MEGA Full Review
The recursive acronym MEGA stands for ‘MEGA Encrypted Global Access’. MEGA is the successor to MegaUpload (www.megaupload.com), the website that had been shut down by the US government in January 2012 for allegedly promoting copyright infringement.
MEGA is essentially an encrypted data storage and sharing service. It offers cloud-based storage space that can be accessed through any device connected to the internet. The service allows you to upload and download your data using any web browser. You can also access the service through some dedicated client applications.
The best thing about MEGA is that this cloud-based storage system is built on confidentiality and security. The service is aimed at securing your data and protecting your privacy. Of course, the promoters want to protect their interests too, and that is why they have incorporated more security into the backend.
Mega offers 50GB of free cloud storage. If you need more storage space, you can opt for one of the Pro plans. All encrypting is done on the device used for uploading. So, if you are uploading your files from your computer, MEGA will encrypt them before you upload them to its cloud-based server. And when you download your files from your MEGA account, they will get decrypted only after they arrive on the device you used for downloading.
The devices you use for uploading and downloading are responsible for creating, managing and exchanging the encryption service. The service does not allow any usable encryption keys to leave the devices used by the client. Of course, RSA public keys are exceptions to this rule.
How does MEGA work?
You can upload your files and pictures by dragging and dropping. The process is quite simple. Interestingly, you can start uploading even before you register an account with MEGA. You just need to find the folder and select the pictures you intend to upload. Before the uploading begins you will see MEGA’s ‘Limited Terms of Service’ message. If you intend to proceed simply click ‘Accept’ and the uploading will begin.
You can register if you want. Registering an account is super easy. You just need to enter your name, email address, and password. Like most other sites, MEGA also strives to make your password strength high by using 4 tiers of passwords.
Once you have registered an account, you will receive an email asking for confirmation. Click on the confirmation link to activate your account. After that, MEGA will create your unique 2048 bit RSA private/public key pair. Upon successful completion of your registration, you will have access to your ‘My account’ screen. Several options are available here. You can, for example, control the transfer settings. You might want to increase or decrease the number of parallel downloads and uploads based on the speed of the Internet connection. You may also specify an upload limit. The available options are ‘fixed’ and ‘automatic’. The fixed option allows you to select a certain transfer rate in KB/sec.
There are also options that allow you to skip identical files while uploading. This can be useful because it prevents the uploading of the same file again and again. SSL is enabled by default.
The ‘My account’ screen also displays your account balance. The ‘redeem voucher’ option allows you to either purchase a voucher or redeem the one you already have. The Session History option allows you to view your last ten sessions. This option also shows which browser was used during the last ten sessions. The IP addresses of the internet connections used to access your MEGA account and the latest activity from those connections are also shown.
Features of MEGA
This is perhaps the most attractive feature of this service. MEGA says that all of your files will be encrypted before you upload them to their server and they will remain in that encrypted state there. Your files will be decrypted only when you download them to your device. Here again, the decryption happens locally on your machine.
MEGA doesn’t save your password on its server; however it uses your password as the base of your unique encryption key. That means MEGA cannot see the contents of your uploaded files.
Entropy from mouse movements and keystrokes
When you create your MEGA account, the service will generate your unique encryption code by recording your mouse movements and keystrokes during that time. However, it is not exactly clear how they manage to do it.
MEGA says that they will not store two copies of the same file on their servers. In other words they do not encourage duplicate content. Very few users have more than 20 or 25GB of personal data. If you have a large collection of personal photos and private videos, you will probably need more storage space. However, the majority of music and movie files that we store online are not unique. In fact, they can also be found at other people’s storage spaces.
Let’s say you are uploading the soundtrack of a popular movie. It is quite possible that several other people have already uploaded the same file to their storage space. This makes your file a duplicate. In such situations MEGA will not upload that soundtrack for you. It will merely show the file as uploaded. It will store just one copy of that file on its server and use it for all users who have uploaded the same content. This is a cool feature because it significantly reduces the time needed for uploading heavy files.
