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Best Free CD-DVD Burning Software

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
 
Introduction

When looking for the best free software program for either CD (Compact Disc) or DVD (Digitally Versatile Disc) I think it is worth the effort to consider your exact requirements.

Keep in mind that CD & DVD burning programs are designed for you to author CDs and DVDs for: music, photos, movies, games, data, or other digital files that will hopefully stimulate your creativity. As well as CD and DVD burning software, this category also includes Lightscribe software which enables you to produce laser-etched labels with text or graphics, as opposed to stick-on labels and printable discs.

With new software (particularly new free software) don't be afraid to experiment and try a few different options before you decide on the right one for you.

 
Discussion

ImgBurnImgBurn is the product I decided is the most powerful free burning tool, as no other software comes close to its advanced features and options.

ImgBurn includes support for:

  • every modern optical disc from CD to Blu-Ray
  • more than 10 image formats
  • authoring rewritable discs
  • producing images from file compilations or discs
  • building audio CDs from a variety of file types
  • creating video discs on DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD
  • enabling access to drives for restricted users
  • endless tweaking of all aspects of the burn process.

ImgBurn has several 'Modes', each one for performing a different task:

Read - Read a disc to an image file.
Build - Create an image file from files on your computer or network or you can write the files directly to a disc
Write - Write an image file to a disc
Verify - Check a disc is 100% readable. Optionally, you can also have ImgBurn compare it against a given image file to ensure the actual data is correct
Discovery - Put your drive/media to the test! Used in combination with DVDInfoPro, you can check the quality of the burns your drive is producing.

ImgBurn's advanced features may confuse you if you just want to do a basic burn. The welcome menu provides quick access to some common tasks, but other basic features such as erasing a re-writable disc are not immediately visible. Try playing around with ImgBurn for a while. Exploring the menus will certainly reveal most of what you need. However, if you simply aren’t interested in advanced functionality  you may wish to check out my other recommendations. Although ImgBurn is primarily aimed at advanced users, I still feel that it deserves top spot in this category. Caution: ImgBurn is now bundled with the OpenCandy wrapped installer.

 

BurnAware FreeBurnAware Free is probably the prettiest in the interface department for this collection and offers a step-by-step procedure for your burning projects. It is now probably one of the most popular free CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc burning software available for Windows. Using BurnAware Free Edition you can easily create and burn Audio and MP3 CD, Data and DVD-Video disc, ISO and Cue Image, erase or format rewritable disc, copy your CD or DVD to ISO image. This software is for personal home use only.

A launch window lets you choose the type of project you want and leads you through the process to completion. Navigating your directories is easy with BurnAware's file management system and adding files is as simple as highlighting them and hitting a button. BurnAware offers enough features for most burning projects including burn data, bootable and multi-session discs, burn audio, video and MP3 discs, create and burn ISO/CUE/BIN images, copy discs to ISO images and erase rewritable discs. Sometimes you just need a simple program for your burning needs and don't need all the extra features of a paid application. Caution: BurnAware Free is now bundled with the OpenCandy installer. See this information page for details.

Supports:

  • All media types (CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc) including Double Layer
  • All current hardware interfaces (IDE/SCSI/USB/1394/SATA) including AHCI
  • UDF/ISO9660/Joliet file systems (any combination)
  • On-the-fly writing (no staging to hard drive first)
  • Verification of written files
  • Multi-session DVD-RW/DVD+RW
  • Unicode CD-Text (tracks and disc)
  • Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 Bit), .Net framework is NOT required.

 

CDBurnerXPCDBurnerXP is a another wonderful free tool. It is especially brilliant if you are accustomed to using Nero.

Big picture - CDBurnerXP is a quick and easy solution for creating audio CDs, video discs (DVD and Blu-Ray) and has extra features for ripping your audio CDs and finding track info on the Web.

It adds sessions to multi-session discs; burns on-the-fly and verifies burns; erases rewritable media; creates audio discs and video DVDs; command line version; LightScribe cover printing support with very basic designer supporting custom background images; enables access to drives for restricted users; multilingual; some advanced features and options.

I like CDBurnerXP's clean user interface. The four-paned interface makes it easy to find what you are looking for. You can then drop-and-drag files to your chosen media. Also, the audio player, which is included, helps you ensure you have captured the tracks you want. You may find the dropbox window handy as it allows you to browse your files using Windows Explorer and then quickly drop-and-drag files to your burn list as you go. Judging from other user reviews, some people had trouble with CDBurnerXP when burning data DVDs although I did find I was able to use this function without too many hassles.

