Icedrive vs MEGA 2023: Which Is the Better Cloud Storage Service?
MEGA is known for its secure, free cloud storage offerings, but can it hold up against Icedrive, a new service already making waves? Find out how they compare in this Icedrive vs MEGA matchup.
Choosing the right cloud storage provider is becoming more difficult with each passing year as new services constantly join the fray. One of the more recent companies to join the industry is Icedrive, so we’re taking the chance to compare it to the more established MEGA in this Icedrive vs MEGA comparison to give you an idea of which one is better for you.
- Icedrive is a cheap and safe cloud storage service that sports an incredibly clean design on both desktop and mobile.
- MEGA is a cloud storage service focused on security that provides a ton of storage space for free.
- Although both are good tools, Icedrive has better file-sharing functionality, a cleaner design, more options for file sync and better prices, which makes it the winner of this Icedrive vs MEGA comparison.
If neither service strikes your fancy, you can head over to our list of the best cloud storage for a wider view of the whole field of cloud storage providers. Both services rank on this list, and you might be able to guess by their respective placements which one will come out on top in this comparison.
We’ve also compared both services to our favorite cloud storage providers, namely Sync.com and pCloud. To see how MEGA does against these, check out our pCloud vs MEGA and Sync.com vs MEGA battles.
Updated article to reflect addition of two-factor-authentication to Icedrive.
Updated comparison to reflect changes to both providers since 2020, split “security & privacy” into two rounds and added a “customer support” round.
MEGA offers 20GB of free storage and an additional 15GB for 365 days (provided you complete a few simple achievements). You can also refer friends for an additional 10GB of storage space per referral, which lasts one year. Meanwhile, Icedrive only offers 10GB of free storage.
In terms of security, the two services are virtually identical.
Icedrive is very fast, with a download and upload speed that exceeds most of the other cloud storage services that we’ve tested.
Yes, MEGA.nz is an excellent service that boasts great security as well as more free storage than any other trustworthy cloud storage company.
Icedrive vs MEGA Matchup
We’ve done a series of cloud storage comparisons to see how both Icedrive and MEGA stack up against the more established competition. Like in our Icedrive vs Sync.com and Icedrive vs pCloud comparisons, we’ll be running the providers through eight separate rounds, each focused on a vital part of any cloud storage solution.
These rounds include features, pricing, ease of use, file syncing and sharing, speed, security, privacy and, finally, customer support. Since there’s an even number of rounds, we might end up with a tie, in which case we’ll consider how wide the margins of victory were and prioritize some rounds over others.
150GB - 10TB$1.67 / month(save 39%)(All Plans) 14-days money-back guarantee
2TB - Unlimited GB$9.06 / month(save 16%)(All Plans)
Like always, we’ll kick our comparison off by taking a look at what features Icedrive and MEGA offer. We’ll look at file syncing and sharing a little later on in its own round, seeing as these represent the core features of any cloud storage. For this round, we’ll focus on what you might call “bonus” features.
File Previews, Versioning & Retention
Starting with Icedrive, the newcomer clearly favors a clean and simple design over flooding users with menus, buttons and advanced functionality. That said, there are a few things still worth mentioning. First is the ability to stream and preview a wide variety of file types directly from storage, even if the files themselves are encrypted.
This means that you can listen to an audio file or watch a movie directly from the cloud without having to download the file first, without sacrificing anything in terms of security. MEGA also lets you preview certain file types directly in the cloud. This applies to music, PDFs and photos, but unfortunately not videos.
As for file-versioning, Icedrive retains five previous versions of files if you’re a free user, which gets bumped to 10 on any of the paid plans. For free users, there’s also a three-day time-limit, whereas anyone on the paid plan can access previous versions up to 180 days in the past. If you accidentally delete a file, you have two weeks to recover it before it’s gone forever.
MEGA has a clear advantage here, given that it keeps up to 100 previous versions of files, and lets the user decide exactly how many to keep. Deleted files are kept for 180 days if you’re on a paid plan, and 30 days for free users, the latter of which is ten times that of Icedrive.
