WTF is a download, WTF is an upload?

I did read it but I chose to ignore the (in my eyes then) redundant data.

That actually sounds plausible, like something I’d put in a dictionary if I had a reason to. But my definition of “Download and upload are the same process from different angles” sounds just as reasonable. So time for some digging. How dare you make me go down this rabbithole! :stuck_out_tongue:


WTF is a download, WTF is an upload?

They’re important human-made terms so someone with authority out there must have defined them officially. Is it decided by which side initiates the process as suggested by @Plokit or by the angle you look at it from, as I believed before? Surprisingly, neither.

We go search the IEEE Digital Library and may or may not use Sci-Hub to read a paper that sounds reasonably related to the issue. From there we get redirected to the ISO.

but that Standard is from 1993 and has been replaced by something not quite as ancient: linking to

It’s a free dictionary, no need for Sci-Hub this time. And it defines Download as:

transfer programs or data from a computer to a connected computer with fewer resources, typically from a mainframe to a personal computer

and Upload as:

transfer programs or data from a connected computer to a computer with greater resources, typically from a personal computer to a mainframe

The officially deciding factor apparently is the difference of resources between the computers. And the definition is sourced from the 1993 version of the document revised by this one.

Does anyone know a higher authority than ISO and IEEE with more up to date definitions? :sweat:



pardon the french, but what the fuck?



thank you :grin:

1 Like

i dont get it
i need an adult
help please


Honestly if you look at the word download upside down it turns into upload. Not joking.


are you going to trust this man


this made my day, thank you, I wish you luck though

Top 10 Unexplained Mysteries

You have waaay too much time on your hands lmao

But based on these proper definitions, I’m still right. You’re still uploading if it comes from your computer, and downloading if it comes from a server…

What if both computers are servers with equal resources? Not to mention P2P. I don’t really read “server” into “computer with greater resources”.

Which is why my explanation makes more sense. I mean, going by my explanation is how it’s mainly used in school, and in the IT environment as far as I’ve seen. Because the 1993 definition doesn’t make sense in a P2P situation, or a server to server situation.

And the server is usually the one with more resources. They don’t mean just the power of your hardware by “resources.” Because, yes, a lot of gaming computers can happen to be more powerful than simple file servers, but the file server has more resources, overall.

But if you think it means purely processing power, go ahead, say “Oh yea, I just uploaded a game from Steam” and see how people react, since your computer is probably more powerful than that file server you’re getting the game from.

The common use is:

If you’re requesting the file, it’s a download to you.
If you’re initiating the file transfer to send a file from your machine, you’re uploading.

You’re the first person I’ve ever had disagree with me on the terminology here. Seeing as I work in IT, and deal with the uses of these words almost every day, you’d think I know a few things about how they’re used. But hey, I guess the random guy using MLP pictures on TU forums knows more.

Every professor I’ve had, every person I’ve talked to, including my boss, has used it in the sense that I do.

If you mean files, you haven’t seen enough hoarders’ harddrives. :stuck_out_tongue: Otherwise, do you mean servers are more resourceful by definition or something? My definition of server is roughly “host offering services” and the ISO standard seems to agree:

in a computer network, functional unit that provides services to workstations, to personal computers or to other functional units

I’d phrase it “The steam servers are uploading a game to my PC”. Because the upload is from their angle, not mine. The Steam servers uploaded it, I downloaded it.

I could say the same thing.

Dude please, that’s just low. I don’t call you edgy because of the way your avatar looks, do I? No, because the appearance of the other party doesn’t impact their arguments.

You ask everyone you talk to what a download is to them?

I guess to find the truth we have to time travel back to 1993 and inform them of Moore’s law before they write “resources”.

I can almost promise you Steam’s file servers for games have much, much more data on it than you do on every hard drive and machine in your house.

Computer Resource Definition: “In computing , a system resource , or simply resource , is any physical or virtual component of limited availability within a computer system . Every device connected to a computer system is a resource . Every internal system component is a resource .”
So I’m sure a server has much more connected to it than your home computer. More drives, network connections, networked drives, etc… “computer resources” doesn’t just mean computing power, as I stated before.

No, of course not. But I hear how they use it.

MLP is a children’s show. But it was a low blow, so I’ll own up to and apologize for that one. It’s just hard to take people seriously with a children’s show character as their avatar.

I guarantee if you say that to someone, you’re going to get a funny look. And I also guarantee the Steam servers have more resources than your home computer, therefore you would be incorrect in saying that, by the definition you gave of upload and download.

Yes, the Steam infrastructure is extremely resourceful. But a RasPi having just the SD card storage can be a server as well. The 1993 definition works with Steam because it’s terminal connecting to mainframe scaled up, not so well with newer possibilities in 2018.

While no, not every server is necessary more resourceful, most are.

So it’s usually correct to say “I’m downloading from the server” or “I’m uploading to the server” I’d argue that if the two are equal, like when Imgur gets an image from a provided link, it would be considered downloading, because the Imgur server fetched the image from the other server. I’d also argue if the two are equal, if one initiates a transfer to the other, it would be uploading to the receiving equal server.

Again, while it may not be technically correct according to a standard from 1993 (which is insanely outdated in the tech world), it seems to be how it’s used most everywhere. From myself, to my peers, instructors, and everyone I’ve heard use the words on the internet in forums, videos, and articles.

I think we’re reaching the conclusion of “The official definition is outdated, it currently just works because most use cases are common use cases.”

From the perspective of the imgur uploader I’d still consider it an upload in theory, even if it might practically be a download initiated by imgur servers.

I always just think of an upload more as sending something. Where you initiate the transfer. If computer/server requests information, I usually consider it a download. I just don’t see how it could be an upload since it’s server to server, both being just about as resourceful as the other.

I… I don’t understand what the point of this topic is.

It’s pretty universal that upload = data that you send from your PC to a server & download = data gets sent from a server to your PC.

Just imagine your PC on the ground, and the mystical servers of image/video hosting services, gaming platforms and any other thing related to transferring data to and from are clouds in the sky.

Uploading sends it up to the servers, and downloading spits it all the way down to your PC.

When someone says “I’m uploading a video,” they don’t mean that they’re transferring it to watch on their iPad Mini during a car ride, it means they’re uploading the latest ‘Tower Unite easter eggs compilation’ to those servers.


The debate comes in when it’s server to server. What’s considered an upload vs what’s considered a download in that situation.