Once again, CDBurnerXP supports common types of optical discs like CD, DVD, and Blue-Ray including double layer mediums. You will find creating Audio CDs, Video Discs, DVD or Blue-Ray, very easy. I found dealing with re-writable media is also very comfortable with this program. ISO files can be created and burned as well with support of converting BIN/NRG file formats into ISO.

CDBurnerXP is multilingual and natively supports 32 and 64 bits version of Windows 7.

Editor's Advisory Note: CDBurnerXP is now bundled with OpenCandy. See this article for more information.

 

InfraRecorder I consider a review of free burning software must include InfraRecorder so I am listing it as my fourth choice. InfraRecorder is a stable project that has been popular for quite a long time. It supports all of the common features that a good burning application should have, and it works with all types of CDs and DVDs including dual layer discs. It even includes full command line support like CDBurnerXP. With InfraRecorder, you can burn and create images with support for bootable discs, author rewritable discs, and create audio CDs and video DVDs. The interface is clean and simple without a lot of extras to make things confused.

InfraRecorder is a respectable burning program, but it has a few disadvantages as well. It does not support Blu-Ray discs or HD-DVDs. It also does not include many advanced options for tweaking the burn process to perfection like ImgBurn. Its interface isn’t as nice as that of BurnAware Free, and it doesn’t have any extra features like CDBurnerXP. Aside from these possible downsides, it feels like a solid program that definitely deserves a chance at becoming a part of your favored software collection.

 

 

 
Related Products and Links
 
Quick Selection Guide

ImgBurn
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A free tool that enables you to burn CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-Ray images with ease. Very flexible application with several advanced features not available in other tools.
Bundled with OpenCandy - see information link in review text. Probably more suited to advanced users who will appreciate the extent of its configurability.
http://www.imgburn.com/
2.5.8.0
3.39 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3/Vista/7. If you use Wine, it should also run on Linux and other x86-based Unixes.

Although no official portable version exists, Googling "ImgBurn portable" returns several results showing how to run it from a flash drive.

BurnAware Free
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
BurnAware Free is a free CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc burning software
Doesn't have the option of a floating window that features in programs such as CDBurnerXP. Installer bundled with OpenCandy (see information link in review text).
6.8
11.0 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7
InfraRecorder
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
supports CD-R/CD-RW/DVD+R/DVD-R/DVD+RW/DVD-RW/DVD-RAM (double layer mediums included); burns discs from images or files, creates bootable discs, creates images from files or discs, copies discs to discs (does not seem to bypass copyright protection), adds sessions to multisession discs, fixates discs, burns on-the-fly, verifies burns, erases rewritable media; creates audio discs, creates video DVDs; command line version; multilingual; simple, easily accessible interface
does not support HD-DVD, Blu-Ray; lacks advanced features
http://infrarecorder.org/
0.53
3.96 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000/ XP/ Vista/ 7
CDBurnerXP
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Clean user friendly interface. Multi-session functionality.
Requires Microsoft .NET Framework.
http://cdburnerxp.se/
4.5.2.4291
5.04 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003/Vista/7

Caution: Now bundled with OpenCandy - see note above. An OpenCandy free version is available by clicking the "More download options" link on the downloads page.
Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Windows Media Format 9.0 Update are required

 
Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here

 

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Comments

by Anonymous on 28. August 2009 - 2:07  (31705)

Thanks for the links. However, I've already determined that Ashampoo 6.76 isn't acceptable for this list (I have yet to determine if 2009 is; I haven't gotten a chance to mess around with it yet). Others have mentioned Nero 9, and although it's quite bloated (55 MB or something), I'll take a look at it.

by Teo on 30. August 2009 - 15:27  (31911)

It seems nobody mentioned old Nero-looking DeepBurner Free. Light soft with enough functional.
http://www.deepburner.com/?r=download

by Anonymous on 30. August 2009 - 22:56  (31922)

Now at cnet.download.com is Nero version 9 free(only for burning).

by Compeek on 3. September 2009 - 1:05  (32067)

I actually already ruled DeepBurner out when I rewrote the article. It's just too old and it hasn't been updated. Plus, it didn't have anything that the ones listed here don't.

by Anonymous on 4. September 2009 - 15:45  (32153)

What disqualified Ashampoo 6.76 from the list?

by Anonymous on 7. September 2009 - 6:07  (32264)

