The Difference Between Streaming and Downloading Media

The Difference Between Streaming and Downloading Media

- in How to, Tech
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Streaming and downloading are two ways to access digital multimedia content (photos, music, videos), but many think that these terms are interchangeable. However, they are not, they actually describe two different processes.

What is Streaming

“Streaming” is commonly used when referring to shared media. You’ve probably heard it in conversations about watching movies and music on the Internet.

“Streaming” describes the act of playing media on one device when the media is stored on another. The media can be saved in “The Cloud” on a computer, media server, or network attached storage device (NAS) in your home network. A network media player or media streamer (including smart TVs and most Blu-ray players) can access that file and play it. It is not necessary to move or copy the file to the device that is playing it.

Similarly, the media you want to reproduce could come from an online website. Video sites, such as Netflix and Vudu, and music sites such as Pandora and, are examples of websites that stream movies and music to your computer and / or network media player or media streamer. When you click to play a video on YouTube or a television show on ABC, NBC, CBS or Hulu, you are streaming media from that website to your computer, network media player or media streamer. The Streaming is done in real time; The file is delivered to your computer as the water that flows from a tap.

Here are Examples of how the Streaming Works.

  • Watch and listen to the streaming of video and music on your computer or network player.
  • A website that stream videos will often have a “buffer”. Several seconds of video are streamed to your computer or network player so that the video plays in the event of a connection interruption to the Internet.
  • You must have a quick connection so there are no pauses or problems in the video playback. Higher quality video (high definition video with digital surround sound) requires a faster connection.
  • Within your home network, a router must be able to stream the video streaming to your network media player. Audio and video routers (“AV”) or Gigabit routers may be required to stream high definition videos to more than one television or player.
  • You must have a fast Internet connection to stream high definition videos from the Internet without interruption. Many video websites will determine the quality of the video streamed to your device based on your estimate of Internet speed. In general, it is better to have an Internet connection of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) for standard resolution video. HD video may require more than 3 Mbps (4K streaming may require up to 25mbps), so the video does not have to be paused since it is buffers.
  • A file streamed from other sources is played. The media source must be connected and turned on, or the streaming stops.
  • When streaming from the Internet, not only the speed of your connection guarantees a seamless viewing experience. Factors such as the amount of traffic on the website, that is, the number of people watching videos at the same time, and the speed of the server’s connection to the website can influence the way the media is streamed to you .
  • A streaming file is never saved on your device. Media streaming is free, as it is on ABC and NBC; or you are charged a monthly subscription to access the media, such as with Netflix and Rhapsody; or rent the video for a certain period of time, after which it is no longer available without re-renting it. You can only play music on a subscription website if you are an active paying subscriber. Once you stop paying, the media is no longer available.

What is Downloading 

The other way to play media on a network media player or on a computer is to download the file. When the media is downloaded from a website, the file is saved on the hard drive of your computer or network media player. When you download a file, you can play the multimedia content later. Media players, such as smart TVs and Blu-ray disc players, do not have built-in storage, so you can not download files directly to them for later playback.

Here are examples of how the download works:

  • Your device connects to the source of the file, then copies it and saves it to your hard drive.
  • Generally, you must wait until the download is completed before you can see the media. Some services, such as iTunes and Vudu, allow you to watch while a movie is downloaded after a sufficient period of time.
  • You can copy the file or move it to other hard drives unless it is a file protected by copyright
  • You can copy or move the file and save it for playback on other devices unless it is a file protected by copyright.
  • The downloaded file can be transmitted to other devices once it has been saved.
  • A downloaded file is available when you want to play it.
  • Television programs and movies that are downloaded are “bought” instead of rented and are available without a time limit. That is, you “own” the movie or the music file. Sometimes you can save a purchased title in the “Cloud” of the service.

The Bottom Line
All media players in the network and most media players can stream files from their home network. Most now have online partners from which they can stream music and videos. Some network media players have built-in hard drives or can attach a portable hard drive to save files. Understanding the difference between streaming and downloading media can help you choose the media player in the network or the media stremer that’s right for you.

On the other hand, multimedia transmitters (such as Amazon Firstick) are devices that can transmit multimedia content from the Internet, but not content stored on local network devices, such as PCs and media servers, unless you install an additional application that allows you to perform that. task (not all media transmitters offer such an application).

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