AVI vs. MP4: What’s the Difference, Is One Better?

mp4 vs mkv

AVI vs. MP4: What’s the Difference, Is One Better?

In today’s digital world, video content has become essential to our everyday lives. With the rise of platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok, it’s necessary to comprehend the various video formats available to see which one best meets your requirements. Two popular video formats are AVI vs. MP4.

While each has its advantages and drawbacks, selecting the right one for your content can make all the difference in quality. Let’s compare AVI vs. MP4 files to determine which format is best for you.

AVI vs. MP4: Side-by-Side Comparison

Video QualitySupports high-quality video, but the size of the file can be largeSupports high-quality video with efficient compression, resulting in smaller file size
CompatibilitySupported by most media playersWidely supported by both media players and devices
CompressionIt can be compressed, but the resulting file may not be as small as MP4Uses advanced compression algorithms resulting in smaller file size
Audio QualitySupports high-quality audio with lossless compressionSupports high-quality audio with efficient compression but may result in lossy compression
EditingEasy to edit with most video editing softwareEasy to edit with most video editing software
StreamingIt may not be ideal for streaming due to the large file sizeIdeal for streaming due to its smaller file size and efficient compression

AVI vs. MP4: What’s the Difference?

File formats are essential in determining your media files’ quality, compatibility, and storage needs. Although AVI and MP4 have been around for some time, understanding their distinctions and deciding which one to use can be daunting.

Let’s dig deep and review some critical differences between AVI and MP4.


Audio Video Interleave (AVI), developed by Microsoft in 1992, is an older digital video format compatible with a wide range of media players and devices, and even older operating systems and hardware. AVI can be a desirable choice for users with legacy systems that may not have the necessary software or hardware to support modern video formats.

However, AVI files may not be compatible with some modern mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, they may only work partially or not on certain streaming platforms requiring specific file formats or codecs.

youtube video watching content creator
Most kinds of data can be embedded in MPEG-4 Part 14 files through private streams.

©Miha Creative/Shutterstock.com

MP4, or MPEG-4 Part 14, is a more contemporary digital video format developed in 2001. MP4 files are more widely compatible with modern devices like smartphones, tablets, and streaming platforms since they are an industry standard supported by numerous media players and operating systems.

One of the primary reasons MP4 has become so widely compatible is its use of H.264 codec, an established video compression format supported by most modern media players and devices. As such, it has become a go-to choice for video distribution and streaming services alike.

MP4 files are more widely compatible than AVI files, though not all devices and media players support all variations of the MP4 format. Some may only support specific profiles or levels, which could impact compatibility.

Furthermore, older operating systems or devices may not support the latest version of the MP4 format, further restricting compatibility.

Compression Algorithm

Compression algorithms are critical components in digital video formats, determining file size and quality. AVI and MP4 differ significantly when it comes to compression algorithms used.

AVI files tend to be larger than other video file formats because they use less compression, which can result in higher quality. Unfortunately, this also makes AVI files quite large — making storing or sharing them challenging due to their large file sizes.

MP4 files use a lossy compression algorithm that reduces file size while preserving high-quality video and audio. This process works by discarding some of the less essential information in a video, thus decreasing its size without compromising important details or quality.

Depending on which compression level is used, more data may be discarded during compression, but with lower-quality results.

windows server
AVI, created by Microsoft


is a subformat of the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF).


MP4 files can employ various video codecs, including, but not limited to, H.264/AVC. H.264/AVC is a widely-used video codec that uses motion compensation and entropy encoding techniques for efficient video data compression.

Motion compensation involves analyzing changes between successive frames in the video and only storing differences between them; this reduces file size without significantly affecting quality. Similarly, entropy encoding utilizes variable length coding to represent data more precisely, reducing the overall file size.

File Size

Larger files require more storage and transfer capacity. This makes them inconvenient for those who frequently need to share or work with video files. AVI and MP4 files differ in characteristics, which could impact their file sizes significantly.

AVI files can be compressed or uncompressed, depending on the codec used. While this produces a high-quality image, the file size can be significant for longer videos. Five minutes of footage compressed using AVI format could easily exceed 1 GB, making storage and sharing difficult.

MP4 files, on the other hand, tend to be much smaller in size than AVI files due to their use of advanced compression algorithms. MP4 utilizes a lossy compression technique that removes less critical information from the video to reduce file size without sacrificing video quality.

For instance, five minutes of MP4 footage can be compressed to less than 100 MB, making it easier to store and share online. However, it’s essential to be aware that MP4 files can vary in size depending on the compression level.

For example, videos compressed using the H.265 algorithm will be smaller than those using older H.264 algorithms. Furthermore, higher-quality videos require more storage space than lower ones, regardless of file format.

AVI vs. MP4: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. AVI is an older format than MP4 and may support less modern technologies than MP4.
  2. MP4 files offer greater versatility as they can store video and audio, subtitles, images, and other data.
  3. Due to its compatibility and compression capabilities, MP4 is preferred by streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.
  4. AVI files may need additional codecs to play on some media players, while MP4 has more built-in codecs available.
  5. MP4 boasts superior compression capabilities, which create smaller file sizes without sacrificing quality — making it simpler to transfer and store large media files.

AVI vs. MP4: Which One Is Better?

One of the most important factors to consider when creating a video is its intended use. If you’re creating something professional and need high-quality content, AVI may be preferable as it offers lossless compression that maintains the original video’s quality.

On the other hand, MP4 files are smaller in size and compatible with various platforms, making them ideal for online distribution or social media posting. Another important consideration when creating videos for DVD players or other devices is whether your format is compatible.

AVI may be preferable if creating a video to be played back on an older DVD player, as some older models cannot support MP4 playback. Likewise, Consider a video editing software’s file type support. Using a program that works best within its limitations may be necessary.

AVI is widely supported by popular media players such as Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player, and QuickTime Player. It also works with most video editing programs, making it a professional go-to choice.

MP4, on the other hand, is accessible on most modern devices and platforms like smartphones, tablets, and web browsers, making it an ideal option for streaming services like YouTube or Vimeo.

When selecting between AVI and MP4, it’s essential to consider the intended use of the video, devices that support each format, and available storage and transfer options. Each has advantages and drawbacks; ultimately, selecting the format that best meets your requirements and guarantees top-quality output is vital.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add subtitles to AVI and MP4 videos?

You can add subtitles to either format with various video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro.

Which video format is better for web streaming - AVI or MP4?

MP4 is usually preferred as it offers greater efficiency in file size and can be easily streamed across various devices and browsers.

Can I Convert an AVI File to MP4?

Absolutely. You can easily convert an AVI file to MP4 using various software programs, including free online converters or video editing applications.

Can AVI and MP4 videos be played on a Mac computer?

Both AVI and MP4 videos can be played on a Mac computer. QuickTime Player, which comes pre-installed on Mac, supports both files. If you experience trouble playing these formats, third-party media players such as VLC or Elmedia Player may help.

Can I convert an MP4 file to AVI?

Yes, you can convert an MP4 file to AVI format. Numerous free and paid software programs online, such as FlexClip and Clideo, will assist with this conversion process.

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