Keep your data safe DVD burning

Copying data to disc is also called burning or writing. Many computers will already have a built-in drive that’s capable of writing data to a disc.

However, you may find that although you can write CDs, you can’t write DVDs. In this case, it’s easy to add an external DVD burner. If you’re not sure whether your PC can burn DVDs, start by looking at the front panel of the drive, where it should display what kind of discs it can support, such as DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R and DVD-RW.

‘R’ discs can be written on only once. If you make a mistake, you can’t write to them again. This is handy if you want to make sure you don’t delete your data accidentally. ‘RW’ discs are rewriteable, so you can erase all the data and start again.

DVD burning software

Most DVD burners come with some software. Usually, it’s a cut-down version of a commercial package – the manufacturers hope you’ll be tempted to buy the full version. This software is often quite good, and may be all you need. If you’re using Windows Vista, you may already have the capability you need built into your operating system.

When you buy a new DVD burner, the chances are there’ll be some software bundled with it. This is usually a cut-down version of a full-price product – the software manufacturers are hoping you’ll be so impressed you’ll spend your money on a full version. If all you want to do is transfer files to disc, the software that comes bundled with your DVD burner should be fine for your needs. It’s also worth checking what’s included with your operating system.

The full-price products from the manufacturers aim to offer you more features and capabilities than the bundled software, and can be a good upgrade option for more advanced users. These can include all sorts of extra features, such as image editing or label printing. Some of them offer a free trial, and you’ll be able to download the software directly from the manufacturer’s website.

Free software

If you need some software but don’t want to part with any money, then you’ll find software that you can download free of charge. It may not be as fancy as the full-price products, but you’ll be able to do the basics. You can find out which free backup software came out on top in our reviews section.

Finally, if you’re using Windows Vista, you may already have everything you need. The exact capability varies depending on the version of Vista you’re using, but Vista Home Premium, for example, has built-in support for writing data or video to DVD.