Which codecs can I remove?
March 20, 2008 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a way to determine which codecs might be obsolete or no longer necessary?

Either an application that scans and reports which ones could be removed, or a list that explains if a certain codec is no longer needed?

Example: if I have IndeoR video 5.10, do I still need 4.5 and R3.2? I understand they're different algorithms, but what's the likelihood of needing 3.2?

Or is 5.10 a version that also decodes 3.2?
posted by bwg to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
For Windows, there's SHERLOCK - The Codec Detective

Personally, if we're talking about video, I prefer VLC (or CCCP) which embeds pretty much every codec needed. Conflicting codecs no more.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:09 AM on March 20, 2008


In addition to Sherlock, which just lists what you have installed, use the K-Lite Codec Tweak Tool which will automatically remove broken codecs and do a few other useful things. You should also be able to use it to disable older versions of the Indeo codec and re-enable them if you run into problems.

On a Windows Vista install I'm using only the excellent ffdshow decoder, which will decode everything from Windows Media to H.264 to Divx 3. ffdshow also does all sorts of audio and has a config window where you can disable or enable decoding of a particular format without monkeying around in the registry. ffdshow will decode anything you can throw at it.

I'm using Media Player Classic as a front-end for it because MPC includes a lot of different container splitters that will pass the actual streams to ffdshow for decoding. MPC also decodes a lot of video and audio formats on its own but I prefer to pass them to ffdshow because of ffdshow's extensive post-processing options and (usually) lower CPU use. If you want to use regular Windows Media Player as a front-end, you'll need a splitter. I recommend Haali's Media Splitter, which should be set to split all formats it can except AVI.

If you have those installed, you can go ahead and uninstall DivX, XviD, Realplayer, and Quicktime (provided you don't use iTunes). I have Real Alternative and QTLite installed but get absolutely no use out of them aside from some Quicktime web videos, which you can handle anyway if you have regular Quicktime with its browser plugin installed.

tl;dr: Get ffdshow and Media Player Classic, uninstall everything else that didn't ship with Windows (except maybe Quicktime), enjoy.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Addendum: To watch files with an .mp4 container in either WMP or MPC, you'll need an MP4 splitter: Haali's splitter will work fine. Additionally, having VobSub is helpful for watching subtitles in WMP, but MPC will generally handle them well without an external filter.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:55 AM on March 20, 2008


I'm running XP Pro with a few media players.

I have WMP 11, iTunes (w/Quicktime) for my iPod, Nero Media Player (part of Nero suite). I've found the odd video that won't play on WMP but will under Nero. I also have Media Player Classic that was part of a codec bundle.

But I installed xVid and DivX long ago. From your description, I could uninstall those now that I have ffdshow?
posted by bwg at 5:15 PM on March 20, 2008


But I installed xVid and DivX long ago. From your description, I could uninstall those now that I have ffdshow?

ffdshow will decode everything, pretty much, without the need for other codecs installed, so yes. You may have to tell it to do so, by checking the appropriate formats in the configuration.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:56 PM on March 20, 2008


But I installed xVid and DivX long ago. From your description, I could uninstall those now that I have ffdshow?

Unless you use DivX or XviD for video encoding (not decoding), you can uninstall both bundles and replace them with ffdshow. I would uninstall totally the "codec pack" you downloaded because codec packs tend to mess up more than they fix. Make sure to run the K-Lite Codec Tweak Tool after uninstalling the codec pack to fix broken codecs left behind or installed improperly.

If you can remove Nero Media Player without removing the rest of the suite (provided, of course, that you want to keep it) that's fine too, because it doesn't play back anything ffdshow can't.

I wouldn't mess with iTunes/Quicktime - though iTunes can run on top of QT Lite or Quicktime Alternative, you'd have to uninstall Quicktime and re-install Quicktime Alternative every time you upgraded iTunes.

Uninstalling WMP11 is a pain and can screw up other parts of your system; additionally, WMP11 contains some useful DirectShow filters. Nero plays back videos encoded with H.264 (also known as Advanced Video Coding) where WMP doesn't because it lacks the appropriate filters - Nero makes an AVC/AAC encoding suite called Nero Recode, which is no better at decoding such streams than ffdshow.

ffdshow will decode literally any video or audio format that isn't totally obscure. To pipe the streams to ffdshow for decoding, though, you'll need a splitter for the relevant container format. Both Media Player Classic and Windows Media Player will handle WMV containers and streams perfectly well with or without ffdshow. Both will split AVI files natively, but neither will decode DivX or Xvid - that's where ffdshow comes in. Media Player Classic (but not Windows Media Player) will also natively split MOV/MKV/MP4 files, but will be unable to playback the streams inside without an MPEG-4 decoder like ffdshow.

Summary: You basically have to live with Quicktime and WMP11 unless you're willing to give yourself a headache working around them. ffdshow with Media Player Classic will replace an entire codec pack, including DivX/XVid decoders. ffdshow is uninstalled through the usual Windows Control Panel and won't leave anything behind, doesn't clog up your System32 folder or registry with crud, and its options can be changed or reset at will from its own configuration window without re-starting because nothing need be registered. Apologies for the blatant fanboy-ism, but a complete decoding suite that functions like a normal program and doesn't screw up one's computer doesn't come along that often.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:02 PM on March 20, 2008


By the way, I use and recommend the unfortunately-names Defiler Pack, which is lightweight, and basically just ffdshow with a couple of necessary support bits. No muss, no fuss, and I've used it without any issues of any kind for literally years now.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 PM on March 20, 2008


Also, make sure to get it here. Development on the original ffdshow stopped in 2006 and has been continued since by the ffdshow tryouts team.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:11 PM on March 20, 2008


By the way, I use and recommend the unfortunately-names Defiler Pack, which is lightweight, and basically just ffdshow with a couple of necessary support bits. No muss, no fuss, and I've used it without any issues of any kind for literally years now.

The included components are out of date. They're from 2005.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:44 PM on March 20, 2008


Actually, I'm pretty sure Defiler's updated it since then, but yeah, you're right, the page does say 2005.

Nonetheless: I watch video exclusively on my PC because I live in Korea and don't have access to much English-language broadcasting. I download a LOT of video -- I'd guess that I'm an outlier in terms of how much I use my PC to watch the stuff that most people use their TV for. I've yet to encounter anything the DefilerPack w/ Media Player Classic barfed at, other than broken video files, which usually work in Videolan (the interface for which is made of pure suck). I may just update the ffdshow component, so thanks for the link to the currently-updated fork, but I tend to be of the 'if it ain't broke and there's no benefit to upgrading, don't mess with it' school.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:07 PM on March 20, 2008


Cool. Thanks for all the help!

I just figured it was time to clean out detritus on the system.

I don't mind having QT so I'll leave that be, and I won't mess with WMP11. The other stuff will be yanked.
posted by bwg at 7:38 PM on March 20, 2008


By the way, I got warnings from AVG Anti-Spyware about pest files found in the Sourceforge link, so I went with the Defiler Pack after I uninstalled DivX, xVid and the XP Codec Pack.

Not sure if the warnings were false positives or not but I wasn't going to take any chances.
posted by bwg at 7:54 PM on March 20, 2008


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