Dropbox is the cloud storage provider that brought the concept into the mainstream. Meanwhile, MEGA is well-known for different reasons as the startup product of Kim Dotcom, the notorious privacy advocate (or copyright pirate, depending on your viewpoint), although he’s no longer involved with the company.
Both providers offer cloud storage packages that score highly for a number of reasons, and although neither makes it to the very top of our cloud storage comparisons, they’re both in the top 10. As we discuss in our Dropbox review, the collaboration features with Dropbox are excellent, while MEGA is strong on security, as we explain in our MEGA review.
How do the two providers match up when going head to head? We decided to find out in this MEGA vs Dropbox comparison.
Setting Up a Battle: MEGA vs Dropbox
In an effort to make a fair comparison, we’ve developed a system to test cloud storage providers like Dropbox and MEGA over seven rounds. For each category, we look at an important aspect of cloud storage and see how the contenders compare.
Each round winner gains a point, but if it’s too close to call, we’ll award a point to both providers and call it a draw. In the end, we’ll add up the points and declare the overall winner as our recommendation, then explain our reasoning.
Both providers offer free storage and are among the cheapest cloud storage solutions available, although you can take a look at our rundown of the best free cloud storage, if you’re really looking to save some cash. Dropbox allows you 2GB of free storage space, while MEGA gives you 15GB for free.
MEGA also gives you the ability to unlock additional storage by completing achievements, such as downloading the desktop app or inviting friends to join the service. Unfortunately, most of these achievement bonuses expire pretty quickly.
You get an extra 20GB of MEGA space for downloading the desktop app or 15GB for the smartphone app, but both of these bonuses expire after 180 days. The 10GB of extra storage for inviting a friend expires after one year. Worst still is the initial MEGA signup bonus: you get a huge 35GB of storage just for registering, but it expires after 30 days.
If you need to store more than 15GB, you’ll need to think about MEGA’s pricing plans from the beginning, or you’ll be forced to remove your extra content after a month.
Beyond Dropbox’s free acount, Dropbox offers two options for personal accounts (see our full Dropbox pricing guide). Dropbox Plus costs $11.99 per month, or $9.99 per month if you pay annually, providing you with a decent 2TB of storage along with extras, such as priority email support.
If you need more space, Dropbox Professional gives you 3TB of space and costs $19.99 per month, or $16.58 per month for annual plans.
MEGA offers four personal paid plans, although prices are in euros, so it’s difficult to make an exact comparison. At the time of writing, MEGA Pro Lite comes with 400GB of space for around $5.55 per month, Pro 1 is around $11.11 per month for 2TB, Pro 2 is $22.23 per month for 8TB of storage, and Pro 3 is $33.36 per month for 16TB.
All MEGA personal plans come with an extra two months for free if you take out an annual plan, rather than paying monthly.
MEGA vs Dropbox Business Pricing
If you’re looking for a business option, Dropbox Business pricing plans start at $15 per month per user for 5TB of space on the Dropbox Business Standard plan. Dropbox Business Advanced is $25 per month per user, coming with unlimited cloud storage, although you’ll need to request this if you expect to use more than 3TB of space.
If you’re looking for unlimited storage, then check out our list of the best unlimited cloud storage solutions and look at providers like Box and OpenDrive. You can also read our Box vs Dropbox comparison.
Dropbox Enterprise is a customizable solution for large businesses with no set price, and you’ll have to contact Dropbox directly for a quote. This might be a good call, especially as Dropbox made it onto our list of the best cloud storage for enterprise, alongside Egnyte and Box.
- Storage: 2000 GB
- Storage: 2000 GB
- Storage: 3000 GB
There’s only one business plan with MEGA, titled (imaginatively) MEGA for Business. This costs 10 euros per month (around $11 per month, depending on the exchange rate) and comes with unlimited storage, although it has a three-user minimum.
Some usage conditions apply to MEGA for Business. It must be used only for “genuine business purposes” and comes with a fair-use policy that will compare your usage to that of the average business user. If you’re planning to store a lot of data, you may need to first check with MEGA that your usage is appropriate.
Both providers offer 2TB of storage at a similar cost, which will satisfy most personal users. However, MEGA offers more free file hosting, and even though the time-limited bonuses can be annoying, MEGA takes this round.