I use CDBurnerXP to burn ISO images compiled by DVD Flick. This results in DVDs watchable on my home players. The trick that works for me is to use DVD Flick to put together a collection (project) of video files (titles). Then, in the Project Settings menu of DVD Flick, under Burning, select "Create ISO image". Then (after selecting the other appropriate options for the project) use the Create DVD button to compile the project. (Compiling will take a long time---possibly hours.) CDBurnerXP can then burn the resulting ISO file directly to a DVD-R+ or (I believe) other recordable DVD media.

by Anonymous on 8. September 2009 - 4:43  (32317)

Anyone know of a standalone, freeware disc labeling program that supports Lightscribe?

by Anonymous on 8. September 2009 - 19:49  (32343)

You have made a big mistake in reviewing ImgBurn. It does not support multi-session disks. It can neither write a multi-session disk, nor add sessions to an already burnt disk. This is actually my only reason for abandoning ImgBurn and using CDBurnerXP instead.

by Anonymous on 10. September 2009 - 19:07  (32495)

yeah pro show producer is a software that can do a job for you, Simply drag and drop the videos customize them if you want to and directly burn dvd by following steps, I am using it and has burned lot of vids on DVD..

by Anonymous on 10. September 2009 - 23:29  (32515)

What problem disqualified Ashampoo 6.76 from this list? Also, is there any noticeable difference in burn quality between the software mentioned? How does the quality compare to commercial products?

by Compeek on 11. September 2009 - 3:33  (32519)

In general, it didn't feel user friendly, and it's old now. I just didn't see anything about it that was better than these others.

by Compeek on 11. September 2009 - 3:34  (32520)

I've searched a few times, but so far I haven't found any. :( Sure would be nice if there was one.

by Compeek on 11. September 2009 - 3:36  (32521)

The features you see listed are based off the website for the program. I was not able to test for multi-session support like you're talking about. I will remove the feature from the list if it truly isn't supported. :)

Also, I've seen too many people complain about CDBurnerXP lately to rank it higher. ImgBurn seems to be the "one" as far as most people believe, and I felt it was worthy of being a top pick.

by Anonymous on 14. September 2009 - 11:20  (32568)

Sure it's possible. I did it many times, back when I was too cheap to spring for dual-layer discs. You just use DVD Shrink's re-author mode to split the movie up into pieces that will fit on standard DVDs. Unfortunately, you lose the menus when you do it this way.

Personally, I think dual-layer discs are much less hassle and are worth the extra expense. You can get good Verbatim brand ones for less than $1 a piece when they're on sale. --Igor P.

by Anonymous on 14. September 2009 - 11:31  (32569)

Unlike you, I've found CDBurner XP to be reliable, but I do agree that it's slow. I've found it takes twice as long to do a burn and verification with CDBurner XP as it does using ImgBurn or Nero Express. --Igor P.

by Anonymous on 16. September 2009 - 1:53  (32680)

Not sure how old or bad it can be considering Fred Langa recently said: "I get great results when I use Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 6.76, which is available free, as the name states, from the program's download page on CNET's Download.com. Ashampoo's product is relatively small and simple, yet it reliably rips and burns CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs in all the standard video, audio, and data formats. The program supports all current versions of Windows, including Windows 7."

by Anonymous on 16. September 2009 - 3:19  (32686)

I tried CDBurnerXP and it could not detect my disc drive. Ashampoo worked, but I could not re-order the audio files after selecting them...it only allows you to burn them in alphabetical order

by Anonymous on 16. September 2009 - 11:14  (32703)

a good article you wrote there,and after reading it,i downloaded imgburn and infrarecorder,and i should say i liked both.thanks for mentioning them.
but on your view about cdburnerxp,i would say that we want to read how the software performed in your tests,and was it able to fulfill all the needs of successfully writing a cd or dvd.we want to have an opinion based on your testing,and not what people said about it,or based on comments.maybe the people who complained were not able to use it properly.we want a honest opinion of YOU.if it performed well,rank it higher.just dont rank it lower just because of other people opinions.i have been using cdburnerxp with no problems till now.
one person asked if multisession was available in a software or not.you replied you did not had enough experience with that.being an editor,a useful answer was expercted from u.u should have knowledge of the software u reviewed.
dont feel bad,shared what i thought.

by Beev on 17. September 2009 - 18:24  (32818)

Im in full agreement about BurnAware Free, its a fantastic program. And it is possible to burn dual layer discs. If you go to the DVD burning section, any type of DVD you want to burn, once you have clicked it the screen appears where you select your data/video etc to burn it is on the bottom right hand corner. Just select DVD-5 or DVD-9.

