely be in Billions. The point being those big companies will have at least 4-5 copies of our files but with MEGA you don’t really know what will happen after one server farm is closed down.

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        • Mateusz Z

          Hey,
          I know that GDrive, OneDrive and DropBox are most popular in US. I also use MEGA, but I think – the same as You – that Users may be worried about Kim Dotcom’s lawsuits.
          You can consider using a hubiC – cloud from Europe, placed in France. The hubiC service is subject to French law, which is particularly strict regarding personal data protection and respect for privacy. Remember, that in Europe there is no Patriot Act, so Your files are always only Yours
          In hubiC You can also choose a duration of publication by link – DropBox doesn’t have it in a free account.

          Technically, files are physically hosted in 3 geographically distant OVH datacentres.
          OVH was created in 1999 and achieved the number 1 position as web hosting provider in France and Europe in just a few years. It’s now the second largest web hosting provider in the world.

          If You want to try it: https://hubic.com/home/new/
          and use my code: MDOXSK

          If You have any questions I will try to answer 🙂

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          • Hi Mateusz. Thanks for recommending hubiC. That does look like a popular service, and I will check it out.

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          • Mateusz Z

            Hi Geoff 🙂 Did You check it?

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          • Hey Mateusz. I did not get a chance to review it yet. Check back with me at the end of May okay?

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          • Mateusz Z

            I’ll try to remember 🙂

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          • Mateusz Z

            @geoffakerlund:disqus hi 🙂 do You remember to check hubiC? 🙂

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          • Hi Mateusz. Sorry for the delay! Mike Lohnash is currently reviewing it, and it will be posted by the end of the month.

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          • Mateusz, thanks for your patience. Here is our review of hubiC: http://www.backupreview.com/hubic-review/

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  • Ansem

    hi, i have a problem with mega: when i delete a file in my folder, mega don’t delete it from the cloud.
    For example if I sync a folder X withe the file Y, i delete Y on my pc, if i go into mega the file Y is still in the folder X.
    i don’t have this problem with dropbox. how can i resolve it with mega?

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    • unormal

      Isn´t that the whole point? If you accidentally deletes your folder on your computer it will still be on the cloud 🙂 Backup.

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  • Kathleen O’Neill

    Earlier this year, I signed up for a 200 Gig Dropbox account for purposes of storing a large number of photo and video files I’ve taken at shows, and also for sharing the edited pictures and videos with the performers. The first time I attempted to do so, a few hours after I posted the link, I heard that my account had been suspended. I was shocked, it sounded as if I’d been making and distributing kiddie porn. I found out that Dropbox imposes a limit on the amount of data that can be downloaded from your account within one day. If it reaches that limit, the account is suspended until the following day. I don’t remember exactly the cut off point, or if the suspension time was by the day, or by the 24 hour period, but I do know that only a handful of people had been able to download the files before the suspension notice. A two and a half hour video in full HD makes a pretty hefty file, and I knew that some of the performers planned on sharing the video on their large screen televisions, rather than on their phones, so I didn’t want to diminish the quality of the video by reducing the file size.

    Doing the math with the number of gigabytes allowed per day, the size of the file, and the number of people waiting to download, it would have been ten days before everyone had a chance to see it. Considering what I pay each year for a Dropbox account that size, if I do this two or three times in the course of a year, it would be faster and cheaper to just burn a bunch of DVDs.

    I had no idea of this restriction when I signed up. I don’t know if Mega has any similar restriction, but this factor makes it not worth it for me to have the paid account. I can find another place to stash my files for less money. As soon as I clear out what’s in my account, I’m going back to the free version.

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    • This is true, and I wish they would state this up front. The bandwidth limits for Dropbox are posted here: https://www.dropbox.com/help/4204 Basically, 200GB per day for paid accounts. 20GB per day for free accounts. Mega’s bandwidth limits are 1TB to 8TB per month, depending on the paid plan. Mega’s free plan has a 10GB daily limit.

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    • This happened to me to (I do videography, and used Dropbox to get clients updates on the project). Pretty scary, if only because, as you said, you have no idea why it happened (in my case the client was having difficulty downloading files, and made multiple attempts).

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  • Henry

    Dropbox offers now 1TB for $99/year

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    • Indeed. Dropbox is now the winner in the price category.

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      • Johan Anderson

        Sadly MEGA seemingly doesn’t want to compete in that category. If only Onedrive (or dropbox) would allow you to sync any folder you want. Sigh.

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  • locoma

    really nice article, you cover everything I was wondering about in a really neatly displayed way that is easy to read through, and you keep it updated and respond to comments. Five stars to you!

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    • Thank you so much. I am honored 🙂

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  • ppiiff

    it is not true that MEGA cannot decrypt your files. It is not true that “your data is encrypted and decrypted only on the client-side”, they would not be able to deduplicate files this way. Just read once again what they say on website “your data is encrypted & decrypted _during_transfer_ by your client devices and never by us”. They have your key, and _can_ decrypt your file, they just a promise that they wont do it.

