You would be forgiven for thinking that optical storage was all but dead by now, but in spite of these expectations – and competition from USB drives, cloud storage and so on – recordable CDs and DVDs live on. For basic, day-to-day needs, Windows includes support for disc burning, but if you want to anything more advanced than simply copying files from your hard drive to a DVD, you're going to need something a little more powerful.
There's no shortage of DVD burning software, but tools from the likes of Nero and Roxio can be too expensive for some people. As ever, there are plenty of free options to choose from, but you need to know that you're getting the right tool for the job. That's why we've gathered the five best completely free DVD burners for you to try. You should find that they are just as capable as their paid-for rivals, covering everything from basic disc burning to impressive video DVD creation.
Burning and ripping made easy, with support for all kinds of optical discs
German company Ashampoo has a huge selection of software to its name, and it's all very impressive. Ashampoo Burning Studio FREE keeps the positive trend going. The program can burn and rip audio CDs, data discs and video discs (complete with Blu-ray support), and can help you out with general backup tasks.
Despite the number of options available, the focus here is on keeping things as simple as possible and the interface is approachable and easy to get to grips with. While all of the basics are covered, it's the neat, guided file backup options that help make this free utility stand out from the competition.
Although the software is free, you will need to hand over your email address to obtain a license key, and you will notice references to other Ashampoo software. This is a small sacrifice for an excellent free DVD burner that will serve you well for years to come.
Clean, uncluttered and easy to use, whatever you need to burn to disc
BurnAware Free might look simple, but there's more to it than meets the eye. There's support for CD, DVD and Blu-ray burning, and it can be used to create everything from a standard data disc, audio CDs, video DVDs and Blu-rays, disc images, bootable discs, and spanned backups.
The interface is sparse, but one of the joys of working with BurnAware Free is that it is so free of distractions – you can just focus on the job at hand without having to hunt high and low for the options you need.
Everything is delightfully straightforward, making the program ideal not only for beginners, but also anyone who just wants a tool to get things done as quickly as possible.
Keep an eye out for bundled software during the installation to ensure you don’t install any unwanted extras.
Everything you need for creating audio and data discs, but not video DVDs
DeepBurner Free is a very traditional-looking DVD burner, and is a free, cut-down version of the more comprehensive DeepBurner Pro.
Unlike the premium program, DeepBurner Free can't create video DVDs, but you can use it to burn data CDs and DVDs, audio CDs and bootable discs. You also have the option of working with ISO images.
DeepBurner Free has its limitations, but you definitely shouldn't dismiss it out of hand. For everyday burning tasks such as the manual backing up of data and so on, it's a great tool to have in your software arsenal. There's even a portable version of the program so you can pop it on a USB drive and easily take it from computer to computer.
DeepBurner Free might not be the most feature-packed DVD burner, but it's ideal for everyday audio and backup disc burning.
Create your own video DVDs with custom menus and optional subtitles
WinX DVD Author is designed specifically for creating video DVDs. There are some tools for burning data files to disc, but if you're looking for audio CD creation, you're going to have to look elsewhere.
WinX DVD Author has everything you need for working with video, including a tool to download videos from YouTube. You can convert video files in to VOBs ready for burning to disc, or collect together a number of VOBs to create a DVD complete with menus.
There's also a DVD authoring component for basic video editing tasks like trimming. You can add subtitles, and there's support for NTSC and PAL, as well as numerous aspect ratio options. Performance is fast, and output quality is high – exactly what you need.
A quick and easy tool for making your own video DVDs with custom menus
If you want to burn videos to disc, DVDStyler is the tool for you. There's no audio and data disc support. Instead focus is purely on the creation of video DVDs and photo slideshows with customizable interactive menus.
There are lots of menu templates to choose from, and the program is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, opening up the possibility of cross-platform work.
DVDStyler is showing its age a little, and its claims of helping you with the create of professional-looking DVDS may be slightly overblown, but it's a solid free DVD burner nonetheless, and a great deal easier to use than some of the alternatives.
The DVDStyler installer includes a bundled copy of Avast Free Antivirus, which is a superb security tool, but you can opt out if you don't want it.