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Is Streaming Download or Upload?

Streaming has quickly become one of the most popular online hobbies. With this trend comes users looking to optimize their speeds to guarantee the best possible viewing experience. However, many users wonder whether streaming requires a faster download or upload speed.

Is Streaming Download or Upload?

Streaming can be either upload or download, depending on the type of streaming. When you watch videos or listen to songs, that’s download. When you’re live streaming or participating in a video call, that’s upload. Most users will find download speeds to be more important.

So if you are watching a stream you will be using download, but if you are streaming yourself then you will be using upload.

This article will explain the differences between uploading and downloading when streaming. We’ll also reveal the minimum required speeds for different platforms and acceptable upload and download rates for streaming.

What Is the Difference Between Download and Upload?

Downloading refers to transferring data from a web server to a device such as searching the web. Uploading is the opposite, a process that transmits information from a device to a web server such as sharing a photo or streaming. Both processes need a sufficient amount of memory to function optimally.

Let’s talk about the key differences between the two.

What Is Downloading?

The download process typically begins when you click a link in your web browser to download a file to your device.

But downloading also has other traits, such as improved speed and user control. You can usually download a file quicker than you can upload one. When you download a sound, video, or audio file, you have more options when viewing it.

After clicking the link, your browser will give you three download options:

  • Open. You can download the file in your web browser, but it won’t save to your device.
  • Open with. This choice will import the file and open it in the selected program immediately.
  • Save File. This command will download a file to your hard drive and store it there.

Some browsers don’t always initiate the installation process when you click on a file attachment. In these instances, you can click the link and select Save Link As. From there, you can choose where you want to save the file.

For the download to be successful, your computer must have sufficient storage space. 

What Is Download Speed?

Broadband speed is the rate at which you can download or upload data to a server, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). 

Download speed is how many megabits of data per second you need to take data from a server. Activities such as listening to music or watching Hulu all require you to download data. The average internet download speed ranges from 12 to 25 Mbps. 

But there are other options besides the standard speed companies offer. Most ISPs provide download speeds as slow as 3 Mbps or as high as 2000 Mbps. 

This will depend on where you live and what ISP you use.

What Makes a Good Download Speed?

A download speed of 10 Mbps is sufficient for basic web browsing and email. This bandwidth is far from a satisfactory download speed and is insufficient if you’re attempting to perform more advanced tasks.

Download rates of at least 25 Mbps are “satisfactory” because they meet the FCC’s minimum broadband requirement. However, download speed efficiency depends on how many devices you’re using and their online activities. You might find that 25 Mbps is too slow for your needs.

To determine a computer’s download speed, open your browser and run one of these speed tests:

If you’re testing download speeds on a mobile device, try a speed checking app for iOS or Android devices, such as:

Due to the low performance of mobile browsers, it’s best to use a native mobile app to ensure the most reliable speed test results. If you have a fast download speed but a slow internet connection, the problem could be with your upload speed.

What Is Uploading?

Uploading is typically less debated than downloading since it’s considered less critical. However, anyone who deals with film, audio, or other large-file-size media will appreciate fast uploading. If you enjoy live streaming, slow upload speeds can make connecting to the server a challenge.

Uploading is usually more time-consuming than downloading, though it consumes less bandwidth per task. You could argue that upload speeds are less important than downloading, as your computer actively imports data from your web server rather than transmitting it.

Although upload speeds don’t need to be as high as download speeds, you should aim for at least 3Mbps and even more if you are interested in streaming.

If you want to know how much data streaming uses then check out my article here.

What Is Upload Speed?

As previously mentioned, we measure upload rates in megabits per second.

Upload speed is the number of megabits per second that your machine can transmit to another server. Though downloading is more widespread among internet users, you might need fast upload speeds for certain tasks, like streaming video games or joining a video call.

What Makes a Good Upload Speed?

A fast upload speed allows you to access and submit the content you want without encountering any significant issues and at a high quality.

Upload speeds of 3 Mbps are adequate and follow the FCC’s requirements. However, if someone in your household uploads videos regularly, you may need a faster speed. The majority of Americans perform optimally with an upload speed of 52 Mbps.

What Are Good Upload and Download Speeds for Streaming? 

A good upload speed for live streaming is 13 Mbps, though the FCC only requires a minimum of 3 Mbps. It also depends on the platform. For example, YouTube recommends between 2 and 7.4 Mbps for streaming and Twitch recommends 6 Mbps. A good download speed for watching videos or streams is 5 Mbps.

Kev The Dev has a video with speed recommendations for various activities, including video streaming, remote work, and others: 

What Makes a Good Upload Speed?

There’s no industry norm on what constitutes a good upload speed. Just like how download rates affect the image and sound quality when watching a broadcast, the upload speeds affect how other devices see and hear you. Unstable upload rates are often to blame for freezing displays and poor audio.

If you are streaming and experiencing any of these issues then it could be your upload speed.

The required upload speed varies by platform. However, if your home network contains several streamers, it’s best to have at least 50 Mbps. Regardless of the bitrate selected, the rate must support the resolution of the uploaded content.

Given the wide range of services that allow live streaming, we’ll use the minimum recommended speeds for three platforms:

  • YouTube suggests an upload speed of between 2 and 7.4 Mbps for 720p video.
  • For 1080p videos on YouTube, you’ll need between 3.8 and 11 megabits per second.
  • YouTube demands between 15.8 and 61.5 Mbps for 4K playback.
  • For 720p, Facebook Live suggests a speed of 3 to 4 Mbps.
  • Facebook Live needs between 6 and 7 megabits per second in 1080p.
  • Twitch requires between 3.2 and 6.2 Mbps for 720p video.
  • Twitch suggests a minimum of 5.6 – 7.4 Mbps for 1080p.

It’s recommended that you have an upload speed of 10–15 Mbps greater than the minimum requirement for the level of content you’re attempting to upload, but again this is ideal. Many of us won’t have this luxory.

What Makes a Good Download Speed?

In general, a transfer speed of 5 Mbps is sufficient for streaming and viewing videos from media channels such as Hulu. However, this is the minimum prerequisite for a download.

If you want to watch videos online, a download speed of 25 Mbps is a far better idea. Keep in mind that the download speed is insignificant when it comes to live streaming. For this reason, the standard recommendation is also suitable for live streaming.

Upload and download rates have an enormous impact on the quality of your streaming. Even so, don’t feel like you have to choose the fastest internet speed possible, as this can be expensive.

For even more streaming tips and how-to content check out my Youtube channel here. And if you want to check out my streams then stop by my Twitch channel here.


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👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.