If you’re looking for the strongest security for your files, then you need a provider that can offer zero-knowledge encryption. This means that your cloud storage provider doesn’t store a copy of your encryption key, so it can’t decrypt your data, even if compelled by law enforcement.
As long as you keep your password safe, the only person who should be able to access your data is you. With this in mind, MEGA takes an early lead here because it offers zero-knowledge encryption as standard across all of its plans, and it’s one of our best encrypted cloud storage providers.
From the outset, MEGA makes it clear that if you lose your password, you lose your account, as it can’t decrypt your data. MEGA suggests that you use a password manager to minimize the risk of this happening, and so do we. If you’re looking for a good password manager, then check out Dashlane, one of the best password manager extensions out there.
Unfortunately, Dropbox doesn’t offer zero-knowledge encryption on any of its plans, making it a much less secure option than MEGA for your files (read our Dropbox security issues piece).
If there are some features of Dropbox you really love, but you also want zero-knowledge encryption, then it is possible to use a third-party service, like Boxcryptor, to encrypt your files before they’re uploaded. Take a look at our Boxcryptor review to learn more.
Additional Security Measures
Both providers use industry-standard levels of encryption for your files both at rest and in transit. Dropbox uses AES 256-bit encryption for data at rest and SSL/TLS for data in transit.
MEGA also uses the TLS protocol for data in transit, but data at rest uses the slightly less secure AES 128-bit encryption. While this is not as strong as the protection from Dropbox, it should still take millions of years to crack via brute force, at least in theory.
Both providers also offer the option to set up two-factor authentication. This is an additional layer of security that requires a second form of authentication, as well as your password. There are various methods of two-factor authentication, such as entering a code sent via SMS or using an authenticator app on your phone.
Unlike many providers, MEGA actively encourages you to set up two-factor authentication, even going as far as to recommend some authentication apps. Dropbox also offers two-factor authentication, but the option is not as clearly advertised as it is with MEGA.
MEGA is also very clear about the fact that zero-knowledge encryption won’t protect your files if someone gets access to your computer. It recommends using device-level full-disk encryption to ensure that even data on your hard drive is kept safe.
MEGA may be strong on security, but there are even better options out there. Take a look at our list of the most secure cloud storage to learn more.
If security is important to you (and it should be), then cloud storage that comes with zero-knowledge encryption is a definite plus. MEGA is one of the best zero-knowledge cloud storage providers, alongside Sync.com and pCloud (read our pCloud vs MEGA comparison). Since Dropbox can’t offer this level of security, MEGA is the clear winner here.
MEGA sells itself as being privacy-focused, even calling itself “the privacy company” on its website. MEGA’s data centers are located in fairly privacy-friendly locations, such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. No files are ever stored in America, which means that they’re beyond the reach of intrusive legislation, such as the PATRIOT Act.
MEGA complies with the rules of GDPR but applies these protections to all users, not just those from the European Union. Dropbox’s stance on privacy is far less impressive, unfortunately.
Some of your data may also be passed to third parties, which include Amazon, Google, Oracle and Zendesk. As we’ve mentioned, Dropbox doesn’t use zero-knowledge encryption, and although it does share data with third parties, it also allows good integration and provides extra features from these services to Dropbox users, as a consequence.
MEGA, on the other hand, does use zero-knowledge encryption, so your data is safe. Since you hold the only decryption key, there is no way for MEGA to access, scan, read or do anything else with your files.
Although it was some time ago, Dropbox suffered a serious data breach back in 2012, with 68 million user passwords leaked. It was also mentioned as being lined up to join other companies, such as Google and Apple, as part of the privacy-busting PRISM program, although Dropbox was quick to deny any involvement.
When it comes to speed, there isn’t much between Dropbox and MEGA. During testing, it took around 25 minutes to upload a fresh 1GB file to both providers from our test location in the UK. Similar speeds were seen from both MEGA and Dropbox during downloads, taking around three minutes to download the same 1GB file.
Where Dropbox really comes into its own, though, is with files that have been edited or amended in some way. If you make a change to a file on MEGA — even a minor one — the entire file has to be uploaded again.
