Who knows the difference between burning DVDs and authoring DVDs? Burning DVDs consists of two things; you can either burn a data DVD (i.e. you put files, movies, music, etc. onto a DVD and it is only viewable on your computer — like a USB drive) or you can burn a movie DVD. The catch with burning movie DVDs is the movies you are burning to DVD must already be in DVD compliant format (i.e. DVD folders or .VOB) and burning movie DVDs does not allow you to have DVD menus. If you burn a non-DVD format video onto a DVD with a DVD burning program, the DVD you create won’t be a movie DVD — it won’t be able to be played on most DVD players. Rather, you will be creating a data DVD that is only viewable on your computer.
Authoring DVDs, on the other hand, allows you to create a movie DVD (a DVD playable in any DVD player) from any video format (AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, VOB, etc.). DVD authoring programs convert videos into DVD compliant format and then burn them to DVD to create a movie DVD that is playable on any DVD player; DVD authoring programs also create DVD menus, with most even allowing you to customize that menu.
DVD burning programs are a lot more popular than DVD authoring programs. In fact, the programs featured in dotTech’s review on best free CD/DVD/Blu-ray burning program for Windows are all DVD burning programs, not DVD authoring programs. So we decided it is time for us to research, review, find, and list the best free DVD authoring programs for Windows. Interested? Read on!
Table of Contents [WinX DVD Author vs AVStoDVD vs DVDStyler vs DVD Flick]
- Best Free DVD Authoring Program
- Runner Up
- Honorable Mention 1
- Honorable Mention 2
- Honorable Mention 3
- Other Alternatives
Program Name: WinX DVD Author
Developer: Digiarty Software
Download Size: 10.6MB
Version Reviewed: 6.2.4 Build 20130118
Supported OS: Windows 98/NT/2000/2003/XP/Vista/Win 7/Win8
- Allows users to create movie DVDs (aka DVDs that can be played on any DVD player) from almost any video format: VOB, MKV, M2TS, M4V, AVI, ASF, MP4, MPEG, MOD, MOV, WMV, FLV, RM, RMVB, Xivd, DviX, H264, 3GP, OGG, and QT
- You can include multiple different videos in one DVD; you are not restricted to creating one DVD out of one video only
- Will burn to DVD disc from within the program; you don’t need a third-party program to do the burning
- Creates DVD menu for DVDs (including title menu chapter menu), allowing users to customize: background image, buttons, background audio, and background text
- Can create NTSC and PAL DVDs
- Can create DVD-5 and DVD-9 DVDs
- Allows users to pick if they want 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, and automatically adds letterbox for input videos of different ratio
- Input videos can be trimmed to only include a specific portion of video in DVD
- Allows users to add subtitles (SRT) for each input video
- When burning to DVD disc, allows users to pick if they want high video quality (slowest burning speed and largest size), normal video quality (medium burning speed and medium size), or lower video quality (fastest burning speed and smallest size)
- Has a standalone built-in video-to-VOB converter for those that want their videos in DVD compliant VOB format but don’t necessarily want to burn to disc
- Has a standalone built-in VOB-to-DVD-folder converter for those that want their DVDs to be in DVD folder with DVD menu but don’t necessarily want to burn to disc
- Has a built-in standalone DVD burner that burns DVD folder and VOB (i.e. files already in DVD compliant format) to DVD disc
- Note: This feature is intended for use with the video-to-VOB converter and VOB-to-DVD-folder converter. The idea is you can use this feature to burn to disc at a later date, if you wish, after using one of those two features
- Extremely easy to use
- Performs well; relatively fast and good output
- Is unable to output DVD as ISO
- Note: You can use freeware ImgBurn to create an ISO after creating DVD-folder, if you really want an ISO
- It would be nice to be able to do video-to-DVD-folder instead of having to do video-to-VOB and then VOB-to-DVD-folder if you want to have DVD folder output
- No ability to automatically shutdown computer after processing
- No 2-pass encode
- No offline help (although the program really doesn’t need it — it is very straightforward and easy to use)
- Has a built-in YouTube videos downloader. Some people may consider having a YouTube video downloader as a plus but this is a DVD authoring program, not a online streaming video downloader. A YouTube downloader is an extra feature that is not related to the core functionality of WinX DVD Author. While the dowonloader works just fine, it just adds unnecessary bulk to the program; users who want to download YouTube videos can easily use other programs intended for that purpose.
- Unable to resize program window
- No ability to add custom sound tracks to videos in DVDs
I came across Digiarty Software a few years back. Back then, they were a relatively unknown outfit with OK products; not too bad but not great either. Since then, however, Digiarty Software has matured and grown; if you ask me, their products are, simply put, the best in business. WinX DVD Author, one of the handful freewares offered by Digiarty Software, is no exception — it, too, is excellent.
All the DVD authoring programs featured in this review can create movie DVDs out of DVD and non-DVD video formats; after all, that is the whole point of this article. So WinX DVD Author’s ability to do that is not what makes it the best. Rather, out of all the free DVD authoring programs I tested to find the best, none come close to striking the extremely important balance of user-friendliness, customization, and good performance as much as WinX DVD Author. True, WinX DVD Author doesn’t provide deep customization options that you find in AVStoDVD (the runner up). But WinX DVD Author provides the customizations that the average Joe needs when creating a movie DVD (and, frankly speaking, understands — AVStoDVD has a lot of customizations but you really need to know what you are doing to use them) while still maintaining ease-of-use. Indeed, it only takes a few clicks to author a DVD with WinX DVD Author.
The best part? WinX DVD Author works very well; it is relatively fast with good outputs.
