- Strengths & Weaknesses
- Alternatives for MEGA
- What Is MEGA Used For?
- MEGA for Productivity and Collaboration
- MEGA Overview
MEGA is a cloud storage service focused on security that offers users excellent end-to-end encryption and a great free plan with tons of free storage. However, its history has been marked by controversy, and its zero-knowledge-encryption makes collaboration difficult. Find out more about MEGA, both the good and the bad, in this full MEGA review.
If you mainly want to know if Mega is safe, you can jump right ahead to our privacy section of this review.
Founded in 2013 as a successor to the infamous Megaupload — which you can read more about in our guide to what Megaupload is — MEGA cloud storage was created by the notorious Kim Dotcom. Following the takedown of Megaupload’s servers in Hong Kong, MEGA was incorporated in New Zealand as a cloud service dedicated to the security and privacy of its users’ data.
MEGA has been incredibly popular from the day it launched, gaining 100,000 users within the first hour. Kim Dotcom has since left MEGA, and he’s leveled some serious criticism against it, but we’ll talk more about that later in this MEGA review.
In spite of all its controversy, though, MEGA is still a very secure cloud service, and it’s one of the best choices for anyone looking for lots of free storage space. A free account will get you a whopping 20GB of cloud storage. Because of this, MEGA makes our list of the best free cloud storage services.
Despite MEGA’s spacious free plan, its paid plans are rather pricey and it doesn’t really offer enough cloud storage to make up for the price. There are certainly better alternatives that offer much more storage for a lower price. You can check out our review of Sync.com if you’re looking for a deal that offers top-notch security for a great price.
Cloudwards.net updated the review to reflect MEGA’s new free storage size — which increased from 15GB to 20GB — and the service’s new achievement award times (how long you can increase your free cloud storage) from 180 days to 365 days. We also added information about the new dark mode.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Encrypted sharing links
- Plenty of free storage
- Previews for media & documents
- High prices for paid plans
- Not good for collaboration
- Poor customer support
- User experience could be better
Alternatives for MEGA
MEGA’s outstanding feature is its end-to-end encryption. All files that are uploaded to MEGA’s servers are encrypted on the side of the client, meaning the user is the only one who can decrypt their own data. Along with two-factor authentication, this makes for a very secure cloud storage service.
Apart from the excellent security, MEGA has plenty of features — some necessary, others not so much. It offers plenty of sharing features, plus some nice extras, like the chat client. However, it lacks integration with third-party apps, so it’s not very good for collaboration.
What Is MEGA Used For?
MEGA is a secure cloud service that offers robust sharing features. It’s extremely useful for sharing sensitive data, with several layers of protection for your shared links. Everything uploaded to MEGA is encrypted, but each sharing link is also protected by a separate encryption key, and you can even add a password to file sharing links on top of that.
MEGA also offers some good file sharing features. Links to shared files and folders are encrypted with an individual encryption key, which can be sent separately. However, only paid users can set expiration dates and passwords for the links, though the encryption keys function as passwords anyway.
You can also share folders with anyone with a MEGA account. Sharing folders this way lets you set permissions for the folder, allowing you to choose who can upload to the shared folder, or alter any data inside it.
MEGA’s interface can be a little cluttered at times, and there’s a lot of overlap between its many features, especially when it comes to file sharing. In comparison, Tresorit is a secure cloud storage service that makes file sharing much easier and much less confusing for the user. You can read more about Tresorit and its excellent sharing features in our Tresorit review, and also read our MEGA vs Tresorit comparison.
MEGA for Productivity and Collaboration
MEGA also offers a slew of apps, ranging from the standard desktop and mobile apps to live chat to dedicated apps for sharing large files.
One of these apps is an extension for Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client called MEGAbird. MEGAbird allows you to send large files to people via email, even if they don’t have a MEGA account.
The live chat functionality can be useful for collaboration, as it is also secured by MEGA’s encryption protocol. However, keep in mind that metadata, such as the email address of your contact, remains unencrypted. Chat is available both through the MEGA website and via the mobile app.
MEGA also retains previous versions of any file you have uploaded, so it’s safe from any accidental changes saved to the cloud. Versioning is enabled by default, and files with previous versions are marked with a little clock icon next to them.
MEGA’s strong focus on privacy and security doesn’t leave much room for collaboration options, so integration with third-party apps like Google Docs is impossible. If you need to collaborate on cloud-based files, Google Drive is one of the best options for that.
MEGA’s file management system is fairly comprehensive, with separate tabs for recent and deleted files, incoming and outgoing shares, as well as a storage management tab, where you can view statistics about your cloud storage use. You can also preview images, music and videos, as well as PDF documents.
There’s also a feature called MEGAcmd that allows you to use a command-line interface for advanced management of your personal cloud. Using MEGAcmd and MEGA’s WebDAV integration, you can set up things like scheduled uploads or automatic backups.
