Best way to stream files in ASP.NET


What's the best way to stream files using ASP.NET?

There appear to be various methods for this, and I'm currently using the Response.TransmitFile() method inside an http handler, which sends the file to the browser directly. This is used for various things, including sending FLV's from outside the webroot to an embedded Flash video player.

However, this doesn't seem like a reliable method. In particular, there's a strange problem with Internet Explorer (7), where the browser just hangs after a video or two are viewed. Clicking on any links, etc have no effect, and the only way to get things working again on the site is to close down the browser and re-open it.

This also occurs in other browsers, but much less frequently. Based on some basic testing, I suspect this is something to do with the way files are being streamed… perhaps the connection isn't being closed properly, or something along those lines.

After trying a few different things, I've found that the following method works for me:


This gets around the problem mentioned above, and viewing videos no longer causes Internet Explorer to hang.

However, my understanding is that Response.WriteFile() loads the file into memory first, and given that some files being streamed could potentially be quite large, this doesn't seem like an ideal solution.

I'm interested in hearing how other developers are streaming large files in ASP.NET, and in particular, streaming FLV video files.

Best Solution

I would take things outside of the "aspx" pipeline. In particular, I would write a ran handler (ashx, or mapped via config), that does the minimum work, and simply writes to the response in chunks. The handler would accept input from the query-string/form as normal, locate the object to stream, and stream the data (using a moderately sized local buffer in a loop). A simple (incomplete) example shown below:

public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context) {
    // read input etx
    context.Response.Buffer = false;
    context.Response.ContentType = "text/plain";
    string path = @"c:\somefile.txt";
    FileInfo file = new FileInfo(path);
    int len = (int)file.Length, bytes;
    context.Response.AppendHeader("content-length", len.ToString());
    byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
    Stream outStream = context.Response.OutputStream;
    using(Stream stream = File.OpenRead(path)) {
        while (len > 0 && (bytes =
            stream.Read(buffer, 0, buffer.Length)) > 0)
            outStream.Write(buffer, 0, bytes);
            len -= bytes;
Related Question