We increasingly store all types of important data in the cloud rather than on hard disks. Most of us now rely on fast broadband and mobile broadband, so cloud computing is getting stronger by day. This is being facilitated by price wars and continuous upgrading of various cloud storage services.
Since we last updated this article, cloud storage devices have evolved and given way to new features, so it’s definitely time to revisit it now.
MEGA is now a more established name when it comes to cloud storage services, and it has gone down well with users, earning positive feedback. MEGA wants to be one of the most secure services and has even put out a bounty of €10,000 for people who discover security leaks.
MEGA is unique in the sense that it is not only designed to be an online storage provider. Instead, it works as a platform where apps can be developed to further enhance its core functionality. As always, we at Cloudwards.net want to know how MEGA compares to the rest of the services.
Comparing The Competitors
MEGA is a cloud storage service. You can upload files to their servers and access them everywhere you go. That’s nothing particular unique about MEGA that’s just what cloud storage services do in general: they make files available. It is NOT a backup solution.
We are strong advocates of real backup solutions when it comes to securing data. Cloud storage services, MEGA or not, cannot replace a proper file backup system. MEGA has three features that make it stand out from the crowd.
Superior end-to-end encryption: The data is encrypted and decrypted during the transfer process, unlike the other cloud storage services,by the associated client devices. Secure global access: MEGA allows the user to access data anywhere and anytime, but prevents everyone else from accessing it.
Secure collaboration: online collaboration is quite private and secure with MEGA’s features in place. It facilitates real-time sharing and viewing updates of contacts, making it convenient for users.
With a cloud storage system like MEGA, users can enjoy several benefits. MEGA’s mobile apps allow access to files and folders from users’ smartphones and tablets. We can also upload and sync media from anywhere to the cloud. MEGA’s sync client ensures easy automation of syncing between the system and the MEGA cloud drive.
MEGA email and chat. This feature will soon be available and allows chat, emailing, calling, and video conferencing. MEGA Browser Apps allow installations of browser extensions for high-speed loading and higher resilience against attacks.
Privacy With Responsibility – Not Total Anonymity
What makes MEGA stand out (well, at least this is what they claim) is that they provide a high level of security. When you sign up they create a 2048-bit RSA public /private key that should keep your data safe – safe means that theoretically nobody else but you has access to your files, not even the authorities. However, as Kimdotcom states – you are not totally anonymous.
Most cloud storage or syncing services like Dropbox will only encrypt your files on transit but not before you upload them.
This cloud storage service has definitely made a good start, offering 50GB of free cloud storage in the beginning – it is trying to integrate various features. It is offering a 96TB bandwidth,and it provides up to 4TB of encrypted storage with its pro packages starting at $9.87/month.
- Free 50GB storage
- Nice web interface
- No file versioning
- Accounts expire
- Very slow
Google Drive is one of the more attractive services that Google currently offers. 15GB of free space is available when a Google account is setup – or it is linked to an existing one. In fact, with the current upgradeof Google, it unified its services under a single login ID earlier this year, so chances are that a Drive account already exists if you are using Gmail, Google Calendar, or even YouTube.
The storage space of 15GB is shared across all these services, so if users have large attachments in emails, then they will be counted in, and enabling the automatic photo backup to Google+ from a smartphone will act in the same way.
Storage Space and Images
One advantage is that Google discards any photos below 2048×2048 resolution, and videos shorter than 15 minutes, so settings on smartphones and devices can always be adjusted accordingly to get unlimited storage as they don’t count towards the 15GB limit. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Presentations, Drawings, and files that others have shared with the user don’t count either.
Google Drive doesn’t provide extra storage space through referrals or link the user account to social media, unlike OneDrive and Dropbox.
There have been plenty of promotions offered by Google that include 10GB free for users who download Quick Office and other mobile phone deals.The search giant offers 100GB free for two years if the user buys a Chromebook. A separate service known as Google Music is meant exclusively for storage of music files and allows users to keep 20,000 songs in the cloud for free.
Data stored on Drive is encrypted in 128-bit AES rather than the 256-bit employed by Box, OneDrive, and Dropbox and is quite similar to Apple.
Google Drive provides a two-step verification process and asserts that it won’t pry into the content of the user’s Drive folder unless compelled by law enforcement agencies. On the whole, it has a smart interface that’s simple to navigate and a basic file tree showing where the data are kept. Specific files can be selected to make them available offline on the mobile versions, and these files can be edited.
- Google Docs integration
- Many third-party apps
- In-app collaborations
- Weak file-sharing security
- No private encryption option
- No block-level sync
OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive, which essentially does the same: it creates a folder on your hard drive that gets synced to other computers where you login with the same account.
Similar to Google Drive, OneDrive provides 15GB of free storage, and its referral incentive is a minimum of 500MB limited to 5GB. Office 365 users get 1TB of OneDrive storage as part of the monthly subscription fee, which is the latest addition to the offers provided by OneDrive.
However, last October, Microsoft promised offering unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 users.
OneDrive Privacy and Security
When it comes to user privacy, Microsoft has secured the right to scan user files and documents, and shuns objectionable content according to its policies. This policy is similar to Apple and includes explicit content along with copyrighted material.
Hence, OneDrive carves a new niche and brings a couple of new features to iOS. This cloud service from Microsoft, which was formerly known as SkyDrive, is an excellent option for storing files. It provides the option to browse through user files, create folders, and look at thumbnail previews. It also displays the files in a list where you have the pleasure of smooth file management.
