1. The process of providing a steady flow of audio or video data so that an Internet user is able to access it as it is transmitted.
2. A mode of operation of a tape transport, introduced in 1978 by IBM, in which the length of magnetic tape passing the head while stopping and restarting exceeds the length of the interblock gap. After a stop, therefore, the tape has to be repositioned (i.e. backed up) in order to be in the correct position for the next start. The alternative to streaming mode is start/stop mode.
Streaming allows a tape transport with only moderate acceleration to handle tape at a considerably higher speed than it could in start/stop mode. However, the average data rate is only improved if substantial quantities of data (typically tens to thousands of kilobytes) are transferred between stops, because of the considerable repositioning time (typically 0.1–2 seconds). The most common application is disk backup.
Streaming also allows the interblock gap to be very short, increasing the amount of data that can be stored on a given length of tape; this is not compatible with the currently used international format standards for open-reel tape, but most cartridge-tape standards define a short or zero interblock gap.
stream·ing / ˈstrēming/ • n. a method of relaying data (especially video and audio material) over a computer network as a steady continuous stream, allowing playback to proceed while subsequent data is being received. • adj. Comput. (of data) transmitted in a continuous stream while earlier parts are being used.