There are basically two ways of watching videos on the Internet. One is by streaming. The other is by downloading. There is a world of difference between these two, in terms of quality, speed of delivery and storage. And it will depend on the user and the situation which among the two is preferred.
Video downloading usually means the user has to download the entire video file for playing on one’s computer. The file should then be in the format of a user’s player, so this can be quicktime, windows video, or even iTunes video (for the iPod). The advantage of downloading videos directly onto one’s computer is that it can be played over and over again as long as the file is saved on one’s computer (or media player). Downloaded videos can also be of better quality, since quality is not sacrificed for download speed. Downloading can be disadvantageous, though, since this requires patience from a user–one usually has to wait for the entire file to download before playing.
Streaming, meanwhile, means a video is played while it is downloaded. The video file is usually downloaded and cached on the local computer, and the parts saved so far are played while the rest of the video is still downloading. The advantage is that the viewer gets instant gratification, since the video starts playing even if the entire file is not yet downloaded. The disadvantage is that usually streamed media is not saved locally. So you can only watch the video as long as you have the client or browser open. Once you close the application, you would then have to stream the video again. Also, some video streaming applications don’t allow rewinding and skipping, so your viewing experience may be limited.
Also, with a few notable exceptions, streamed videos are usually low quality. This ensures a smaller file size, so your player won’t have to pause when the network gets choked up. However, there may be times when you will experience this especially with poor network connections.
Video sharing sites that use flash for video are usually streamed. Examples are YouTube and Google Video (with YouTube also owned by Google). One good reason for these sites to keep users from saving files locally is copyright. It’s easy to remove a video Once a file is saved on a hard drive, users can distribute. Another is revenue. If you view a video on a browser, the service can also display advertisements. Valid reasons, I think, but then for purposes of study, we’ll explore ways to save YouTube and Google Videos locally.
It’s quite simple, actually. When you watch videos on YouTube or google Video, your computer actually saves a copy locally under a temporary folder (your browser’s cache). You can save videos locally by searching for the appropriate file on your computer. Or if you prefer the easy way, you can download them through third-party sites. One good example is KeepVid.
Next up, I’ll post a short tutorial on how to save YouTube or Google Video files via Keepvid.