Digital: Streaming vs File Transfer

What is the difference between digital streaming and file transferring?  There is a core difference that drives confusion among audiophiles, if not considered. That core difference is error checking. 

Since the mid 80’s computers have had reliable file transfer systems in place that we’ve taken for granted. At least I know I have. But after doing some research on the subject, it is clear some very smart people came up with some very robust protocols to ensure the integrity of any given file, when copied within a computer or around the world over the internet. 

But streaming does not have these robust protocols for data integrity. Streaming allows errors in the name of transfer speed. Have you ever experienced a pixelated image while streaming a video? That is the result of prioritizing speed over data integrity. The similar effect can happen with audio streaming. 

There are newer protocols being developed to reduce streaming errors, but the expectations for increased speeds and increased data volumes are almost insatiable.  

Here is an informative link by Benjamin Zwickel, owner of Mojo Audio:

Here is a quote from this link:

“Of course unlike most digital data transfer, music is played in real-time, so even if you are using digital communication devices (i.e. streamers, modems, and routers) that can potentially correct corrupted data, there is often no time to do this, and therefore the corrupted data is passed on to the next component.”


So anyone who says “bits are bits” or “it’s only 1’s and 0’s”, are using the file copying mentality which does not apply to streaming in today’s world. 


Thanks for your attention and I hope some of you find this interesting, or at least informative.