When it comes to privacy-focused cloud storage services, two names that stand out are pCloud and MEGA. In this pCloud vs MEGA comparison, we’ll look at every aspect of these privacy-focused services to find out which one is better.
- pCloud has more useful features than MEGA, plus more in-depth file-sharing and synchronization. It also offers slightly better customer support options and better speeds.
- MEGA does a little better in both security and privacy, though pCloud is also a very secure and private service.
- Both services have similar price points and are both very easy to use.
- Overall, pCloud is the better choice, but if you want more free storage, then you might want to go with MEGA instead.
If the name Kim Dotcom means anything to you, then you’re probably already familiar with MEGA, the cloud storage solution founded by this colorful, privacy-focused renegade (although he has long since left the company). Read our guide to find out what Megaupload is.
Our other cloud storage comparison pieces will show you that we’re big fans of pCloud, too. Both pCloud and MEGA offer zero-knowledge encryption to keep your data secure, although this costs a little extra with a pCloud subscription (in the form of pCloud Crypto). Both are fairly easy to use, but pCloud does have some superior syncing features.
Read on as we take a closer look at pCloud vs MEGA to see which is the better option in this comparison review. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into either service, you can head over to our individual pCloud review and MEGA review instead.
09/05/2022 Facts checked
Updated article with new information about features, pricing and speed.
Yes, MEGA uses zero-knowledge encryption for all the files stored on its servers. That said, a 2022 study found that under certain conditions, users’ encryption keys could become compromised.
pCloud’s biggest disadvantage is the fact that zero-knowledge encryption is sold separately. There’s also very little in the way of productivity or document collaboration features.
If you’re looking for secure cloud storage with lots of features and great speed, then pCloud is absolutely worth the money.
pCloud vs MEGA: Cloud Storage Platform Comparison Criteria
Comparing different cloud storage services can be a challenge because no two products are exactly alike. To get around this problem, we’ll take a look at pCloud and MEGA over several rounds. In each round, we put our two providers head to head in an important aspect of cloud storage.
These rounds are features, pricing, ease of use, file sharing and synchronization, speed, security, privacy and customer support. The provider that wins each round gets a point, and if it’s a draw, the points are shared. At the end of the article, we’ll tally up the points to find the overall winner.
As you might expect, features are plentiful from both MEGA and pCloud, although some features are arguably more useful than others.
pCloud Media File Features
For instance, pCloud has a dedicated music player for your music collection, allowing you to build playlists and search by song title, album title or artist. This alone makes it one of the best cloud storage for music picks if you’re storing your music in the cloud. However, if you’re using a streaming service, then it’s probably redundant.
pCloud also allows you to back up files directly from other cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive, as well as from your Facebook account. This lets you quickly collate and store your social media photos.
Speaking of photos, pCloud offers a browser extension (compatible with Opera, Firefox and Chrome) that lets you save images directly from your browser to your cloud storage.
Backup & File Versioning
Besides acting as a regular cloud storage provider, pCloud also comes with backup features that let it compete with dedicated online backup services like SpiderOak.
This feature lets you select folders on your device that will be automatically backed up to the cloud. This is similar to the sync folders, but the backup feature is simpler to set up and makes it easier to manage multiple devices.
When it comes to file versioning — that is the feature that lets you revert to an older version of your files — pCloud offers 30 days for paid accounts and 15 days on the free plan by default. This can be extended to a full year for an additional $39 per year. With MEGA, there’s no time limit and a cap of 100 versions, making it the clearly better option for versioning.
MEGA Chat & Email Clients
There’s an encrypted chat and file-sharing feature for MEGA account users. This end-to-end encryption might appeal to you, especially if you’re concerned about the privacy of apps like WhatsApp.
If you’re keen to share large files with other users, you can send them directly using MEGAbird, an extension for the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client. This allows you to send large files through MEGA directly from Thunderbird, regardless of your email hosting service. There’s also a command-line tool that allows you to control and automate your account.
