What is the difference between upload and download?

“Upload” and “download” are terms used to refer to types of electronic data transfer. The difference between them is the direction in which the files are being transferred. Files are considered uploaded when they are transferred from a computer or other electronic device to a central server, and download is when files are transferred from a server to a smaller peripheral drive such as a computer, smartphone or other device. These two different types of transfers are usually done over the Internet, such as when a file is downloaded from a website. Transferring data from a system or device to a similar system or device, such as from a desktop computer to a laptop, is generally not considered uploading or downloading.

Files are downloaded when they are transferred from a server to a computer.


The most common type of upload is when a user uploads a digital file to an Internet site. For example, a user might upload vacation photos to a social networking site or a home video to a video-sharing site. The uploaded files are then stored on the website’s servers and can be viewed by anyone with internet access and, if necessary, the right software to view them.

Musicians can upload their music to various websites.

Other sites allow users to upload digital files for storage. This may allow users to store more files or larger files than they would be able to store on their own computer or device due to their limited storage capacity. Uploading files to storage sites also allows other users or other devices to access them. Permission to access the files can be granted only to certain people, or the files can be made public for anyone to access.

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Emoticons and images can be downloaded to a phone for use in texting.

Another type of upload takes place on a closed computer system, such as one in a single office building or one that connects a group of companies. These types of systems often have servers to store information that needs to be shared between multiple computers or devices. Digital files can be uploaded from any computer or device connected to the system and then downloaded or accessed by any other user on the system.


Whenever electronic files or information are transferred from a central system to a computer or device connected to that system, it is considered a download. Files can be downloaded temporarily and then deleted after they have been used once, or they can be downloaded more permanently and used for a longer period of time. For example, a funny video file can be downloaded from the internet and then deleted after watching it, but a useful app can be downloaded and used for months or years.

Downloaded files are sometimes automatically stored in a specific location on the computer or device and are automatically accessed from that location when needed. An example of this is an app that is downloaded to a smartphone – the user normally cannot control where the app is stored on the phone, it is simply stored where the phone stores all of its apps. In other cases, the user can choose where the downloaded files will be stored. For example, a laptop user can download a music file to a specific music folder or other file type to the computer’s desktop where it can be found quickly.

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The time that it takes to upload or download a file depends on several factors. The main factor is the digital size of the file, which is measured in bytes. The larger the file, the longer it takes to transfer the information in it.

The quality of the connection from the Internet or central server to the smaller computer or device also makes a difference in the transfer speed. A computer that has a high-speed Internet connection will be able to download or upload a file much more quickly than a computer that has a low-speed connection would. In addition, the speed of the server on which the file is stored can affect upload times or download times.

Background Operations

Uploading and downloading occur frequently, often without the user being aware that he or she is doing it. For example, incoming email is downloaded from a server, and outgoing emails are uploaded to be sent out. The source code of the web page is downloaded to the user’s computer so that he or she can view the content. Whenever a computer or device is connected to the Internet or another larger system, files are frequently transferred back and forth — uploaded and downloaded — throughout the normal course of use.

In some cases, users must pay for files, programs or apps before they can be downloaded.

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