There are two different ways you can upload videos, Streaming or HTTP Progressive Downloading.

Many people think that all videos are streaming, but this isn’t the case.

So what’s the difference between the two and which should you choose?

Facts About Progressive Download

Progressive download is common with all web servers; this is when the video file is being delivered to a browser through HTTP. Easy way to explain it is through a comparison with a someone downloading files off of a website. Videos are delivered the same way as images — CSS, JS, PDF and others. The main difference is that the video will begin playing the video before the download is complete. Example, you’re downloading a video that’s being delivered through HTTP and your Flash Player opens up and begins playing the video during the download. If you have QuickTime or Windows Media Player, they wouldn’t begin the video until the downloading is done. The QuickTime videos can be set to begin while the download is in progress by choosing “progressive play” in the settings.

During the HTTP Progressive download, there is a mini status bar below the video that let’s you know how much is left until completion. You are only able to watch the downloaded portion of the video, so if you were to click ahead of the bar, it wouldn’t play at all. Jumping ahead is a no-go. Those who have a slow or limited bandwidth will witness a slow download, so high speed internet is best for this type of video download. Buffering takes place and is visible when you’re watching a video that’s being downloaded on a slow Internet connection. Buffering is when the download falls behind the video and is unable to keep up. By pausing the video, it allows the video to continue downloading, then once most of the download is complete, the video can play uninterrupted because the video will stay far behind the download point. Having a CDN can eliminate the buffering process.

If you can’t wait for the download to complete, there are solutions. — Pseudo or Seek streaming. These allow you to jump to any part of the video — the video player you’re using will request a range of the file and download just that portion. The videos downloaded through HTTP go directly to the computer of the end user. Sometimes this can be good and sometimes not. It can be good if you are looking to watch the video multiple times. The not-so-good part is that someone can easily steal content from you. Also, if someone watches only a portion of your video and then stops the download, their browser will still download the complete file and you’ll end up paying for its delivery — as though the person watched the entire video.

Facts About Streaming Video

Access to a streaming media server is required for a streaming video. Various available servers include Wowza Media, Windows Media, Darwin Media (QuickTime), Flash Media and Real Media. Some of these require licensing and can cost a few thousand dollars. A few of the main streaming protocoals are RTSP, MMS and RTMP.

During the video streaming process, the video is being sent through a UDP protocol to the end user’s media player. The end user is then able to fast forward and rewind the video. It is harder to steal the content from the user because the videos aren’t being downloaded to the computer. The good thing about Streaming video is that if the user only watches a portion of a video, you only pay for that portion, instead of the entire thing (like with HTTP).

The major disadvantage associated with streaming is that if one user watches the same video over and over, you have to pay for each delivery, every time. CDNs and web host providers have streaming media servers available for your use. If you’re looking to have cloud computing or a CDN, ensure that they allow the streaming of videos (you can confirm this with tech support).