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    • Hi ppiiff. This is not correct. Data can be deduplicated via convergent encryption, which I’m assuming is what MEGA uses. I’ve sent them an email asking them to clarify. It is true that the key is stored on their servers, however the key is encrypted using the account password. From https://mega.co.nz/#blog_3 – “Because the master AES-128 key is encrypted using your password, remembering the password is vital. Losing it means you don’t just lose the ability to log on to the service – you lose the ability to decrypt your files.”

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      • PJ

        Hi Geoff, this is at odds with Megas T&C’s, which states:

        “Our service may automatically delete a piece of data
        you upload or give someone else access to where it determines that that
        data is an exact duplicate of original data already on our service. In
        that case, you will access that original data.”

        Taken from: https://mega.co.nz/#terms

        Any chance of chasing them up again for clarification?

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        • Nice catch. I asked them to clarify, since that wording seems to conflict with their stated policy of only deduplicating data on a per-user basis.

          Here is their response:

          Hello Geoff.

          Everything is per-user, nothing is across multiple users, because all
          data that is uploaded is encrypted, we have no way of decrypting the
          files to look at them, which means the hashes for every file will be
          different across every user.

          Even if they uploaded the same content, their encryption key is
          different, the encrypted data will be different, hence the hash will be
          different.

          > “Our service may automatically delete a piece of data you upload or
          give someone else access to where it determines that that data is an
          exact duplicate of original data*already on our service*.”

          It means if you upload a file or share a file with someone and our
          system detects that the hash of that file is the same as the hash of
          another file in your account, it will not store the file for a second
          time, it’ll just link to the existing data.

          Kind Regards,

          Mega Support

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          • CMYu

            Hi Geoff, since cross-user dedup may have huge storage/cost saving and convergent encryption seems easily adopted/implemented, I am wondering why MEGA chooses not to use it. Could you please give some comments? Besides, do you think there are some cloud storage services/file hosting services that use convergent encryption?

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          • MEGA hasn’t told me their reasons for not using convergent encryption, other than stating “we are strictly against convergent encryption.” I imagine it’s for privacy, since convergent encryption is open to some attacks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergent_encryption#Known_Attacks

            Bitcasa is a famous cloud service which uses convergent encryption. I’m not aware of many others.

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          • mato

            Because convergent encryption is not all that secure and Mega strives for top security.

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  • WakaWaka

    How solidified is MEGA as a cloud service? Could it potentially disappear like his last one?

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    • It could definitely disappear. That’s why I always recommend local backups in addition to the cloud. Dropbox is a more solidified and larger service.

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  • Don’t know if this matters but I have a 300Mbps fiber connection and while uploading to:

    Mega I got around 770 Kb/sec to 1.2 Mb/sec (8Mbps) speed max. While downloading from them I got around 12 Mb/sec (155 Mbps approx).

    While uploading to drop box I got around 4 to 7 Mb/sec (100 mbps) and while downloading from them I got around 32 Mb/sec (My maxed out connection)

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  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R

    Be weary when storing files on MEGA as they don’t maintain servers that well. I use them to store some large data in rar spits with recovery volumes. Sometimes I can’t download one or two parts and luckily the recovery volumes come in handy which without would make the data mostly useless. And what if those were full files, unsplitted, unguaranteed? Sometimes some of the splits get released and they’re OK, so far none of them complained about CRC32/BLAKE2 failure, but others remain “blocked” and I assume corrupted and unrecoverable (RAID failure etc on their part). It has its cons and pros, but reliability of data should be no.1 concern.. Good thing IT pros can get around this, but the rest… ? Not without harsh reminders.

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  • Nice comparison Geoff, thank you for taking your time researching and writing this. Much appreciated.

    In addition to the many great alternatives that have been mentioned in the comments here, I don’t think anyone has mentioned Copy.com. Copy.com is made by Barracuda Networks and launched in 2013. And the service seem to be popular among some Linux users, particularly Fedora and Debian…

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  • I’m having serious problems with MEGA on security issues. I had important files within the MEGA and they disappeared. I am in contact with MEGA support for over a month and I can not get my files back. My last contact with the company, they restored my folders but there is nothing in them so it is not a reliable service. It is the tip!

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  • Sasa Serbia

    I use internet at copenhagen university, 1Gbps and when I use mega to upload files, upload speed is 35kb/s, as you can see in screenshot, there are many files but small ones, nothing really big, I am waiting already 20 minutes and I will give up:
    http://s30.postimg.org/v0yw4vl2p/Untitled.png

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  • Igor Escalona

    Mega doesn’t preview pdf files. And Dropbox does :/

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  • Jerry George

    Both dont have main feature remote URL upload. Mention it man.

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    • Hi Jerry. Just to clarify, remote upload means like http://uploadcloud.net ? Or where unregistered users can upload files? I don’t know a lot of cloud storage services that support this. Is there a reason you can’t upload from the Dropbox or MEGA websites themselves?

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  • KristalDudek903

    Savvy ideas , For my two cents , if someone are interested in merging of two images , my business merged a tool here http://goo.gl/iSwqk0

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  • Ghost666

    MEGA unfortunately has no finder integration in OS X, dropbox has that…
    I hope MEGA will inegrate that feature too.

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