MEGA is an interesting cloud storage service that has been through a lot of changes. In its current incarnation it's as secure as it always was, but has shrunk its allotment of free storage space; sharing has improved, but could be better, still. Read on for the full MEGA review.
MEGA was founded by the notorious Kim Dotcom in 2013. He doesn’t work there anymore, but the company goes on and advertises as “the privacy company.” It’s not as capable as the top services on our best cloud storage services list, but it has some interesting features, including zero-knowledge encryption, which you’ll learn more about in this MEGA review.
The service is among the best zero-knowledge services. The protection extends to your shares, too, because you can use private encryption to protect them and make sure only people you authorize can read them.
That said, it has 100 million users, strong security, an enjoyable user experience and capable sharing options. If that’s what you need, stick with us as we discuss MEGA in more detail in the sections below.
- Encrypted link sharing
- Great user experience
- Speed can vary
- Prices could be better
- No link download limits
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit pCloudpCloud Review
- Sync.com★★★ Best Cloud Storage ★★★
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Sync.comSync.com Review
- Google Drive
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
Aside from standard cloud storage features that let you move your work to the cloud and avoid potential data loss because of hard drive malfunctions, MEGA has an interesting feature and a couple of add-ons.
That feature is chat, which you can initiate with contacts you’ve added to MEGA. It uses encryption to secure your communication in real time.
The MEGAbird add-on lets you send large files using Mozilla Thunderbird.
For those who want to take a more hands-on approach, MEGAcmd is a command-line tool that lets you use your IT magic to work with files.
Versioning lets you have multiple versions of the same file and replace the current one with a previous version if someone makes a mistake or deletes a file. It’s enabled as a default in MEGAsync settings. If you upload or sync a file with the same name as an existing file in the same location, a new version of it will be created. Files that have versions are indicated by a clock icon.
If you think strong versioning capabilities will benefit you, read our best cloud storage for versioning.
MEGA can preview your photos and play videos, too. It’s a nice option for media, but not quite good enough to land on our list of the best cloud storage services for photos and videos. Still, that capability doesn’t extend to documents and MEGA doesn’t offer integrations with Microsoft Office or Google’s office suite.
Many services offer multiple plans, which increases flexibility and lets you get one that best matches your needs. MEGA follows the same logic, giving you a choice between one free plan and four premium plans.
The more plans offer for less money the better their value. If that’s your priority, be sure to read our best deals in cloud storage article.
The transfer quota is the amount of data you can transfer between your devices and MEGA per month.
MEGA advertises the Pro I plan as the most popular, and it’s not hard to see why. It offers 1TB of storage, which is a good amount, but can’t quite match the best deals on the market, such as the 2TB plans from pCloud or Sync.com.
pCloud’s plan is cheaper, offers more space and gives a discount if you pay for the year. Sync.com requires you to pay for the year in advance, but the cost per month is only $8, which is even better than pCloud. For more information about those plans, read our pCloud review and Sync.com review.
MEGA doesn’t give you a discount, but offers two months free for if you purchase a one-year Pro plan.
The free plan used to be a huge lure for new users because it offered 50GB of storage. That changed in 2017 and now the service takes 35GB away after one month. Despite that underhanded move, MEGA is still one of the best free storage services.
You can complete achievements, such as installing the desktop client and the mobile app, but the storage you gain that way will vanish after 180 days. Even if you invite friends, you get storage that disappears after a year, which is a big contrast to services that don’t place such time restrictions.
MEGA’s desktop client has an attractive interface that consists of a sync folder and a system tray icon that manages your sync and lets you access the settings.
The desktop app presents information in a clear manner and won’t confuse you. It works on Windows, macOS and Linux.
The web interface is easy to use, fast and straightforward. You can navigate through folders using the cloud drive menu on the left or the “recents” page, which you can access using the menu to the left. Besides recent files, you can use the menu to view your contacts and content shared with you, open chat and get to your dashboard.
Secondary features are located in the menu at the top right corner of the screen. You can perform general actions using the top menu, while individual actions require you to right-click a file.
The mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS, is easy to use, too. The file browser takes most of the screen, while the bottom menu lets you view your camera uploads, access chat, view shared folders and your offline files.
You can also set the app to upload your photos and videos automatically. The chat feature takes advantage of MEGA’s encryption to secure your messages. It’s an interesting addition, but it’s probably redundant considering the many dedicated chat apps on the market. If encrypted messages interest you, read our how to encrypt text messages guide.
When you install the desktop app, you can choose to sync everything from your web account or choose specific files. If you opt to choose files, you’ll have to create a new sync, which will include the root folder on the web to sync everything.
In that case, you’ll have to create a sync that targets the root folder to sync everything from the cloud. That’s cumbersome and we’d prefer to have a one-click solution.
You can choose to add any folder to MEGA by right-clicking it and choosing “upload to MEGA.” That will copy the file to your sync folder and your web space. You can do the same by copying a file to your sync folder manually or using the “upload” option from the system tray.
