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Streaming Videos

Read about streaming videos and what Web sites offer this service.

Streaming videos allows users to view videos instantly. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Streaming videos allows users to view videos instantly.

Streaming videos are video files sent over the Internet for immediate viewing in a continuous stream. The audience views streaming video as it is being downloaded with the assistance of a buffer. The buffer, a temporary storage area within the memory of the computer, continues to capture the remainder of the requested streaming video as the stored video is streamed to the end user.

When watching a streaming video, it is common for a small bar to appear at the bottom of the screen. This bar, which illustrates the length of the streaming video, is called the video timeline or buffer progress bar. Typically, an arrow appears on the progress bar to illustrate how much of the video has been viewed. The viewer may also see how much of the streaming video has been captured by the buffer. The highlighted area of the progress bar indicates information stored by the buffer; accordingly, the entire bar is highlighted once the download is complete. If the end user has a fast enough Internet connection, the user can watch the streaming video within seconds of selecting that streaming video file.

Streaming video content is a practical alternative to downloading video files to the hard drive. When videos are downloaded, the end user would first need to wait for the entire file to be transmitted before viewing; streaming video allows the end user to request a streaming video and begin watching it almost instantaneously.

One major advantage to streaming video is the video is not actually saved to the computer, unless the user intentionally saves it, thus saving hard drive space. However, the major disadvantage is that the end user must be online each time the streaming video is desired, unless the streaming video is available to be purchased or otherwise saved. Streaming video is not indefinitely available; it is posted or removed at the publisher's discretion.

How to Upload Streaming Videos

Companies such as YouTube and Photobucket provide a no-cost medium for sharing personal video files over the Internet in the form of streaming videos. Other streaming video sites, such as Mydeo Limited, charge a fee based on the video length and viewing needs of the account holder. Streaming video sites that provide uploading services offer tutorials specific to their submittal process.

In order to publish a personal video file as streaming video, publishers must first create an account with the streaming video provider. Once logged in, the publisher will activate the option button upload for streaming videos. There is no universal label for this button, but it generally contains the word upload.

Before choosing the file to be uploaded for streaming video, the publisher must first select where the file will be stored. For example, the publisher may create different albums within their account to categorize streaming videos. Some Web sites require streaming videos to be given a description and a name. Once the publisher is satisfied with the placement of their file, another option button will prompt a browser search. The publisher will select a video file from the browser by double clicking on the file name or selecting the open option button once the file name is highlighted. Uploading may take several minutes and a message will appear once the upload of the streaming video is complete. The size and length of the video file may prevent the publisher from submitting a file in its entirety for streaming video. To determine file size and length restrictions, the publisher must first research terms and conditions of the streaming video site.

Sharing Streaming Videos

Public streaming video may be found by anyone searching the Web site to which the streaming video has been uploaded. Sites such as YouTube allow the publisher to promote their streaming video for public viewing by adding search terms to the file so the streaming video will appear if the term is searched on the site. For sites like Mydeo, streaming videos are not made publicly available and cannot be searched. YouTube, on the other hand, allows public and private distribution of streaming videos. The decision to make a streaming video public or private is decided by the YouTube account holder before the file is chosen.

For parents wanting to forward videos to friends and family of their children, or for anyone just wanting to send a video message, these sites work well. Private streaming videos are generally shared by the publisher via e-mail notification providing password-protected access. Publishers also have the option of embedding the streaming video into the e-mail itself. Embedding files into e-mail simply means the streaming video is part of the e-mail transmission and available to the recipient as soon as the e-mail is opened.

Photobucket offers the user the ability to share group albums of online photos and streaming videos among a group of Photobucket members. Photobucket members can simply upload a streaming video to the site, making it available to the entire group. None of the streaming video sites are able to ensure total privacy of any video uploaded to their site. Users should first read all disclaimers before uploading personal videos onto any Internet site.

How to Optimize Your Computer for Streaming Video

There are some simple steps that will optimize your computer to receive and play streaming videos that do not require extensive computer knowledge. Streaming video will load and play in accordance to the speed of the computer and Internet connection in use. For example, closing all idle programs open on the computer will free storage memory and possibly bandwidth. Cleaning the desktop of the computer of unnecessary icons, programs or documents will also increase the speed available for streaming videos. Also, media players are software programs that facilitate the use of streaming videos as well as audio files.

Web browsers also provide streaming videos via the Internet without a media software program. However, when using a Web browser, the computer receiving the streaming video must be equipped with a suitable plug-in. Plug-ins provide the necessary connection between the Web browser and computer to accommodate the streaming video.

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