You don’t get a great deal free these days, so the prospect of 50GB of online storage is an opportunity to be jumped at. There are many cloud storage services to choose from – Dropbox, Skydrive, Box and more – but free storage tends to limited to around 5GB.
Megaupload closed just over a year ago after intervention from the US Department of Justice, but the company’s founder, Kim Dotcom, is not a man to give up without a fight. One year later to the day, Mega was launched with possibly the most generous free package you’ll find. Generous enough, that we had to take a look.
What to Expect
Megaupload got into trouble due to the fact that the file hosting service was being used to house copyrighted material. With this in mind it should come as no surprise that privacy is a key concern with Mega.
But let’s get the figures out of the way to start with. Sign up for a free account with the service and you’ll be given 50GB of online storage space to use however you want. This goes far beyond any other cloud service so when the numbers are crunched, Mega comes out on top.
But it’s possible that even such a colossal amount of space is not enough. If you are a demanding type, and you don’t mind paying for extra gigabytes, there three couple of packages for you to choose from. The Pro accounts range in price from €9.99 to €29.99 per month and provide you with between 500GB and a staggering 4TB of space and 1 – 8TB of bandwidth.
Before you can do anything, though, you’ll need to sign up for an account. During the signup process you just need to provide your name and email address as well as choosing a password. You’ll need to take care with the password as you are not required – as you would normally expect – to confirm the password you enter.
This is could be slightly concerning as it would be easy to make a typo and be locked out of your account. Thankfully, the account creation process is not completed until your click the link in the confirmation email that’s sent out to you and re-enter your password this way. This overcomes the problem, but it could have been approached differently.
Once you’re signed in, the site work like an online file manage app and it’s all delightfully easy to use. Files can be organized by creating folders and you have the option of uploading files one by one or folders at a time.
The file transfers that are taking place are shown in the bottom panel, but you are able to hide this if you would prefer to give over the screen space to viewing files. Files can be shared in a couple of ways. The first option is to click the link icon to the right of a file and email links to people, but you can also add other Mega users as contacts to share more directly.
There are very few options available at the moment. You are able to control the number of simultaneous uploads and downloads that can take place, as well as limiting transfer speeds to balance use of your internet connection.
It’s All About Privacy
Whatever you are storing online, you want to be sure that no one else is going to be able to access it. You may be storing the most innocuous of files in the cloud, but the point is that they are your files and are not for anyone else’s eyes.
All of the files you upload to your account are encrypted and this is carried out client-side rather than server-side, and no one other than the uploader, and people files are shared with, has access to the necessary decryption key. This means that even the staff at Mega is not able to access files other than their own. That said, security researchers have already found a number of not-so-secure things about their public website, which makes it doubtful that they can keep the extreme security claims they’re making.
It would be easy to get misty-eyed at the prospect of getting so much cloud storage free of charge – it’s a generous amount and certainly not something to immediately turn you nose up at – but there are a few issues with Mega.
You are forced to do everything within your browser, and – at the moment – there are no mobile apps available to improve your experience on phones and tablets. There are also no online file viewing option; this means n online music player, no images slideshow, just straight file management.
With report of hundreds of thousands of people signing up within hour of Mega’s launch there are obvious concerns about how sustainable providing so much space is going to be and whether performance can be maintained. In the first few days of Mega’s life, servers were falling over under the weight of traffic, but it is unlikely that they will often be put under such prolonged strain.
There are not many reasons to avoid Mega. You might not need it at the moment, but it’s almost inevitable that you will find reason to store large files online in the future. This could be a backup of files, or it might be files that are too large to share via email. It’s early days for Mega, and things are very basic right now, but it still comes recommended – although you might want to avoid using it for anything mission critical lest the service succumbs to the same fate as its predecessor, however unlikely that seems at the moment.