Streaming means listening to music or watching a movie in real time rather than downloading a file to your computer or tablet and watching it later.
To successfully stream music or films, as you will on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Spotify, your home broadband speed needs to be running fast enough to show the streaming data.
To help with streaming, the data files of your music or movie are compressed to use as little broadband bandwidth as possible.
A lot of broadband deals are unlimited, so there are no limits on the amount of data you can use every month. However, if you don’t have an unlimited deal, it is sometimes unclear how much of your allocated broadband allowance streaming uses.
For instance, listening to music can consume around 0.5-1MB per minute while watching a YouTube video can consume about 4-5MB per minute.
Sometimes there can be an interruption to streaming. To counter this your computer stores a ‘buffer’ of the data it has already received. If there’s a drop-out, the buffer enables the streaming to continue uninterrupted. If there is no more data in the buffer then you’ll see the message ‘buffering.’