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Streaming or Downloading: Which Is the Best Use of Your Mobile Data?

When it comes to enjoying audio or video on your mobile device, you may be presented with an option regarding how to proceed: stream it or download it. But choosing an option may not be as obvious as it appears, depending on how you intend to use the content and when.

To help you make the decision about spending your mobile data on streaming or downloading, here are some important points to consider.

Downloading and Streaming Are Functionally the Same

Both streaming and downloading involve a file being sent to the device. The key difference is that a streaming file is simply played as it becomes available, while a download is stored onto memory. Both processes involve the act of downloading, but only one leaves you with a copy left on your device that you can access at any time without having to receive (or download) the data again.

If you access a downloaded file later, you do not have to use more mobile data to play it. However, if you choose to stream a file again, you will have to download the information again (and again every time you choose to access it).

The Amount of Data Transferred is (Typically) Equal

Another thing you need to understand is that the size of the file itself is often the same regardless of whether you stream it or download it, as long as it is offered with the same level of quality for both selections. For example, if an MP3 of a song is 3.5 MB, that fact doesn’t change whether you download it or stream it.

However, certain options may differ depending on available quality. If you have the option of streaming a video at 480p but can download it at 720p, the 720p file will be larger than the 480p counterpart. This means it takes more data to download the 720p file than stream the 480p version.

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