MEGA’s Email & Chat Clients
Moving on to MEGA, the more established cloud storage service offers quite a bit more in terms of unusual features. First up is the Mozilla Thunderbird extension — aptly called MEGAbird — which enables you to send large files via email, getting around that pesky 25MB limit that you usually have with email attachments.
There’s also a chat client included in the web dashboard, which is great for users looking for a way to send encrypted messages to each other. Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of collaboration tools, as the zero-knowledge encryption makes this impossible. The same is true for Icedrive, though, and neither service makes it onto our best cloud storage for collaboration list.
Command-Line Tools & WebDAV
For more advanced users, MEGA offers a command-line tool called MEGAcmd, which gives you the ability to perform advanced operations such as setting up an automated backup without having to use the actual interface.
Both services support WebDAV access, which is another advanced feature. WebDAV gives you the ability to perform operations on your cloud storage through third-party applications by using a URL and an access key.
To wrap up our features overview, it’s clear that MEGA offers a much longer list of functionality beyond the core file sharing and syncing than Icedrive does. That said, most of these features aren’t super useful, as most users are probably more interested in Icedrive’s video previews than MEGA’s chat client.
However, MEGA also has a much better versioning policy than Icedrive, which is what really secures it the victory in this round. That means MEGA gets off to a good start by snagging the first point, leaving Icedrive to catch up.
|150GB - 10TB$1.67 / month(All Plans) 14-days money-back guarantee||2TB - Unlimited GB$9.06 / month(All Plans)|
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Live Chat Support|
Point for MEGA
Price is the deciding factor for many users when choosing which cloud storage solution works best for them. There’s a lot of variety here, with some providers being far more expensive than others despite not offering any more storage or additional features.
Icedrive’s pricing model is straightforward and reasonable. There are three Icedrive plans — Lite, Pro and Pro+ — which offer 150GB, 1TB and 5TB, respectively. The prices for these plans depend on how long you want to sign up for, but the Lite plan isn’t available on a monthly basis. If you want to pay monthly, the Pro and Pro+ plans will run you $4.99 and $17.99 per month, respectively.
- Bandwidth limit: 3GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- Bandwidth limit: 8TB
If you’re happy to pay for an entire year up front, it gets a bit cheaper. The Lite plan costs $19.99 per year, while the two more expensive plans are priced at $49.99 and $179.99 per year.
Icedrive Lifetime Plans
There’s also a lifetime subscription option available for all three plans, which is great if you know you’ll be using the cloud service for a long time and prefer a one-time fee rather than recurring payments. The lifetime subscription costs $99, $229 and $599 for Lite, Pro and Pro+, respectively.
The caveat with these plans is that Icedrive imposes a bandwidth cap to prevent abuse. The cap resets each month, but it prevents you from uploading or downloading more than 250GB, 2TB or 8TB, depending on the plan you choose.
MEGA’s Pricey Pricing
Meanwhile, MEGA offers four different paid plans: Pro Lite, Pro I, Pro II and Pro III. As with Icedrive, the only difference between them is the amount of storage they offer, which sits at 400GB, 2TB, 8TB and 16TB, respectively.
- File transfer: 2TB (Monthly plan) 24TB (yearly plan)
- File transfer: (monthly plan) 96TB (yearly plan)
- File transfer: 16TB (monthly plan) 192TB (yearly plan)
- Price per user (minimum 3)
- Unlimited GB
Unfortunately, the prices for these plans are pretty steep, costing $5.12, $10.25, $20.52 and $30.78 per month. Note that these prices for MEGA are estimates, as the service charges all customers in euros. That means that the exact price in U.S. dollars will fluctuate depending on currency exchange rates.
MEGA’s pricing looks especially bad when compared to Icedrive, as the latter offers you more than double the storage space of the former’s cheapest plan while still charging about a dollar less per month. Other cloud storage software, like pCloud, is a bit cheaper than MEGA as well, making it one of the pricier options out there for cloud storage.
Free Cloud Storage
Both services also offer a free account, which in MEGA’s case grants you 20GB of free storage. Icedrive users get 10GB of free space. Both services impose a bandwidth limit on free account holders, which for Icedrive is 3GB per day. MEGA is slightly more generous at 5GB per day. MEGA also imposes a download limit — read our guide to learn how to bypass the MEGA download limit.
