The ability to burn both data and audio CDs has been around for a couple of decades now. In fact, you can find most of the tools to burn or copy CDs either in your computer's operating system or in free programs. If you're only looking to burn an audio CD of your favorite songs, you probably don't need to pay for CD burning software.
Probably the best free option for burning audio CDs is Apple's iTunes. It's available for both Windows and Macintosh machines. All you have to do is make a playlist of the songs you want (blank CDs hold about 80 minutes' worth of songs) to burn then select "Burn Playlist to Disc." Within a few minutes you'll have a brand new CD with your tunes that works in any CD player. There are other free programs you can find with a simple Google search, but none are as intuitive as iTunes.
If you're looking to burn a data CD you don't even need to download any software. Your computer comes pre-loaded with this ability. When you insert a blank CD into a Windows device, the option to burn a data disc automatically pops up. All you have to do is pick the files and folders you want to burn onto a disc. Alternatively, you can right-click on a folder and you'll be presented the option to burn the files. Either way, you don't need to pay for software to accomplish this task.
One thing to be aware of with CD burning software is that many computers are moving away from optical drives, which means that most new computers don't come with a slot or drive you can insert a CD into. If you have a computer like this, you'll have to spend some extra cash to buy an external disc burner. If you choose this option, it's probably best to get a burner that can burn DVDs and Blu-rays as well, since that will give you much more value for your money.
You don't need to pay for CD burning software to make simple audio or data discs. However, paid CD burner applications offer far more than their free counterparts. If you want to burn, copy or build custom CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs, check out our review of the best CD burning software applications.