Streaming vs Downloading: Difference and Comparison

In terms of utilization of the Internet, streaming and downloading are there two terminologies that are used in most cases, but due to the thin line of differences between these two, there might be confusion regarding their respective meanings if not understood properly.

This situation eventually results in two overlapping between both these terms, but in reality, these are totally different from one another. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Streaming allows instant access to content without storing it on a device while downloading requires saving the file before viewing or listening.
  2. Streaming demands a stable internet connection for uninterrupted playback, whereas downloaded content is accessible offline.
  3. Downloading allows users to keep content indefinitely, while streaming services may remove content due to licensing restrictions.

Streaming vs Downloading 

Streaming is a method of accessing digital content where the user can watch or listen to the content in real-time over an internet connection. Downloading involves saving a copy of the digital content from the clouds onto the user’s device, such as a computer, mobile device, or smart devices.

Streaming vs Downloading

The term streaming basically depicts a very distinguished process in which the user consistently receives or acquires data that enables him to browse or watch any content over the Internet without having to acquire its file in physical format.

This process allows the user to access all the content without harming his device’s storage. 

But on the other hand, downloading, as the name itself suggests, depicts another process in which the user gets hold of the physical file of the content that he is accessing over the Internet.

This particular process allows the user to access the files without having access to the Internet. Nowadays, there are many software programs making the process of downloading much easier. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Streaming  Downloading 
Meaning  The term refers to a process of browsing content over the internet. The term refers to a process of saving the content on the device in order to browse it later. 
Requirement of internet Internet is required consistently for this process. Internet is only required when the file is being downloaded and not after that. 
Time consumed This process consumes less amount of time comparatively. This process consumes a lot of time comparatively. 
Buffering  Buffering can be a disadvantage of streaming any content. Buffering is not a probability in the case of downloading. 
Storage consumed  This process does not require any kind of storage. This process requires storage equivalent to the size of the file being downloaded. 
Video quality Video quality depends upon the speed of the internet being received. Video quality depends upon the settings on which the file has been downloaded. 

What is Streaming? 

Streaming is a very significant process in the arena of the Internet as it has revolutionized the way people have access to content over the Internet.

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In simple words, streaming is a process that allows the user to watch and browse over the content available on a particular server without having to save it on his particular device. 

The biggest reason behind the huge popularity of this particular process is that it allows a short-term commitment with a particular content where the person can watch it as many times he wishes but need not save it on his device.

This particular process is also famous because it saves both data and storage of a particular device as the content can be browsed online. 

Streaming is essentially possible when the person has a stable and consistent network connection on his particular device, and if the network connection breaks in between, it results in what is known as buffering.

Many years ago, YouTube emerged as one of the biggest streaming platforms, but nowadays, many OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon prime are entering into the world of streaming. 


What is Downloading? 

Downloading, being a process completely opposite of streaming, has revolutionized the way in which people had access to the content present over the entire network of the Internet.

The term simply refers to a process in which the user can not just browse his content over the Internet but can also save that content on his particular device after following certain instructions. 

This process has allowed people to save their favorite content on their respective devices resulting in two saving a lot of data which is consumed in repetitive streaming of that particular content.

The concept of downloading has essentially gained huge success all across the globe because of certain specific advantages attached to it. However, like all of the things in the world, this process also carries certain drawbacks. 

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The biggest problem with this process is that it consumes a lot of storage on the particular device on which the content is downloaded, and along with the storage, a lot of data is also consumed while downloading the particular piece of content.

However, as this process allows unlimited access to the content and restricts buffering as well, it is a very successful one. 


Main Differences Between Streaming and Downloading 

  1. Streaming refers to a process of browsing content over the Internet, while on the other hand, Downloading refers to a process of saving the content on the device. 
  2. Streaming requires a stable net connection, while on the other hand, Downloading requires no net connection at all once the file is downloaded. 
  3. Streaming can sometimes cause buffering depending upon the speed of the Internet, while on the other hand, Downloading removes any possibility of buffering as the file is downloaded at once. 
  4. Streaming consumes less time comparatively, while on the other hand, Downloading can consume a lot of time depending upon the size of the file being downloaded. 
  5. Streaming can be done without having much storage on the device, while on the other hand, Downloading requires storage equivalent to the size of the file. 
Difference Between Streaming and Downloading



Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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