CD & DVD disc burning freeware!
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
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
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.
DeepBurner comes in a Free and Pro flavors, with the lobotomized Free version losing out on features available in other freeware burning programs, such as disc-to-disc copying and video DVD burning. DeepBurner also doesn't support Blu-Ray discs. Still, solid features such as multisession support, the ability to produce bootable discs, multiple helpful wizards, and the portable version of the software still combine to make for an okay burning program.
Verdict: While the free version loses out compared to other freeware applications, it still does an okay job and the portable version is a plus.
FinalBurner Free is the lite version of ProtectedSoft's FinalBurner disc burning software, allowing users to burn data CDs and DVDs as well as music CDs, while reserving some features, such as data CD copying, VCD burning, and ISO image burning for the paid version. The inability to burn images with the free version hobbles this package, even though it has some very nice support for various audio formats in its music CD burning function.
Verdict: FinalBurner suffers because it stashes some important features behind a Pro version paywall.
Free Audio CD Burner
Exactly what it says on the tin, Free Audio CD Burner eschews extras in order to have a very simple and functional audio CD burner. No DVD functionality, no data disc complications, simply a program that decodes a bevy of common audio formats, allowing you to burn them into an audioCD playable in just about any audio media center or optical disc device. As usual, be aware during installation for extraneous toolbars that the program wants to throw in.
Verdict: It does a good job of burning audio CDs. It doesn't do anything else, really, but within that niche, it does the job quite well.
Express Burn Free
Express Burn Free is the lite version of NCH Software's Express Burn software. The free version allows users to burn data, audio, and MP3 CDs, and supports rewritable discs, as well as multisession audio burning. The drag and drop interface makes setting up a new project a relatively simple affair, and the program even converts some media files into MP3 or CDA formats, depending on your burning project. However, data and video DVD burning and authoring only come with the paid version, limiting Express Burn's power as a free disc burning tool.
Verdict: Hobbled by the inability to work with DVDs unless you're using the paid version, Express Burn ends up running in the middle of the pack.
Windows DVD Maker
Windows DVD Maker comes free with Windows 7 and allows users to take their home movies and pictures and then burn them into DVDs in a format that should be playable on computer and most DVD players. Users can choose from a series of DVD menu templates, as well as transitions for the image slideshow. The program is fairly user friendly, though the tradeoff is that there isn't a lot of customization or extra options available.
Verdict: Free with Windows 7 and user friendly, it's okay for home use, just don't expect it to work miracles. If you're looking to tweak and fiddle with things, look elsewhere. Still, for light home use, like compiling home movies and images, it's a free application that might be enough for some users.
DVD Flick is a free and reasonably user-friendlyDVD authoring program that allows you to take just about any video file format and then burn it into a playable video DVD. The program supports numerous audio, video, and subtitle formats, and automatically transcodes them into player-readable formats, and a simple drag and drop interface makes it easy to add video files. The project settings button allows you to tweak some of the project settings, such as audio and video bit rates, encoding priority (in case you want to use your computer for something while encoding), and also allows you to create an iso instead of burning to disc. Meanwhile, the menu settings button allows you to choose between six preset menu templates.
Verdict: Surprisingly easy to use, DVD Flick is a great tool burning your own video DVDs, armed with broad file format support and good configuration settings while being user-friendly.
DVD Author Plus
We wrap up with DVD Author Plus, another free DVD authoring and disc burning tool. DVD Author Plus combines DVD authoring and data disc burning features into one package, which is pretty convenient, and the explorer-like file browser makes hunting down media files and data for burning a snap. The program allows you to burn to data CDs and DVDs, video DVDs (single and dual layer), and .ISO images (no Blu-Ray yet). That said, DVD Author Plus doesn't support as many media formats as DVD Flick (Flash video and .MKV, for example), and doesn't seem to have as many advanced settings to play with in the audio and video fronts for encoding into DVD video formats.
Verdict: While DVD Author Plus has both DVD authoring and data disc burning features as well as a handy interface, it doesn't seem as technically configurable as DVD Flick for dedicated DVD authoring. If you're looking for a program to serve as both data disc burner and DVD authoring tool, this covers both bases. Howeverm if you're just looking for DVD authoring, try DVD Flick, or either ImgBurn or CDBurner XP for data and audio discs.
Do you have any other favorite free tools out there? Please feel free to recommend them in our comments section below!