Streaming media is a type of technology that allows computer users to view or hear files as they are transferred. This is in contrast to first downloading files to the computer, which typically requires users to wait until the entire object is finished downloading. The ability to stream files is usually found on websites, allowing viewers to experience the files in real time. The most common types of streaming media typically include audio, video, or a synchronized mix of the two.
Audio can be found on even some of the most rudimentary Internet websites, as it is considered quite basic. Since it requires little bandwidth, it can also sound appealing on nearly any computer with standard speakers or headphones, even through a somewhat slow connection. This type of media is usually created by running a digital sound file through an encoder, and then placing it on a website for users to hear.
Video streaming is often found on the Internet, but it does not always include sound. An example of a basic video file that does not need audio is a stream of photographs. Many amateurs on the Internet can craft this type of streaming media, but it is usually not very good quality. This is partially because existing video that was originally made to be shown on videotape does not often transfer well to the Internet. Instead, most quality video streams are specifically made for this medium.
One of the most useful and favorite types of streaming media includes audio and video that are synchronized with each other. This ensures that the image on the screen and the audio from the speakers match up, making the viewing experience appear high-quality. Many television shows that are available online use this technology. Just like with video or audio streams, synchronized videos can be developed by amateurs online who have the time to learn the programs required.
The quality of the files typically depends on the speed of the user's Internet connection. Most computers can play audio files quite easily, but video streams typically take up more bandwidth. This means that they can take longer to stream continuously, resulting in several pauses as the transfer rate tries to catch up. Even on slower connections, though, streaming media usually still offers a faster alternative to downloading. This results in the ability for the public to have access to files faster than when they are forced to download objects, in general.