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Buffer – Definition, Types, Need, Use, Advantages, & Disadvantage

A buffer is a storage area for data that is only kept for a brief period, usually in the system’s memory. A buffer’s job is to keep data until it’s time to use it. When you try to download a video from youtube, for example, it may put the first 30% of it into a buffer before trying to play. While the video is playing, the computer is downloading the rest of the video and saves it in the buffer. In this article we will know What is Buffer, Types, Need, Use, Advantages, and Disadvantages.


There is little to no possibility that the audio or video may stop or skip when there is no network because the content is being transferred from the buffer rather than directly from the Internet.

What is Buffer in the Computer Language?

How Buffer Works

A buffer is a section of memory used to keep data while it is being transferred from one location to another. When transporting data between processes on a computer, a buffer is employed. The majority of buffers are software-based.

When there is a discrepancy between the speed at which data are obtained and the speed at which it is retrieved, buffers are commonly used. If we eliminate buffers, either data will be lost or bandwidth use will be reduced.

Messages exchanged by communicating processes reside in a temporary queue under buffering regardless of the communication which may be direct or indirect. It frequently adapts timing by adopting a queue or FIFO mechanism in memory, simultaneously writing and reading data into the queue at different rates.

Types of Buffer

Buffers come in various types, each with unique usage, characteristics, and properties. Below are some examples of common buffer types:

Types of Buffer
Types of Buffer

Input Buffer

This buffer temporarily stores input data before processing it by a program.

Output Buffer

This buffer temporarily stores output data before sending it to an output device.

Circular Buffer

This buffer employs a fixed-size memory block to enable efficient data transfer between different parts of a system.

Double Buffer

Two schemes or two buffers are employed instead of one in Double Buffering. In this type of buffering, the producer creates one buffer while the consumer finishes another. As a result, the producer does not have to wait for the buffer to fill. Double buffering is also referred to as buffer swapping.

This technique reduces flickering and improves rendering performance in computer graphics by using two buffers to store image data.

Line Buffer

This buffer is used to store a single line of data, such as a line of text or an image row, before processing it.

Ring Buffer

This circular buffer uses a fixed-size memory block and is commonly used in embedded systems, networking, and real-time applications.

Cache Buffer

This buffer improves the performance of frequently accessed data by temporarily storing it in a faster and closer memory location.

File Buffer

This buffer temporarily holds file contents before reading or writing to it.

Types of Buffering

We can classify Buffering depending on its capacity and function.

Types of Buffering Depending on Capacity 

Depending on the capacity of the buffering, it is classified into three types:

Types of Buffering as per capacity
Types of Buffering as per capacity
    • Zero capacity buffering
    • Bounded capacity buffering
    • Unbounded capacity buffering

Zero Capacity Buffering

Zero Capacity is a term used to describe a situation in which there is no buffering. This queue is incapable of holding any messages. As a result, it has a maximum length of 0. A sending process must be halted until the message is received by the receiving process. It is also referred to as no buffering.

Bounded Capacity Buffering

This type of buffering has a definite length of queue n. As a result, it can hold n messages in its queue. Additional messages can be added when the queue has space, and the sending procedure is not slowed down. It is also referred to as automatic buffering.

Unbounded Capacity Buffering

The length of this queue is limitless. As a result, it can hold any amount of messages. A sending procedure is never blocked in such a system. Buffering is also classified based on the number of buffers used as a single, double, and circular buffer.

Types of Buffering Depending on Functions

Depending on the buffering function, it is classified into following types:


Input Buffering

This buffering technique is used to store incoming data before processing it by a program. It can be employed to optimize I/O operations, reduce overhead, and enhance the program’s performance.

Output Buffering

This technique is used to store data that has been processed by a program before sending it to an output device. Output buffering can optimize I/O operations, reduce overhead, and improve the program’s performance.

Line Buffering

This buffering method is used to temporarily store a single line of data, such as a line of text or an image row, before processing it. It is commonly used in text editors and image processing applications.

Block Buffering

This technique is used to temporarily store a block of data before processing it. Block buffering is frequently employed in data transfer operations and can optimize I/O operations.

Double Buffering

This technique is utilized in computer graphics to prevent flickering and improve rendering performance. It uses two buffers to store image data, one for displaying the current image and the other for rendering the next frame.

Circular Buffering

This buffering method utilizes a fixed-size buffer and allows for efficient data transfer between different parts of a system. Circular buffering is frequently utilized in embedded systems, networking, and real-time applications.

Why is Buffering Needed?

Consider a world where computers are inefficient and things are not quite as beautiful as they are now. Is it not unpleasant to consider? One of the most frequently claimed reasons for computer data buffering is efficiency. Buffers not only make individual programs or services function faster, but they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with different uses for each case. Text editor programs, for example, save content into a buffer before saving it to the hard disc.

This indicates that the data is only stored momentarily until the user saves it to the hard disc. It aids in synchronizing the speed of data transmission between two devices. A hard disc, for example, must store the file received from the modem. It assists devices with varying data transfer sizes in adapting to one another. It assists devices in manipulating data before sending or receiving it.

The huge communication is divided into little parts and sent over the network in communication networks. At the receiver end, the pieces are gathered in a buffer and reassembled to make a complete big message. Copy semantics are also supported. The amount of data in the buffer guaranteed by copy semantics is the amount of data in it at the time of the system call, regardless of any subsequent changes to data in the buffer. Buffering improves the device’s performance. It combines the input/output (I/O) of one job with the computation of another.

Importance of Buffering in Modern World Applications

  1. A buffer is essential as a sort of temporary storage area for everything, interacting on a computer because it has many different devices that work at different speeds.
  2. It is done to ensure that everything runs smoothly and without errors between all of the devices, programs, and processes that are active at the time.
  3. Buffering provides for device modifications with varied data transmission sizes.
  4. Buffering is used to successfully cope with a speed difference between the data stream’s producer and consumer.

Advantages of Buffer

  1. Buffers enable consistent disc access. It makes system design easier.
  2. The system does not impose any data alignment requirements on I/O user processes. The kernel removes the need for particular user buffer arrangement by moving data from user buffers to system buffers and vice versa, making user programs simpler and more effective.
  3. It can reduce disc traffic, resulting in higher overall system performance and faster reaction times.
  4. The buffer codes contribute to the integrity of the file system.

Disadvantages of Buffer

  1.  It is neither practical nor feasible to have the buffer to be of the exact size needed to contain the number of items. As a result, it is slightly larger the majority of the time, with the remaining space being wasted.
  2. At any point in time, the size of a buffer is fixed. When the it is full, it needs reallocation with a bigger size and the elements need to be shifted. Similarly, when the amount of elements in the buffer is less than its size, a smaller size data transfer is required and elements need to be shifted to avoid excess wastage.
  3. The buffer usage requires additional data copying when reading and writing to and from system processes. This slows down the performance when transferring large volumes of data.

Author’s Point

The majority of buffers are implemented with software, as it often uses RAM to hold temporary data due to significantly faster access time than hard disc drives. Buffers are commonly employed when there is a difference between the rate at which data is received and the rate at which it is processed, such as in a printer spooler or internet video streaming.

Read Also:
CD – History, Characteristics, Types, Youtube CD Downloader
Pen Drive Flash Drive – Architecture I How to Repair I Recover Data
Chakrasthitha is a B.E (Medical Electronics) and has work experience in MatLab and Lab View Software as Design Engineer at BCS innovations and Manipal hospital as Biomedical Engineer. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.


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