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Live Chat Support|
The main draw of MEGA is its excellent free plan that comes with lots of storage and a generous transfer quota. Additionally, MEGA has four paid plans and a separate business plan. However, these plans are pretty costly and don’t offer any crucial features, so unless you need the larger amounts of storage they offer, there’s not much incentive to upgrade.
- : 20 GB
- : 8000 GB
Free Account Features
The free plan offers most of MEGA’s functionality, with some exceptions, such as time limits and passwords for links, longer retention periods for deleted files and the ability to grant your monthly transfer quota to other accounts.
It comes with 20GB of permanent storage, which is already among the most generous free plans. On top of that, there are several ways of expanding your storage.
Installing MEGAsync, MEGA’s desktop app, will get you 5GB of bonus storage plus an additional 5GB for installing the mobile app and 5GB for verifying your phone number. These bonuses, totaling 15GB, last for 365 days.
You can also nab an additional 5GB of bonus storage for each friend you invite to MEGA. Each confirmed referral gets you a bonus that lasts for a whole year, so you can easily expand your storage when you need it, at no cost to you.
It’s worth noting that free accounts are limited to a certain amount of transfers, but the exact amount is non-specific and usually resets every 24 hours. It’s also determined by your IP address, so worst case scenario you can just connect to MEGA through a VPN.
If you think a free account with MEGA is not for you, you can check out Icedrive, another privacy-minded cloud service with an excellent free plan.
The cheapest upgrade to your MEGA cloud storage account is the Pro Lite plan. It comes with 400GB of cloud storage and 1TB of transfer for a monthly price of $5.39 (4.99 euros). You can also choose to pay a yearly fee, which will bring your tally up to $54.01 (49.99 euros).
Next up is the Pro I plan, which costs $10.79 (9.99 euros) per month or a yearly fee of $108.04 (99.99 euros). It offers 2TB of cloud storage and a 2TB transfer quota.
The Pro II plan comes in at $21.60 (19.99 euros) per month or $216.09 (199.99 euros) per year. This gets you 8TB of cloud storage and a monthly transfer quota of 8TB.
The most expensive plan is the Pro III plan, which costs $32.40 per month (29.99 euros), and it comes with 16TB of transfer and storage space. If you opt for a business account, you get unlimited cloud storage and transfer for the monthly price of $10.80 (10 euros) per user, with a minimum of three users.
These plans aren’t the cheapest around. pCloud offers a lot more storage for a far cheaper price, and it’s an excellent cloud storage service overall. You can read our full pCloud review for more information.
Ease of Use
MEGA’s interface design seems a little dated by today’s standards, with its bold reds and dark contrasting greys. This does help a lot with legibility, though, making everything easy to notice and read.
However, MEGA did add a dark mode in 2021, which makes it a little easier on the eyes at night.
MEGA has several apps on offer that let the user access the service in different ways. There are the two desktop apps we mentioned, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. The browser experience is handled either through the MEGA.io (formerly MEGA.nz) website or the dedicated add-on for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. MEGAbird and MEGAcmd further expand MEGA’s feature set.
MEGA in the Browser
The browser interface is the main way of using MEGA, and it’s where you’ll find all the necessary tools. There are several tabs to the left for easy navigation, but you’ll be spending most of your time using the “cloud drive” tab. This tab has a navigator on the left side that shows your cloud drive’s folder structure, and your files are displayed on the right side of the screen.
From here you have access to all your files. You can then right-click any file or folder to manage sharing links, as well as move, copy or delete the files, plus you can download or preview them, too. You can use the “file upload” or “folder upload” buttons to upload data to your MEGA cloud storage, but you can also just drag and drop them into the browser window to upload.
MEGA on Desktop and Mobile
The desktop experience is mainly handled through the MEGAsync app. Installing the app creates a MEGA folder on your computer where all your data is synced. While installing the app, you can choose whether to sync all folders or only select folders.
The MEGAsync app appears as a taskbar icon on Windows. The app functions mainly as a transfer manager that allows you to upload and download files and folders, as well as manage your synced folders. The app also lets you stream files while your computer is online, functioning like a peer-to-peer service.
One small issue with the app is that there is no back button, meaning that whenever you open a menu, you have to click away and then reopen the app from the taskbar. That can get annoying really fast if you have a lot of work to do in the app.
The mobile app functions just like any other mobile cloud service app. You can upload and download files, send links and move files around. Turning on “media upload” will automatically upload your photos and videos to MEGA, plus MEGA’s chat feature is also accessible through the mobile app.
Since its launch, MEGA has added a ton of features, but neither the interface nor existing features have been updated accordingly. This has created some overlap between features that can leave users confused about which app to install or which sharing feature to use.
