Buffer memory is a memory or part of memory allowing the temporary storage of data between two electronic bodies having different characteristics.
If something is to be loaded from a source and there are interruptions in the connection, this can lead to stuttering and delays that are then disruptive, for example when streaming or reading CDs or printing.
A buffer memory is used to initially record the data that is tapped. The reading program accesses the buffer instead of directly tapping into the source. If there are problems with the connection, this does not result in an interruption as long as the connection is not interrupted longer than the buffer can hold data.
How does buffering work?
A buffer contains data that is stored in a computer’s random access memory (RAM) for a short period of time. The purpose of the buffer memory is to hold this data before it is used.
For example, when you download an audio or video file from the internet, a quarter of this file is stored in the buffer memory before being read by the computer. While playing the audio or video file, the computer downloads the rest of the file little by little while storing it in the buffer.
Since the file is played from the buffer (not from the internet) the sound or video is less likely to “freeze” or “skip” when there is internet congestion. This technique is notably used by audio or video streaming applications such as Spotify or YouTube.
Buffering is also used to improve the performance of a computer. This is because most hard drives use buffering to allow the computer to have faster access to hard drive data.
Video cards, for example, send images to the buffer before they are even displayed on the screen. Most computer programs also use buffers to store data during execution.
In programming buffering sometimes implies the need to filter the data from the intended place in order to be able to edit or process it before transferring it to a file or a classic database.