Data indicates that the use of audio and video on the Web is on the rise, with some experts predicting that soon 50% of all corporate traffic online will take the form of streaming audio or video. If you’re looking to improve your Web site or deliver high-value content to your customers, you might want to consider setting up a media streaming VPS to help bear the burden of the content.
Audio/Video Streaming Using a VPS
A VPS, or virtual private server, is essentially a portion of a larger server that is hosted by a company who then provides maintenance for any technical issues and guarantees about the amount of uptime that the server will have. You as the user purchase a piece of the server space and can do almost anything you want with it – so long as the VPS host has a hypervisor installed, you can use whatever OS you prefer, and then download and install whatever software you want. Once you have your server set up and have proper permission for access, you can look into downloading audio and video streaming applications that will allow you to host content on your VPS. This content can be viewed by users without having to wait for a full download or the need for buffering, and allow you to keep your files secure and separate from your local server.
Common Audio/Video Streaming Options
In order to stream audio or video content on a VPS, your files will first need to be in the right format. These can be FLV, WebM, ASF, or ISMA, to name a few. Audio files are typically streamed as MP3s or MP4s. If you do not have the right kind of file format, streaming will be impossible no matter what type of application you use.
These applications are the other half of the audio/video streaming equation, and there are a number of options available. One of the oldest streaming video players is RealPlayer, which can provide excellent video quality at high speed, but depends heavily on the speed and quality of the connection used. QuickTime is also a streaming option, which requires a server in order to do so and can be used by both PC and Mac users. Windows Media Player is a popular choice, and provides excellent quality – approaching that of MPEG1 – if you have sufficient bandwidth.
For audio streaming applications, there are also a myriad of applications to choose from such as BroadWave Streaming Audio Server, which can both stream through browsers or be installed on a server, and icecast.org, which is free server software for streaming multimedia. Shoutcast is a free Internet radio station application, which allows you to download a server package and begin broadcasting your own radio station, along with being listed on the Shoutcast Web site.
Benefits of Media Streaming VPS
While streaming audio and video from an office or home computer is not recommended, you will have a number of options if you choose to go the server route. The first is to use a shared server solution, but this can result in a number of issues. By far the cheapest route, shared hosting is an excellent choice for static Web pages and if you do not need a great deal of dedicated resources. Typically, shared servers are not customizable, and you will not be able to install the OS you prefer, as well as have very limited access to a shared pool of resources.
Dedicated servers are at the other end of the spectrum, and offer an entire server that is yours and that you can do with as you wish. The downside to a dedicated server for audio/video streaming, however, is price.
A VPS option will provide the same kind of resource allocation as a dedicated server, but because multiple users are sharing the cost of the server as a whole, the price is often far less. In addition, a media streaming VPS option can have its resources increased when necessary simply by purchasing more virtual real estate, giving you more room to work with and the ability to keep more files on hand for easy access.
Streaming content is something users are coming to expect in every Web site they visit – from social networks to company product pages. In order to utilize the power of streaming video and audio, a VPS server is one the best choices to maximize both cost and performance.