To send information continuously, usually at a specific rate, much like a radio station sends out radio waves constantly. Taken from the term for continuous, uninterrupted flow, streaming media is separate from downloadable media that can be replayed, fast-forwarded, and paused at users' will. Streaming media is considered less convinient than downloadable but is more ideal for companies who want to maintain control of their product, although, for some file formats, tools are avilable to turn streaming media into a downloaded file. Over a high-traffic connection or with a heavily-taxed server, streaming media can be far worse than downloadable media, with skips and stops like a record player during a power outage.
- Encoding tools are used for compressing the media into a format suitable for delivery over the Internet.
- Servers make the compressed files and live streams available to many people.
- Audio-Video Software connects to the servers and get the media.
- "Codecs" are the compression/decompression routines used by encoding tools and players.
- File Formats are shared by encoding tools and servers to generically store encoded streams.
- Players and servers need shared protocols for streaming the data.