This also allows MEGA to use their storage space more efficiently.
There is one problem though. MEGA claims that all data gets encrypted before it is uploaded to their server. In that case, how do they manage to avoid duplication without knowing the contents of a file?
No file size limit
You are free to upload files of any size. MEGA does not impose any restrictions on the file size.
You have several options for sharing your files. However, MEGA still lacks the versatility that many of its competing services offer.
Your files are in the encrypted form when they are on MEGA’s servers. You can share these files with another person by giving them a file link. Of course, they can do hardly anything with that file because it will remain in its encrypted form without your password. An alternative option is to include the decryption code for that shared file in the link URL. When you use this second option anybody can freely download and view the files you share with them because they already have the decryption key in the URL.
MEGA also allows users to share their entire folders with other people who already have a registered account with them. If you are trying to share your folders with people who don’t have a registered account on MEGA, they will get an email inviting them to join MEGA. When you share your folders, you can decide whether you should give them read only access or complete read/write access.
Multiple File Uploads
You may upload multiple files all at the same time using MEGA’s HTML 5 interface.
This feature allows you to upload entire folders.
Plans and Pricing
MEGA uses a very simple pricing model. All users get 50GB free storage space with all the features offered by the service. However, it is not clear how much bandwidth each person can use in a month. MEGA offers 3 Pro plans for users who need more storage space. Both free and paid plans offer access to the exact same features. The only difference is in bandwidth and storage.
Pro Plan I
This plan costs 9.99 Euros/month or 99.99 Euros /year. Users of this plan will have access to 500GB of storage space & 1000GB of bandwidth.
Pro Plan II
This plan costs 19.99 Euros/month or 199.99 Euros/year. Users will have access to 2000GB of storage space & 4000GB of bandwidth.
Pro Plan III
This plan costs 29.99 Euros/month or 299.99 Euros/year. With this plan you can access 4000GB of storage space & 8000GB of bandwidth.
Note that these prices are in Euros. The plans will cost more when you convert them into US dollars. Still, the pricing seems quite competitive. In fact, these price plans make MEGA the cheapest of all companies offering similar cloud based storage. Even Google Drive, which used to be the cheapest, charges 19.99 USD for just 400GB of storage per month.
MEGA’s official mobile app is already available for Android phones. You can download it for free from Google Play Store. iOS users will have to wait longer for their mobile app.
- Allows you to browse your cloud-based MEGA storage account
- Offers fast uploading and downloading of files
- The Camera sync feature allows you to easily upload your videos and photos from your camera to MEGA
- You can share files and folders.
- Supports image thumbnails
- Allows you to create, move, rename and delete folders and files.
- Supports web interface so that users can access the service from any system
- Offers 50GB free storage space
- Stores your data in the encrypted form
- Does not save your password on its server
- Mobile web support
- Free official Android app is available
- Hasn’t yet launched an official iOS app
- There are still some security concerns regarding their encryption methods.
- Lacks other features.
- MEGA is a browser based service. It does not offer a desktop application for uploading, sharing etc.
- The fate of MegaUpload may deter many people from using the new file hosting service.
Right now, MEGA offers only a few customer support features. For instance, there is no live chat option. Their help center is more of a FAQ section. On the bright side, the service is quite user friendly. If you have basic internet skills, you will be able to use it without much difficulty.
MEGA is different than other cloud-based storage systems in many ways. It is anti-spying, anti-government, and above all pro-privacy.
Will I recommend MEGA? Yes, why not? After all, it comes with a cool 50GB of free storage. That should be plenty for most people.
That said, if Mega really wants to establish itself as a power to reckon with, it has to spread its wings into the world of mobile. Of course, Mega has the potential to encourage more and more people to start using cloud storage systems. However, Mega will continue to be an ‘underground’ thing. It is not going to be acquired by companies like Google or Facebook because they will not want to upset their ties with governments and defense departments.
For further information and to signup, please visit http://mega.co.nz/
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