What is a "Streaming Server"?
Real or true "video streaming" requires the use of webhosting on a "streaming server" - a webserver having specialized software designed specifically for delivering "live" or on-demand streaming media. This part of our free video hosting tutorial will focus on streaming servers.
Streaming Servers Advantages
There are some advantages to using a streaming media server over HTTP streaming media. A streaming video server has the ability to adjust the data rate to that of the compressed video stream as it is being delivered. Downloading the video file is not required by the end user (although sometimes it might be found in the browser's Internet Temp folder, or cache) since the video file remains on the web hosting server itself. In doing this, it allows the viewer to fastforward to the latter parts of the video clip without having to wait. Since the media file is not downloaded as a single file, this is also a good way to protect against theft and wrongful redistribution of publically hosted videos. The ability to broadcast live events and handle larger traffic loads are also some advantages to using web hosting on streaming video servers.
Do It Yourself
Now, there are two ways you can make use of a streaming server. First, it is possible to run your own by leasing, renting, or purchasing one. However, some serious thought should go into making this kind of decision (besides that it obviously has a rather large cost).
To operate your own web server, you must buy a standalone streaming server or a streaming server software package that you must then install on your present webserver (either a dedicated server or virtual private server). If you should choose to purchase a software for supporting streaming video formats for all commom platforms, (i.e. Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux), streaming server software is available. For example: Helix Universal Server from RealNetworks supports a variety of formats, including Microsoft Windows Media, RealMedia, Quicktime and MPEG-4; Apple Quicktime Streaming Server supports a few formats including MPEG-4 and 3GPP; Flash Media Server 2 specializes in Flash-based video and interactive multimedia. Operating your own steaming webserver is costly and not really practical for the average webmaster. Fulfilling the needs of an average website hosting video clips usually does not require such a great expense.
Let Someone Else Do the Work
The other option available is to sign up with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) for one of their web hosting plans. It's a lot like signing up for a website hosting plan except this webhosting plan specializes in streaming media. This is a more practical option for most people. A few examples are Real Broadcasting Network Hosting Services (RBN) and Flash Communication Server Hosting.
When making a decision, keep in mind, no matter which way you go, true video streaming can be costly. Unless you have a real need for this, the better choice would be to start with HTTP streaming.