However, Dropbox uses what is known as block-level sync to get around this problem. Your files are broken up into individual blocks, and it will sync only the blocks that have changed. If you make a small change to a file, fewer blocks will need to be uploaded, making it a much faster process than MEGA’s, where every block would need to be replaced.
This feature is particularly useful if you have a lot of large files to change, as the impact it can have on upload times is more significant. However, with smaller files, you probably won’t notice much of a difference, especially if your connection is a good one.
If you deal with a lot of large files that are constantly being edited, then Dropbox is definitely the better choice. That’s why Dropbox comes out at the top of our list of the best cloud storage with sync, even compared to another block-level sync provider like pCloud (read our pCloud vs Dropbox piece).
With that in mind, Dropbox is the winner here: we can’t ignore its faster uploads compared to MEGA’s.
5. Ease of Use
Both MEGA and Dropbox can be accessed online or via apps available for all major operating systems, including macOS, Windows and Linux. Not all cloud storage providers support Linux, but both of our contenders make it onto our best cloud storage for Linux shortlist, alongside Tresorit and pCloud (read our MEGA vs Tresorit comparison). There are also Android and iOS apps available for both services.
The desktop applications of MEGA and Dropbox work in a pretty similar way. They both allow you to set up a folder on your hard drive that automatically syncs to the cloud. They also offer a system tray or menu bar icon that allows you to change settings or launch the web interface.
This is the approach that Dropbox popularized, and you’ll see a similar system used by most cloud service providers these days. If you’ve used cloud storage services before, nothing will seem too out of place.
When you install Dropbox or MEGA, you’ll also gain additional options when you right-click a file, such as allowing you to select files to upload. Dropbox does seem to have a slight edge here, with additional options allowing you to quickly view comments or the version history of a file.
Unfortunately, Dropbox isn’t a great service for macOS and iOS users because files and folders are organized in alphabetical order by default, with folders mixed up with files. If you have a lot of media, it can be hard to sort through to find the file or subfolder you’re looking for.
You can’t easily change this, either. You can change how files are sorted, but it’s still messy. However, Windows users will find that folders are listed above files by default, including on the website.
Dropbox advises macOS and iOS users to request this as a feature, so it’s unlikely that this will change unless a large number of Apple users request it. With this in mind, you’re not going to find Dropbox on our best cloud storage for Mac recommendations list.
If you’re tied into the Apple ecosystem, then check out iCloud or Sync.com instead. You can read our Sync.com review first because not only is it our top cloud storage recommendation for Mac users, but it’s also our recommendation as the best cloud storage for iPhone.
There’s not much between MEGA or Dropbox for Windows and Linux users. However, considering the difficulties that Mac and iPhone owners face, this round goes to MEGA as the easier provider to use on any platform.
6. File Syncing and Sharing
A cloud storage service is made or broken by how well it can share or sync files. If it can’t do that, it isn’t going to compete — it’s that simple. For Dropbox and MEGA, it’s a pretty even picture.
MEGA desktop users can download their entire cloud storage when they first install the app, or they can selectively sync the files and folders they regularly use to save space. You can also add additional sync locations in MEGA’s settings, although this isn’t the simplest process.
Dropbox offers two different methods for file syncing, with one similar to MEGA. The first option for Dropbox users is selective sync, which allows you to decide which files and folders will sync to your hard drive and which will remain in the cloud.
This is similar to MEGA, but it means you can’t see the entire contents of your cloud storage on your hard drive. Any files or folders you’ve deselected won’t show up.
To get around this problem, Dropbox offers smart sync. This allows you to see all of your files and folders on your computer, but you can set certain files to be stored on your cloud storage. They’ll be visible on your computer and will be downloaded whenever you need to use them, but they won’t take up any space until then.
This feature is one reason why Dropbox was the second-best recommendation on our best enterprise file sync and share providers shortlist, just underneath Egnyte Connect (read our Egnyte vs Dropbox comparison). Dropbox has no file transfer quotas, other than your storage limit, so you can upload and download your content as much as you like (read our Dropbox file size limit guide).
In contrast, MEGA applies a monthly quota to your file uploads and downloads. For personal accounts, these quotas are the same as your total storage capacity, so they’re not insignificant. However, if you’re uploading and downloading a lot of large files, you may find that you hit the quota quickly.
