What Is a Video Codec: Something You Need to Know

Jean updated on Jan 05, 2024 | Home > Glossary and Terms

When it comes to the term "video codec," you may often see this word when processing video files. But you may not know what the definition of a video codec is. This article will tell you what it is and how it works. Now, let's read this article to find the answer!

What Is a Video Codec and How Does It Work

A video codec is a kind of software or hardware that can compress or decompress users' digital videos. According to Wikipedia, a video codec is a collective name of an encoder and a decoder. As the name suggests, an encoder is used to compress your videos, while a decoder can help you decompress or decode the videos. Therefore, it can make your video files more tiny when being distributed and stored.

what is a video codec

So, how does it work when you are transferring videos or storing videos? Video codecs aid in reducing the size and bandwidth of the video files, making them faster and simpler to send when you are transferring videos. For example, when you are posting them to a website or streaming them online, it works. Video codecs assist in preserving storage space and memory when you are storing movies or YouTube videos, whether you are doing so on your device or in the cloud. This makes storing videos more effective and practical.

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Why Do Video Codecs Matter

So why are video codecs important for videos? There are some reasons as follows.

Reduce the size and bandwidth of video files

Video codec makes videos faster and easier to transfer, stream, and store, as video files are usually very large and take up a lot of storage space and bandwidth. By compressing them, video codecs can save storage space and memory and improve the loading speed and buffering of the videos.

Restore the original quality and playability of video files

Video codec makes videos clearer and smoother to watch and edit. Video files need to be decompressed before they can be played or edited on a device or system. By decompressing them, video codecs can recover the details and fidelity of the videos and improve users' viewing and editing experience.

Make videos more compatible and versatile

Video files can have different formats, such as MP4, AVI, MKV, etc., and different devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, etc., may have different requirements and capabilities for playing or creating video files. So, by encoding and decoding them, video codecs can convert video files into different formats and resolutions that meet different purposes and devices.

Common Video Codecs for Watching Videos

There are some common video codecs for you to refer to.

Video Codecs Description Video formats supported
H.264/AVC Suitable for streaming, cable TV broadcasting, and Blu-Ray disks MP4, MOV, F4V, 3GP, TS
H.265/HEVC Support 8k resolution TS, MP4, 3GP, MKV
VP9 Support Android and Chrome WEBM, MKV
AV1 Open-source, royalty-free MP4, 3GP, MKV


In a word, this article has provided some information about the question: what is a video codec? And it tells you the importance of video codecs for watching videos or making videos and movies. It is believed that you will get some helpful points from this article. You can share this article on your social media to help more people know about video codecs if you find it useful!


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Updated by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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