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What Is Disc Authoring Software and Why Would You Want It?

An uncapped felt marker and a blank optical disc.

The death of optical media has been declared several times throughout the years, yet the medium is still alive and well. While it’s true that computers don’t have optical drives anymore, and we’ve all moved on from Blu-rays to streaming, there are still plenty of good uses for those little discs.

What Is Disc Authoring Software?

Disc authoring software is any program that writes content to optical media like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Of course, in order to use any disc authoring program, you require two other components. You’ll need an optical disc burner and a collection of blank discs to write on.

What Can You Use Disc Authoring Software For?

Optical disc drive on a modern laptop computer.
Sinisa Botas/Shutterstock.com
  • Burn video to DVD or Blu-ray disc: This is the most obvious reason to invest in disc authoring software. The best programs not only write your video files to a disc for playback on a DVD or Blu-ray player but also enable you to craft things like menus, chapter breaks, special features, and all the other elements found in commercially produced discs.
  • Make a music CD: If you think that music CDs aren’t relevant to today’s multimedia streaming landscape, think again. In 2021 CD sales actually rose for the first time in two decades. So, there are still people out there using them. Plenty of CD players still exist, and they won’t die any time soon. Plus, a well-crafted playlist burned to a CD is an excellent personalized gift idea for any occasion.
  • Create a data disc: You can back up your data to a million places, and they can all be compromised somehow. Cloud data can get corrupted, passwords can get lost, and huge companies can go out of business. Furthermore, your external hard drive might be great, but it’s susceptible to breaking down and getting lost or stolen. A data backup of last resort should be the old fashion optical disc. So long as you have a working computer and an optical drive, your most critical data will always be accessible.

Key Features of Disc Authoring Software

A spindle of blank Blu-ray Discs, an external optical disc burner, and a MacBook Pro sit on a desk.
Danny Chadwick/Review Geek

Of course, not all disc authoring programs are created equally. The best products have the following abilities:

  • Burn CD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs: Make sure to pick a program that works with all the blank optical discs available.
  • Menu builder: If you’re going to be burning videos to a disc, give it the Hollywood treatment.
  • Create ISO: An ISO file is a disc image, which basically means the blueprints for a DVD or Blu-ray disc. Once you have an ISO file for a disc, you can use it the same way you would a physical disc in player software. Plus, if you have it archived, you can always create a brand-new copy if the original gets lost or damaged.
  • Editing tools: If the footage you want to burn to a DVD or Blu-ray disc isn’t in its final form, make sure you get a program that has at least some basic video and audio editing capabilities.
  • Media library: Building your new disc from scratch is hard, especially when you don’t have all the elements to make it shine. Before you buy, make sure the product you’re looking at has a library of video and audio files to help you make it just right.
  • File converter: While this isn’t strictly necessary to create new discs, it’s a handy feature to have if you’re going through your files and realize you need a video to be in MP4 rather than MOV.
  • Encryption: When backing up your sensitive data to a disc, you absolutely want to make sure it stays secure. If not, anyone that finds your backup discs can access everything on them. 256-bit encryption makes that impossible.
  • Disc copy: You’ve spent a lot of money on your DVD and Blu-ray collection. But those discs can get damaged, lost, or stolen as easily as anything else in the real world. Having a backup copy of your favorite movies and shows is a great idea. Just make sure you don’t run afoul of copyright law.
  • Disc ripping: Suppose you have content on a Blu-ray disc that you want as its own file or to burn onto another disc. Some of the best disc authoring programs allow you to rip that content and convert it into its own file you can use independently of the disc.

What You Need For Disc Authoring

A spindle of DVDs surrounded by empty jewel cases.
Critical Labz/Shutterstock.com

While optical media may seem like retro-tech today, it can still play a critical role in our lives. Here are the things you need besides the software and your computer to take advantage of it.

  • Optical disc drive: Since most new computers don’t come with optical drives anymore, you’ll need to buy one yourself. Make sure you get one that can burn to everything, including Blu-ray discs. However, keep in mind that some are made internal SATA use, while others connect externally via USB.
  • Blank discs: Believe it or not, blank CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs are still big business. And they come in storage capacities of up to 100GB.
  • Jewel cases: If you plan to hand out audio CDs of your self-produced songs, or DVDs/Blu-rays of your family’s trip to France, you’ll need something to hold them in. A sturdy jewel case is an absolute necessity to protect those discs once they leave your hands.
  • Markers: No burned disc would be complete without a hand-written title on the front made with a sharpie.
  • Organizational disc book: For the archivists among us, an old-fashion disc book is a must. Whether you’re backing up your movie library or building a disc-centric data archive, the more physical space you have for those plastic discs, the better. Plus, a good disc book helps you keep all your new CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays in one place.

Which Disc Authoring Software Should You Use?

There are plenty of excellent disc authoring programs out there. Here are some of our top picks:

  • CyberLink Power2Go: The ultimate disc authoring program. It burns every type of disc in any format you want. Plus, it has all the extra bells and whistles like file converters and disc builders that you need in a burner program.
  • Roxio Creator NXT Pro: This isn’t just disc authoring software. It’s a complete multimedia production suite of programs. Creator NXT Pro enables you to do everything from importing and sorting your media to editing your videos through burning completed projects onto a Blu-ray disc.
  • NCH Express Burn: This great disc burner allows you to create any type of CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc. And there’s a free version available for home use. Express Burn is part of NCH’s larger media production software suite — which is also free for home use.

CyberLink Power2Go 13

Burn any type of optical disc and more with this disc-authoring software.

Roxio Creator NXT Pro 9?|?Multimedia Suite + Photo Editor and CD/DVD Disc Burning Software [PC Download]

Roxio Creator NXT gives you complete control over your CD, DVD, or Blu-ray media project.

NCH Software Express Burn

Create audio, data, and video discs at home for free with Express Burn.

Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »