The seamless digital world of ‘wireless everywhere’ isn’t quite with us yet. While more and more of our entertainment seems to be streamed down the big fat pipes of the web, our lives are still littered with legacy disc-players, DVD drives and car CD players. Getting the latest exciting content – from movies to music to pictures – to where we most want it, still requires the stamping out of those shiny recordable metal discs. Worse, there’s an ever-growing plethora of formats to contend with – and that lot doesn’t even take into account with newer formats like BluRay and HD.
So while the frictionless entertainment utopia remains a project that is ‘under construction’, the need for free CD and DVD burning software is going to be with us for a good few years yet. But paying for the privilege of software to create your own content library? Absolutely not necessary. Not when there are so many excellent CD-DVD burning packages to be had for free. Here are the top-performing burning installs that will help you keep your leisure-hours fully-disked, all for free.
An oldie, but a goldie, this is a free CD-DVD burning app that has kept with the times – even if a name change is long overdue. CDBurnerXP first made its mark nearly a decade ago, when music CD rippin’-n-burnin’ first took off. But it has long since added DVD formats to its repertoire – and it runs on all Windows platforms, including Windows 7, not just XP. As well as covering the now standard CD and DVD formats, it also supports advanced features, like multi-session discs, Blue-Ray and HD-DVD.
Its origins back in the mp3 CD ripping craze do show though – it has excellent CR ripper, track information finder and audio players, as well as options for printing CD labels. The UI is bright, clean and easy to navigate. The one thing to bear in mind is that CDBurnerXP is one the growing number of free apps to bundle Open Candy (OC), so pay careful attention to your installation. OC will recommend certain software to be installed alongside CDBurnerXP, which you may want to sidestep.
Nero Burn is another CD burning app from way-back-when. This app was called Nero Burn Lite in a previous life, but the latest version is being re-branded as Nero Kwik Burn – part of the Nero Kwik Media package. Nero Kwik Media is a commercial software bundle, but the free version of Nero Kwik Burn is offered as a teaser for the full package. And it does do a solid job at covering the basic groundwork of CD and DVD burning tasks. It is also adept at Blu-Ray recording too.
But this tool looks and feels like a constrained version of the more fully-featured Nero Kwik Media offering. So while it takes up a lot of disk space, options for conversion between advanced DVD formats is limited. And no opportunity is lost in reminding you to buy the parent Kwik Media bundle. That said, at least this free app gets the job done, without bundled adware or Open Candy hassles.
A more recent entrant into the freebie-burning software field is InfraRecorder. It is one of those tools that looks to focusing its strengths on getting the basics done well, rather than covering everything under one roof. So while you’ll find good CD and DVD burning functionality – including disc burning from images, creation of boot discs and disc-to-disc copying – you wont find Blu-Ray or HD-DVD coverage. But if you want a no-nonsense, no-hassle burner tool, this may be one of the simplest to install, and to use.
DVDVideoSoft Free Studio is less a coherent and integrated CD/DVD burning tool, than it is an umbrella for 20-odd separate audio/video recording and conversion tools. But for all that diversity, the simple tools found under the DVDVideoSoft Free Studio banner are more than up to the task. And the video conversion software is particularly excellent, especially the You Tube down-loaders.
Simplicity makes everything a snap to run – but advanced users, wanting to get some more tricky conversion and burning tasks done quickly may be defeated. Be aware also that the installer will ask to install other software components, which you may want to opt out of.
AShampoo have made a name for themselves delivering functionality that works fast – with a minimum of fuss – and thats exactly what their Ashampoo Burning Studio delivers on. Most users are more than happy with plain vanilla CD/DVD burning technology, which can dash out the standard formats. Ashampoo Burning Studio makes those day-to-day burning tasks a cinch, with an easy-to-use interface that avoids burdening average users with too many advanced options.
For those looking to backup big chunks of data, Ashampoo certainly gives you plenty of space – it allows you to span many discs, and throws secure compressed data archiving into the mix. It also now comes a with slick audio CD ripper, which can store files to MP3, WMA or WAV file formats. Overall, a great contender for the best free CD/DVD package, that money doesn’t need to buy.
When it comes to the top rankings amongst the CD/DVD authoring packages, though, it looks like ImgBurn pips the others to the post. ImgBurn has always been associated with the more radical end of the CD/DVD burner community. You can shoehorn a copy-protection disabling component, DVD43, into it, allowing backup copies of copy-protected DVDs to be made. Enough said. But put that to one side, and ImgBurn is still an excellent all-round CD and DVD burner, packing top-notch functionality into its stack of recording ‘modes’.
Whilst the presentation of the advanced options can be faulted, the breadth of that coverage certainly can’t. As well allowing the creation of disc-flavors from the whole CD and DVD universe, you can also stamp out Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs. Just watch out for the optional adware installer in the latest versions; remove that, and a powerful disc-creator can be yours – both cost and hassle-free.