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Chapter 16. Streaming Media > What Is Streaming?

What Is Streaming?

Streaming offers a new approach to the tedious wait for an entire file to download: the file is played back as it arrives. This approach eliminated the time spent waiting for files to download. If you didn't like what you heard, you could stop the download. Pretty simple. It was a lot like Costco's food samples: Try it; see whether you like it. Why invest the time in an audio file that you don't like? The idea was brilliant.

Streaming is different from downloading. Downloaded files are stored on the hard drive before they are played. Streaming media players store a small amount of data known as a buffer on the hard drive. The buffer ensures smooth playback. Streaming media files are discarded as they are played. This provides the people who own the content with a level of security, because the entire file is never stored on the computer. Downloaded files can easily be duplicated and shared.


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