Yes you get a lot, but there’s an asterisk
With over 180 million user accounts, 15GB to 50GB free cloud storage, and end-to-end encryption why isn’t MEGA a household name yet? Why aren’t they mentioned in the same breath as Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, or Google Drive?
We’re going to review MEGA Cloud Storage, what MEGA offers, and why it may be for you.
What Is MEGA Cloud Storage?
If you’re not sure what the cloud is, read our article, “What is The Cloud and How To Get The Most Out Of It?” and then come back.
MEGA is a company located in New Zealand that provides free, freemium, and paid cloud storage services. Just like Microsoft’s OneDrive or Google Drive, MEGA provides space on their servers to store copies of your files.
How Does MEGA Cloud Storage Work?
It’s as easy to sign up for a MEGA account as it is to sign up for any other online service. Once you’ve confirmed your account, you download and install a client app on your computer and tell it what folders to sync.
They have an app for every platform you can think of; iOS, Android, Windows, and even Linux. The app will make sure that your files have an exact copy in the cloud.
As you make changes to files locally on your computer, those changes will synchronize to the files in your MEGA cloud storage.
What’s The Difference Between MEGA And Others?
The first difference you’ll notice is that MEGA offers up to 50GB of free cloud storage. But there is a big asterisk next to that. The base amount you’ll get is still a generous 15GB whereas most other cloud services only offer 5GB for free. Perhaps the biggest difference is MEGA’s emphasis on data security.
How Secure Is MEGA?
All security requires some trust in those providing it. MEGA has a shaky history due to its founder Kim Dotcom and his exploits. The original MEGA, known as MEGAUpload, was taken down by the US government in a controversial manner on charges of copyright infringement, money laundering, racketeering, and wire fraud. Kim was involved in the resurrection of MEGA, but was divested of all involvement shortly thereafter.
That history still casts a shadow of doubt over the security of MEGA cloud storage. Although some of the people involved in the old MEGAUpload are still running MEGA, they are doing so with greater cooperation and oversight by the New Zealand government. MEGA operates in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) globally, not just in EU countries.
That goes a long way in separating the new MEGA from its shadier ancestor, MEGAUpload. But what about actual data security?
MEGA uses 128-bit AES encryption on all data transfers. The MEGASync application encrypts and decrypts your data as it leaves or enters your computer. All data stored on their physically secure facilities in New Zealand and servers are encrypted in the same way and cannot be viewed by MEGA as it is encrypted at the user’s device before it is uploaded. The encryption key to your MEGA data is only held by you.
Files on OneDrive and Google Drive are only encrypted if you encrypt them before uploading. Their sync apps just sync data. Apple has end-to-end encryption on data between its devices and iCloud, but Apple does hold the keys for anything on their iCloud. Meaning, Apple can decrypt your files.
MEGA also gives you the ability to use 2-factor authentication (2FA). Using an authenticator app like Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Duo Mobile, or Authy you’ll get a rotating 6 digit code. Every time you sign in to MEGA you enter your password and whatever the 6-digit code is at that time.
MEGA goes a little bit further still. Metadata is a real security risk. Using metadata a person can find out a lot about you and your activities even though it doesn’t continue personal information. MEGA gives you the option to delete all local metadata when you log out. At this point, that’s about as secure as anything gets.
What Does MEGA’s Free Account Really Include?
To get the full 50GB of MEGA cloud storage you must complete a series of achievements. These are simple things, like downloading and installing the sync client, install the MEGA mobile app, and have friends sign up for MEGA.
The bonus space and transfer limits are also time-limited. Right now, you’ll get a 35GB storage bonus for signing up, but it expires in 30 days. The bonuses for installing the MEGASync app and mobile app expire after 180 days. Bonuses earned by friends signing up expire after 365 days.
The other thing to keep an eye on is that the data transfers are limited as well. How much you upload and download with MEGA is limited per month. With the achievements to earn storage, you also earn a higher transfer limit.
The MEGA service also comes with MEGAchat. MEGAchat is a text, voice, and video messaging app that utilizes the same end-to-end encryption as their data encryption. It functions in a manner similar to the Signal secure messaging app.
Is MEGA Worth Using?
Yes. The service is as easy to use as any other but more secure. For secure cloud back up of sensitive data, for free, MEGA is pretty much it.
The paid versions are reasonably priced and expand your allotments to between 400GB and 16TB of secure storage. If having your files encrypted in the cloud is important to you, you need to check out MEGA cloud storage. Just be aware of the transfer quotas.