Tuesday 5th June 2007

This just has to be seen: Darth Vader Rap.

Streaming vs Downloads

I have been thinking a lot recently about methods of delivering large media files, e.g. video, mp3 etc, and playing them online. Think YouTube. You can either stream the file or use HTTP (progressive) download. My question is this: why would you want to stream a file? It seems to me that, with a few exceptional cases, streaming files is unnecessary. I am trying to come up with a list of pros and cons for streaming (large) media files.


  • Can be used to broadcast time-sensitive events, e.g. a live concert.
  • Useful for devices with limited storage capacity, e.g. mobile phones
  • As the content is not stored locally, makes “recording” content difficult, e.g. DRM – I have seen this one cited in several places

  • Requires “special” server-side software to implement the streaming protocol, e.g. RTMP. Can be expensive.
  • Some streaming protocols, such as Flash video, are proprietary (related to the above point)
  • More (server) hardware required to support connections etc ??

Even though I have only come up with a few negatives I am not convinced that streaming files is necessary in the majority of cases. Podcasts are a good example where just downloading the file is sufficient. Thoughts? Feel free to add any comments.

Update: seems there are stream recorders out there that do allow you to save content that is streamed.

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