Streaming and downloading are terms mostly used while using the internet. The prior difference between the two terms lies in the fact that how is the content is downloaded from the server to the end-user. Streaming means that the content is temporarily downloaded on the client’s machine but reside in the streaming server. Conversely, the downloading means that complete content is copied and downloaded on the end user’s machine.
Both have certain merits and demerits, which we will discuss in the article further.
Content: Streaming Vs Downloading
|Basis for comparison
|Process of transferring the content chunk by chunk and viewing it subsequently.
|A method in which all the data is transferred at once then viewed.
|Requires stable and good internet speed.
|Variable speed could also work.
|Could be higher if the internet speed is good.
|Depends on the downloader.
|No role of buffering
|Require less space
|Much more space is required
Definition of Streaming
Streaming refers to the viewing of the content stored in the remote machine (server) rather than the client machine. Now, how does this streaming works? In the streaming of the media and applications, the media bitstream is divided into small chunks (i.e. packets) that are transferred independently. With this, the receiver is capable of decoding and playback the portion of the bitstream that is received by the end-user at a particular time.
So, this is how the transmitter consistently sends the packets of multimedia data whereas the receiver accepts, decodes and view the received portions of the bitstreams concomitantly.
Nowadays, the online streaming prevalently used in various multimedia platforms for delivering online streaming contents such as videos and songs. The example of such types of media service providers are Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify. Netflix and Amazon prime provide the internet video on demand service while Spotify is an audio streaming platform which renders the DRM(Digital Rights Management) protected music and podcasts from the record.
The primary factor for online streaming is the low delay which needs to be maintained for the smoother experience (i.e. without buffering). Buffering is the downloading of a particular amount of data before playing the content. Such as in youtube we see a white line ahead of the seek button which shows the part of the content which has been buffered.
There is no requirement of large memory spaces for streaming of the contents. Although there are certain online streaming media providers restrict the content by including the deadlines and other timing requirements.
Definition of Downloading
Downloading is different from streaming; it involves the storage of the content at the client’s machine from the server before viewing the content. It can be explained by taking the example of the FTP protocol, in which the file is downloaded first before consuming it. Downloading is a robust method of delivering the content to the end-user. It eliminates the buffering of the content as it happens at the time of streaming.
There are several legal websites which permit the downloading of the site content by paying a specific amount. Although, there are some torrent sites from which the contents can be downloaded. Sometimes, it is illegal as it provokes the downloading of the pirated contents too.
The variable internet speed also does not interrupt the downloading of the content. However, it may get slow if the internet speed is low. It also does not influence the quality of the content. For example, videos quality we get after downloading does not alter, while in case of video on demand the internet speed must be greater for the higher quality content streaming.
The demerit of the downloading is that it requires memory space for storing the downloaded the content. Furthermore, the time required for downloading some content would need much more time than streaming the same content if the internet speed is good, because with streaming you are able to view it at the same time.
Key Differences Between Streaming and Downloading
- In streaming, the content is stored in another device but viewed in the user’s end. As against, while performing downloading the content can only be opened until the whole file gets downloaded (copied) in the user’s machine. However, both processes download the content prior to watching it, in streaming we call it buffering.
- Streaming of content requires a steady internet speed while this is not necessary while we are downloading it.
- In the case of videos, the screen resolution depends on the internet speed while streaming it. In contrast, if the video is downloaded, its screen resolution does not depend on the internet speed.
- Streaming the content could introduce buffering. Conversely, buffering is not present when we are downloading some content.
- To download multimedia content, we must have the required amount of storage which is not needed in case of streaming the same item.
- The time required to play the particular audio or video content with streaming is much less as compared to the time required to download it and then play it.
The streaming allows viewing of the content without actually copying it to the end machine. On the other hand, when some item is downloaded, it cannot be viewed until it is completely copied in the client’s machine. For the areas where the internet speed is not very good, the downloading is preferred over online streaming.