MegaUpload may be long dead in the eyes of the internet, but Kim Dotcom's new file-sharing service, Mega, has just made its debut. Before you hit up the site (which at the time of writing was timing out anyway), here a few details you should know.
Despite what your natural web instincts might tell you, Mega's domain is not "mega.com", but "mega.co.nz". At one stage it was "me.ga", but the government of Gabon, for which the "ga" top-level domain is reserved, were not particularly excited about the name.
When you do arrive at Mega, you'll find four types of service levels on offer. The first is free and provides 50GB of storage. As for the rest:
- Pro 1: $13, 500GB storage, 1TB bandwidth
- Pro 2: $25, 2TB storage, 4TB bandwidth
- Pro 3: $38, 4TB storage, 8TB bandwidth
The most interesting aspect of Mega is that the data is encrypted before it is stored and unecrypted when downloaded, provided the right key is supplied. Mega allegedly has no ability to access your content and acts simply as a file repository and encryption service.
In this way, when push comes to shove, it could claim that there's no copyrighted content on its servers — just chunks of seemingly nonsense data. Though, of course, its possible for that data to transform into something comprehensible under the right circumstances. I can't say how iron-clad such a position is, but it's definitely one of the more creative approaches to avoiding the legal stickiness that file-sharing sites inevitably attract.
Files can be accessed in one of two ways — by visiting the file link and providing the decryption key, or via a link that has the key built into the query, with the latter providing a more traditional file-sharing experience. If you'd like to read about how this works in more detail, head on over to our sister site, Gizmodo.
Technically, there's nothing too complicated about the system — container formats for file compressors have been doing this for years. You supply a key to encrypt an archive, and rather than store the key in the archive and deny access unless the correct key is supplied (which is rather unsecure), the key itself is used to encrypt the data.
Then, all you need is a hash of the original file, so when someone tries to extract data from the archive, the decrypted file's hash is compared to the original hash and if they don't match, then it knows the wrong key was supplied.
Given that Mega has just launched, the site has buckled under the load of what can only be a monstrous stream of traffic, however, all is not lost! A hands-on review, which covers the finer details of using the service, can be viewed on Gizmodo.