This is the first installment in a series of articles about streaming. The goal of the series is education, covering topics such as what it is, the benefits, what are streaming options and how it is done. This month’s article provides an overview of streaming, its benefits and how it works.

Streaming is the ability to have live or recorded audio or video content such as music, webcasts, movies, television shows or podcasts available immediately to users, when wanted. This is possible because the media files are continually transmitted in sequential packets of data over the Internet which allow users to access the movie or song while the rest of the data is transmitted. For example, streaming allows users to watch their favorite cooking show while making the featured dish at their convenience.

How is Streaming Different Than Downloading?

No downloading is needed. Streaming and downloading are different in that when a file is downloaded it is saved on the user’s hard drive occupying valuable storage space and only accessible after the file is completely downloaded. When a movie or song is streamed, it is transported in a continuous flow over a network without it ever consuming space on the hard drive. Streaming also allows users to begin playing the movie or song while it is still being sent.

What are Other Benefits of Streaming?

Streaming provides users with a more personalized experience making programming more in-line with the user’s interests and more readily available to them on demand. For example, streaming allows users to subscribe to entertainment, games or news that are in-line with their interests versus a broad subscription. Mobile-friendly and roaming-friendly, streaming allows you to travel and stay connected to your favorite programming.

What Equipment is Needed?

Other than an Internet connection and the device on which the user plans to stream, no equipment is needed. Due to its versatility, streaming is widely popular as it allows users to access their information on many different devices.

How are Connections Achieved?

Users may access their streaming platform either by a hard wired or wireless Internet connection. If traveling, access may also be achieved through cellular data. However, if cellular data is accessed, users should be reminded of their carrier’s data package to which they subscribe.

Streaming is a popular means of entertainment and news gathering allowing users access to what they want when they want. Streaming is also a valuable tool to schools who used distance learning.