As you can see, these features — outside the typical cloud storage features you’d expect — range from useful to niche. While pCloud’s music player and MEGA’s encrypted chat might appeal to some, the biggest draw will be pCloud’s backup service, which allows you to save files across multiple platforms. With this in mind, pCloud wins here.
|- Unlimited GB starts from $4.17 / month (All Plans)||400 GB - 50 TB starts from $4.23 / month (All Plans)|
|pCloud Review||MEGA Review|
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Encryption Protocol||AES 256-bit|
|Live Chat Support|
Price is perhaps the most important factor when choosing between different cloud storage options. Fortunately, both providers offer free storage and high-class service that lands them on our list of the best free cloud storage services, and they offer fairly priced paid plans.
You get 10GB of storage for free with pCloud, though you only start with 2GB when you sign up. To access the rest, you’ll need to unlock it. You can unlock the next 5GB by confirming your email, uploading a file to the cloud, installing the desktop and mobile app and turning on the automatic photo upload feature.
The final 3GB is available after you start inviting other users to pCloud, but you only get the additional storage space if they actually sign up.
MEGA offers 20GB for free for forever when you register an account. Plus, you can increase your storage if you accomplish tasks, or “achievements,” but these bonuses expire after 365 days. Three of these are easy to accomplish (installing various apps and verifying your phone number), which means you’re effectively guaranteed 35GB of storage for the first year.
pCloud Paid Plans
For paid storage, pCloud offers two personal plans with the option to pay monthly or annually, or to make a one-off lifetime payment. The Premium plan comes with 500GB of storage. The monthly option costs $4.99 per month, and the annual payment costs the equivalent of $4.17. The pCloud lifetime subscription comes to $175 total.
- : 10GB
- : 500GB
- : 2TB
- : 2TB
- : 10TB
- : Price per user (minimum 3)
- : 1TB
- : Price per user (minimum 3)
- : Unlimited GB
The top plan, Premium Plus, comes with 2TB of storage. The monthly option costs $9.99 per month, the annual payment costs the equivalent of $8.33 each month and the lifetime subscription costs $350 total.
Finally, there’s a third “custom” plan that features a whopping 10TB of storage. However, this plan is only available on the lifetime tier, meaning you can’t get it as a monthly or annual subscription. This plan will run you $990, which is steep, but it breaks down to a better value than the smaller plans — provided you actually need lifetime access to that much storage.
MEGA Paid Plans
- : 20GB
- : File transfer: (monthly plan) 12TB (yearly plan)
- : 400GB
- : File transfer: 2TB (Monthly plan) 24TB (yearly plan)
- : 2TB
- : File transfer: (monthly plan) 96TB (yearly plan)
- : 8TB
- : File transfer: 16TB (monthly plan) 192TB (yearly plan)
- : 16TB
- : Per user (minimum 3)
- : 3TB
- : Per user (minimum 3)
- : 10TB
- : Per user (minimum 3)
- : 50TB
By comparison, MEGA’s pricing structure is a lot more complicated. There are four paid plans available for individuals, and one for businesses. The four personal plans come with 400GB, 2TB, 8TB and 16TB of storage and the value here depends a lot on which plan you go for. Unlike pCloud, there’s no MEGA lifetime option.
Since MEGA only offers pricing in euros, there’s always going to be some fluctuation in its U.S. dollar price depending on the exact conversion rate. At time of writing, the cheapest 400GB plan costs $5.07 per month ($4.23 if billed annually) and the second plan costs $10.15 per month ($8.46 when billed annually).
Currently, this is very close to what pCloud offers, but this is largely due to the current strength of the dollar in relation to the euro.
The two larger plans are a better value regardless of the exchange rate, as the 8TB plan costs $20.32 per month ($16.93 when billed annually) and the 16TB is an even better deal — if you need that much storage — at $30.48 per month ($25.40 when billed annually).
pCloud Business Pricing
Both providers also offer cloud storage for businesses. pCloud offers two professional plans, both of which require a minimum commitment of three users.
The first plan, simply called Business, provides 1TB of storage per user at a cost of $9.99 per user per month (or $7.99 if you go for annual billing). The second (called Business Pro) places no limits on your storage and ups the price to $19.98 per user per month, or $15.98 if you pay yearly.
You can read our pCloud Business review if you want to learn more, but one real benefit of the business plan is that it includes pCloud Crypto for every user. We’ll talk about this feature later, but you can also read our pCloud Crypto guide.
