A video file format is a type of file format for storing digital data on a computer system; but a video contains a large amount of data, so when the information is compressed it is written into a container file.

Most videos are compressed, meaning that they are adjusted to take up less space on a computer; a codec is a method for decoding and encoding data (specifically data that is compressed) because a video file wouldn’t be able to play without a codec. A codec can be referred to as a compressor-decompressor; which the “compress” is for when data is transported and stored, and the”decompress” is for viewing or transcoding the data.

A few examples of codecs:


WMV stands for Windows Media Video, is one of the most popular for video and audio files developed by Microsoft and is a compressed video format made up of three codecs. The benefit of this file format is that your computer can play the beginning of the download whilst the download continues, so that you don’t have to wait a long time for it to be complete in order to see the video. Also WMV supports high definition 720 and 1080 resolutions. However, WMV is not compatible with most other operating systems other than Microsoft as it is a Microsoft’s proprietary.


Another popular codec is the H.264 that can be used at both high and low bitrates for the compression, recording and distribution of videos. Which high definition videos at high bitrates can be encoded across the the internet whilst being highly compressed with a low resolution.


A container is a type of file format that has various types of data compressed by codecs; where you can select a codec for a video and one for the audio.

Examples of container formats include:


Audio Video Interleave (AVI) is a multimedia container format introduced by Microsoft in the Windows software. This is used to store video and audio information in a file container as well as displaying the synchronous audio and video. The AVI file format has exceptional high quality audio precision and was developed by Microsoft’s Windows Media Video format (WMV). In comparison to other file formats the video can be large in size if it’s uncompressed and if compressed too much then the video loses quality.


Flash video (FLV) is acquired by Adobe systems but was originally created by Macromedia, used to deliver digital videos over the internet. Which FLV files have information encoded with codecs such as Sorenson for the older Flash and the new Flash uses the H.264 codec. An advantage of this file format is that it produces smaller file sizes with a high level of compression without losing quality. But FLV isn’t supported on i0s Apple device like iPhones and iPads.

There are some codecs that are also containers, like  MPEG-4 for example; this file format is  used to share video files on the internet. The audio and video is compressed separately to one another; the audio is compressed with AAC and the video file is compressed with MPEG-4 encoding.