Streaming may be the most convenient way to watch most movies, but it doesn’t hurt to have a physical copy of your movies or home videos as a backup. If you want to back up your movie collection, or just rip a bootable DVD of your videos, this is super easy – and free. Here’s how to burn videos to a bootable disc on Windows and macOS.
What will you need
There are only a few programs that you will need to burn a video file to DVD. Here’s a brief word of caution before we get started:
Downloads from unofficial or third-party sources are more likely to infect Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) or malware than direct downloads from software developers. The programs in this tutorial are no exception. As of August 2022, the official software downloads in this tutorial are malware and PUP-free, so be sure to download everything from the official source.
To burn your videos to DVD, you’ll need a few things to get started:
- DVD burner drive: Most computers that come with any type of optical drive will probably be able to burn DVDs, but if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to purchase a DVD burner. Internal DVD drives can cost as little as $20, and external burners are usually only another $5-10.
- Blank DVD: Blank DVD discs are very cheap, and even cheaper per disc per spindle. You will see two types of blank discs: DVD+R and DVD-R. These two formats are almost identical and almost every drive sold today supports both, so it probably doesn’t matter which drive you get. However, if you have an old DVD burner, check to see if it supports DVD+R or DVD-R. If it only supports one, not the other, buy DVDs that are compatible with your drive. Plus, you can buy what’s known as a double layer disc if your movies are really big. Single-layer disks can store 4.7 GB, and double-layer disks can store 8.5 GB. If you can get rid of a single layer, we recommend using it because dual layer discs can sometimes create problems during the burning process, but both should work. Again, make sure your DVD drive supports dual layer burning before purchasing these discs.
- Video to burn it: Whether it’s your own home movies, or a movie you pulled from your own collection, you’ll need a video file (or multiple videos) to burn to your disc. The total size of all videos you place on the disk must be no more than 4.7 GB (single-layer discs) or 8.5 GB (for dual-layer discs).
- DVD Flick and ImgBurn (Windows): You’ll need two tools to burn your discs on Windows, but fortunately, both are free. DVD Flick converts your videos to the appropriate format and creates playable lists, then passes the converted video to ImgBurn (warning: Before downloading ImgBurn, read the following paragraphs for instructions) to burn it to disc. Go ahead and download it now before you start.
warning: The ImgBurn download page has several links that will install PUPs on your system if you are not careful. For example, the first inverted link, Digital Digest, hides the actual download in a small text link, but contains many overt (and fake) download links right on the page. You need to be careful any time you see a lot of download buttons all over the page.
We recommend using ImgBurn Mirror. At the time of writing, this is the seventh mirror, although that may change over time, so be sure to double-check that the link you’re using says “Supplied by ImgBurn”.
- Burn (macOS): Burn is another free macOS app that you can use to burn your DVDs. This can convert your videos to the appropriate format, create a simple menu, and burn them to disc all in one handy package. Download the app now and scroll down to the Mac section for instructions on how to use it.
Once you have everything you need, go to the platform section to start copying.
Windows: Burn videos to DVD with DVD Flick
The simplest option we found on Windows is a free app called DVD Flick. This application can convert a lot of popular video files into playable video format, and add a basic list. You can also add multiple tracks to a single disc and choose which track you want to play using the DVD remote control. It will then pass this converted video to ImgBurn for burning to disc. As long as you have both apps installed, you can start DVD Flick and ImgBurn will launch automatically when needed.
To get started, open DVD Flick and click on “Add title.”
Choose the video file you want to burn to a disc. DVD Flick supports a large number of video and audio formats and containers. You can see the full list here if you want to make sure your file is compatible.
Before DVD Flick can burn video to a disc, it must be converted to the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folder structure that DVD discs use. You will need up to 8.5 GB of space (depending on the size of the video file and the discs you are burning to) on your hard drive to store the converted files. In the lower right corner of the window, click Browse to choose a place (temporarily) to store your converted video files.
Next, click on Project Settings to tweak some important video settings.
On the General tab, name your disk. Next, click on the drop-down menu next to “Target size” and choose the size of the disk you want to burn to.
On the Video tab, make sure that Target format is set to NTSC (for playback on DVD players distributed in North America) or PAL (for DVD players in Europe and Asia). You can also adjust the encoder or bitrate options here if you want to edit your video, but for most users this won’t be necessary.
