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Reviewers rip into Mega

Tuesday 22 Jan 2013 1:18 p.m.

Kim Dotcom has apologised for ongoing issues with his new site Mega.co.nz, saying he has learned his lesson.

"The massive global PR around the #Mega launch is simply too big to handle for our start-up," he wrote on his Twitter account this morning. "I apologise for poor service quality."

After launching the new cloud storage site on Sunday with a party at his Auckland mansion, Dotcom says there won't be a similar fanfare when he unleashes music site Megabox later in the year.

"We are working 24/7 and expect normal operations within 48 hours. Lesson learned... No fancy launch event for Megabox ;-)."

It's not known exactly how many people have tried to sign up to Mega in the last two days, but it has been estimated at more than 1 million – not that Dotcom is telling.

"If I would tell you how many signups we had since the launch you wouldn't believe it. I can't believe it," he wrote. "So, I won't tell you."

The demand has backfired somewhat, with early reviews of the site praising its huge 50GB of free storage, but criticising its speed, functionality and – ironically, considering its slogan "the privacy company" – its security.

Mega claims to work on modern versions of Internet Explorer, Safari Firefox and Chrome, but recommends using Chrome for a problem-free experience. Steven Vaughan-Nichols, reviewer for tech site ZDNet however said it was far from flawless.

"Even with Chrome, I found the site often locked up on me," he wrote in his review.

"In particular, Mega promises that, if you don't close your current browser session, you can restart interrupted uploads and downloads. It didn't work for me. I will say, however, that getting an estimated upload time of infinity was one of the more amusing error messages I've ever seen."

Users on IE10 will need to close and reopen their browser tabs every 100MB, preventing larger files from uploading smoothly.

Writing for PC World, reviewer Ian Paul said Mega was "pretty slick", but suffering from a number of bugs.

"Sending files and folders to others is no problem, but once someone receives the file, they may have problems accessing them," he wrote.

"I shared a file with one of my dummy accounts for testing as well as to a colleague's account. In both cases the file was 'Temporarily unavailable' for download, even up to an hour after the file landed in the other Mega account."

He also says once uploads and downloads were interrupted, they had to be restarted manually, instead of seamlessly picking up where they left off, as advertised. In addition to this, Mega would sometimes prevent him – and others in the PC World office – from logging into their accounts, even when they had the right passwords.

"That's a big problem, since Mega does not have an account recovery process," writes Mr Paul.

"Part of Mega's setup is that all encryption takes place in the browser and the company doesn't have access to your encryption keys, preventing them from knowing the content of your files. So if you lose access to your account by forgetting your password, which is also your master key, you're out of luck."

And despite not being able to see what users have uploaded, Mega says if an uploaded file matches one already uploaded by another user, it may be deleted automatically. Your account will instead access the one uploaded earlier. This is common on other storage services, but Mr Vaughan-Nichols said it's a strange claim to make since "Mega also only stores encrypted files and the company states that it doesn't have access to your encryption key".

He recommends instead trying Mediafire, which also has a free 50GB option – but limits file sizes to 200MB, has limited long-term storage and of course, doesn't have Mega's encryption capabilities.

There are also concerns about the safety of using Mega as your only storage back-up. The Economist says its "see-no-evil, hear-no-evil" strategy is "a risky bet, and one that is unlikely to stand up to judicial scrutiny", and PC World warns if the company is "shut down in a similar manner to MegaUpload, all your files could be gone for good".

"Mega may be a useful service, but there is no way you can trust it as the sole repository of your files on a long-term basis."

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