For example, there are multiple ways to delete a file, either through the “move” option, where you can choose to move a file to the “rubbish bin,” or the “remove” option that does the same thing.
You also can’t create upload links for folders, but you can turn them into MEGAdrop folders, which lets anyone with the link upload to it. However, you can’t share download links for MEGAdrop folders without them reverting to regular folders. This could have been resolved by simply allowing the user to create upload links, but instead there are overlapping features.
There are also two different apps for desktop: one that you can install as a regular desktop app and one that you can get from the Microsoft Store. This feature overlap creates a confusing user experience that can be disorientating for new users, especially those who aren’t particularly tech savvy, so you might not want to recommend MEGA to your older relatives.
All the clutter is especially visible when comparing the service to Dropbox, which has one of the most polished user experiences for a cloud storage service. You can find out more about it in our Dropbox review. It’s one of the easiest cloud services to use and is a departure from MEGA’s cluttered interface.
Read our guide for a detailed look at how to use MEGA.
File Sharing & Syncing
MEGA offers a full file-sharing feature set, with only some minor things missing. There are many ways to share files and folders and even some interesting and unique features that the competition doesn’t offer.
The main way of sharing files is by sending links, which you can create with the “get link” option. Each link is encrypted, and the encryption keys can be sent separately. Plus, you can set passwords and expiration dates for links to make them more secure.
You can also use the “sharing” option to share files, but this one is more useful for folders because it lets you set permissions for different users. You can set an individual recipient’s permissions to “read-only,” “read and write” or “full access.” However, this option lets you share things only with someone who has a MEGA account.
To let someone without a MEGA cloud storage account upload to your folder, you can turn that folder into a MEGAdrop folder. This will let anyone with the MEGAdrop folder’s link upload to it.
The only things missing from MEGA’s sharing functionality are setting download limits for links and restricting separate users from accessing linked files, though the encryption keys and password protection should take care of the last part well enough.
You can also stream files using the desktop app’s “stream” option. This creates a stream link that will be online only while your computer is streaming the file. This lets people with the link download the streamed file or preview it if it’s a media file or a PDF document. The stream is only live while you are online, and once you stop the stream, the file is no longer available.
The MEGAsync app creates a sync folder on your hard drive on installation, and this is where all your files are synced. You can choose which folders to sync, and you can even sync existing folders to your MEGA cloud storage account.
Syncing folders is easy and it’s done via the desktop app’s system tray icon. You can select which folder to sync by clicking the “syncs” option in the app’s dot menu, and then selecting “add sync.” You can then choose a folder from your hard drive to sync to the cloud, and you can choose which folder on your MEGA cloud account to sync to, or you can create a new cloud folder for it.
MEGA doesn’t offer block-level sync, though, which means syncing an altered file will require reuploading the whole file, instead of only the parts that changed, which makes syncing data slightly slower than some competitors.
|First attempt||Second attempt||Average||Expected time|
MEGA isn’t particularly known for its speed. In fact, in our MEGA review testing, upload speeds were subpar, though downloads were speedy enough. We tested MEGA using a 1GB test file with an upload speed of around 6 Mbps and a download speed of 32 Mbps.
During our upload test, it took MEGA a few seconds to register the actual upload speed and start the uploading process. When it did, speeds were far from impressive, with the full upload taking around 52 minutes; more than twice the expected upload time of around 24 minutes.
However, downloads were fast, with the 1GB test file taking on average just over five minutes to download, while the expected download time was around four and a half minutes.
Unfortunately, the abysmal upload speed, coupled with the fact that there is no block-level sync, means that working on large files in the cloud is very impractical with MEGA. However, pCloud offers block-level sync and fast uploads to the cloud, so if your business depends on working with large cloud-based files, it may be a good alternative for you.
MEGA’s servers are located in several locations around the world, specifically in New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and France, so your speeds may vary depending on how close you are to these servers.
Security is what MEGA prides itself on, and it’s one of its best features. MEGA is one of only a handful of cloud storage services that provide end-to-end zero-knowledge encryption. The best part is that it offers its encryption services at no cost at all, unlike most other storage services.
MEGA encrypts all of your data client-side, so you are the only one holding the encryption keys. This means that neither MEGA nor any malicious actor has a way to access your data without your consent.
The encryption protocol that MEGA uses is the standard 128-bit AES encryption for your at-rest files, plus it encrypts your data while in transit using the TLS protocol, also with 128-bit AES. This means that your files are secure both while on the MEGA servers and while being uploaded or downloaded, so your data is safe from man-in-the-middle attacks.
MEGA uses two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security for your login. This means that even someone with your account data will not be able to log in to your account and compromise your private data.
MEGA should be a safe place to store all of your private data because the client-side end-to-end encryption ensures the privacy of your files, even if someone gains access to your data. All of this makes the MEGA cloud service very secure.
