You don't have to burn money to acquire optical disc burning software. Even if your disc burner doesn't come with an OEM software package for burning data and music CDs or authoring your own video DVDs, there is a wealth of programs out there that allow you to create your own data and musicdiscs, burn from or create image files, and author your own video DVDs.
For a freeware burning program, ImgBurn is surprisingly versatile and powerful. It supports just about every optical disk format from CD all the way to Blu-Ray, and can create image files from discs or from files on your computer, and then burn those images onto a disc. Under the hood, the program also comes with a host of options for tweaking the burning process.
Verdict: Excellent freeware image burning software. Free and functional, ImgBurn hits a lot of the right notes when it comes to broad support of disc formats, image files, and configurability. Its interface and orientation towards tech-savvy users might be a bit off-putting to novice users, but it certainly delivers the goods.
CDBurner XP is another internet favorite for burning optical discs. Like ImgBurn, it supports just about every modern optical disc format, and allows users to burn data discs, audio CDs, and video DVDs perfectly well. CDBurner XP also provides support for disc spanning (splitting data over multiple discs) and multisession disc burning. Its interface is much more user-friendly than ImgBurn, but CDBurner XP will try to bundle in some extraneous material if you're not vigilant during installation.
Verdict: An excellent utility bundled with a user-friendly interface make CDBurner XP another great choice for your go-to disc burning freeware.
BurnAware Free comes with a clean interface and a zippy burn speed. This is down to the fact that it burns material on the fly, straight to the media, without waiting for hard drive staging. It handles all major disc formats and operations, from clearing rewritable discs, burning bootable discs, to creating image files in various formats. BurnAware does try to bundle in the Ask Toolbar, so watch it during setup.
Verdict: Fast burn speeds and a clean interface make this a neat, user-friendly disc burning program.
InfraRecorder is another excellent freeware disc burning software, though it suffers in comparison to the previous examples in that it doesn't support Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Still, it handles CD and DVDs (and rewritables) perfectly fine, and is a stable if slightly dated program for burning data and audio discs. The explorer-like two-pane interface makes adding files and organizing your project's file structure a breeze.
Verdict: It might not have the neat interface of CDBurner XP or the tweakability of ImgBurn, but InfraRecorder is a reliable burning tool worth considering provided you aren't working with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats.
StarBurn is more than just a disc burning software suite, coming as it does with a broad range of multimedia features for ripping video and audio, the requisite burn data and audio disc functions, as well as a host of functions for DVD content. There's even a portable version that you can download. Still, the wealth of features also means that a user might feel cast adrift in the deep end of the pool trying to figure out all the features and options, even with the wizard-driven interface.
Verdict: A wealth of options obscured by relative clunkyness, StarBurn offers some promising features.
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free is armed with the standard set of burning features for data and audio discs, and supports all major disc formats. Its website states a desire to keep the burning software simple with few distractions, but that hasn't kept the dev team from adding features like multi-disc file backup for keeping your data safe, and an integrated audio ripper. Again, as with a lot of freeware, keep an eye out during install for any bundled extras.
Verdict: A good and usable free burning software with a neat file backup feature.
AmoK CD/DVD Burning's design philosophy is a reaction to the practice of bundling loads of extra features (such as media management and media editing software) the user may or may not need. AmoK CD/DVD is bare bones, but what it does, it does well, handling audio, data, and video CD and DVD burning in a simple, portable program that requires no installation. It doesn't come with extras and it won't handle Blu-Ray discs, but it is a portable tool for disc burning, with features such as multisession support and on-the-fly burning.
Verdict: No built-in media manager or editor? No problem. AmoK CD/DVD Burning burns. The fact that it's a nicely portably program is a plus.