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I use Handbrake sometimes to compress video files, and notice that the "Web Optimized" option is not chosen by default, and cannot be set to the default in Options either.

But I tried both Web Optimized and non-Web-optimized. Turns out both the files turn out to be the same 320MB exact. But if it is web optimized, then even when I use FTP to upload to the web only for about 10MB, then I can already start watching it on the Chrome browser -- versus, if it is not web optimized, then I have to wait and upload all 320MB for it to be playable.

I am guessing web optimized probably means putting some kind of video frame indexes in the front of the file instead of at the end, so that the index is ready and users can view the video even with just 10MB or 20MB. But, (1) why don't we always use web optimized and make it the default? (2) is it at all configurable to make it the default in Handbrake so that if we forgot to set it every time, we actually have to re-encode again?

P.S. the other thing I really don't like for the non-Web-optimized version is, if I upload to my website, and I am traveling and want to access that file, and if the net speed is slow, making the video play and pause all the time, then I can download the file and play it using VLC player. But if I have downloaded 200MB or even 280MB, the video still will not play for even 1 second. It has to be the whole 320MB downloaded before it can play anything at all

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I guess this comes down to opinion. I always select Web Optimized but that doesn't mean that everyone would want to do that. Handbrake is open source software and I've discovered that it likes to let people pick what they want.

If you don't have a need for the web optimized additions, then why include them in the encode?

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no, whether the frame index data is in front or at the end of file, it really doesn't matter, does it? – 太極者無極而生 Dec 26 '13 at 1:04
I'm not sure if non web-optimized videos even have frame index data. Do you have a source that lists the inclusion of frame index data? Thanks. – tbenz9 Dec 26 '13 at 1:09
it is the fact that if the file is in your hard drive or is totally uploaded to the webpage, then you can jump to any point of the video. So there should be frame index data. Because, if there is no such data, then even if 20MB of the file is uploaded, then you should be able to watch the video from the start or even jump to 10 seconds later, shouldn't you? The fact that you can't means that there is some missing data that is crucial to the playing of the video even from the very start. – 太極者無極而生 Dec 26 '13 at 1:20
so what I mean is, if the final file sizes are the same, and there is no penalty for quality whether it is Web-optimized or non-Web-optimized, then why not just make it Web-optimized all the time, so that the file is more universally usable? – 太極者無極而生 Oct 22 '14 at 11:51

This is one of the reasons why not:

If you enable this and convert your video, the iPad will not play the video file! Instead you get the error "The operation could not be completed".

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are you sure? I have tried both Web Optimized or not, and both cases, I can upload to the Movies app on iPad, or view it using Google Chrome on iPad if the file is served on my website by a web hosting company – 太極者無極而生 Aug 11 '15 at 14:21
If you try to play the video files with a flash player they will only start when they go fully loaded (ipad conversion profile). Here you need to user "web optimized" then they start right away. If you play the videos with <video> HTML5 and they are web-optimized, then you jump forward in the timeline, the video loading will not work or waits until the video is loaded until this point. – Kai Noack Aug 11 '15 at 22:31

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