MPEG-4, also known as MP4, is the most common file type for videos. The MP4 format is the standard format for web videos because MP4 videos are high-quality with relatively small file sizes. Not only is MP4 the standard for the web, but this video format is also used for TV. If you’re adding a video to your website or uploading a video to YouTube, using an MP4 video format is a safe bet.
The only real downside to the MP4 format is the fact that the encoding and decoding processes require a lot of resources. While the actual file sizes are small, compressing the video when you save it is demanding on your PC. When people watch these videos, they have to be decompressed in real-time for maximum quality.
The MOV file format was designed by Apple to support the Quicktime player and is used primarily for video editing. People don’t typically publish MOV videos directly to the web or send them in emails because of the large file size. However, this large file size means that MOV files typically offer higher quality than MP4s and other video types. People use MOV files in the editing stage because you want to edit with the highest-quality version of your video. However, once editing is complete, you’ll have to compress it and format it for the web, which can take up time and memory space.
AVI files are unique because they offer very high-quality audio, which is a feature you don’t get in some of the other video types. Because AVI files offer excellent video and audio quality, file sizes are typically much larger. This is an even bigger concern when you’re using lossless AVI files that haven’t been compressed; you don’t need to decode these files to watch the video, but each minute of video results takes up gigabytes of space.
AVI files can be used for YouTube as well as TV production, but they’re not great for web use because of the large file size.
WMV, or Windows Media Video, is a video format that was developed by Microsoft for use with Windows operating systems. Because WMV was created for Windows, Apple and Linux devices don’t typically offer out-of-the-box support for WMV playback. However, WMV files offer excellent quality with small file sizes, which makes them a popular choice for web use in some cases. That being said, compatibility with Apple and Linux devices is a concern.
At the end of the day, WMV isn’t a standard format as a result of its lack of compatibility with certain operating systems. There are some niche uses for WMV files, but MP4s reign supreme for web use.
AVCHD is a format that was originally developed by Sony and Panasonic for camcorders. This file format is designed to capture a high-quality version of a video directly after it’s been recorded, that way you have a high-resolution video you can use when you’re ready to edit your video. While AVCHD videos typically offer slightly higher quality than MP4 videos, MP4 file sizes are smaller. As a result, many newer camcorders actually record MP4 videos instead of using the AVCHD format.
The WebM format was developed by Google and released in 2019 as HTML5 grew in popularity. This video format is specifically designed for the web, but the biggest issue it faces is a lack of support. WebM videos have an extremely small file size without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer and Safari don’t offer support for WebM videos unless you use additional plugins. The result is that MP4 is still the champion in terms of the best web video types.
There was a time when Flash video (FLV) was the most common video type, but that’s no longer the case since Flash Player was discontinued at the end of 2020. Flash Player is no longer included with popular web browsers, and anyone who tries to play an FLV video on the web will see an error message instead of the video. You can still use a third-party video player to open FLV videos on your phone or computer, but you can’t use them for the web. Essentially, there’s no reason to spend money creating Flash videos anymore.