With MEGA you can also get 15GB of additional space for performing certain tasks — or “achievements” — such as installing the desktop and mobile apps, adding your phone number for 2FA or referring friends, but the extra storage expires after 180 days.
After comparing these prices, we have to give this round to Icedrive. Although its free plan is significantly less generous than MEGA’s, especially when you factor in the “MEGA achievements,” its actual prices are much more reasonable in the long term and the added option of a lifetime plan is a huge advantage.
This evens our score to 1-1 as we proceed to our ease-of-use round.
Point for Icedrive
3. Ease of Use
Usability is a huge factor for any kind of software. You can add all the nifty features you want, but they won’t count for much if your users struggle to utilize them. Cloud storage is especially rife with software that feels clunky or outdated, with only a few providers bucking trends that have been in place for more than a decade.
One of these trends is the tendency to shove everything into the system tray, rather than offering a fully fledged application.
While some might prefer this lightweight style, we find this incredibly annoying and feel that it greatly harms the usability of the software. Luckily, Icedrive takes a different approach by offering a desktop client that mirrors its web dashboard.
Icedrive Virtual Drive & Portable Application
The most basic form of Icedrive you can install is the “Icedrive virtual drive.” As you might have guessed, this sets up a virtual drive on your system and also gives you access to a basic control panel that’s easy to use.
The more advanced option is the so-called “Icedrive portable application,” which is identical to the web dashboard, meaning all of Icedrive’s functionality is there. The interface is exceptionally well designed and sleek, which makes it a pleasure to use. It doesn’t take long to learn, and everything is easy to locate.
MEGA’s System Tray vs Web Dashboard
MEGA, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Like other cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, there is no proper desktop client (learn more in our Dropbox vs MEGA guide). You can perform basic actions — such as setting up new sync folders, monitoring active transfers and checking your notifications — in the system tray, but that’s it. For anything more advanced, you’ll need to use the web dashboard instead.
One helpful thing that MEGA does is provide you with a setup assistant when you first install the desktop app. This helps you set up your sync policies and provides a couple of instructions on how to use the software. It’s pretty basic, but it’s there, which is nice.
Moving on to the web dashboard — the meat of MEGA’s software — you’ll notice it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While the web interface itself looks pretty, it’s also cluttered and unintuitive. The main menu on the left-hand side of the window is filled with buttons whose purposes are not at all clear until you get to know them.
Both MEGA and Icedrive also offer mobile apps for iOS and Android. They’re pretty basic in terms of features, so we won’t spend too much time on these. Suffice it to say that each of the mobile apps is easy to use.
They both offer access to your files online and the ability to upload data directly from your mobile device. They include automatic backup for photos and videos, which is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose your treasured memories. MEGA’s app offers better file management through the use of categories, which let you display only a specific type of file at a time.
Given all this, it should come as no surprise that we greatly prefer Icedrive from a usability standpoint. Although MEGA could certainly do a lot worse, the cluttered web dashboard and lackluster desktop app stand no chance against the much sleeker and easier-to-use Icedrive (we have a guide on how to use MEGA if you need it, though).
With this win, Icedrive pulls ahead with a score of 2-1 as we approach the halfway point of our MEGA vs Icedrive comparison.
Point for Icedrive
4. File Syncing & Sharing
It’s finally time to take a closer look at the core functionality of any cloud storage service, namely its file sharing and syncing capabilities. As mentioned in our features round earlier, we’ve separated out these core functions and gave them their own round, simply because of how important they are.
As always, let’s start by looking at Icedrive’s file syncing and file sharing. Unlike other services, you don’t have to move everything into a dedicated sync folder to keep your existing file structure. You can enable sync for up to 20 folders, and setting up new ones is as simple as it could possibly be.
No Block-Level File Copying
Unfortunately, Icedrive doesn’t support block-level file copying, meaning you might waste a lot of time and resources reuploading entire files when only parts of them have changed. The same is true for MEGA, though, so it doesn’t make a difference for the purposes of this comparison.
In addition to the sync folders, Icedrive also sets up a virtual drive on your computer. This gives you access to everything you have stored on the cloud through file explorer, but without actually taking up any local storage space.
