Mega, Megaupload’s Successor, Still Has Several Problems

One year after the death of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom German announced the birth of his replacement: the Mega, a storage service file that has multiple security features to not take the same fate as its predecessor. Mega was a successful launch, which took place on Saturday: there were more than 1 million records in less than 24 hours.

At Mega, all your data is encrypted and no one has access to them without a special key, which is provided only to you. This makes your data is theoretically safer than in other services without encryption, but also generates some drawbacks, such as inability to recover your data in case of password of oblivion.

Now that the service has stabilized and we could take a deeper look at the Mega, read the next few paragraphs to check every detail of the new service that can become a great headache not only for copyright holders, but also for the users.

Register

The first notable change from Megaupload is the requirement for a register to upload files. After the death of Megaupload, which allowed sending files even without an account, many file storage services now require a registry to contain the distribution of illegal files. The 4shared, for example, now requires even account to download a file.

In the case of Mega, membership is important because of the encryption. The key generated by the service is based, among other factors, on the user’s password. This prevents someone know the contents of each file without your password, but has negatives: If you forget your password, you can no longer recover your data. There is not even an option “forgot password”, traditional in other services. Worse, if someone discovers your password, your account will be exposed forever – at the time, you can not change it.

Once you activate your account and make the first login, the Mega will generate a random key and in addition to the password chosen at registration, the service will use the movements of your mouse and keyboard to increase the entropy of data. Some software, such as KeePass password manager and encryptor TrueCrypt of data, use a similar method to generate a key.

File manager

The face of Mega is very similar to all other storage services files as Google Drive, Dropbox and SkyDrive. But there is something different in the sidebar of the file manager: plus the option to access your files and your recycle bin, there is a link “Inbox” and “Contacts”.

Currently, the Inbox is not for nothing: all that this option does is display an empty list and a button that takes no action when clicked. It is likely that in the future there is a messaging service or even a central notification in case of changes in shared folders, for example. Anyway, even in beta, it’s weird to follow a link that leads nowhere.

On the Contacts menu will be all files shared by your friends. Unlike Dropbox and Google Drive where shared folders are in the same location of your personal files in a centralized area Mega there just for that. At the moment, there is an option to list all shared folders at once, which can be a problem for those who have many friends using the service.

Mega File Manager is very poor compared with Google Drive, which displays detailed information about each file and thumbnails. The Mega just shows name, file size and modification. You know that beautiful picture you took recently? Mega show just one image pattern icon. Because? Yes, you guessed it: the encryption prevents Mega access the contents of your files and generate thumbnails of them. Only the properties of the files are sent without encryption.

Data Encryption

If you send multiple large files to Mega, you notice that the CPU usage will rise instantly and, in some cases, the page will stop responding for a short period of time. This is because the files are encrypted by your computer, not by powerful servers Mega. So all that Mega will get is an encrypted file (in addition to basic information such as name and size).

The same happens when you download a file Mega: the service will send several encrypted information, and with the possession of your key, the browser will transform this data into something readable for the computer. That is why the file is downloaded by the Mega manager, not the download manager from your browser. Interesting, no?

Of course, the data is decrypted by your computer, the download and upload speed will depend not only on your connection, but also the JavaScript engine efficiency of your browser and your computer’s processor. According to Mega, in the future the service intends to implement the WebCrypto API HTML5, which will improve performance.

As Google Chrome has an efficient JavaScript engine, Mega will suggest you to download it if you are using another browser. You will be able to upload and download files via other browsers, but the performance will be lower, since in some cases, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari will save the Mega files first in RAM – the larger the file more RAM will consume the browser.

paid subscriptions

In addition to the free plan that offers generous 50 GB of space, Mega has three paid plans options. The Pro I with 500 GB space and 1 TB traffic for 10 euros per month; Pro II with 2 TB and 4 TB of space traffic for 20 euros per month; and Pro III with 4 TB and 8 TB of space traffic for 30 euros per month. In case of annual subscription, there is a 17% discount on the total value.

The “traffic” is the amount of data that can be used to download your files, and applies both to you and to others, including those who do not have account in Mega. If you share a 1 GB file in Mega 8000 people they download, its share of the Pro III plan will be exhausted, which discourages the creation of accounts only paid to distribute illegal files.

The curious thing is that Mega does not sell the plans. As well? Well, to sign a paid plan, you must purchase prepaid credits through third parties (the Mega does not sell these credits directly). You buy credits, validates the code in your Mega account and then signs the desired plan. This means that those sites that resell Megaupload subscriptions will come back with everything.

What’s up?

The idea of an Encrypting File Store service is not new: the SpiderOak, for example, does the same thing. But Mega, precisely because it is the successor of a service responsible for 4% of all Internet traffic, can popularize this concept – do not be surprised if Dropbox and Google Drive offer a similar option in a little while.

As the data is encrypted, the Mega can be a good option to store confidential files, but the fact that you can not change your password is a problem for people who use the same combination of various services. If any service has its leaked data (and it has happened several times), your Mega account may be “invaded” forever. And as stated above, there is also no way to recover your account if you forget the password – you will need to register again with another email.

Mega says in his blog you want to add new features in the future, including the possibility of changing the password. In this case, a new key is generated and the files can be accessed normally. In case of a forgotten password, the data already sent will not be read until you remember the old password, but your account will still be accessible, which is especially important for those who signed one of the paid plans. It is an advance, but it should have been done from the beginning.

Considering what happened in Megaupload, it is not difficult to predict that many people will also use the Mega to spread content protected by copyright, especially because the service “does not know” the contents of files and therefore “could not” prevent them from being sent . Yes, companies can request the removal of content, but Megaupload, the amount of pirated files was so high that the chance of them continue to be spread was great.

Who does not use the service to share files use the Mega to store personal data. The big question is, after what happened with Megaupload, where all users have lost your files, who will have the courage to trust the Mega? I still prefer to save my data services that are not targets of a powerful group of companies – even though much less space than the 50GB offered free by Kim Dotcom.