What Is AVI File Format?

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave. It is a video container format developed by Microsoft, and based on the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF). AVI is part of Microsoft’s Video for Windows software. As a multimedia container it can hold video and audio with synchronous playback.

Characteristics and Uses

avi file format

AVI files are RIFF file format files. A RIFF file is a binary file format containing nested data structures. Each data structure is called a chunk.

A chunk contains data, such as a data structure, a data stream, or another chunk called sub-chunk. Each chunk has a four letter ID that identifies the data contained in the chunk.

The structure of a RIFF chunk is as follows:

typedef struct _Chunk


DWORD ChunkId; /* Chunk ID marker */

DWORD ChunkSize; /* Size of the chunk data in bytes */

BYTE ChunkData[ChunkSize]; /* The chunk data */


An AVI file consists of a RIFF chunk, which is tagged as AVI (hex: 41 56 49 20), and it is divided into sub-chunks. Each sub-chunk is identified by Microsoft’s FOURCC code. The first sub-chunk is labelled as hdrl, and functions as a file header, containing information about the video, such as width, height and frame rate. The second sub-chunk is labelled movi and has the video and sound data. The third sub-chunk, identified as idx1, contains indexes. As any RIFF file, it has a RIFF signature (hex: 52 49 46 46) at the beginning of the file.

Brief History

AVI file format was created by Microsoft and introduced in 1992. Its history can be narrated by describing the different versions. These versions evolved in increased capacity, as the operating systems permitted larger file sizes.

Its first version for FAT file systems was limited to 1GB, with pictures limited to 160 x 120 pixels and a maximum of 15 frames per second. With the appearance of FAT16, the maximum size was increased to 2GB, and later with FAT32 to 4GB.

Matrox and others proposed an extension to AVI 1.0 called OpenDML, with ideas later incorporated in AVI files. With Windows 95, AVI files were introduced as Active Movie files and later modified into DirectShow files, also known as AVI 2.0.

File Signature

ISO 8859-1: RIFF


Hexadecimal: 52 49 46 46 nn nn nn nn

41 56 49 20

Programs That Open AVI Files


  • File Viewer Plus
  • Microsoft Windows Video
  • Microsoft Windows Media Player
  • CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Ultra
  • Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate
  • VideoLAN VLC Media Player
  • Nullsoft Winamp
  • Kodi


  • Apple QuickTime Player
  • Eltima Elmedia Player
  • VideoLAN VLC Media Player
  • ShedWorx Smart Converter
  • Kodi


  • Xine
  • Kodi
  • RealNetworks RealPlayer Cloud
  • VideoLAN VLC Media Player


  • Olimsoft OPlayer
  • VideoLAN VLC for iOS 2
  • Google Drive


  • BIT LABS Simple MP4 Video Player
  • Google Drive
  • Videolabs VLC for Android


Some important information, such as scan data, is not included in the file header.

How to Recover Deleted AVI Files

If you want to recover AVI files from your computer or another digital device, it’s easy. Just download Disk Drill, an AVI recovery application that is available for free.

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

Because AVI files have a well-known structure, to recover AVI files is quite straightforward. Just follow these steps:

  1. Download Disk Drill from any of the links provided above.
  2. Install Disk Drill by clicking on the installer and following the given steps.
  3. Select the digital device that contains the file you are looking for. Disk Drill can recover AVI files from many different digital devices, such as internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, iPods, iPhones, memory cards and more.
  4. Go to the main menu, and from the “Preferences” item select “Video”. It will open a menu with different file types. Select “avi”.
  5. Click on the “Recover” button. Disk Drill will scan the drive, looking specifically to recover AVI files.
  6. If you want to pause the session, save it and return later, you can do so by clicking on the buttons “PAUSE” and “SAVE”. Otherwise, you can also cancel the scan by clicking on “CANCEL”.
  7. Select the file that you were looking for from the results window, and recover it to a folder of your choice. A great feature of Disk Drill is that if you have many recovered AVI files this selection can be narrowed down by the use of filters, either by date or by size.

That is all that you need to do for your AVI file recovery.

recover deleted avi

How to Use Image Files to Recover AVI Files

As a good practice, you can first create an image file with Disk Drill, and scan it in search for your deleted files. It is safer, because if you make a mistake, it is done on a copy and not on the original source. Thus, you can re-start the search. This is also a standard practice in forensic procedures.

Another important aspect of Disk Drill is its help resources. The online help files are there for you to answer your questions. If you can’t find the answers to your doubts, you can either contact us directly, or via email. There is also a forum available for fan users.

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance content creator. He also has a more than 10-year experience in program development for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android. Arthur Cole is a writer with deep expertise in programming, who can easily...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.