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Guide to Streaming Services
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2023

What is internet streaming? 

Internet streaming is a way to access content, usually visual and/or audio, without having to download it first. If you’ve ever used YouTube, Spotify, or Netflix, you’ve streamed. A plus side to streaming is having immediate access to the Internet-based content, and being able to collaborate with other users online in real time, like in Facebook Watch or Twitch. However, streaming can be frustrating for people who have slow internet connections; if you’ve ever had to sit through a video buffering, you’ve likely experienced this. Knowing your internet speed and reducing the quality of your video might help. 

How does streaming work?

Streaming starts when you click play on Spotify, and then the web server (the physical component, operating system, and software) requests the file from the streaming server. The software on the streaming server takes a really large file, breaks it into pieces, and then your computer downloads it bit by bit while you’re consuming the content. The download doesn’t go into your computer’s permanent storage, however, so the download disappears when you stop streaming. As the information arrives at your computer, it needs to be decoded and turned into actual content using a browser plugin, Flash application, or other player. That’s why you might see requests that you need to download Adobe Flash Player, open QuickTime or other software addition before you can view content. 

To Learn More

  1. How to Find Videos
  2. Information Technology

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