On the file-sharing front, Icedrive has greatly improved. You can share files in two different ways, either by creating a public link and sending it to someone manually, or by having Icedrive automatically email an invite.
When you create a shared link, you can enable password protection, download caps and restrictions and set an expiration date to ensure that people don’t have access forever. These options are available only to paid users, though, so if you’re using the free plan, you’re stuck with leaving your links exposed to the public.
If you share a folder, Icedrive will display a list of the users you’ve invited. You can also create upload links, which you can use to request files from other people without giving them access to your storage.
MEGA is a similar story, especially for file sync. As with Icedrive, there’s no need to move everything into a dedicated sync folder, since MEGA lets you designate any file or folder on your device for sync.
MEGA Lacks Advanced File-Sharing Functionality
As for file sharing, there’s no direct email option like there is in Icedrive, and some of the advanced features like download caps, restricted downloads and upload links are also missing. That said, users on one of the paid plans can enable password protection as well as expiration dates.
At the end of the day, Icedrive offers significantly more options when it comes to both sharing and syncing files. Between the ability to sync any folder, the virtual drive and advanced sharing features like upload links or download caps, Icedrive easily takes the win in this round, further cementing its lead as the score moves to 3-1 in its favor.
Point for Icedrive
If you’re not interested in waiting hours, days or even weeks for your files to upload or download, then speed is a crucial element of any cloud storage service. Although it’s not as important here as it is for online backup providers, it can still be incredibly frustrating to have to wait until your file uploads so that you can open it on another device.
To test this, we uploaded a 5GB test folder twice to both services and then downloaded it twice as well. We used a 1 Gbps connection throttled down to 100 Mbps and averaged the results, in an attempt to get around the fact that internet connections are rarely 100% reliable or stable.
That means we expect the uploads to take six minutes and 40 seconds. Of course, there’s bound to be some overhead, but generally, we would like to see speeds approaching these numbers. Physical distance to the servers also plays a part, and these tests were performed from a virtual machine hosted in Dublin, Ireland.
|Upload/Download:||First attempt||Second attempt||Average|
As you can see from the results above, both services are plenty fast. Icedrive manages somewhat better speeds, though, especially in uploads. Since we can’t see which of MEGA’s servers our data is stored on, this might be down to being closer to Icedrive’s German-based servers than, for example, New Zealand or Canada, but there’s no way to tell.
This means Icedrive comfortably takes the win in this round. That puts our scoreboard at 4-1, with three rounds to go, which puts MEGA in the hot seat.
Point for Icedrive
Because cloud storage providers have possession of potentially sensitive information, it’s important to be able to rest easy knowing that your files are safe from both cybercriminals and nosy companies or governments.
Without a doubt, the most important way to ensure this is by employing adequate encryption. To this end, Icedrive uses a protocol known as Twofish, rather than the much more common Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Twofish was actually the other finalist when the AES protocol was picked, but lost out to the Rijndael protocol.
That’s not to say Twofish is significantly weaker than AES, as the reasons it lost out to Rijndael are largely irrelevant to regular users. Twofish employs 256-bit keys, which would require millions — if not billions — of years to crack through brute force.
Icedrive also claims this protocol offers enhanced security as hackers are less familiar with it, but we’re not sure how much this matters.
Different Approaches to Encryption
It’s worth remembering that Icedrive separates its storage into two categories, only one of which is encrypted client-side. Anything placed in the “encrypted storage” section will be impossible to decrypt, even for Icedrive itself, while files in the regular drive are significantly less private. However, the encrypted folder is only available to paid users.
When your data is in transit to Icedrive’s servers, it’s protected using HTTPS (and thus, TLS), which is the industry standard. This keeps your files safe from man-in-the-middle attacks, preventing anyone from snooping on whatever you’re uploading to the cloud.
Meanwhile, MEGA opts for the more traditional 256-bit AES for its at-rest encryption. While in transit, your data is protected using SSL/TLS, just like with Icedrive.
Another handy security tool is two-factor authentication, which provides an additional layer of protection in the event that someone gets access to your password. MEGA offers this feature in the form of any TOTP-compatible authenticator app, while Icedrive limits users to Google Authenticator, hardware keys using U2F/FIDO or SMS verification (on premium plans).
