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Streaming is everywhere, and everyone in some capacity is using streaming technology daily. Whether streaming your favorite movies through Netflix, watching live performances, or listening to music through Spotify, it’s hard to imagine life without streaming. Streaming platforms changed how we consume and create content powered by cloud services. Streaming continues to improve year over year. How exactly does it work?

Changes in Streaming Over Time

Streaming is a way of continuously viewing or listening to content over the internet without the need to download files. The internet of the past wasn’t built to support the services we rely on today. When streaming was first introduced, users experienced long buffering times and chopping video and audio. Today, with the advancements in internet and cloud technologies, high-definition quality streaming has become one of the most dominant ways people consume media. 

The Difference in Streaming versus Downloading

Streaming is a way of viewing or listening to something in real-time and is a more efficient way of consuming media. It’s actively using the internet to access the files at any time with a strong internet connection without saving it. If you have a poor quality connecting, the quality degrades, and you’ll end up with some buffering issues.

Downloading a file or media is saving a copy of the file to a device’s hard drive from the internet. You have to wait until the file downloads in order to view it, but the upside is you can view it at any time with or without the internet after the initial download. You usually only have access to it on the one device unload the data is stored on a cloud server. 

How Does Streaming Work?

It works by breaking down the data or audio files into packets or compressed files to open once they reach the user’s device. The data packets are interpreted as a video or audio file through the user’s preferred service or player. Types of streaming and its technology will vary by the kind of protocol that runs it. 

Services use either user datagram protocol (UDP) or transmission control protocol (TCP), depending on the type of streaming. TCP and UDP are transport protocols to move packets of data across networks. TCP uses a dedicated connection to ensure data arrives in order and is the more reliable way of transmitting data. UDP is a faster option, but the transfer can cause a loss in the data quality along the way.  

Providers are always working on improving and enhancing streaming capabilities to make their service as fast and as reliable as possible. Although it does require a high-speed internet connection, it’s far better than having to download content. Streaming is improving rapidly, and the future will only further integrate it into our daily lives.

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