AVI, WMV, MOV or MP4? Which Should You Use?
AVI, WMV, MOV and MP4 are video formats. Okay, technically MP4 can be audio-only, but most people consider MP4 to be primarily for video use.
Both AVI and WMV are Microsoft formats. MOV is Apple QuickTime and MP4 is by ISO.
When it comes to video formats, oftentimes you simply don’t have a choice of which video format to use – but you do always have the option of converting existing files. More on that in a moment.
If the video files you have were rendered by software on your PC, you’re usually in pretty good shape because it will still be able to be played as the years go on. For example, a video encoded by Windows Movie Maker for Windows XP will easily play in Windows 7, a video encoded by QuickTime for MacOS 9 will still play in modern Macs, Windows and Linux PCs.
The real problem comes in when using video files generated by digital devices. Some of these devices are notorious for requiring a special codec just to view them. Now you may already have this codec installed on the computer you’re using now, but what happens when you switch computers? What if you decide to go from Windows to Mac or Linux? What then? The video probably won’t play (even in VLC), that’s what. Not without that special codec, anyway. And you don’t want to clog up your new computer with crap software for an old digital video device you don’t use anymore just for that codec.
AVI files are usually the worst when it comes to special codecs. MOV is the next-worst, and WMV is after that.
The format that works everywhere with zero complaint is MP4. Video in that format will play very smoothly in any modern operating system.
How to convert existing video to MP4? That’s easy: Handbrake. No matter what OS you’re using, you can use Handbrake now – and it’s free. Install the software, pick a video file, press “Start” in the software using the “Normal” setting and that’s it. The file converts. After conversion, test to make sure it plays, then archive. Done deal.