Mega Downloads: Safe?

Here’s whether it’s safe to download from mega.io (mega.nz):

Using the Mega site is a fairly safe experience by any objective measure. 

But, downloading files on Mega is a mixed bag. 

While Mega is a safe site, the company cannot vet every file that is available for download, and it is entirely possible for you to download data that can harm you or your computer in a few ways.

So if you want to learn all about how safe it is exactly to download from Mega, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

Mega Downloads: Safe? (Everything to Know)

What Is Mega?

The short answer as to whether or not it’s safe to download from Mega leaves a lot in the air. 

It will help to explain more about what Mega is and how it works.

For starters, Mega is a reputable, registered company. It has not engaged in any known malicious activity or anything like that.

Instead, Mega is a cloud company that sits somewhere in a hybridized space between Dropbox and social media. 

You can use Mega to securely store files in the cloud. 

You can also share those files and make them available for download to other users.

On top of that, Mega has built-in communication features that help people connect and download or share files. 

So, you’re really getting a mix of features and experiences with Mega.

While the company itself is not malicious, it’s still possible to run into safety risks.

What Are the Differences Between Mega.nz and Mega.io?

Before we can break down the specific safety risks that pop up when using Mega, a little more clarification is necessary. 

If you search for Mega, you might find two prominent results: 

  • Mega.nz
  • Mega.io 

Navigating to each page, they seem like the same thing.

What’s going on here?

The good news is that neither of these sites are fake. 

Instead, Mega updated its URL from mega.nz to mega.io. 

The reason for doing this is that the .io URL tends to enjoy better indexing for international audiences.

Let me clarify.

The .nz suffix for a website means that the site is hosted in New Zealand. 

International users absolutely can and do find .nz websites, but search engines like Google tend to rate things on popularity, and .nz is not the most popular suffix for a website (just compare it to .com for example).

When Mega started to reach a larger international audience, the company tried to overcome this indexing issue by updating the URL. 

So, mega.io was born. 

The .io suffix refers to the British Indian Ocean Territory. 

.io is the country-code domain for the Indian Ocean islands, but it’s treated the same as any other top-level domain when it comes to global searches, such as .com.

Now, something like a .com probably would have done better, but we can safely assume that such a web address wasn’t available. 

Because of that, Mega made this move for the sake of brand management.

But, to protect the user experience, the mega.nz site was kept online. 

In fact, the .nz site is still the main site. 

But, the .io site indexes well, and it helps Mega find new users. 

Regardless of which site you use today, you will enjoy the exact same experience.

Is Mega Safe?

Now that everything is nice and clear, we can get into the details of safety. 

Visiting the Mega site(s) is perfectly safe. 

As stated before, the company is not malicious, and you won’t run into any significant problems simply by going to the website.

But, Mega allows individual users to upload, download, and share files. 

Because of that, there are risks inherent to this process. 

If one of the individual users does things that they shouldn’t, it can create safety issues for any user who interacts with them.

Namely, there are two user-based risks you want to understand. 

Additionally, we’ll take a minute later to discuss how Mega tracks and shares user information. 

It’s a different issue, but it’s still worth a conversation.

#1 Malware

Let’s start with malware. 

While Mega does not endorse or support the use of malware, the company can’t really provide blanket protection from malware. 

Because Mega allows users to upload encrypted files without peering into the information, the company can’t effectively screen against malware uploads.

So, anyone with bad intentions can upload malware and then share the download link. 

Typically, the link will be shared under the guise of something else (like maybe a movie you want to download and watch). 

Instead of getting the files you expected, you are instead downloading malicious software.

It’s not fun, and it’s one of the primary risks associated with using Mega. 

Most importantly, you’re largely on your own in terms of defending yourself from this risk.

#2 Copyright Violations

Even if you aren’t downloading malware, there is still a significant risk that you should understand. 

Mega does not directly license copyrighted material. 

