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What is streaming?

There have been a lot of changes in the web design sector. The first web pages were very simple, containing only text and a few images. That has changed fast over the course of a few years proportionately with the increase in internet speeds. Modern web pages do not only contain text, images, and video, but are also capable of streaming HD videos and films. You can even make a video call over thousands of miles while maintaining an impeccable quality. All this is made possible because of one simple technology referred to as streaming.

Streaming refers to the continuous transmission of video and audio files from the server computer to the client computer. When content is being streamed, it is transmitted only a few seconds at a time over the internet from a remote location.

How does streaming work?

Streaming works more or less the same way that all kinds of data are transmitted over the internet, that is, in form of packets. Large chunks of data have to be broken down into packets and then transmitted one packet at a time. A small piece of the whole file is contained within each packet. When the piece of data that is contained in the packet reaches the browser, video or audio player embedded within it interprets it and then plays it through the computer’s speakers, earphones, or headphones.

Sending videos over the internet require more reliability than speed and as such, a different method is used in the transmission besides TCP/IP, which is used for sending text and images. That is where UDP comes in. UDP is a transport protocol that is used to move packets across networks. UDP is used in combination with IP to form a protocol called UDP/IP. UDP doesn’t need to send packets back and forth between the recipient and the sender in order to open a connection. Thus, speed is faster than in TCP.

What is buffering?

Streaming media players are designed to ensure that video and audio file they transmit continue playing even when internet connection is interrupted briefly. They do this by loading the media ahead of the stream in a process called buffering. The purpose of buffering is to ensure that media continue playing continuously and smoothly without any visible seams.

Buffering can however take a lot of time to complete if internet connection is very slow.

How buffering and downloading differ

The first difference between the two is that streaming is more effective and happens in real-time. Downloading requires a copy of the file you are to be stored on your hard disk before it can be played. You cannot play the file before it downloads in its entirety. The same is not true with streaming because you can play the file one packet at a time because of buffering. Streamed files are also not copied on your hard disk like it happens with downloading. Both methods of obtaining data have their advantages and disadvantages depending on many factors. They are however great ways for you to watch online movies online.

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