Do we have any English word for data files that have duration?

More specifically I'm looking for a word to distinguish data files like sounds or videos (that have a duration) from data files like images (where duration is meaningless for them).

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    Not that I know of, but of course all technological terms are metaphors, and files don't have duration. I think you'll either hafta think of a better metaphor than filing cabinets, or accept playable files, recorded files or some such construction to distinguish them. Note that the duration can't be in time units without some kind of standardized timing, or very ungranular units (like "a three-reeler"). May 15, 2022 at 20:45
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    It is too generic, but media is often used to refer to files that can be played by VLC or similar programs. There are also streaming services that provide streaming media.
    – jxh
    May 16, 2022 at 18:32
  • The common terms I've heard are audio files, video files, or audio/video file if you want to specifically include both possibilities. I'm not sure if I've heard of a type of file which has a "duration" that was neither audio nor video.
    – Brandin
    Jun 7, 2022 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


It seems that the terminology is Continuous Media.

MDN Web Docs Glossary:

Continuous media is data where there is a timing relationship between source and destination.
The most common examples of continuous media are audio and motion video.

A File System for Continuous Media:

The Continuous Media File System, CMFS, supports real-time storage and retrieval of continuous media data (digital audio and video) on disk.
Current disk drives have raw data rates of 5 to 10 million bits per second (Mbps) or more.
Such rates suffice for many forms of digital audio and motion video (continuous media, or CM) data: audio data rates are from 8 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps, while compressed video ranges from one to several Mbps.

You could use Continuous Media or Continuous Media file to indicate that time is involved.

The terminology is there, but not sure if it is widely known or standardised.

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