What’s The Difference Between Downloading And Streaming? (Bandwidth)

Ever wondered what the difference between streaming and downloading is, and which one uses most bandwidth? Here are the main differences between streaming and downloading movies:

When you stream a movie, it gets downloaded to your computer and you can watch the movie as it downloads. When you download a movie, you can’t watch it until it’s finished downloading.

That’s the main difference, but you should also be aware of the other differences between downloading and streaming:

  • If you download a movie, you can watch it as many times as you want without having to download it again. If you are streaming a movie, you will have to download it again to watch it at a later date
  • Streaming a movie uses about the same amount of bandwidth as downloading a movie, however, if you stream a movie you may not be able to see how big the file is you are downloading. When you download a movie, you will know if the movie has been stored in a file format that results in a smaller file size and therefore can use less bandwidth. You will also know how big the file is as it downloads, it’s harder to get this information about streaming movies
  • Movies can only be streamed if they are in particular video formats. As such, a streamed movie may use more bandwidth because there are less compression options. Although in reality, most modern video formats are mostly streamable
  • If you stream a movie you can see what the quality is like without downloading the whole thing. If a movie is poor quality and you decide to stop watching it part way through, this will save bandwidth
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