Streaming technology has made listening to music or watching movies on the Internet as easy as turning on the radio or TV. Here’s how the technology works stream info.
The first music and movie files you could find on the Internet were just short clips because you had to download the whole file before you could play it. Nowadays, however, you can start playing the file as soon as the first bytes begin to arrive… thanks to streaming.
This immediacy is possible because streaming does not send files on the Internet the same way as most other files are sent. It uses a different protocol.
User Database Protocol
A protocol is a set of rules defining how two computers connect with each other and how they send each other data.
Most data that is sent through the internet is first broken up into packets (small blocks of data). The packets are sent separately and are the rejoined at their destination so that the receiver gets the whole file.
The sending of most data on the Internet is governed by a set of rules called the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Streaming however uses the User Database Protocol (UDP).
These two protocols are quite different. The crucial difference is in how they check for errors.
If one packet gets damaged when downloading is being controlled by TCP, downloading will be suspended while that packet is resent. That way, once the download has been completed, you can be sure that you have the entire data file.
When you are streaming files, however, UDP allows packets to get lost now and then without interrupting the downloading. This is fine because, when an occasional packet is lost, you are unlikely to notice any interruption to the music or movie. But if everything froze very briefly while a lost packet was being resent, you probably would notice the interruption.
With streaming technology, you don’t have to wait for files to be downloaded entirely before you can begin listening to audio or watching a video. You can listen to a concert on the other side of the world in real time, make a video call or watch a movie just like on TV.
Listening to music
Streaming audio, or listening to music or speech on the Internet, is bringing joy to many. How audio streaming works is easy to understand.
When you click on a link to an audio file, your web browser will contact the relevant server on the Internet. The server will then send a metafile to your browser.
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