Yours,
Beev

by Anonymous on 18. September 2009 - 6:48  (32865)

I am happy with Burnaware Free. I have been using it for several years. Never had any problems playing CD/DVD s burnt with it on other machines. Small, fast, free and easy to use.

by Anonymous on 18. September 2009 - 6:52  (32867)

Forgot to mention Burnaware Free handles DVD-9 Dual layers discs.

by Xty on 18. September 2009 - 23:15  (32932)

These are all great recommendations but I have a request: Could someone please make a section for DVD Authoring software. I'd like to read reviews and user opinions on that and it seems other users are asking about it too.

Thanks!

by Anonymous on 19. September 2009 - 15:11  (32963)

Very nice site!

by Anonymous on 28. September 2009 - 2:28  (33439)

what is the best way to get my dvd's on my ipod?

by M.Broderick on 28. September 2009 - 3:53  (33448)

In my experience, the best freeware to use to get DVD's onto your iPod is a combination of two programs. I'm assuming from DVD's you already own so these programs are perfectly legal for backup and portable purposes.

DVD43
This program simply allows the DVD to be decrypted (unlocked), allowing it to be ripped around copyright restrictions. You can get DVD43 from http://dvd43.com/ for the most up-to-date version. As newer DVD's come out, so does newer encryptions. Therefore, make sure you keep this program updated! After you install it, restart your computer and continue on.

Handbrake
This program is, in my opinion, the best piece of freeware software to directly convert a DVD into a ready to use, iPod MP4 format. You can get the latest version by going to http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php . After you install, the graphical user interface is pretty easy to use. Select the DVD you want to rip, the video source (chapters or full film), output destination (try to keep the same aspect ratio and select H.264-iPod as the decoder), and other final settings. In the settings part, go to video settings and type in 768 in the bitrate. Keep everything else stock. This will keep the file at a good size but still have decent quality. Hit encode, then go to the kitchen and grab yourself a sandwich. Depending on your computer, it may take a while to convert an entire movie.

After you have used these two programs to get it converted, simply add the outputted .mp4 to iTunes and put it on the iPod.

That's it! You're done!

If you have any other questions or problems, let me know. I'll be glad to help!

by M.Broderick on 28. September 2009 - 3:52  (33450)

Hey Anonymous,

It has been changed. Thanks for letting us know about the mistake in the information!

Thanks,
Michael Broderick

by eric brocklesby on 28. September 2009 - 7:22  (33459)

et brocklesby

I must confess I was an advocate of CDBURNERXP for some time. Of late it has become very buggy and does not do the things you ask it to do. Erasing rew-writable discs has becom a problem and I had to use other sofware reviewed here to complete the erase.
What i am now doing is using the other programs to evaluate which is the best as opposed to CDBURNERXP.
IMGBURNER looks a good prospect but as you point out it is a poor interface and for a novice it is a complicated workaround to find what you want.
I downloaded BURNAWARE FREE and it installed a program on my computer called ASK.COM without my knowledge, FINJAN informed me that it was a dodgy site so be forwarned. I do not like things being installed unless I do it my self.

by M.Broderick on 28. September 2009 - 15:10  (33476)

Eric,

The installer for Burnaware gives you the option to choose whether or not to install the ask.com components (toolbar, homepage, etc). Ask.com is actually just a family-friendly search engine that's been around almost as long as Google has - my elementary school taught us how to use Ask before Google in fact. Of course, that was over 10 years ago so Google has by far taken the spot as best. I don't have any problems with the latest version of CDBurnerXP. Of course, I haven't tested it with an CD-RW's. I'll check that out today.

Thanks for the insight, and continue to check out the site!

Michael Broderick

by eric brocklesby on 29. September 2009 - 9:16  (33524)

et brocklesby

Thanks Michael

I also used ASK JEEVES many moons ago and found it user friendly, i do know that it changed the name to ASK,
I do hope that they get rid of the bugs CDBURNERXP i like the program and will keep trying it to see if it resolves the bugs

by eric brocklesby on 2. October 2009 - 8:14  (33751)

et brocklesby

Ask.com is probably legit. However it did hijack my browser which I did not know about. Normally I am very careful but I did miss this one.
I have been copying films that i pay for on the internet with CDBurnerXP. using re-write dvd's. I have erased quite a few and installed other films over them, no problems there. I still feel it is one of the best even though it is a bit buggy of late.