A better approach would be to enable the context menu to add the selected folder as a new sync directly. As it stands, you have to go into the settings menu to achieve the same result. Note that it will only work if you haven’t chosen to sync everything.
An interesting feature MEGA offers is the ability to stream files that are not synced to your computer.
MEGA’s web app lets you share your files by generating a link that you can protect with a key. That makes them zero-knowledge, so only people you give the key to can read them. You can attach the key with your link, which means anyone with the link can access it, or send the key separately. You can attach expiry dates or passwords to links, too.
It has a “shared with me” page, but it doesn’t have one that shows what you’ve shared with others.
You can share a folder by generating a link, which works the same way as it does for files, or inviting others via their email address. If you do that, you can set “read-only,” “read and write” and “full access” permissions. To invite others to upload to your folder, including non-MEGA users, you can turn it into a “MEGAdrop” folder.
The desktop app lets you share, too, but only by generating a link. You can’t invite others to folders or generate upload links.
It took around 36 minutes, on average, to upload a 1GB zipped folder, which is 10 minutes slower than we would expect. On three attempts, MEGA uploaded our files in around 25 minutes, but it took more than an hour in another. With that taken into account, MEGA has a problem maintaining consistent speeds, not achieving fast ones.
We were using a WiFi connection in Belgrade, Serbia, with an upload speed of 6 megabits per second and a download speed of 102 Mbps. Users have reported they achieved faster speeds when they turned off the “use http” setting in the bandwidth tab of the desktop app.
Keep in mind that you might see different results if you are closer to MEGA’s servers in Europe, Canada and New Zealand.
Though MEGA doesn’t have block-level sync, which speeds up transfers to the cloud by only moving changes that have occurred in uploaded files, a company representative told us in an email that the feature is in the works.
Using a cloud storage service can be a risk if it doesn’t have the proper security because there are many dangers on the internet, such as hackers who won’t hesitate to target your data with ransomware or man-in-the-middle-attacks. They might try to steal your login credentials, too.
Cloud security uses many protocols and encryptions to protect your files in transit and at rest. They include the TLS protocol to stop man-in-the-middle attacks, two-factor authentication to prevent access to your account if someone steals your login credentials and private, end-to-end encryption to ensure your privacy by keeping anyone but you from reading your files.
Because MEGA emphasizes its privacy, it’s no wonder it uses private encryption to encrypt files on the client side.
The level of at-rest encryption is AES 128-bit, which isn’t as strong as AES 256-bit, but that shouldn’t matter because cracking either would take millions of years. The TLS protocol adds another layer of protection to files in transit. MEGA offers two-factor authentication, too.
Its source code is public, as well, so anyone who wants to check MEGA’s security can do so.
Its data centers are in Luxembourg, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand, which were determined by the the European Commission to have an adequate level of protection under Article 45 of the General Data Protection Regulation.
To learn more about laws that govern data, read what you need to know about cloud laws and regulations, our guide to the GDPR and our article on which countries have the best privacy laws in the world.
You can find what the policy allows and considers “lawful and appropriate” in the Article 14, which says MEGA is entitled to provide your files, chats, account and website usage data to law enforcement if required by law in any jurisdiction. That won’t amount to much considering its zero-knowledge encryption, but there’s metadata that remains in unencrypted form.
According to Article 7.3, the unencrypted metadata that remains is:
- Browser type and operating system of the devices from which you have logged in to MEGA
- IP address and port information for logins, API usage, file uploads, folder creations and link exports
- The country that MEGA expects you are accessing its services from, which is inferred by matching your IP address to a public database
- File sizes, versioning order, timestamps and parent-child file relationships
- Deletion timestamps
- The email address of anyone you have specifically made contact with using MEGA’s systems
Note that your files and folders can be shared privately by invitation to specified email addresses or shared more generally by creating a file or folder link and decryption key.
- Contact email addresses of chat participants, chat commencement time and chat duration and moderation activity
- Takedowns and account suspensions
- MEGA’s communications with you
- Your personal account settings, including avatar pictures
Its data centers use RAID to guard against data loss. Plus, MEGA stores user data spread in multiple geographic locations to ensure that even large-scale accidents won’t be able to compromise it.
The help center is organized well. It’s split into categories that make it easy to find the answer you’re looking for and there’s a helpful search bar at the top.
You can use an FAQ list to locate a question quickly, but if you can’t find an answer, you can contact support using the message form.
We used it to ask a question and received a response in just 20 minutes. That’s an impressive response time, to say the least, which is helpful considering there’s no chat option. The support team assured us in an email that it works 24/7, though. Plus, Pro users get priority support.
When you add strong security features, an enjoyable user experience and capable sync and sharing options, you get a good service. It could be even better if it had more competitive prices, productivity features and consistent speeds. Still, it has a free plan with 15GB of storage, which makes it enticing to test the service and see if it works for you.
What do you think about MEGA? Is its strong adherence to privacy a good reason for you to try it or switch from the service you’re using now? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.