One of the most annoying problems by watching movies on your computer, can be the need to install different codecs, such as divx or xvid. I am now of the opinion, that the only time where you should have to install a codec, is when you need to encode video – far from everyone needs to do that.
Nevertheless many are still stuck with the default player in windows, and some might not even know that there are better video players available. Typically, you will often need to install codecs, or so-called codec packs, if you are still just using Windows Media Player. The simple solution is to stop using it!
Most users likely don't need to install anything, as they will be watching movies on YouTube, NetFlix, and other similar streaming services. Codecs are basically a thing belonging to the past for most of us. They are still important, and they still exist of cause – but their presence is mostly kept behind the scenes, out of the view of normal users.
People who work with video editing know about them, and need them to encode video. The internet pirates know about them, and people who rip their movies know about them. But most people don't need to know about them.
VLC Player quickly became my favorite media player, because it doesn't require codecs to be installed. It just seems to play everything – with few exceptions – and its also lightweight – meaning that it launches very fast, and plays fast, even where other players would fail.
It plays both audio and video files, so if you get this player, then you most likely won't be using anything else. Just remember to enable the playlist if you are going to play music on it. The interface if very basic, with no fancy graphics – which sometimes seem to eat memory and slow the player down.
Get it from: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
Avoid installing codec packs
I still remember when i used to install codec packs, back then, i would typically install packages like the K-lite Codec Pack, surprisingly, some of these packages still seem to be around. Though i find it hard to imagine who really uses them, and what their maintainers get from still providing them. I have not considered using them for years!
Personally i only used them because they made it easier for me to get my files playing fast, without having to think about which codec i needed to install. I stopped using them because they where causing problems, conflicting with other codecs. Etc. And so i learned to install the codecs i needed manually – which could sometimes be a guesswork. But then i learned of VLC Player, and i just never looked back. But this is many years ago now. I just though't that i would share this, without going into to many technical details about codecs.
The only time where someone should use a codec pack, is when they know what they are doing, and if they are in to much of a rush, to just install the codecs they need individually.
The danger of spyware or adware in codecs and packs
Some sources have been spreading codecs and codec packs with spyware or adware in them, so if you really need to install codecs, you should make sure only to download from official sources, or sources that you trust.
You should also be careful to install download managers and download helpers, such software is either meaningless bloat or malware, and it is never needed, and typically just an attempt at installing adware or spyware on peoples computers, without them realizing it.