Difference Between Streaming and Downloading

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Streaming refers to the act of viewing the content held on a remote server, whereas Downloading is the process in which all of the data is transferred completely, and then viewed.

Read through this article to find out more about Streaming and Downloading and how they are different from each other.

What is Streaming?

Streaming is the process of viewing the content that is stored on a remote system (server) rather than on a client workstation.

  • In media and application streaming, the media bitstream is broken into discrete chunks (i.e., packets) and sent individually.

  • In media and application streaming, the media bitstream is broken into discrete chunks (i.e., packets) and sent individually.

  • As a result, the transmitter consistently broadcasts multimedia data packets, while the receiver simultaneously receives, decodes, and displays the received portions of the bitstreams.

How Does Buffering Affect the Quality of Streaming?

The essential consideration for internet streaming is the low delay, which must be maintained for a more enjoyable experience (i.e.,without buffering). Buffering is the process of downloading a specific quantity of data before playing the material. In YouTube, for example, a white line appears ahead of the seek button, indicating the portion of the content that has been buffered.

Streaming does not necessitate an ample memory space. Although some Internet streaming media providers limit material by including deadlines and other scheduling limitations, others do not.

What is Downloading?

Downloading differs from streaming in that it entails storing the content from the server on the client's machine before viewing it. The FTP protocol requires the file to be downloaded first before being consumed.

  • Downloading the content is a reliable technique of providing it to the end-user. It prevents the content from buffering, which occurs during streaming.

  • When you are downloading something, the process remains largely unaffected by the changing connection speed. It may, however, become slow if your Internet connection is slow.

  • Downloading also has no bearing on the content's quality. For example, the quality of videos we obtain after downloading does not change. However, video on demand requires a faster Internet connection to stream higher quality content.

The disadvantage of downloading is that it necessitates memory space for keeping the stuff that has been downloaded. Furthermore, downloading some content may take much longer than streaming the same content because streaming allows you to watch it simultaneously.

Difference between Streaming and Downloading

The following table highlights the major differences between Streaming and Downloading −

Streaming is the process of transmitting a media file block by block and then viewing it.
Downloading is a process in which all of the data is quickly sent and then displayed.
Internet Speed
To stream, you'll need a steady and manageable Internet connection.
Variable speed may also work when downloading.
In the event of streaming, there is buffering.
Buffering isn't an option here. If the Internet speed is good, the screen resolution could be increased. The downloader determines the screen resolution.
Memory space
Streaming does not necessitate the use of memory at the same time. No memory space is required since nothing is being stored on the system.
Memory space is required to download multimedia content.
Video quality
The video quality of streaming can be modified at any time during the procedure.
Once the download begins, there is no way to adjust the video quality.


From the above discussion, we can conclude that Streaming is like playing a multimedia file from a server directly without storing the data on a client workstation. It doesn't require any memory space on the client workstation but one needs to have a stable Internet connection to have a pleasurable experience without long delays due to buffering. Downloading, on the other hand, is the process of transferring all the content of a file from a server to a client workstation before consuming the data.

Updated on 22-Aug-2022 14:03:23