Mega is not a Dropbox alternative, right now

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 20, 2013

When Mega opened its doors to the public yesterday it quickly went down or at least slow like hell as thousands of users were trying to register an account on the site. Tweets suggested that it had reached 100,000 registered users after an hour, and broke the 250,000 user mark later that day.

Many users who tried to sign up where either stuck after submitting the registration form or at the email verification phase as emails from the service seem to be delayed by a lot. And those who were able to complete the registration process soon found out that uploading to the site was also impacted by the rush to register an account.

The publicity the service received, thanks to the infamous raid one year ago and media coverage, are likely the two main reasons why users are lining up to join it. When you look at the features that it is offering, it is only making available one that sets it apart, and that is full encryption on the device the files are uploaded from or downloaded to. While this makes things easier it is not unheard of considering that anyone can encrypt files manually on a system before uploading them to the Internet.

The 50 Gigabyte of storage has been compared to cloud synchronization services like Dropbox or SkyDrive which offer less free storage. The comparison is not fair though as Mega is not a file synchronization service right now. There is no desktop program or mobile app, which means that all the uploading and downloading happens in the browser.

The storage you get as a free user does not look that impressive anymore when you compare it to other file hosters such as Mediafire which also makes available 50 Gigabyte for free or Rapidshare which claims to provide all users with unlimited storage.

For now at least, Mega is nothing more than a file host that is securing contents uploaded to the servers by giving users control over the encryption key. This is certainly an interesting feature that sets it apart from other solutions.

It will be interesting to see how the service evolves in the coming weeks and months. It is likely that the current bottleneck will be dealt with in a timely manner so that site registrations and uploads should not be delayed by minutes, hours or even days anymore.

Mega could become a competitor for file syncing services when sync tools get released by the operators. If these tools work well, it will have an edge over its competition thanks to the storage it makes available and the encryption.


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  1. Rokazulu said on January 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Seems others are experiencing concerns when it comes to Mega`s encryption as well.
    According to Alan Woodward, from the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey
    ” if a hacker gained control of the Mega server they could either just turn off the encryption or get hold of the private key to decrypt users’ files. Even though Mega says it doesn’t hold the keys, Mega admins could get hold of them, as it would only take a minor code change on Mega’s servers to access those keys.”


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 23, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Will be interesting to see how this turns out. To be fair, if you get access to the server of any service you are in control of what users upload to it. The only way around this would be local encryption of files before you do upload them to the Internet.

  2. Rokazulu said on January 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Well call me paranoid but some terms in his user term policy sound fishy to me.

    “You grant us a worldwide, royalty free licence to use, store, back-up, copy, transmit, distribute, communicate and otherwise make available, your data”

    How can they do anything with my data, if it`s encrypted?^^ So do they have a sort of masterkey which they can use to decrypt my data?
    Or do they mean the data I registered to? Well even that doesn`t much allocate to privacy.

    “We reserve the right to disclose data and other information as required by law.”
    Sounds fishy to me as well – don`t save my personal data then you have nothing to disclose.

    Apart from that I think that Kim and all his doings are under close surveilance from FBI, CIA… So who says he didn´t come clean with his trial by offering them a backdoor to the data saved on his servers?

  3. Ken Saunders said on January 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    “The site was built purely in HTML5 – some parts of which aren’t even in the official specification yet. Dotcom touts Mega as the first site in the world to use them. This is one of the reasons that Mega only supports Chrome right now – many of these new features in HTML5 aren’t supported by any browsers yet, but Chrome is ahead of the pack”

    This all bullspit. Has this guy even heard about the IE only sites plague? Seriously. Coding for one browser is a stupid, amateurish business model and thing to do. Good developers create sites according to web -standards-.

    “some parts of which aren’t even in the official specification”
    They may never be and other browser makers have their own things in the works that haven’t been standardized either.

    My only guess is that someone’s pockets are lined with Googlebucks.

  4. Wayfarer said on January 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Thing is, for a variety of reasons, sync isn’t always a high priority with a lot of people. For myself, I see the attraction and advantages of cloud syncing – just never had any real personal need for it myself. Plus if you’re on an ordinary ADSL phone connection that – typically in the UK – provides but a fraction of the promised speed, it isn’t long before syncing demonstrates what the A in ADSL stands for.

    So services like Mega have a lot of appeal simply because they’re uncomplicated, don’t need installed software, and don’t intrude when they’re not needed. That’s all many of us want from online storage. The myth that they’re only for porn and warez is just media industry propaganda. And which is the best is often irrelevant as there’s no law against using more than one. I’ll be (re-)signing up as soon as things quieten down a bit.

  5. Dheeraj said on January 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Well if you notice, mediafire does give 50 GB of free storage BUT with 200 MB file size limit. I like how the new rapidshare has come to be, unlimited storage and pay only to retrieve a bulk of your files or share the file in bulk.

    Right now, Mega is providing 50 GB of pure unrestricted storage with no limit on bandwidth. That’s the only thing I like about it.

    It doesn’t compete with Bitcasa in terms of Unlimited Storage.

  6. EuroScept1C said on January 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I can wait as long as I have to. Pretty sure everything will be fixed and programs will be created.

    As I said, I trust Mega more than anything else out there. Certainly, there is no Cloud service that can be trusted 100%. But I give Mega at least a +25% from the second I trust.

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