Broadband Internet has brought a lot of changes to the way we use the Web. One of the biggest changes has been the ability to stream large media files, including music and videos, directly over the Internet. How does this amazing technology work? Let’s take a look.
If you’re not taking advantage of streaming media services like YouTube, Netflix, or Pandora, you’re missing out on some of the best things the Internet has to offer. To learn more about enjoying media over the Internet, check out our Online Videos and Online Music guides.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do videos keep stopping when I’m trying to watch them?
When you stream media, your computer attempts to download enough of the file for what is playing at the moment and a little extra (this is called your buffer), just in case your connection slows down. However, if your connection gets too slow, you can run out of buffer and the video will stop until your computer can download enough to keep playing. For more information, check out the articles on our Manage Media page.
Why won’t my computer play some video or music files?
Odds are, your computer does not have the correct plug-in to play those files. Plug-ins tell your browser or media player how to read certain media files. For instance, if you’re using a Windows PC, chances are you have no problem viewing Windows Media files, but you probably can’t watch QuickTime movies. To watch them, you will need to download and install the latest version of QuickTime. To learn more about plug-ins, see our Installing Plug-Ins guide.
What type of music is available on the Internet?
You can find just about any type of music you want online. Music stores, like iTunes and Amazon, have millions of songs and albums to purchase. Subscription music services, like Spotify and Play Music, let you play unlimited songs of your choice for a monthly subscription fee. And online radio lets you listen to your favorite types of music, or even your favorite FM stations, for free. Learn more in our A Little Net Music and Web Radio guides.
Can I download music and video to play when I’m offline too?
Many services allow you to download media files to your computer though there may be an additional cost to do so. For instance, services like Spotify let you stream music for free, but if you want to save songs to a portable device and listen to them on the go, you will need to sign up for their paid subscription. Online video services, such as YouTube, also allow you to save videos. And media stores, including as iTunes and Amazon, give you the choice of streaming content you purchase or saving it to your computer. Saving files takes longer and requires more space on your computer, but once the file is downloaded, you don’t have to worry about choppy or pausing playback when your Internet slows down. To learn more about saving media to your computer, see Downloading Data.