MEGA Business Pricing
MEGA, on the other hand, has only a single business plan, but it’s customizable. You can choose how much storage you want, up to a maximum of 10PB. You can also set your file-transfer limit anywhere between 3TB and 10PB. Finally, you can decide how many users you want, with three being the minimum.
This means that the price of MEGA for business can vary wildly, but here are a few examples.
If you want the absolute cheapest deal, that includes three users, 3TB of storage and a 3TB transfer quota. That works out to $5.08 per user per month, or $15.24 per month for all three users. If you go beyond this, either in terms of storage or transfers, you’ll be charged an additional $2.50 per user per month for each additional terabyte of storage or transfers.
With an upper limit of 10PB, this plan — for all intents and purposes — is classified as unlimited, though you’d spend an astronomical amount of money (more than $25,000 per month) if you actually utilize that much space.
If you’re looking for truly unlimited space, check out competitors like Dropbox Business and Box in our best unlimited cloud storage article, or consider a backup provider like Backblaze.
Comparing like-for-like with cloud storage services is always a challenge, but both providers offer a 2TB package that, at the time of writing, works out to roughly the same price.
Although MEGA offers more free storage, the value of its smaller paid plans depends heavily on the exchange rate between dollar and euro. When taken together, it means this round is a tie, so the score is now 2-1 in pCloud’s favor.
3. Ease of Use
MEGA and pCloud both use the familiar sync folder system that Dropbox popularized a decade or so ago. If you’ve ever used cloud storage services before, you’ll find both pCloud and MEGA simple to use with familiar features. Both use system-tray or menu-bar icons on desktop PCs that allow you to access your settings.
If you want an interface to actually manage your files and folders outside the standard file explorer, you’ll need to use either service’s web interface. If you’d prefer a cloud storage service that offers a full file-management interface for desktop, then check out our Icedrive review.
The web interfaces of both providers can also be a little clunky when compared to rivals like Sync.com and Dropbox. Dragging and dropping a file into the pCloud web app can only be done with the folder that’s currently open, rather than into subfolders.
With MEGA, the same issue occurs. You can’t just drop a file into a folder on the screen; you have to specify in a pop-up window where you want to place it (see our guide on how to use MEGA).
A similar problem exists with the mobile apps. If you want to move a file, you can’t hold it down and drag it around like you can with other cloud services. Instead, you have to long-press the file and select to move it in the menu that appears once you do so.
In comparison, competitors such as OneDrive and Dropbox allow you to drag and drop files within the mobile app itself, which is far simpler, quicker and more intuitive for users. Check out our OneDrive review or Dropbox vs MEGA and pCloud vs Dropbox comparison guides to learn more about its app.
Despite these (pretty minor) issues, the apps are otherwise useful. For instance, both pCloud and MEGA make it onto our list of the best cloud storage for Android.
Most cloud storage providers offer clients for macOS and Windows, but both contenders here also offer Linux support to cover all likely desktop users. Both services also make it onto our list of the best cloud storage for Linux. For mobile users, there are good-quality Android and iOS apps available for both services.
There’s really not a huge difference between the providers when it comes to ease of use, so we’re calling this round a draw.
4. File Sharing & Syncing
The basis of all cloud storage is to store and share files. As top-tier providers, MEGA and pCloud do this pretty well.
MEGA allows you to control what files you sync with your PC. If storage space is tight, you can selectively pick which files you want to have immediately accessible, or you can download all of them for easy access. You can add other PC folders as new sync locations from the settings menu.
pCloud uses a different method that (we would argue) is superior and takes out the complexity. When you install pCloud, your sync folder is set up as a virtual drive. The contents of this drive are stored in the cloud and are visible on your computer as if they were stored on your hard drive, but they take up no space on your PC.
If you want to be able to work on files offline, then you can use the sync feature. This allows you to choose local folders on your computer to sync with pCloud, giving you the ability to work on them offline. When you next connect to the internet, any changes you have made are automatically synced to the pCloud servers. Read our how to use pCloud guide to learn more.
pCloud’s Advanced File Sharing Options
Both providers allow you to create links for sharing files. With pCloud, you can include a password or expiration date, or use a shortened link. You can also decide whether the person opening the link can download the file or simply preview it in-browser.
