The Best Ways to Watch Movies Online

by Maxwell Payne

With the availability of high-speed Internet, film lovers are able to watch movies online in a variety of ways and formats. Before the days of hig- speed Internet, it was nearly impossible to download, let alone stream, a large file such as a video file.

But now, multiple sites compete to offer options of watching thousands of movies online. Some services mimic what could be called a virtual movie rental store, while others act as download sites allowing the user to effectively own a digital copy of the movie.

Renting Movies Online

There are many sites that allow users to rent movies for a set fee. The rented movies are then streamed over the website, available to the user for 24 hours. Some websites allow the user to download the file, with the file expiring after a set period of time. Companies such as Netflix allow users to pay a monthly fee to access a collection of movies online to rent for over-the-Internet viewing. Other companies such as Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Video on Demand allow users to pay per movie to "rent" the movie for a set period of time. iTunes allows users to copy the files to a computer or video iPod. The file stops functioning after a predetermined amount of time. Amazon's Video on Demand offers the option to purchase movies for download and ownership (PC only) and also movie rentals that are streamed through a secure website.

Viewing Movies On Ad-Based Websites

There are many websites available that offer "free" viewing of thousands of movies that are streamed over the Internet for viewing. The majority of these websites get around the legality issues of offering copyrighted movies for free by refusing to host the actual movies. Instead, the websites operate as a sort of central directory of available streaming movies and shows. The user visits the central website, selects a movie and is then redirected to a website that streams to movie for viewing. Examples include Hulu, The Only Device and Movies on Demand. The legality of websites that offer streaming movies and shows for free is debatable. It is always a good idea to check with local and federal laws on this practice. Some television stations such as Showtime offer limited selections of streaming shows and movies legally on their websites as well. Usually in exchange for being able to view movies for free, you must watch a few ads.

Downloading Movies Online

Rather then go to a movie rental store or wait for movie rentals in the mail, a number of services that offer digital movie rentals also offer digital downloads of new and old movies. Sites such as and Apple iTunes allow users to pay a one-time fee to download a movie to their computer and digital devices. Usually the customer is allowed to transfer the movie file to two or three devices and, in the case of Amazon, she can also store it online in a virtual video collection. There are also file-sharing websites that allow users to download movie files for no cost. However the majority of these websites are operating illegally or offering links to download sites that are illegal. The best way to get high quality and legal movies to view online are to visit websites that sell content such as Amazon and iTunes.

About the Author

Maxwell Payne has been a freelance writer since 2007. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. He holds a Bachelor of Science in integrated science, business and technology.