If you are a regular dotTechies, chances are you have already read our review on best free CD/DVD/Blu-ray burning program for Windows  and have a burning program you like. However, if you are not happy with what you have currently or simply don’t have a good burner, then you may want to give StarBurn a try. It has one feature that you will not find in many burning programs: portability.
What is it and what does it do
StarBurn is a CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD burning program for Windows that can burn data CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays/HD-DVDs, audio CDs, and video DVDs. The best part? It has a portable version, something which is rare among burning programs.
Take note StarBurn has freeware and shareware versions. The freeware version has all the features of the shareware version except the shareware version has the ability to share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive over local network while the freeware version does not. Shareware version costs $4.99.
- Can burn data CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD (i.e. the type of CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD which you put files on)
- Can burn audio CD (i.e. the type of CD which can be played in any CD player, including your car)
- Can burn video DVD (i.e. the type of DVD that can be played in any DVD player)
- Can burn VCD and SVCD (i.e. video CDs; these types of CDs can only be played on devices that specifically support VCD/SVCD)
- Is able to burn ISO to CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD
- Can create an ISO copy of existing CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD
- Allows users the option to build/create an ISO out of files/folders
- Can copy audio CD contents to computer
- Has built-in converter to convert audio files to MP3/OGG/WAV/WMA
- Can burn bootable discs (but you must have and provide the boot image file — StarBurn won’t create it for you, only burn it for you)
- Can erase rewritable CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD
- Has the ability to mount ISO as a virtual drive (not available in portable version)
- Allows users to pick between disc file system (ISO9660 [Level 1, Level 2, 9660:1990], ISO9660 + Joliet extensions, or UDF)
- Has ability to simulate burning plus verify data after burning
- Can share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive over local network (paid shareware version only; not available in freeware and portable versions)
- Allows users to customize burn speed, if desired, plus the ability to use Optimal Power Calibration
- Allows users to modify burning mode (Track-At-Once, Disc-At-Once, Session-At-Once), if desired
- Supports all types of CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD discs: CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, BD-R/RE, HD-DVD-R/RW, DVD-RAM, double layer DVD+R, and dual layer DVD-R
- Works well
- $4.99 is a very reasonable price for shareware version of StarBurn
- The advanced features — such as selecting file system, changing burn speed, and modifying burning mode — can confuse the average user that doesn’t understand what those settings are. It would be better if these are some sort of mode that allowed only expert users to see these customizations. For what it is worth, if you don’t understand the advanced settings, just leave them at default settings.
- Can burn video DVDs but will not author them. The difference between burning and authoring is, burning requires the files to be in DVD format (i.e. in DVD-Folder format, Video_TS and Audio_TS VOBs) while authoring will convert any video format to the required DVD format and burn to video DVD. StarBurn will burn video DVDs but it will not author DVDs, meaning you need videos in DVD format before you can use StarBurn to create a video DVD. See DVDFlick  or WinX DVD Author  if you want DVD authoring programs.
- Portable version does not have the ability to mount ISO nor to share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD over local network. (Portable version has all other features.)
- All disc image related features (i.e. creating ISO, burning ISO, and mounting ISO) support ISO disc images only — no other disc image format is supported
- By default, is set to minimize to your system tray when you X out the program. This is very annoying because most people are likely to think they closed StarBurn when instead it is running in the background, something that a burning program does not need to do. You can change this behavior via settings.
- Portable version of StarBurn must be “installed” to a folder on your computer or removable drive. Once installed, you can copy + paste the folder and its contents wherever you want. I’d prefer a more traditional type of portable program that simply runs when you double-click the executable, although the end result is the same thing (a portable program) — it is just a matter of convenience.
- Is not able to bypass DRM protection. So don’t expect to be able to copy DRM-protected audio CDs or create ISOs out of DRM-protection CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays/HD-DVDs.
- Can’t do DVD-9 to DVD-5 conversions
There are dozens (hundreds?) of burning program for Windows and most of them do pretty much the same thing: allow you to burn data discs, audio CDs, and video DVDs while some also support burning/creation of ISOs. In that regard, StarBurn really is no different — it offers you the same features that you would find in most other burning programs. However, there are three things that set StarBurn apart from the competition: portability, advanced controls, and the ability to share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive over network.
Yes, you heard that right — StarBurn has a portable version. Granted the portable version is a bit annoying to get to; you must “install” it to a folder on your computer or removable drive. However, once you do that, you have a fully portable version that you can use on your computer or take with you on the go on a USB flash drive. Portability is hard (but not impossible) to find among burning programs, so the fact that StarBurn has it is a huge plus. To top it off, the portable version of StarBurn as all the features of the installer versions except for the ability to mount ISOs and share drives over network.
The other feature that makes StarBurn stand out is the fact that it gives users the ability to select disc file system ISO9660 [Level 1, Level 2, 9660:1990], ISO9660 + Joliet extensions, or UDF), select between burning modes (Track-At-Once, Disc-At-Once, Session-At-Once), and allows users to customize burn speed. This is a double-edged sword in the sense that the average Joe may be confused what these settings are and which option to pick (in which case I recommend just leaving the settings at default because default settings work for pretty much all situations), but this also helps StarBurn differentiate itself from rival software because most other software don’t provide this amount of control.
The last unique feature of StarBurn worth noting is the ability to share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive over local network. This is not just being able to read/view disc in CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive, something you can setup in Windows without a third party program. This is allowing people on your local network to burn with CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive. Unfortunately, this feature is not available in the freeware or portable versions; it is only available in the shareware version which must be installed. Fortunately, the shareware version only costs $4.99 which is a small price to pay if you need this feature.
Conclusion and download link
Overall, StarBurn is a very good burning program. It offers all the features one would expect in a burning program in Windows plus has some aspects that make it stand out above the crowd, notably the portable version.
That said, if you are happy with your current burning solution then there is no need to get StarBurn. In today’s world, disc burning is a science not an art, and all burning programs pretty much offer the same basic functionality; StarBurn is no exception — most of what StarBurn offers can be found elsewhere. However, if you are in the market for a good CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD burning solution, then StarBurn is an excellent choice — highly recommended. Or if you are in need of a portable burning program or would like the ability to share CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive over local network, then it is a no brainier — grab StarBurn.
Price: Free, $4.99
Version reviewed: 14.1
Supported OS: Windows XP and higher
Download size: 19.6MB (installer), 13.8MB (portable)
Is it portable? Yes