While there are a whole lot of video formats out there, some are decidedly much more popular than others. In fact, if you were to go over all of your video files right now, you will notice that certain formats are used much more frequently.

As you can imagine there are normally very strong reasons why certain video formats are more popular – and it is generally because there are the best option for particular situations. Considering that, it would be a good idea to understand when to use some of the more popular video formats:

  • MP4 with H.264

Effectively the most popular video format, MP4 with H.264 enjoys widespread support. Although its H.264 codec is getting on in age, it was originally a big step forward for compression which is why it became so popular.

Typically this format is used for video distribution because it enjoys close to universal compatibility with various devices and platforms. At the same time, it is also the format of choice for most online platforms that serve up streaming videos.

  • MPEG-2

Despite being very dated at this point, the MPEG-2 codec is still fairly popular because it is the format used for video DVDs. Some newer DVD players may support other formats, but the majority do not.

In short, if you want to burn a video DVD, you will need to encode the video in MPEG-2 with DVD specifications.

  • MP4 or MKV with H.265 (HEVC)

As the successor to H.264, H.265 offers improved compression rates and it caters to the evolving needs of videos. Its adoption has been slow for several reasons, however, and it is not supported by nearly as many devices and platforms.

It is best to use MP4 or MKV with H.265 when you are sure that the device or platform it will be viewed on does support it. In such situations, you will benefit by being able to reduce the video file size by up to 50%, and won’t have to worry about playback issues.

  • MPEG-4 Part 2

Unlike MPEG-4 Part 10 that is identical to H.264, the MPEG-4 Part 2 codec is older but at one time was widely-used for streaming and compatibility. Because of that it is still often used in situations where videos need to be able to support older devices.

Based on your understanding of these formats, you should be able to pick out the right one to use in various situations more easily. After that, it is just a question of finding a way to convert MOV to MP4 easily or any other formats you require – and for example, you could try Movavi Video Converter.

Just be sure that you stay up to date with new formats that are released and adopted. It is safe to say that some may replace the formats listed above as they gather popularity, and for example, the AV1 video codec is of particular interest and could very well end up supplanting MP4 with H.264 in time.

Irfan Ahmad

Hi, I’m a blogger, social media savvy and graphic designer from Haripur, Pakistan. My favorite food: infographic.

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