What is streaming video?

Most files on the web have to be downloaded entirely before you can open/view them. For video or multimedia files this can take extremely long. Thus those files are preferably streamed, i.e. they are sent in a special format, allowing the player application to view the file almost right away, before receiving the entire file.

An audio clip can thus begin playing after just a few seconds of buffering (downloading part of the file into memory). The buffer holds just a small part of the file, and while you are listening (or watching video), the next parts are being downloaded. Obviously, if your connection is not reliable, you may use up this buffered data before a sufficient new amount has been downloaded. This phenomenon is called Net congestion and may interrupt your playback briefly while new data is buffered. For a good user experience, it is crucial that your media be designed with the target audience in mind, balancing quality with the available bandwidth.

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Last updated: 

July 17, 2012

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