Monday, March 31, 2008

Freeware Appreciation Day: ImgBurn

Summary: ImgBurn can burn CDs and DVDs better than most burners and it won't waste much of your system resources.

This month, my Freeware Appreciation Day's contribution goes to ImgBurn.

Before switching to ImgBurn, I have been using Nero. In the beginning, I really liked Nero, but starting with version 6, it turned into a pile of bloatware, which was harder and harder to use. After getting fed up with frustration, I gave up on Nero and decided to try several freeware alternatives. [The last license of Nero I bought was Nero 7 Ultra Edition, although after reading user comments, I re-sold it without opening the box.] Out of all programs I tested, ImgBurn proved to be the most reliable.

Here are the main reasons why I like and recommend ImgBurn:
  • ImgBurn is narrowly focused.
    It does not attempt to solve every possible CD/DVD-related problem, but when it comes to ripping disk images (such as ISO files) from disks or burning disks from disk images, it performs the job better than most (on many occasions, I was able to burn disks using ImgBurn after other applications had failed).
  • ImgBurn is lightweight.
    It takes little system resources and does not use any memory-resident processes, such as Nero's InCD, which has a nasty tendency to hog CPU even if Nero is not running. When I need to burn a disk, I just start ImgBurn, and when done, close the program.
  • ImgBurn is flexible.
    You can adjust many burn settings, such as burning speed. For novices like me, the number of available options can be overwhelming, but the default settings should work fine for most users.
  • ImgBurn has a simple and intuitive interface.
    Just remember to use the Read mode to rip disks to image files and Write mode to burn image files to disks. Everything else should be obvious.
  • ImgBurn comes from the maker(s) of DVD Decrypter.
    If you are familiar DVD Decrypter, you will notice the similarities between the two programs. Unfortunatley, Macrovision Europe has bought DVD Decrypter, but you can enjoy many of its features in ImgBurn. (Note: Keep in mind that ImgBurn cannot remove DVD region code or Macrovision copy protection.)

As any software, ImgBurn is not perfect. It can occasionally crash or freeze, but it's no worse, and in most cases better, than other programs I tried including the already mentioned Nero Ultimate, as well as Roxio Creator Basic 9 (which came with my hardware), Ashampoo Burning Studio Free, and InfraRecorder. And I suspect that you will get faster response from the ImgBurn author(s) (if you run into issues) than from their commercial counterparts (I, for one, never heard back from Nero after reporting bugs or asking questions). To see what ImgBurn users say about the product, check the support forum.

Additional references:
How to Rip DVDs with ImgBurn
Turn Your PC into a DVD Ripping Monster

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