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What is the difference between DivX and Xvid?


If you’ve watched movies on a DVD player or downloaded videos from a peer-to-peer network, you’ve come across the terms: DivX and Xvid.

And if you’ve ever wondered what’s different between the two terms, read on to find out.

DivX and Xvid are video codecs

What is a video codec? Codec is invented from the combination of the words: coder and decoder.

If you were to store raw video files on your computer or stream them over a network, that would be a problem because of their size: a standard Blu-ray disc is typically around 40GB. That’s where video codecs come in. .

They reduce the size of video files by encoding and compressing the data, then decoding or decompressing it for playback and editing.

Today, we can smoothly host Zoom business meetings and binge-watch TV shows on our phones, even with limited bandwidth. It’s thanks to the codecs.

Disney+ streaming service home screen on phone

Both DivX and Xvid are video codecs that feature lossy or inaccurate data compression. Lossy compression reduces file size by only removing image details that are not important to human perception without sacrificing quality.

Both codecs are built on the implementation of MPEG–4 and can decode each other’s output. And while they’re still widely used, it’s often strictly for video encoding.


Related: Everything you need to know about video codecs, containers, and compression

What is DivX? How did it revolutionize digital video?

DivX is a proprietary MPEG-4 codec. The DivX codec can compress long video segments into small sizes while maintaining relatively high visual quality. Most DivX videos use the file extension AVI (Audio Video Interleave) and the extensions DivX or Div.

The vision for DivX took shape in 1999, when Jerome “Gej” Rota, a young French animator, created a version of an MPEG-4 video codec that allowed DVD-quality video with small file sizes. Rota, along with some budding tech entrepreneurs, continued to develop their new codec. And in August 2001, DivX 4.0, the first official DivX codec, was released to the public.

DivX enabled near DVD-quality video on the Internet (which was virtually unheard of at the time) and received an overwhelming response from the digital video community. Soon, DivX became the standard for full, high-quality videos transferred over peer-to-peer networks.

From 2003 to the following decade and beyond, hundreds of millions of consumer electronics devices were released supporting DivX OVS playback, one of the first Internet video-on-demand platforms available in the trade. There have been over one billion DivX downloads and 1.5 billion DivX Certified devices have been shipped worldwide.

What is Xvid and its connection with DivX?

Xvid (DivX spelled backwards) is an open-source MPEG-4 codec. Xvid provides compression good enough that a full DVD movie can fit on a single CD.

Xvid can allow a full movie to fit on a CD

The origin of Xvid is also interesting, and we can say that Xvid was born from DivX.

What happened is that in January 2001, DivX Networks created OpenDivX, an open source MPEG-4 video codec. However, the source code was placed under a restrictive license and only members of the DivX Advanced Research Center (DARC) had write access to it.

Then, in early 2001, DARC member Sparky wrote an improved version of the encoding kernel called “encore2”. This code was included in the OpenDivX public source repository but was later removed. It was at this time that the project forked.

DivX took the code encore2 and developed it into DivX 4.0. Other developers who had participated in OpenDivX took encore2 and started a new project with the same encoding kernel, and named it Xvid.

Many modern DVD and Blu-ray players can play Xvid files.

How are DivX and Xvid different?

Xvid is a free open source codec and is Divx’s main competitor. Xvid is released under the GNU General Public License, which guarantees end users the four freedoms: run, study, share and modify the software.

DivX is a commercial product, although it offers a free download with limited functionality.

Unlike the DivX codec, which is only available for a limited number of platforms, Xvid can be used on all platforms and operating systems for which the source code can be compiled.

And although the DivX codec is different from the Xvid codec, video players that display the DivX logo generally support Xvid files.

However, DivX and Xvid are no longer popular now that the new H.264 codec (the industry standard today) has emerged – it offers more efficient compression and supports 4K and up to 8K UHD.

Related: How does 4K video resolution compare to 8K, 2K, UHD, 1440p and 1080p

Enjoy your favorite DivX and Xvid movies

Now you know how DivX and Xvid are connected and how they differ.

So if you have classic DivX or Xvid movies in your video library, why not relive their magic on your PC or stream them to your TV for a big-screen experience.

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