Swipe left and you will get the option of deleting files. Buttons provided across the apps allow you to sort by backups, recent files, and documents shared with others. You can enable multiple file sharing from the menu button, which also allows you to add files.
OneDrive also provides you with the auto backup feature for photos and videos. Sharing is easier with this cloud service and involves sending a link of the files and documents via email.Another interesting feature is the file uploading facility to OneDrive directly from your browser.
It doesn’t work on IE and Firefox but works well on Chrome. All you have to do is go to OneDrive.com in Chrome, log in, open Windows Explorer, and then drag and drop your folder to the opened OneDrive, that’s it. Although, Chrome is the only browser currently capable of handling folder uploads,this may change with the release of Windows 10 later this year.
- Low-cost pricing
- Bundled with Office 365
- Great for collaboration
- No at-rest encryption
- Manual uploads can stall
- Only NTFS supported
Dropbox caters to a wide area of operating system standards that include the usual Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and Blackberry. Dropbox’s free account offers a small storage space of 2GB that might be enough for storing documents but is insufficient for any kind of media files – photos, music, or video.
Users resort to 1TB with Dropbox Pro, which is offered for around $9.99 per month, to store files of larger size. To secure and increase the space for the Dropbox account, it can be linked to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking profiles.
What About Dropbox’s Security?
Well, we do have an entire article about top 10 secure Dropbox alternatives. But in short all files on the Dropbox servers follow AES 256-bit encryption with SSL, providing sturdy security and privacy and requiring a two-step authentication process.
Hence, irrespective of the technology the system is functioning on, Dropbox ensures safe and secure data that can be accessed by users anytime, anywhere. When the user requires extra security, upgrading the service to Dropbox Pro is a must, as it allows users to set viewer permissions and passwords, which is not possible with the basic account.
Apart from creating and syncing the important user documents in a local folder in a PC or on the latest smart device, Dropbox’s offline functionality will make user-selected files available offline. Hence it does not always depend on Internet connection. The same functionality also allows editing and updating of user files and documents. With easy linking and sharing, files and folders are even shared with non-Dropbox users.
This storage service also allows the sending of collaboration invites for the file.
- Very fast sync
- MS Office Online Integration
- Dropbox Paper
- Only up to 1TB
- Not zero knowledge
SugarSync is the only cloud storage service that has an option of customized pricing plans as per customer requirement. This is one of our favorite file synchronization services because it has more features than Dropbox. It offers a free trial for 30 days before requiring an upgrade to a paid version.
A simple right click is required on any folder to add it to SugarSync after you register and set up an account with this storage service.
The entire folder that you sync with this storage is continuously backed up in real time, providing users access to their folders anytime, anywhere, from any PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device. SugarSync allows editing of the user’s files on the office PC and then users can finish them at home. Also, SugarSync thinks “outside the box”, as it allows multiple syncing of folders.
Mobile Use and Security
SugarSync has a separate mobile app designed for mobile users that allows syncing, accessing, and browsing of files across all smart devices on the go. It provides an exclusive online backup feature that quietly runs in the background without interfering with your work.
This in turn allows restoration of data when required. This automatic file backup option also allows file version control and recovery. Apart from syncing multiple folders at once from different devices online, it provides the syncing of multiple folders during offline file access. It also syncs shared folders during seamless online file sharing with other users, maintaining security.
Easy online data protection and data recovery are two distinct features of SugarSync. Hence file sharing is 100-percent secure with this storage service. This allows restoration of not just one file, but all the backed-up data, with ease. It also provides security while uploading and downloading files.
When the files are synced to SugarSync’s servers, they are transferred over the Internet using TLS (SSL 3.3) encryption, which is the industry standard for secure web communications. This means that the system and the server go through a compatible process verifying every piece of information moved between them as a secure communication, whether data is being uploaded or downloaded.
The same rigorous standards are applied when you access your files from any computer or mobile phone, and all data is encrypted before leaving SugarSync’s servers. SugarSync provides a host of options while sharing folders including the ability to edit files and documents.
- Syncs any folder
- No file-size limit
- File versioning
- Relatively expensive
- No free tier
- Slow browser downloading
SpiderOak ONE with its “zero-knowledge privacy” policy, unlike Dropbox and OneDrive, encrypts data on its servers, providing an organized and layered approach to encryption through a combination of 2048-bit RSA and 256-bit AES.
Enhanced with three fold functionality, SpiderOak is a compelling online backup, syncing, and file-sharing service, as it connects a number of source computers from which those files can come. These unlimited computers can run any applications and operating devices such as Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.
Other exclusive SpiderOak features include the storage of unlimited versions of the user’s modified files and charges are limited to the compressed, de-duplicated files stored on its servers.
The Zero-Knowledge Boost
The simple design of SpiderOak is specialized only in providing secured storage instead of serving wider productivity like Dropbox and OneDrive.
Since this security-obsessed cloud storage service is lacking in a few basic areas, for example, it provides no Office-style apps or collaboration with colleagues online, it does not appeal to the majority of users.
- Backup unlimited computers
- Sync files across computers
- Good file sharing options
- No mobile backup
- No courier service
As you can see, cloud storage services differ mostly in either their reliability, or the free storage that they offer. Many features are the same: some services sync files across multiple PCs while others only offer a cloud space that you can access via a web client, like MEGA does.
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With its upgraded features, MEGA is aiming to be the game changer and starts a new era when it comes to free cloud storage offerings. 50GB is a generous amount and will be more than most people actually need for their daily needs.
Which one is your favorite? Any other point you would like to add? Please feel free to share your experience and thanks for reading!