This must have been the week for codec questions. I received a question about codecs from longtime subscriber Sam Boggs and saw a similar question in two mailing lists. Sam wrote:
Thanks again for your great newsletter. My question: I see "Codec Packages" — free downloads, but no clear explanation. Do I need these? For example, here’s a link for a Vista Codec: http://www.filehippo.com/download_vista_codec_package
Codecs are translators for audio and video file formats — for use by an audio- or video-playing program (e.g. Windows Media Player) so it can recognize and encode or decode a file format. If your computer is working fine and reading everything you want it to, then you don’t need any additional codecs.
Be careful with installing codecs and install them only from trusted sources — the user’s "need" for a codec is sometimes the way he downloads and installs malware on his computer.
I think, but obviously can not guarantee, that FileHippo is a safe site for downloads. They’re fairly well known. Their About FileHippo.com page says "All software is 100% spyware and virus free."
That doesn’t mean that I would turn off my antispyware/antivirus program, though. It indicates that they check the files they offer for download and that they believe the programs are free of spyware and viruses.