Choosing the right cloud storage provider is becoming more difficult with each passing year as new services constantly join the fray. One of the most recent additions to 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.
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.
Icedrive vs MEGA Matchup
Since Icedrive is new on the cloud storage scene, we’re doing a series of new cloud storage comparisons to see how it stacks 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 six separate rounds, each focused on a vital part of any cloud storage solution.
These rounds include features, pricing, usability, file syncing and sharing, speed and, finally, security and privacy. 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 higher than others.
Like always, we’ll kick our comparison off by taking a look at what features Icedrive and MEGA offer. We’ve separated file syncing and sharing into its own round, seeing as these represent the core features of any cloud storage. So for this round, we’ll focus on what might be described as “bonus” features.
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 files 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 your online storage without having to download the file first, all without sacrificing anything in terms of security.
Icedrive also boasts excellent versioning. Deleted files are kept forever, though they do take up storage space, and you can roll any file back to a previous version regardless of how long it’s been since you made the change. This is great if you make a mistake and need to revert it, but more importantly, it can protect you against ransomware attacks as well.
However, we talked to Icedrive’s customer support about this versioning feature, and they told us that they will eventually impose time limits on the versioning once the service becomes more popular.
Moving on to MEGA, the more established cloud storage service offers quite a bit more in terms of what might be considered “bonus” 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.
As with Icedrive, you can preview certain file types directly on the cloud without having to actually download the files first. This applies to music, PDFs and photos, but unfortunately not videos. MEGA also retains deleted and old versions of files for up to 30 days, though both use up storage space.
Finally, there’s also a command-line tool called MEGAcmd which gives you the ability to perform advanced operations, such as setting up automated backups without having to use the actual interface.
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. Although Icedrive does what it needs to do, it doesn’t sport much in terms of additional features. That means MEGA gets off to a good start by snagging the first point, leaving Icedrive to catch up.
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, additional features or security.
Icedrive’s pricing model is straightforward and reasonable. There are three 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
- : 10 GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- : 150 GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- : 1000 GB
If you’re happy to pay for an entire year up-front, then 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 $59, $149 and $499 for Lite, Pro and Pro+, respectively.
The caveat to 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.
- : 20 GB
- : 8000 GB
Unfortunately, the prices for these plans are pretty steep, costing $5.90, $11.82, $23.65 and $35.48 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 services, like pCloud, are a bit cheaper than MEGA, as well, making it one of the pricier options out there for cloud storage.
Both services also offer a free account, which in MEGA’s case, grants you 20GB of free storage, while for Icedrive, it’s 10GB of free space. Both services impose a bandwidth limit on free account holders, which for Icedrive is 3GB per day, while MEGA is slightly more generous at 5GB per day.
With MEGA you can also get an extra space for performing certain tasks — or “achievements” — such as installing the desktop and mobile apps or referring friends, but those “accomplishments” expire after 365 days.
When you compare 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 usability round.
Usability is a huge factor for any kind of software, as 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 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 that you can install is the “Icedrive virtual drive.” As you might guess, 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 completely 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 get used to, 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. 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 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. We won’t spend too much time on these but, suffice to say, each mobile app is easy to use.
They both offer access to your files online as well as the ability to upload things from your mobile device. Both include automatic uploads for photos and videos, which is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose your treasured memories.
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 to a score of 2-1 as we reach the halfway point of our MEGA vs Icedrive comparison.
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 given them their own round, simply due to 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 as many folders as you want, 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, things aren’t quite as rosy for Icedrive. Although it does offer the ability to share files, it lacks some of the more advanced options that you get from services like Sync.com. You can share a file 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 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 public access.
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 File Sharing by Email
As for file sharing, there’s no direct email option like there is in Icedrive, but otherwise, the process is basically identical. Users on one of the paid plans can enable password protection as well as expiration dates.
At the end of the day, there’s practically no difference between MEGA and Icedrive when it comes to file sharing and syncing. That said, we’ll give this one to Icedrive by a hair’s breadth, as it offers the ability to email links directly from the client, which can save a bit of time if you want to share something with several different people.
That means that Icedrive further cements its lead as the score moves to 3-1 in its favor, with only two rounds to go. At this point, the best MEGA could hope for is a tie, but it would have to win both of our final rounds to get there.
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 of a category 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 access it on another device.
To test this, we uploaded a 1GB test file twice to both services and then downloaded it twice as well. We averaged the results, in an attempt to get around the fact that internet connections are rarely 100 percent reliable or stable. The tests were performed on a connection with a download speed of 32 Mbps and an upload speed of roughly 6 Mbps.
That means we expect the uploads to take roughly 24 minutes, while the downloads should finish in as little as four to five minutes. 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 North Macedonia.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
As you can see from the results above, both services are plenty fast. Icedrive manages slightly better speeds, though, both in uploads and downloads. Since we can’t see which of MEGA’s servers are being used to store our data, this might be down to being closer to Icedrive’s UK-based servers than, for example, New Zealand or Canada, but there’s no way to tell.
This means Icedrive takes the win in this round, albeit by an incredibly narrow margin. That puts our scoreboard at 4-1, with one round to go, making the overall result of this comparison a foregone conclusion.
6. Security & Privacy
Finally, we arrive at our security and privacy round. 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.
Security: Encryption and Two-Factor Authentication
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.
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 access, 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 files are in transit to Icedrive’s servers, they’re 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 AES for its at-rest encryption, though with a 128-bit key size rather than the more standard 256-bit. Although this constitutes weaker protection, the difference isn’t huge, and MEGA’s encryption should still keep your files perfectly safe. While in transit, your files are 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 is limited to Google Authenticator, hardware keys using U2F/FIDO or SMS verification (on premium plans).
Finally, it’s time to shift gears from security to privacy. Both services collect small amounts of data on its 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 the latter ranks among the best zero-knowledge cloud services. Since it’s new, Icedrive hasn’t made it onto this list just yet, but there’s a good chance that this will change down the road.
Physical server location is another huge factor for data privacy. Icedrive hosts its servers exclusively in the UK, 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 your data is stored on.
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 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 UK isn’t great either, as the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016 gave the authorities wide-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 possibility that the cloud service could be influenced by the authorities there. 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 both security and privacy, but the additional server locations tip the scales in MEGA’s favor. That brings our final score to 4 to 2, which makes it slightly less lopsided than it could’ve been.
The Verdict: Icedrive vs MEGA
With that, our MEGA vs Icedrive comparison is concluded. Although several of our rounds were incredibly close calls, Icedrive still managed a convincing victory by winning four out of six 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 server locations and massive free storage should make MEGA the winner instead? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.
Which Has More Free Cloud Storage: Icedrive or MEGA?
MEGA offers 20GB of free storage as well as an additional 35GB for your first month, which can start you off with 50GB of free space. You can also increase this by yet another 35GB by installing both the desktop and mobile app (which lasts for three months), and refer friends for an additional 10GB per referral, lasting one year. Meanwhile, Icedrive only offers 10GB of free storage.
Is Icedrive or MEGA Better for Security?
In terms of security, the two services are virtually identical, though we’d give a slight edge to MEGA. Icedrive uses a larger key size than MEGA, but MEGA offers two-factor authentication, which is probably a bigger deal since both encryption models are practically impossible to break anyway.