Another neat feature that’s particularly useful for businesses is the ability to add branding to the shared item. This lets you add a cover, an image, a title and a description to your shared link.
If you want to collaborate on multiple files, you can create a public folder that others can upload files to and edit, or create a file request that others can use to directly upload files to your account.
There’s also a useful stats page that shows you various bits of information about how your link has been accessed. Furthermore, pCloud operates on what it calls “fair share,” which means that when you share a file or folder with someone else, it only takes up your storage, not theirs as well.
MEGA also allows you to set an expiry date and password for shared files, but only if you have a paid account. You can also share encrypted files, with the option to share your links with or without the decryption key. In pCloud’s case, this is restricted to business accounts.
If you send a MEGA link with the key, anyone with the link can open it. If the key isn’t included, you will need to send the decryption key separately to anyone you want to be able to open the file or folder. Unfortunately, MEGA’s version of file requests (MEGAdrop folders) isn’t as useful as pCloud’s, as you can’t share download links to these folders.
pCloud limits download bandwidth each month for shared links. Free accounts get 50GB, Premium accounts get 500GB and Premium Plus accounts get 2TB.
MEGA has a similar system in place, with paid tiers offering 1TB, 2TB, 8TB and 16TB of bandwidth each month. Free accounts don’t have a specified limit; MEGA says it depends on the time of day and other factors, but don’t expect more than around 4GB per day. Read our guide to learn how to bypass MEGA download limits.
We like pCloud’s virtual drive approach. It’s simple and easy to understand, and it gives you what is effectively 2TB of extra space to store your files on your computer. It also uses block-level sync, and has more in-depth file-sharing features, making pCloud the easy winner here.
If you’re on a reasonably high-speed internet connection, you want to make sure that any cloud storage you go with is fast. Luckily, both of the providers we’re looking at here perform well in terms of speed, though there’s a slight disparity between them.
To test the speed of cloud storage software, we use a virtual Windows365 machine with a 1 Gbps connection speed throttled down to 100 Mbps for more realistic (and stable) results. With this setup, we expect our 5GB test folder to upload and download in just over six and a half minutes.
Furthermore, we ran each test twice, so the results are as reliable as possible.
|Upload/Download||First attempt||Second attempt||Average|
As you can see, both services performed well. In fact, they both made it onto our list of the fastest cloud storage, with pCloud in third place and MEGA in eighth. With roughly 30 seconds between them for uploads, and about a minute for downloads, pCloud is only slightly faster than MEGA, but faster nonetheless.
One major advantage that pCloud has in terms of speed is that it uses block-level sync to split your files up into small blocks. When you edit the file, only the parts — or blocks — of the file you change are synced, instead of having to sync the whole file.
If you’re syncing large files, this can make a significant difference in speeding up uploads. This is one of the reasons why pCloud makes it onto our best cloud storage for large files shortlist, along with Sync.com and Icedrive.
Clearly, pCloud is the winner here, which brings the score to 5-2. With just three rounds left to go, that means the best MEGA can hope for is a tie.
The most secure cloud storage requires one thing more than anything: solid encryption. Besides this, there are some additional features like two-factor authentication that play a role in keeping your account safe, but there’s no real substitute for a proper implementation of file encryption.
Both pCloud and MEGA use the industry standard AES protocol to encrypt your files. This is essentially uncrackable, meaning unless anyone gets ahold of your password (check out our password guide), your files will remain secure from outside attack.
For two-factor authentication, pCloud supports direct SMS verification and the Google Authenticator app. This is fine, but MEGA definitely does better here by being compatible with any app or hardware that uses the TOTP protocol, which gives you a lot of options.
There’s very little separating either service when it comes to security, and it’s only the additional 2FA options that let MEGA grab the win here, as otherwise we’d be inclined to call it a tie. That means that MEGA still has a chance for a tie, as the score is now 5-3 with two rounds to go.
If security is what keeps your files safe from external attack, then privacy is keeping them hidden from prying eyes that have legitimate access to the servers, such as the company itself or government agencies.
