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Definition: download vs. upload


Download and upload (downstream and upstream) speeds may be the same or very different. Sending and receiving files between computers over a local network transmit at roughly the same speed. However, transmission speeds to the Internet (upstream) and from the Internet (downstream) are not always the same. It depends on the provider and service agreement. For example, business customers may have the same down/up speeds, while residential customers generally have a much lower upstream speed to prevent them from operating an online-based business.

For Consumers - A Little Up - A Lot Down
A Web page is requested with a very little amount of text going to the Web server, but the text and images coming back can comprise a thousand times as much data. Video is a more extreme example. A small text request can retrieve a two-hour movie comprising several gigabytes of video.

For Business - A Lot Up and Down
Business customers operating a website may be sending out tons of data and need considerable upstream bandwidth, which is why commercial customers are charged more than residential users by the Internet provider (ISP). See download, bandwidth and ISP.




Residential Service Speed Test
These cable Internet results from the Ookla website exemplify the difference between upstream and downstream speeds to a consumer.