I used to love the Nero CD/DVD burning software when it first came out because it came in a no-frills package that ran faster than any of the competing alternatives. Since then they’ve added about a dozen additional applications that are bundled with the burning software, and it’s pretty disappointing to see it become so bloated.
If you feel the same way I do then you’ll be pleased with the two free alternatives that I’m about to show you today. They are well updated applications that not only support burning CD’s and DVD’s, but also support Blu-ray and the soon-to-be-extinct HD DVD. More importantly for me, however, is that both of them support burning ISO images.
This works on Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista (32 and 64 Bit)
UPDATE: As of June 2008 this software is no longer free. You can find information on downloading the last free version here.
BurnAware comes in both free and paid flavors, but for most people the free version will be more than enough. The thing that really stands out with this application is that it has an exceptional interface that nearly any computer user will be able to understand:
From the main interface you just have to select what task you are looking to perform. This is where you can select to burn an ISO image, audio CD, DVD videos, or a data disc. Selecting media to add to a data disc, for example, will really be a no-brainer for most users:
Here’s a list of features that you’ll get from using BurnAware:
- Writes to all CD/DVD media types including Blu-Ray (BD-R/BD-RE)
- Writes discs from disc images
- Writes DVDs from DVD-Video files
- Writes Audio CDs from WAV, MP3, or WMA files
- Creates disc images
- Supports all current hardware interfaces
- On-the-fly writing for all image types
- Writes Multi-Session to all supported media formats
- Auto-verification of written files
- Supports unicode for multi-byte languages
Thanks to “sorr” for the tip on this one!
This works on Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista
If the interface on BurnAware is a bit too simplistic you might find CDBurnerXP to align better with your taste. This is a personal favorite of mine because the interface is more advanced, and is closer to what I’m used to with Nero. It’s quite reminiscent of browsing files in Windows Explorer:
If you’re using this to burn some ISO images you’ll be happy to know that there are a few different settings that you can configure. You can even have the computer shutdown after the burning process is completed:
Here’s a full list of features that you’ll get from using CDBurnerXP:
- Burn any Data on CD-R/CD-RW/DVD+R/DVD-R/DVD+RW/DVD-RW/DVD-RAM/BD/HD-DVD, including double layer mediums
- Create bootable discs
- Drag and drop files directly from any Windows Explorer window
- Burn on-the-fly and with buffer-underrun protections
- Create audio CD’s from MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC, and WMA files
- Gapless audio CD’s supported (disc-at-once-mode)
- Burn ISO files to CD
- Create your own ISO files
- Convert BIN and NRG files to ISO
I think you’ll be happy no matter which of the two applications you decide to go with. Both of them offer exceptional features for the price… FREE! The best thing is that they are well updated and support a wide array of CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD burners. You’ve got nothing to lose by giving them a try.
If you’ve got a personal favorite burning application let us know in the comments below. We always enjoy checking out new programs.