Privacy is where things get a little tricky with MEGA. Most users will have nothing to fear and their data should be safe with MEGA. However, MEGA’s sordid past has been mired in controversy from the day it was founded, and its relation to “pirate king” Kim Dotcom can be worrying for some.
MEGA’s servers are located in Canada, New Zealand and several European Union countries. This means that MEGA has to comply with the GDPR, a law that protects your data. MEGA further extends GDPR protections to all of its users, even those residing outside of the EU.
MEGA has spread out its server network like this to prevent a government of any single country issuing a takedown of its servers, as a precautionary measure to avoid something like what happened to Megaupload, its predecessor site.
Is MEGA Safe?
Note that MEGA never has full access to your data, owing to its client-side encryption. Plus, even if MEGA was forced by law to hand over your data, it is all encrypted by its zero-knowledge service. MEGA does hold onto some data, though. This amounts to metadata about your MEGA usage, including:
- Information about login times
- The IP addresses of the devices you use to access MEGA
- Browser types and operating systems of those devices
- File sizes, versioning order, parent-child relationships
- Various timestamps, such as timestamps for when files are created or deleted
- The email address of anyone you have contacted on MEGA, including people you’ve added as contacts and people you’ve shared data with via MEGA’s sharing function
- The email address of anyone you’ve contacted using MEGA’s chat system
- Your account settings, including your avatar
This data doesn’t amount to much, but it’s enough to discern whether a user is breaking MEGA’s terms of service or any copyright laws. The latter is especially important because MEGA receives around 100 Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices each day.
MEGA doesn’t keep any of your login data, with the exception of your email, so your password is unknown to them. If you ever lose your login info, you can use a recovery key to regain access to your account. You receive your recovery key when you create your account, and you can download it as a TXT file.
MEGA, Kim Dotcom and China
MEGA.nz was founded by Kim Dotcom in January 2013, but by September that same year he had stepped down as director, and by 2015 he had cut all ties with the company. Since then, he has made several outlandish claims about MEGA being taken over by a Chinese fraudster, Hollywood executives, the New Zealand government and even the government of China.
MEGA has refuted these claims, but some of his accusations do hold water. The Chinese fraudster in question is William Yan, who held an 18.8-percent stake in MEGA, but had his shares seized by New Zealand authorities under charges of money laundering.
Yan’s stakes were transferred to a New Zealand law firm that represented Zhao Wu Shen — MEGA’s largest shareholder and a donor of the New Zealand National Party. Shen sold all of his New Zealand property following the incident with Yan and transferred his MEGA shares to Li Zhi Min, a Beijing businessman, who now owns 43 percent of MEGA’s shares.
What all of this means is that a large portion of MEGA’s stock is now held by people under the influence of the Chinese government, which isn’t particularly known for respecting people’s right to privacy. Although this shouldn’t pose a problem for most users, there are some who aren’t comfortable with foreign entities possibly having access to their data.
Luckily, all of your files are encrypted, so not even MEGA can actually access your sensitive data. This means you should have no worries about China’s President looking at your cat pictures.
MEGA is somewhat lacking in the customer service department. It has a help center for frequently asked questions, but if you can’t find an answer there, you can contact customer support via email.
You can use the help center to find answers to most questions, which are neatly categorized into sections about the various apps and services, and then even further divided into topics. The help center is fairly comprehensive, and there are image guides for most articles there.
The only way to actually contact a customer service representative is through email. Though MEGA offers 24/7 email support, response times can vary. It claims to respond within 24 hours, but a whole day of waiting may be too much for some users, and chat support would be a great improvement.
Also missing from its customer support service are phone support and a forum where users can discuss issues among themselves. It could take a page from Google Drive, which has a wealth of customer support options available at all times.
Despite all of the drama surrounding it, MEGA remains a solid cloud storage service. With its strong dedication to privacy and security, it is one of the safest cloud services around. Plus, all of its security features are available for free, so you don’t have to pay extra for its encryption services.
MEGA’s free plan is very generous, with an upgradeable 20GB of storage, making it one of the best free cloud services. It only lacks some minor features, and its ample storage is enough to satisfy most users’ needs.
However, if you need more storage than what the free plan offers, MEGA’s prices can be prohibitive. You may be better off with a service like Sync.com, which offers much of MEGA’s functionality, at a lower price and without the attached controversy.
What are your thoughts on MEGA? Is all the drama enough to scare you away, or is all that free encrypted storage just too good to pass up? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading our full MEGA review.
- Yes, 20GB of space is free, which you can add to with "achievement" bonuses.
- Yes, absolutely. The original founder, Kim Dotcom, was and is in a tight spot with law enforcement, but he's no longer on the MEGA team. The service is as clean as a whistle.
- Depends on who you ask. We had only minor issues when using it ourselves, but some of the commenters underneath this review tell a different story. It seems to be a case of drawing the short straw.