There’s not a whole lot separating MEGA and Icedrive when it comes to security. These are two services with equally strong security, and both do a great job of making sure your files are safe from outside attack.
With that in mind, we’re calling this a tie, bringing the score to 5-2 as we head into our two final rounds.
No clear winner, points for both
Finally, it’s time to shift gears from security to privacy. Both services collect small amounts of data on users such as file size and IP addresses. This is mostly related to development and troubleshooting as well as covering potential legal requirements, such as copyright infringement and terms of service violations.
While the encryption measures are excellent for keeping your files safe, whether or not the files remain private relies on something else, namely client-side encryption. This is also known as zero-knowledge encryption and means that your files are encrypted locally on your device, which prevents anyone else from accessing them.
Both Icedrive and MEGA offer this, and both rank among the best zero-knowledge cloud services. As we noted earlier, Icedrive only offers private encryption through its dedicated “encrypted storage” section, which is only available to paid users. MEGA, on the other hand, encrypts everything with zero-knowledge, regardless of what kind of account you have.
The only problem to drag MEGA down is the 2022 security flaw. Cryptographic researchers found severe vulnerabilities in the way MEGA handles encryption keys. The provider patched up the critical flaws, but the researchers claim that MEGA needs to redesign its system to get rid of the issues completely.
Physical server location is another huge factor for data privacy. Icedrive hosts its servers in the U.S. and Germany, while MEGA opts for a more spread-out network of data centers located in Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands and France. Unfortunately, there’s no way to choose or even see which server stores your data.
This makes it a bit tricky to compare the two services, as the digital privacy laws in MEGA’s five countries vary wildly. For example, MEGA has excellent privacy protections in Canada in the form of PIPEDA, while the Netherlands is one of the worst European countries in this regard (as we talked about in our guide to the best VPN for the Netherlands).
That said, the U.K. isn’t great either, as the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016 gave the authorities sweeping powers to intrude on its citizens’ privacy in the digital sphere. Luckily, both Icedrive and MEGA let you download all the information the service has on you, providing complete transparency into the process.
It’s worth noting that a large chunk of MEGA’s shares are held by Chinese businessmen, which opens up the theoretical possibility that the authorities there could influence the cloud service. There’s no proof of this ever taking place, though, and the zero-knowledge encryption would prevent them from looking at your actual files and folders anyway.
All that taken together means that we have an incredibly close final round on our hands. Both services get top-notch marks for privacy, despite problems with server locations. However, the implications of the flaws with MEGA’s encryption model tip the scales in Icedrive’s favor. That brings our score to 6-2, with only one round to go.
Point for Icedrive
8. Customer Support
Finally we’ve arrived at our last round of this comparison, focused on customer support. This is an area where both providers perform pretty badly, at least when compared to other popular alternatives.
Both MEGA and Icedrive have knowledgebases and FAQ sessions that should help with the most basic problems. Beyond that, you can contact both through an email ticket form, though we’ve experienced slow response times with MEGA, and heard reports from users of the same problem with Icedrive.
Luckily, Icedrive also offers a live chat option, though it’s only open during U.K. business hours. Although this can be a big problem depending on what time zone you’re in, we found the chat support to be quick and to the point.
Because of the chat option, Icedrive wins this round, widening its lead to 7-2 in what has turned out to be a lopsided affair from start to finish.
Point for Icedrive
The Verdict: Icedrive vs MEGA
With that, our Icedrive vs MEGA comparison is over. Although several of our rounds were incredibly close calls, Icedrive still managed a convincing victory by winning six out of eight categories.
If you’re curious to see how Icedrive does against one of the big three — namely, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive — you can check out our Icedrive vs Google Drive comparison for more information on that. In a similar vein, our MEGA vs Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive should give you a good idea of whether MEGA can stand up to the big players in cloud storage.
What did you think of our MEGA vs Icedrive comparison? Do you agree that Icedrive wins based on its more reasonable prices and better usability? Or do you think that Icedrive’s lack of multiple server locations and massive free storage should make MEGA the winner instead? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.