Everything You Need to Know About The FLV File Extension

What is FLV file format, the best FLV players, FLV vs. MP4, and FLV recovery.

Online video streaming is all the rage nowadays. Video-on-demand services like Netflix and Disney+ offer a collection of quality web television. Yet, certain domains lack the technical resources of multi-billion-dollar corporations. So, they need something else to stream all of their video content online. The FLV video format is the key to broadcasting content in those circles. Therefore, it is essential to know the basics of FLV files and their applications.

Part 1: What Is An FLV File?

what is flv file format

FLV, short for 'FLash Video', is a container file format with the .flv extension. It was developed by Adobe Systems for its Flash Player, which was immensely popular during the 2000s. Together with Adobe Air, FLV was the definitive method to deliver synchronized audio and video streams online. Moreover, the format was so versatile that it could even support mini-games without requiring installation files. FLV format is encoded in the same way as standard Flash .SWF format.

The FLV format has two types: F4V to run content and open FLV for other codecs. The former sees the most use since it supports multiple video formats in full HD resolution. That is why you will find most online content on Youtube, Twitch, and Hulu is present in this format. On the other hand, open FLV with the right codecs can also yield similar quality without incurring software costs. Although, the process is a lot more complicated.

Part 2: How to Open FLV Files?

The FLV format is standard enough that most default browsers can run it fine. On the other hand, you can encounter issues when playing an FLV file offline. For that, you can use any of the following methods at your convenience:

Solution 1: Installing An FLV Codec

One significant reason you cannot play an FLV file on your computer is that your media player lacks the necessary codec files. Thus, it might be good to download a set of codecs if you face any playback issues.

  1. Try to open the FLV file with Windows Media Player. It will inform you that it requires additional codecs to run the file.
flv file format cannot be opened
  1. Click on the Web Help button. Windows will search online for the required codecs and install the files automatically.

Alternatively, you can use other websites to download any missing codecs manually. For example, if you run Windows Media Player 12 by default, you can search for its latest codec pack. Visit the Windows media player codec pack and choose the appropriate version to download.

download flv codec pack

To run the latest codecs, ensure your hardware and drivers are up to date. You can check for it through the Control Panel. If your sound and graphic cards use third-party software (e.g., NVIDIA RTX Experience or Dolby Atmos), ensure that you install the latest updates.

Solution 2: Using A Compatible Media Player

If you cannot fix playback or audio issues by installing the FLV codecs, your media player may not support the FLV video format. It is time to look for other software to play FLV files. You can use the below alternatives for a Windows or Mac PC.

You can use the below FLV players for a Windows or Mac PC.

  • VideoLAN VLC media player
  • FLV-Media-Player
  • Tonec Free FLV Player
  • Moyea Web Player
  • Axara Media Free FLV Player

If you wish to play FLV videos on your Android smartphone, you can use these applications:

  • MX Player
  • Mobo Video Player
  • BS Player
  • Easy Video Player

For those who use iOS devices, these applications can play videos in FLV format on iPhone/iPad:

  • PlayerXtreme Media Player
  • KMPlayer
  • CnX Player
  • Infuse 7

Still Cannot Open It?

Suppose you are failed to open your FLV videos after installing a corresponding codec or trying some other FLV players, the FLV files might corrupt. You need to repair the corrupt FLV videos.

Part 3: FLV vs. MP4 - What's the Difference?

flv vs mp4

Unlike FLV, MP4 caters to the more off-the-web crowd. You might observe this as the default download format for most videos online. Drawing inspiration from the Quicktime MOV format monitors first displayed MP4 videos in 2001. As of 2022, it sees its 12th iteration in use.

Therefore, there is a clear distinction between FLV and MP4 formats. You can use the table below to compare the two easily.

FLV Video Format
MP4 Video Format
Optimized for online content Optimized for offline content
Has a larger file size Has a smaller file size
Compatible with a few media players Compatible with almost all media players
Has comparatively superior sound and video quality Has comparatively inferior sound and video quality
Can have variable output frame rates Has fixed output frame rates

Where should you use the FLV format?

You should use FLV file format for:

  • Content that streams online
  • Videos that need pixel-perfect editing
  • Files that need to transfer with compression

Where should you use MP4 format?

The MP4 file format suits your needs for:

  • Playing content offline
  • Compatibility with all devices, including tabs and smartphones
  • Storing and transferring videos without compression

Part 4: How to Convert FLV to MP4?

Since both the video formats have different applications, you might need to convert files from FLV to MP4 or vice versa. You can achieve that in a couple of ways, as mentioned below.

