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The use of the terms uploading and downloading often imply that the data sent or received is to be stored permanently, or at least stored more than temporarily. In contrast, the term downloading is distinguished from the related concept of streaming, which indicates the receiving of data that is used near immediately as it is received, while the transmission is still in progress and which may not be stored long-term, whereas in a process described using the term downloading, this would imply that the data is only usable when it has been received in its entirety. Increasingly, websites that offer streaming media or media displayed in-browser, such as you tube, and which place restrictions on the ability of users to save these materials to their computers after they have been received, say that downloading is not permitted. In this context, download implies specifically "receive and save" instead of simply "receive". However, it is also important to note that downloading is not the same as "transferring" (i.e., sending/receiving data between two storage devices would be a transferral of data, but receiving data from the Internet would be considered a download of data).


When applied to local transfers (sending data from one local system to another local system), it is often difficult to decide if it is an uploador download, as both source and destination are in the local control of the user. Technically if the user uses the receiving device to initiate the transfer then it would be a download and if they used the sending device to initiate it would be an upload. However, as most non-technical users tend to use the term download to refer to any data transfer, the term  is sometimes being used to cover all local-to-local transfers to end this confusion.

Remote uploading is also used in situations where the computers that need to share data are located on a distant high-speed , and the remote control is being performed using a comparatively slow dial-up modem connection.

For example:

  • The user remotely accesses a file hosting service at MyRemoteHost.
  • The user finds a public file at PublicRemoteHost and wants to keep a copy in their MyRemoteHost.
  • To have it done they "remote upload" the file from PublicRemoteHost to MyRemoteHost.
  • None of the hosts are located on the user's local network.

Without remote uploading functionality, the user would be required to download the file first to their local host and then upload it to the remote file hosting server.

Where the connection to the remote computers is via a dial-up connection, the transfer time required to download locally and then upload again could increase from seconds to hours or days.