File Sharing With Dropbox and MEGA
When it comes to file sharing, both providers offer fairly typical features. Dropbox lets you share files from all platforms, including through mobile apps and online. You can create a shareable link that you can send to others, giving them either read-only or full-edit access to your files and folders.
You can change a number of settings for these links. You can set an expiration date, add a password and disable downloads, although this is only available on Dropbox Professional or the business plans. Dropbox makes it onto our list of the best cloud storage for sharing, but there are better options out there, such as Sync.com.
You’ll find similar features with MEGA, as you’ll be able to create shareable links to your files and folders, as well as set expiry dates and add passwords. However, you’ll need a paid account to use these features.
As we’ve mentioned, MEGA offers zero-knowledge encryption (something Dropbox doesn’t). You can share your links by providing a copy of your key, allowing other users to view or edit your files. You can share links without the key, but you’ll need to manually provide your decryption key to the end user for them to open it.
If you go for the latter option, it doesn’t matter if the link is shared or stolen because only users with the decryption key can access the files, making MEGA a more secure service for file sharing.
Overall, this is a tough round to call. Dropbox does well with its smart sync feature, allowing you to save space on your PC rather than syncing all of your files. It also uses block-level syncing to save time on file uploads for files you change.
However, MEGA offers a secure way to share files, allowing you to share links to files without the decryption key, meaning only users you trust can access them. Depending on your needs, this might be great — or it might be pointless.
Smart sync is a winning feature, but only just, so Dropbox takes this round.
In addition to the standard features offered by most cloud storage services, both MEGA and Dropbox offer some unique additional features.
Over at MEGA, where paranoia is part of the ethos, encrypted chat with other MEGA users is available. This is similar to other end-to-end encryption chat services, like WhatsApp. You can also share files through the chat app, as well as make audio and video calls.
If you use the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client, you can use the MEGAbird extension to send large files through MEGA, rather than as an email attachment, no matter what email hosting service you use. There’s also MEGAcmd, a command-line tool that allows you to write scripts to automate tasks or run commands to MEGA directly without a GUI client.
For document creators, Dropbox offers Paper. This is a single, unlimited page document app that allows you to store text, images and video without saving the content as files. It’s a note-taking and collaboration tool, but as we mention in our Dropbox Paper review, it’s pretty basic compared to services like Google Docs.
However, professional users might find more use out of Dropbox Showcase. This is a portfolio tool that allows you to share your past work. It comes with various templates, which you can use to create smart-looking pages to host your content, which is perfect for business users or freelancers. This tool is available only for Dropbox Professional or Business accounts.
Where Dropbox really shines is with collaboration. Dropbox integrates incredibly well with both Microsoft Office and Google Docs. You can work on a Word or Google Docs file, collaborate on it with other people and save the changes without ever leaving your Dropbox account. Files will automatically launch in the appropriate apps, letting you switch easily between services.
These collaboration features help push Dropbox to the top of our best cloud storage for collaboration shortlist, as well as making it a fair winner in this final round.
8. The Verdict
It’s no surprise to see this MEGA vs Dropbox battle prove to be a close one. While MEGA did well in our earlier rounds, Dropbox pushed back. However, it wasn’t enough, with MEGA taking four points versus Dropbox’s three.
MEGA took clear wins on security and privacy, which isn’t entirely surprising, given it was founded with those features in mind. Both MEGA and Dropbox were close on pricing and ease of use, but MEGA won out because it offers a larger amount of free storage space and is easier to use for all platforms. Unlike Dropbox, MEGA isn’t as difficult to use on iOS or Mac.
However, Dropbox took some wins. Thanks to its use of block-level sync, Dropbox did well in our speed round, with similar success for file syncing and sharing, thanks to its excellent smart sync system. Finally, Dropbox claimed our final features round due to excellent integrations with Office and Google Docs, making it ideal for collaboration.
This was a close result, and although MEGA came out the overall winner in this Dropbox vs Mega comparison, it really depends on what you want from your cloud storage.
If you intend to use it for collaboration or for fast file sharing, then Dropbox is a far stronger choice. If you’re looking for something to keep your data secure and private, then MEGA is the better option.
We’re always eager to hear about your experiences with either of these providers, so please make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.