Finally, on the Burn tab, check the box marked “Burn project to disk.” You can name your disc, which will appear if you insert a DVD into your computer. You can also choose the speed at which you want to burn the DVD. While you can use a higher speed if your drive is capable, 4-6x faster is recommended, as it reduces the chance that you will get a fatal error and have to start over. If you want to be extra careful, select “Verify disk after burning.” This will perform a series of checks to make sure the disc is working properly after the burn is finished.
When finished, click Accept.
Then, you can modify the DVD menu that DVD Flick will add. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it’s a nice move to customize and give yourself a basic menu like those from store-bought DVDs. To change it, click on the Settings menu.
On this screen, you will see a small selection of DVD menus to choose from. It’s not one of the world’s finest, but the default menu isn’t one at all, which will start playing videos on your disc right away. If you prefer the option to hit Play — or if you’re burning multiple video files to a single disc and want to choose which one you want to play — choose the menu style you want and click Accept.
Once you’re ready, click Create DVD to start the conversion process. A window will appear telling you that the project will be burned to a disc once the conversion is complete. Click OK.” This process will take some time, so take a break, but be sure to keep an eye on your computer, because you’ll need to confirm two boxes once ImgBurn launches.
After DVD Flick has finished converting the video and adding menus, ImgBurn should open automatically. You will be asked to confirm two options. First, ImgBurn will ask you to confirm your DVD label. If you don’t respond to this box within 30 seconds, ImgBurn will use the default label.
Next, ImgBurn will show you a summary of what will be burned to the disc and a full set of technical details. There’s nothing to decide here, so it’s a little annoying that ImgBurn doesn’t use a timer for this either, but as it is, you still need to click OK to confirm. Just make sure you are near your computer to confirm this little box when it pops up to start the copy step.
ImgBurn will take some time to finish your video, then a box will appear that reads “Process completed successfully!” The DVD drive may also eject the disc when finished, so make sure the drive is clear of obstructions.
Put the disc in any DVD player and you will see the menu you chose on the screen. Click Play/Resume to start your movie.
DVD Flick creates a very basic menu, but your video should play on any NTSC-compatible (or PAL-compatible, if you choose) DVD player.
Mac: Burn videos to DVD using Burn
Burning a video DVD on a Mac is a bit easier than burning it on Windows. You only need one app, aptly named Burn, which you can download here.
Once installed, open the app and click on the video tab at the top.
At the top of the window, name your disc and choose “DVD-Video” from the dropdown menu on the right.
At the bottom of the window, click the plus button to add a video file to your project.
In the pop-up window, choose the movie you want to rip and click Open. Burn is built on several open source conversion tools such as ffmpeg and spomox so it should handle most of the popular video formats.
Technically, DVDs should be in the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folder format. It’s possible that your videos aren’t already in this format, so Burn will offer to convert them for you. Click Convert to start the process. You will be asked to choose somewhere on your hard drive to store your video files (temporarily). Make sure you have enough space on your computer and choose a location where you can easily find it later.
Copy will show you a progress bar during the conversion process. Eat a snack, this may take some time. Once you’re done, you can burn your video to a disc.
Once the conversion is finished, your movie will appear in the list of files to burn. You can also see the file size here, which will guide you which type of disk you need. Remember that single-layer DVDs have a maximum of 4.7GB, but dual-layer DVDs can store up to 8.5GB. When you’re ready, put a blank disc in the drive and click Burn.
In the window that appears, you can choose the drive you want to burn to and the speed at which you want to burn it. While you can customize the speed, it is best to use the recommended settings. Assuming your drive can handle it, you may be able to burn it faster, but this can increase your chances of getting a fatal failure, forcing you to restart the entire burning process. Just to be safe, stick to the recommended default settings and click Copy.
Once you have finished burning, move the disc to any DVD player, and you will see a very simplified menu. Click the track you want to watch to play the movie.
As you can see, the list is not perfect. Both times we tested it, the highlights on the buttons didn’t line up correctly, but it’s easy to figure out how to click Start to play the movie. Other than that, the movie plays just like any other DVD you buy from the store.
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