Really the only gripe I have with WinX DVD Author is the fact that it is unable to output DVDs as ISO. With WinX DVD Author, you can either burn directly to DVD disc or output as DVD folder by using the video-to-VOB and VOB-to-DVD-folder features. On the bright side, you can use another freeware — ImgBurn — to create an ISO after you output as DVD folder, if that is really important to you.
Overall, if you are looking to author DVDs then WinX DVD Author should be your first stop. Excellent program.
Program Name: AVStoDVD
Download Size: 40.6 MB (installer), 27.2 MB (portable)
Version Reviewed: 2.6.0
Supported OS: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Win7
If you are looking for a feature-filled DVD authoring program, look no further than AVStoDVD.
AVStoDVD is an open-source DVD authoring program that leverages the power of other free/open-source libraries and programs to provide a DVD authoring program jam-packed with features and customization options. AVStoDVD is able to create movie DVDs from pretty much all video formats (AVStoDVD uses FFmpeg, among other libraries, so it supports most, if not all, formats: MP4, AVI, WMV, FLV, MOV, VOB, MPEG,, MKV, etc.), allows you to include multiple videos in one DVD, and can burn to DVD disc, output as DVD folder, or output as DVD ISO.
Furthermore, DVD-5 and DVD-9 are supported; NTSC and PAL are supported; you can add subtitles; you can add custom audio; DVD menu is automatically created with you having the option to customize; 2-pass encode is supported; you can customize aspect ratio; you can customize bitrates; and more. Best of all, AVStoDVD has a portable version, can do 2-pass encode, plus supports batch processing: you can queue up multiple movie DVD creations and AVStoDVD will create them one after another.
The biggest problem with AVStoDVD is it has a poor user-interface and has so many customization/options, it isn’t very user-friendly. I’m not saying that the program is unusable; it is useable. I’m saying that it has a learning curve.
The other issue with AVStoDVD is it has four dependencies. You need to install AviSynth, Haali Media Splitter, and ffdshow; all three are freeware and come bundled with AVStoDVD installer, so you can easily install them if you don’t have them. (NOTE: Because of the common industry practice of bundling crapware with freeware, some people may think these three programs are unnecessary crapware and may decline installation of them. You need to install these three, so don’t decline the installation.) The other dependency is ImgBurn, which is also freeware; you need ImgBurn installed otherwise AVStoDVD is unable to burn to DVD disc or output as ISO; it can only output as DVD folder if you don’t have ImgBurn installed. ImgBurn does not come with AVStoDVD, you have to download it separately.
Overall, AVStoDVD has a learning curve but it is the most feature-filled and allows the highest amount of customization among all free DVD authoring programs I have used. It will take you a bit to learn how to use it, but it is a viable option for authoring DVDs.
Program Name: DVDStyler
Developer: Alex Thuring
Download Size: 22.4MB
Version Reviewed: 2.4.3
Supported OS: Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X
DVDStyler allows you to create movie DVDs from pretty much any video formats (AVI, MP4, WMV, VOB, FLV, MOV, MPEG, MKV, etc.), supports NTSC/PAL DVDs, DVD-5 and DVD-9, allows you to control 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, creates DVD menus, allows users to optionally control video/audio bitrate, and can burn to DVD disc or output as ISO or as DVD folder. All that and it is very easy to use; not as easy as WinX DVD Author, in my opinion, but still little to no learning curve.
The main attraction to DVDStyler is its ability to customize DVD menus. Out of all DVD authoring programs featured in this review, DVDStyler allows users to customize and modify DVD menus the most. From using different menu templates to modifying menu background (Note: adding your own image as a custom background cannot be done from within the program. You need to add the image you want to use to C:\Program Files\DVDStyler\backgrounds) to adding custom buttons, DVDStyler allows you full control over the DVD menu.
The biggest downfall to DVDStyler is the crapware it comes bundled with. While installing DVDStyler, I noticed it comes with two crapware. During installation, you need to specifically select ‘Custom Installation’ and uncheck the box for SweetPacks toolbar and click ‘Next’. You are then asked to confirm that you don’t want to install SweetPacks; the kicker is you are asked if you want to install SweetPacks, so if you click ‘OK’ at this window SweetPacks will be installed — you need to click ‘Cancel’. After that you need to uncheck another box to not install DefaultTab Search. So not only does it have crapware but it has multiple crapware with tricky methods to make you install the crapware. Ugh.
The other issue with DVDStyler is not something I personally faced but a not un-common complaint about DVDStyler. A good number of users have complained that DVDs created by DVDStyle play fine on computers but are “blocky” when played on DVD players and are unable to be played on Blu-rays. It isn’t entirely clear what is causing this, if this is a program bug or a user error.
Program Name: DVD Flick
Developer: Dennis Meuwissen
Download Size: 12.4MB
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Requires: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
Like all the previously mentioned programs, DVD Flick allows users to create movie DVDs from many video formats (MP4, AVI, WMV, VOB, MOV, MPEG, FLV, MKV, etc.), supports NTSC/PAL, 4:3/16:9 ratios, DVD menus, burn to DVD disc or output as ISO (using ImgBurn, which comes with the program — you don’t have to install it separately), etc.
DVD Flick has been a dotTech favorite for a long time, since we reviewed it back September 2009. Unfortunately, DVD Flick is seemingly no longer actively developed; its last update was in, well, 2009. In DVD Flick’s defense, the process of authoring DVDs has not changed too significantly since 2009, so the program still works today and doesn’t necessarily need updates. However, it is hard to recommend a program that hasn’t been updated in roughly four years when there are viable options that are being regularly updated. In fact, I have only included it in this review for comparative purposes.
On top of that, although I’ve never had an issue with it, various people have told me the audio and video on many DVDs created by DVD Flick are out of sync. Seeing as the program is no longer updated, I doubt this will every be fixed.