If you download the movie from the previous example without permission from the copyright holder, you’re engaging in piracy.

Now, there are tons of files that can be shared on Mega without getting into copyright infringement. 

The site is also used to share movies, TV shows, music, games, and other types of files that are copyrighted.

Keep in mind that piracy is illegal throughout most of the world. 

If you engage in it, you can be subject to fines and harsher sentences, depending on where you are and the nature of the violation. 

Please understand that you are taking this risk if you download copyrighted files.

#3 Tracking

That covers the main issues rooted in peer sharing.

The last risk you want to understand is tied to Mega itself.

I’ve told you multiple times that Mega is not a malicious site, and that holds true. 

But, Mega is a tech company, and with most tech companies, you can expect a few common themes in terms of behaviors and practices.

Chief among those is the storing and sharing of user data. 

Mega has a clearly defined privacy policy that you can read in full detail. 

If you want a short explanation of what is there, here we go.

Mega does generate user statistics. 

The site pays attention to how you use it, and that data is stored on Mega servers. 

On top of that, Mega reserves the right to share those statistics as they see fit. 

You can expect that your user data will be shared with other tech companies.

It’s pretty normal in the tech space. 

A lot of tech companies share data with advertisers like Google and Facebook in order to get better-targeted ads. 

It seems that Mega does this too.

What about financial and personal data?

While we’re on the subject, Mega is a paid service. 

That means the company has your financial information and some personal information. Is that shared too?

Generally, no. 

Mega works very hard to protect that information, and it remains encrypted. 

It is not shared with other tech companies. 

The one time such information might be shared is with a formal law enforcement request. 

That is handled case by case, and Mega might be forced to hand over such information to the authorities in certain circumstances.

But generally speaking, that’s not an issue.

What Can You Do to Use Mega Safely?

Now that you understand the primary risks when you use Mega, it will help to have some tips for preventing problems. 

There are three things you can do to make your time on Mega a lot safer. 

This is by no means a perfect list of everything you can do, but these are three of the easiest and most effective practices to try.

#1 VPN

When it comes to privacy and copyright issues, a VPN is a powerful tool. 

For anyone unfamiliar, a VPN is a virtual private network.

There are a lot of ways to set up VPNs, but the easiest is to enlist a VPN service.

Here’s how it works. 

When you connect to the VPN, you actually connect to a VPN server. 

Your device communicates directly with that server. From there, anything you do on the internet is routed through that server.

So, if you download something from Mega, Mega is sending the files to the VPN server. 

The VPN server then routes the data to your device.

This prevents third parties from tracking your activities on the internet.

Some people use this to mask their activities when they download unlicensed material. 

Others use it to limit how much data can be created and tracked about them.

If you’re going to use a VPN, please understand two things. 

First, a VPN doesn’t protect you from malware (although some VPN service providers offer security software as a bundled deal). 

Second, the VPN doesn’t make it legal for you to pirate content. 

The action is still illegal. 

The VPN is just making it harder for people to find out what you did, and it’s not a perfect defense.

So, keep that in mind.

#2 Trusted Sources

Whatever you are downloading from Mega, the best way to protect yourself is to know who uploaded the files you are after.

If a friend uploaded the data, then you can reasonably trust that it doesn’t contain malicious software or anything else that will get you into trouble.

Since Mega makes it easier to find other users than most cloud service providers, there’s always an opportunity to download things from strangers. 

While that might prove tempting, you can dramatically increase your own safety by resisting.

Download from known-good sources, and you’ll have a better time.

#3 Security Software

The last major defense that is easy to use is security software. 

Antivirus packages and similar software can scan files that you download before they are installed. 

This will allow you to spot a lot of malicious software before it can actually cause damage.

Security software isn’t perfect. 

It will miss some bad things and incorrectly flag some safe things, but it’s generally better than having nothing. 

If you’re going to download from unvetted sources, security software goes a long way.