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Codecs: What Are They And What They Do?

When you download a video from the internet and try to play it on Windows Media Player or any other media player, the player may show an error with a message that it cannot play that video format. The simplest way to fix this issue is by downloading and installing a codec pack.

When you download a media player from the web, it only contains support for base codecs that allows you to playback only videos and audios of well-known formats. It cannot play different formats.

When you install a video codec, the same media player will be to play the videos and audios that could not be played before the installation of codecs. At this point you may be wondering...

What are codecs?

A codec is a piece of software that can encode as well as decode various video or audio formats, thereby allowing a wider range of video and audio formats to be played on a computer. In simpler terms, the right codecs will allow your computer to play all kinds of video and audio formats.

Also, high quality videos and audios are usually of big size. Codecs make it possible to lower the size of such huge media files and maintain the same quality when you play them. Codecs spring into action behind the scenes when you want to watch videos on your computer or in an internet browser.v

Why Do I Need Codecs?

There are many people out there who may not require codecs. For instance, if you do not download audio or video files on the internet, you will probably not need them.

However, if you download audio and video files quite often, chances are that you may end up downloading media like .mkv or H.264 that your media player will not be able to handle, thus showing an error message. If you have codecs installed on your system, you then will be able to play such files.

Codecs do seem to solve the problem of playing various videos and audio formats; however not all is golden: they can conflict with different software and can also be a way through which spyware can gain entry into your computer. Hence, you need to make use of the best known codecs. There are many fake codec packages out there that prompt you download and install malicious software. This is just one of the many tricks laid down by scammers to try and access your system.

Most of the recent media players like the KM Player and VLC come with their own codecs. Such codecs do not conflict with any other software and are usually the best option. This is the easiest way to play all kinds of video formats: just install the latest version (free) of either of these popular media players and it'll probably do the trick.

Well-known Codec Packs

K-Lite Mega Codec, FFDShow Codec, Combined Community Codec Pack, etc are some of the best known codecs that can installed safely without worrying about adware or spyware. These can be downloaded from well-known software download sites like and

To recap, codecs are pieces of software that work together with media playing software to do the coding and decoding of different file types. You don't really have to worry much about the technicalities involved, though!

Just make sure you get the codecs you need to watch a media file, and do get them from a reputable source. It's actually pretty simple once you get used to it!

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