A recent posting by fellow blogger Claus reminded me of a frequent problem I see on computers I’m called to for “fixing”: codec packs (like K-Lite, CCCP, etc). They are usually installed so that the computer can play back all the video formats which can be found out there. All fine and dandy, right? Wrong! These codec packs have several issues:
- They make your system less stable. Especially Windows Explorer, which loads all the codecs into memory so that it can generate thumbnails of the video files, can become quite unstable.
- They make your system slower, by filling it with a bunch of codecs which you most likely won’t ever need! (and some of the codecs contain all kind of “utility” parts which clutter the tray)
- They may contain bits of questionable legality! What these packs do essentially is to take out the relevant dll / inf files from the original installation kit of the codec and bundle them into one setup. However, it is quite frequent for these setup programs to contain an EULA which forbids exactly this behavior (distributing part of the program separately)
So what is my recommendation? In fact, I have two alternative solutions (both of them open source and free):
- Use VLC. While the GUI can be a little confusing (although they improved it quite a little bit lately), it can play back almost anything under the sun.
- Use ffdshow tryouts. It is a codec (based partially on the same library as VLC – ffmpeg) which can decode a lot of formats. It works with all the players using DirectShow filters (like Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc) and contains other useful features (like normalizing the volume, postprocessing the video, overlaying the subtitles, etc)
While I realize that my ranting here won’t change the behavior of people overnight, hopefully it can add a little signal to the noise out there. No more code packs please!
Picture taken from Terretta’s photostream with permission.