As almost everyone on the internet is aware – whether you’re an active file-sharer or not – popular file sharing site Megaupload is, for all intents and purposes, dead. The worst part is that it didn’t just flounder and die. Megaupload was one of the most widely used file storing/sharing online, and it was shut down in the middle of its prime by the U.S. Department of Justice for acts of data piracy.
Whether or not Megaupload should be held criminally accountable for the actions of its users doesn’t change the fact that its business practices were pretty despicable, as is the case for many upload services. We won’t shed many tears for the loss of a site that preyed on its users with pop-up ads and misleading “download” buttons; however, the actions taken by the Department of Justice swing the door wide open for all sorts of legal precedents.
In one fell swoop, the DoJ has managed to throw doubt on the internet’s latest growing trend: Cloud Storage. Suddenly, we have questions regarding rights to data ownership, expectations of privacy, and liability.
There are more than a few sites poised to take Megaupload’s place, but are they any better? MediaFire and RapidShare stand to benefit the most, but their business models doesn’t stray far from what Megaupload did. And there are still sites, such as DepositFiles, which are nearly identical to Megaupload, complete with raunchy ads and jumpy download buttons.
One the other hand, services like DropBox, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Amazon’s Cloud Drive, and even Google Docs are stepping up to fill the void. Perhaps their big names and even bigger wallets can stave off government shutdowns and let the less desirable upload sites take the heat. We evaluate the most interesting Web file-sharing services for their ease of use, competitive features, and potential longevity (should you rely on them to stick around?).