I often get asked what is the best free software to play videos on your iPad, iPhone or smartphone.
To play a video on your PC, you need Windows Media Player or Quicktime or VideoLAN VLC installed on your PC. The free open source VideoLAN VLC http://www.videolan.org/index.html is the most flexible.
If you want to load a video file onto your iPad, I would not recommend using iTunes to do this. I believe the best way is to install the “VLC Mobile” app by VideoLAN on your iPad. Then if you are on the same network as your PC, make a note of the iPad IP address displayed on the app (it will be something like 192.168.0.xxx). Then put that into a browser on your PC and you will then see that you can drop video files from your PC onto your iPad. It will take a few minutes to appear on your iPad if it is a big file.
In fact, once you have got the VLC app in your iPad, you will be able to view Local Network connected media server devices, which if they set to share properly, you will be able to see them – and watch them on your iPad and also Air Play them to your Apple TV – without needing to copy them to your iPad.
I regularly install Network Attached Storage devices as media servers for this purpose. If you have a smart TV, you can view network devices directly.
It is good practice to put all your photos, videos and music onto a NAS device (as well as having an off site backup copy). Then you can view them on any smart device connected to you network,and it is possible to set things so that you can view them from outside your home.