MEGA is not your typical cloud storage service. That is, unless your typical cloud storage service is anti-government, pro-privacy, and founded in the wake of the largest file sharing shutdown in history.
MEGA’s founder, Kim Dotcom, is not known to shy away from publicity. In the aftermath of Megaupload’s shutdown for copyright infringement, Dotcom has openly criticized world leaders for their stances on privacy and free speech. For their part, governments have spied on him, raided his property, and seized his assets. The U.S. government calls him a criminal. His fans call him a hero. One could argue Kim Dotcom’s reputation precedes MEGA’s. Regardless, his new brand of file hosting service remains popular. MEGA counts over 7 million users to its name.
So is MEGA a cloud storage service you should use? Can you trust it to backup your data online? I will take a look at how it performs in this review.
- 50GB free cloud storage
- Synchronize folders on your PC
- Great mobile apps
- Completely private encryption
- Attractive, useful web interface
- File versioning
- Deleted file recovery
Windows only sync client
- Security features aren’t as newbie friendly as other cloud storage services
- Doesn’t transcode shared videos
The Bottom Line
MEGA provides a completely private cloud storage experience, combined with easy to use features and great looking apps.
MEGA Plans and Pricing
MEGA offers several plans to choose from:
- 50GB storage
- 10GB bandwidth limit, reset every 30 minutes
- 9.99 € (about $13.50 USD) per month. Or 99.99 € per year (save 17%).
- 500GB storage
- 1TB monthly bandwidth limit
- 19.99 € (about $27 USD) per month. Or 199.99 € per year (save 17%).
- 2TB storage
- 4TB monthly bandwidth limit
- 29.99 € (about $40 USD) per month. Or 299.99 € per year (save 17%).
- 4TB storage
- 8TB monthly bandwidth limit
If you pay for the annual plan, the bandwidth limits are multiplied for the entire year. So sign up for a yearly Pro I plan, and get 12TB of total bandwidth (1TB x 12 months).
First Impressions of MEGA
When you sign up, MEGA will tell you how easily your password is brute forced. I liked this, because most people don’t put enough effort into creating strong passwords.
The MEGA web interface is where you can manage your account and stored files. The tabs include:
- Cloud Drive: Where all your files are stored.
- Rubbish Bin: Your deleted files are kept here.
- Contacts: Add emails of people you want to share files with.
- Inbox: I still don’t know what this is for. To get messages from people you’ve shared with, I guess? I couldn’t get any messages to show up here.
The MEGA Sync Client
The MEGA sync client can synchronize files and folders on your PC with your MEGA account. This is kind of like Dropbox and other cloud storage services which put a virtual drive on your computer. The difference is that MEGA lets you choose which folders to sync. So you can have a “Pictures” folder on your hard drive that syncs to a “Pictures” folder in your MEGA account. You’re not limited to just one folder; you can sync as many as you want.
Network drives can also be added, so you can sync folders on a NAS device.
The sync client is only available for Windows, so Mac and Linux users are out of luck. Update Sept 2014: Mac and Linux are now supported.
Sharing Files and Folders
You can share files publicly, which would not require a MEGA account to view. This is good for files you don’t care too much about, security wise.
For private files, you can grant access to other MEGA users. Shared folders can bet set as read-only, read & write, or full access. You can set permissions on a per individual basis. So if you want Fred to have read-only access to a folder, but Mary to have full access, you can do so. Both parties need to have a MEGA account for security. Since MEGA offers free accounts, this is a great way to share files with friends and family.
Shared folders with pictures in them will be converted to photo galleries, so your recipient can easily view them. Videos are not viewable on the web, however. You have to download them, which I thought was a bit of a bummer. Other cloud storage services can transcode videos. Not MEGA, apparently.
If you no longer want to share a folder, you can turn off the public link in the Sharing menu.
Restore Deleted and Changed Files
Deleted files will show up in your Rubbish Bin. Restoring a deleted file is easy. Just navigate to it using the folders organized by date, right click on it, then restore it.
MEGA lets you recover previous versions of files. However, it does not perform incremental file versioning. So if a synced file changes, it is replaced as a whole. It is not recommended to sync large, constantly changing files for this reason.
Regardless, you can restore previous versions of files by right clicking on them and downloading them to your computer. It’s not perfect, but it works.
MEGA is very, very fast when uploading and downloading files.
My upload speeds to MEGA averaged 7.8 megabits per second (Mbps), which maxed out my bandwidth. So potential speeds could be even higher.
As far as restore speeds, I downloaded a 10GB test file at 27.3 Mbps, which was just short of my 31 Mbps maximum.
MEGA Mobile Apps
MEGA has mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Blackberry.
I felt the Android app was polished and easy to use. With it, I could access my cloud files, upload files, move files, and create share links. It does everything the web interface does.
There’s a photo sync feature to automatically backup photos on your phone. A PIN unlock setting adds an additional layer of security, by requiring a passcode before opening the app.
MEGA also has apps for Chrome and Firefox, which are supposed to be faster than using the default web interface. I tested the Chrome app and it was definitely better than using the default web interface. Using the app resolved an issue where large files (many gigabytes in size) failed to download. So I highly recommend you use it, especially if you’re working with large files.
When you’re storing data in the cloud, security is extremely important. After all, you don’t want hackers or government agencies to have access to your data. Only you should have access to your files.
MEGA uses above-average security measures to protect your data. They’re as paranoid about the NSA as you are.
All data stored on MEGA is encrypted end to end. Data is only decrypted once it’s on the receiving device (i.e. your computer). MEGA stores your data encrypted at all times, and never has access to your decrypted data.
Your password unlocks your master encryption key. Without it, you can’t view your data. You can reset your password, but this requires a copy of your encryption key (which you can download as a backup).
Who Should Use MEGA?
Anybody who is paranoid about security and needs to store large amounts of data in the cloud would be well served by MEGA. Their policy of end to end encryption – making it impossible for MEGA to view your data (even if they wanted to) is a step above other cloud storage services.
On the downside, there’s no sync client for Mac or Linux users. You’re also out of luck if you forget your password, so this service isn’t ideal for beginners.
As far as performance, I was really impressed with the quality of the web interface. Downloading and uploading files is essentially effortless. Speeds are fast. You can give custom permissions to shared folders, and it’s all very easy to use.
Since MEGA offers a whopping 50GB of free cloud storage space, you should definitely it a try.
|Average Upload Speed||7.8 Mbps (8 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||27.3 Mbps (30 Mbps connection)|
|Free Online Storage||50 GB|
|Mobile Apps||Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry|
|Keep Deleted Files||Forever|
|Back Up to Local Drive|
Sync and Share Features
|Public File Sharing|
|Data Center Location(s)||New Zealand|