Method 1: Convert FLV to MP4 Free using Online Video Converter

Many online third-party sites let you convert videos from one format to another for free, including FLV to MP4 and MP4 to FLV. We have picked the three best and top-rated ones for you.

1. Cloudconvert.com

convert flv to mp4 online free using cloudconvert

2. freeconvert.com

freeconvert online converter for free flv to mp4 conversion

The FLV to MP4 conversion using online free converter proceeds very simple:

  • Step 1: Visit the online converter website
  • Step 2: Upload your FLV video files
  • Step 3: Select MP4 as the output format
  • Step 4: Click on the "Convert" button
  • Step 5: Download and save the converted files after the conversion process is completed.

The online FLV to MP4 converter is user-friendly and easy-to-use. However, online tools have a limitation on the maximum file size that can be added for conversion.

Method 2: Convert FLV to MP4 Free using Video Converter Software

To get rid of all the limitations of online free conversion tools, you can use a PC-based app like Wondershare UniConverter to convert videos from FLV to MP4 efficiently while retaining quality. Wondershare UniConverter is a great tool that lets you transcode FLV to MP4 or other 1,000+ formats with super fast speed. It has many additional functions like video editing, video downloading, transferring files from computer to mobile phones, etc. Follow the detailed steps below to convert FLV to MP4.

  • Step 1: Visit the official site of UniConverter. Then, Download the installer for your system and install Uniconverter.
  • Step 2: Launch the software and select the Converter option from the left tab.
start the flv to mp4 converter
  • Step 3: You can drag your FLV files to the next screen. Or, you can click the Add Files button in the center.
  • Step 4: Select the output format as MP4. The following dialogue box lets you choose the audio and video preferences. You can also click the Device tab for a dedicated preset.
choose mp4 as output format
  • Step 5: Browse a suitable path for your output video. Finally, confirm your changes and click on the Start All button.
  • Step 6: You can find the converted MP4 files under the Finished tab.

Video Tutorial on How to Convert FLV to MP4 using Wondershare Online UniConverter

Part 5: How to Recover Lost or Deleted FLV Video Files?

Sometimes, you mistakenly delete the files you need but only realize it after the fact. It can happen with an FLV file as well. Yet, you need not worry as it is pretty easy to recover your preferred videos conveniently.

  • Temporarily deleted FLV video files

If you press the Delete key, it doesn't necessarily delete the file. Instead, it moves to the Recycle Bin for Windows or the Trash in Mac. In such a case, you can open the respective location and recover the file.

  • Permanently deleted FLV files

If you purged the video files from your system, you can either get them back from computer backup or use a professional video recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit. Recoverit holds a leading position in the field of video recovery with patented technology for video fragments recovery. It comes with several premium options that can easily fit your budget. You can also get a free version that recovers up to 100 MB of data at a time.

How to recover lost FLV video files with Recoverit

Step1Download and install Wondershare Recoverit on your PC or Mac
Try It Free

For Windows 7 or later

Try It Free

For macOS 10.10 or later

Step2Launch the FLV recovery software and choose the file location

Launch Recoverit on your device and select the folder where you have lost or deleted the FLV video files.

select flv file location
Step3Start scanning

After you have selected the folder, click on the "Start" button to start searching for your lost FLV files. This might take a few minutes. Optionally, you can set the file type and file size for quicker scanning.

scan for the deleted flv videos
Step3Preview and recover

Following the scan, you are able to preview all of the discovered files to check if they are recoverable. Select the FLV video files you want to recover and click the "Recover" button to store them in a safe location.

start flv recovery
Step4Enhanced Recovery

You might use the "Enhanced Recovery" option, to conduct a thorough search and recovery of any deeply hidden video files or you find that the recovered FLV videos are unplayable after the common data recovery process (This is because video files normally have a larger file size than text or photo files. They may be stored in an unknown number of fragments on a storage device.). The Enhanced Recovery feature of Recoverit will automatically scan, gather, and match the fragments of the videos, ensuring your videos are recovered completely.

advanced flv video recovery
Try It Free

For Windows 7 or later

Try It Free

For macOS 10.10 or later


I hope this guide helps you understand what is FLV file format and have better control over your FLV files. The basics of file extension and conversion can go a long way. However, even when you have nothing to do with FLV video recovery, a few simple tricks can save you a lot of money and trouble. Stay tuned for more informative articles, news, and robust utility software from Recoverit.

best flv video recovery software

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