The only real way to ensure digital privacy is zero-knowledge encryption. With it, the files you store are encrypted, and your cloud storage provider has no record of the key to decrypt them; it remains in your hands only. Without the key, there’s no way for anybody but you to access your files.
Even if the provider is forced to hand over your data to the authorities, that data is useless without your decryption key. This is why, when it comes to security, both MEGA and pCloud offer the right kind of solutions. MEGA uses zero-knowledge encryption for all its products, including on its free tier, meaning your data is secure.
Sadly, cryptographic researchers found a severe vulnerability in the way MEGA handles users’ encryption keys, as you can read in our MEGA security flaw article. The provider remedied the critical flaws, but the researchers claim it will take a redesign to fix the problem.
Although pCloud does offer zero-knowledge encryption, you have to pay for it (unless you’re a business user). Branded as pCloud Crypto, it allows you to encrypt some or all of your files using zero-knowledge encryption. pCloud Crypto costs $4.99 extra per month or about $3.99 per month on the annual plan, with a $125 fee for lifetime access.
Server Locations & Jurisdictions
pCloud is based in Switzerland, a country with some of the best cloud privacy laws in the world. It does have servers in the U.S., though, so your data may fall under much less privacy-friendly U.S. laws. A good way around this is to use pCloud Crypto or to encrypt the files yourself using Cryptomator (see our Cryptomator review). You also have the option to use a server in the EU.
As the so-called “privacy company,” MEGA is undoubtedly focused on user privacy. Its servers are all located in fairly privacy-friendly locations — including New Zealand, Canada and Luxembourg — with no servers on U.S. soil.
European users are party to the strong data protection rules of GDPR, but MEGA takes this a step further and applies the same rules to all users, even those who live outside the EU.
All in all, pCloud is great for privacy, but just as with security, MEGA is just a little bit better. Despite the report of some fundamental issues with its cryptography, the fact that MEGA includes end-to-end encryption at no additional cost clearly puts it above pCloud.
That means we’re heading for a nail-biting finish as MEGA closes the gap to 5-4, making a draw within reach.
8. Customer Support
Ending things on a somewhat sour tone, we have customer support. This is an area where neither MEGA nor pCloud perform that well, which is disappointing for two services that are otherwise very competent.
There’s no chat support for either service, with the main avenue of support being a basic email submission form. We tested both of these, and both support teams managed to respond within the promised 24 hours.
Both services offer knowledgebases and FAQs, though these are only useful for fairly basic problems. If you want to contact MEGA directly and immediately, you’re out of luck, as there’s not even a phone number you can call.
pCloud does offer phone support, but it’s only open during Swiss business hours, meaning if you’re in the wrong timezone it could be difficult to reach.
All this means that pCloud ekes out a win here, but only because MEGA is slightly worse. The fact is that both services could greatly improve their customer support options, but the inclusion of phone support and a user forum is at least something, which leaves us with a final score of 6-4 and pCloud as the overall winner of our comparison.
The contest was fairly tight over the first three rounds, with pCloud’s features earning it an early win. Price and ease of use were both a lot closer, with neither service managing a clear win in either round.
pCloud was the clear winner when it came to file syncing and sharing, though, with block-level sync speeding up file syncing (especially for large files) and the virtual drive system used to free up disk space. It also features much more advanced file-sharing controls than MEGA, which is a huge advantage. pCloud is also a bit faster, scoring it another point for speed.
However, MEGA came out on top when it comes to security and privacy, thanks to it offering more options for 2FA and zero-knowledge encryption as standard, even on its free tier. Finally, pCloud managed to squeeze out a final point in customer support, landing it the overall victory instead of a draw.
If you’re looking for a quality cloud storage service, then both pCloud and MEGA have their strengths and would be good providers for you to use. If privacy is your biggest concern, then MEGA is a strong candidate. On the other hand, if you’re looking for fast syncing or want to access all your cloud files without filling up your drive in the process, then pCloud is an excellent choice.
If you’ve used MEGA or pCloud before and you want to agree or disagree with any of these points, please do. Perhaps you think we were too harsh on MEGA’s relative lack of features? Or maybe there’s a crucial aspect to either service that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.