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updated 1/22/2013 3:16:22 PM ET 2013-01-22T20:16:22

Worried about people accessing your personal files stored on cloud storage services? The new online-storage service Mega proposes a solution — encrypt them with its software.

But Mega is an inherently controversial company. Kim Dotcom, the site's notorious founder, had run the  Megaupload  peer-to-peer service before it was shut down by the U.S. government for supporting illegal copyright infringement.

Dotcom insists that his new service is legal. "Every pixel of this website has been scrutinized by lawyers," he said during the launch event held for journalists at his New Zealand compound. By encrypting files on a user's browser before they are uploaded to the site, Dotcom hopes to avoid a repeat of his legal troubles: He will not be able to tell whether users are illegally sharing  copyrighted material .

Until Mega stands the legal test of time, you shouldn't rely on it as the only form of backup because the service could be shut down without notification. As happened to Megaupload users, all files would then be out of reach to their owners. However, the fact that Mega offers 50 gigabytes of free storage — 10 times or more the amount of competitors such as Google — makes it an attractive offering.

Along with making your own backup copies of files, you'll also have to exercise some patience. So far, the site has been prone to repeated errors. Mega recommends using Google's Chrome browser rather than alternatives such as Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Register on the site with your name, email and a strong password. (LINK TO TND) You'll receive an email.  Click on the included link to confirm your account, and you'll be redirected back to the Mega website.

Uploading and downloading files takes place in Mega's File Manager. You can drag and drop files from your computer to the Cloud Drive in the same way that you do in other  cloud systems  such as Dropbox and Google Drive. The encryption of each file will happen automatically.

You can also add contacts to your account using an email address. Once the person joins Mega, you will be able to share files with the contact by dragging and dropping to your contact list. In the future, Mega will add an instant messaging service for use between contacts.

However, sharing files is not limited to Mega users. You can also share your encrypted files by requesting a link to give to others. The link is very long and includes both a URL address and a secret key. To get a link for file sharing, click the link icon under URL at the far right of the file listing. By default, Mega shows the file link and the file key, but you may uncheck "file key" to separate the URL from its key. In this way, you can copy each and send them separately to the person with whom you want to share the file. Mega suggests users send links using an encrypted email or instant messaging service. Read more:  Mega's Encryption Protects Its Business, Not Your Files.

 

Folders can be uploaded by dragging them into the Cloud Drive in the same way as individual files. But folders can only be shared with Mega users — you won't see a link to share via email.

File-sharing is only the beginning for Mega. The company says on its site that it plans to provide the same browser-based privacy for email, calls, chats and streaming video.

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