Why Buy Blu-ray Burning Software?
Editor's Note: Some of the products reviewed here allow you to circumvent copy encryptions contained on commercial discs, an act that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) forbids, even for personal use. Top Ten Reviews does not endorse piracy or any other illegal activity. Some consumer advocates are actively seeking exceptions to the act's provision for personal use of copyrighted material purchased by consumers. There's no evidence that any consumer has been prosecuted or sued for circumventing copy protections for personal use.
The top performers in our review are Blue-Cloner 6, the Gold Award winner; Leawo Blu-ray Copy, the Silver Award winner; and CloneBD Blu-ray Copy, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 applications.
Watching a Blu-ray movie on a large, high-definition television is the closest you can come to achieving a movie-theater experience in your home. The quality of the picture and sound from a Blu-ray disc is simply unmatched by any other form of home entertainment.
Even popular streaming and download services can't match what Blu-ray offers. When you watch a high-definition movie on Netflix, you're at the mercy of your internet connection. Streams often have to buffer, or switch to a lower resolution, to keep the show going. This is not the case with Blu-ray. Since it's stored on physical media, you'll never run into the pixelation or streaming glitches that often happen when you're reliant on an internet connection.
But that doesn't mean Blu-ray discs are perfect. They're more expensive than other home-media options, and they're susceptible to breakage and loss. If you have a large collection of Blu-rays, consider using Blu-ray burning software to back them up so you don't have to buy them again if you lose access to the original discs.
How It Works
Every Blu-ray disc contains what is known as an ISO file. This is a type of disc image that essentially serves as the blueprint for a Blu-ray movie. It contains everything a disc needs to work in a Blu-ray player or drive. Movies, menus, audio tracks, special features and more are all contained in a disc's ISO file.
Blu-ray burning software extracts this file from your disc and saves it to your computer's hard drive. It then burns that file onto a blank disc, creating an exact copy that is identical to the original. These new discs should work in whatever Blu-ray player you happen to own.
In order to burn new copies of your Blu-ray movies, you'll need to invest in both a Blu-ray burner and a spindle of blank discs. The built-in optical drives that come with most computers don't have the ability to play, read or burn Blu-ray discs.
Additionally, Blu-ray files are massive – ranging anywhere from 25 to 100GB. Storing them on your computer's hard drive will fill it up very quickly. If you want to archive your entire Blu-ray collection, you'd be best served to buy an external hard drive with several terabytes of storage capacity. All this equipment can get expensive, but it's worth the investment if you want to have access to the movies you've paid for. Consult our articles about Blu-ray burning software to help you make an informed decision.
Key Attributes of the Best Blu-ray Burning Software Applications
When we evaluated Blu-ray burning software, we used the following criteria to determine which application is the best:
The most important feature of any Blu-ray burning application is its ability to make new copies of existing discs. This is often a technical process – the best Blu-ray burners make this process as simple as possible. Anyone should be able to learn and use Blu-ray burning software easily, regardless of their computer skill level.
Before any Blu-ray burner can begin the copy process, it must first overcome the anti-piracy protections found on nearly every commercial disc. The majority of the products on our lineup have this ability. If a program cannot decrypt commercial discs, its usefulness is limited to homemade and unprotected Blu-ray discs.
In addition to making disc-to-disc copies, the best burning software should also extract a Blu-ray’s disc image and save it to your computer. Once there, you can use it to burn unlimited copies of your movies without needing the original disc. This is a great timesaver if you want to make multiple copies of your movies.
Each application on our side-by-side comparison chart can make an exact replica of a Blu-ray movie. This means you can use any product on our lineup to burn a new copy of your Blu-ray movies with no quality loss.
There are three sizes of blank Blu-ray discs you can purchase: 25GB, 50GB and 100GB. The higher the capacity, the more expensive they become. The best Blu-ray burner programs compress larger commercial discs to fit onto blank, smaller capacity discs. Keep in mind that compressing a movie results in a loss of video quality when compared to the original.
Making an exact copy of a Blu-ray movie is a great tool, but there will be times that you simply don't want to burn everything onto a disc. The best Blu-ray burner software applications allow you to customize your new disc so that it only copies the content you want.
For example, you may only want to back up the feature presentation. The best Blu-ray burners have a "Movie Only" option that automatically strips away all menus, special features, audio tracks from the disc. This can save space both on your hard drive and blank Blu-ray discs.
Some programs even give you the ability to split the content from a Blu-ray disc onto two separate blank discs. This is a good option if you want to back up all the content on a Blu-ray disc but don't have the more-expensive blank discs to make an exact copy.
Help & Support
The products on our side-by-side comparison chart are all relatively easy to use. But there may be times that you need help with a technical or customer support issue.
The foremost important resource a manufacturer of Blu-ray burning software can offer is a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page or a knowledgebase on their official website. Common questions and technical issues can most likely be solved by consulting these resources.
The manufacturers of the best Blu-ray burning software also offer other avenues to get help if you have a problem that can't be resolved by consulting the FAQs. Options include emailing the company through a ticket system on their website; some offer live chat where you can talk to a representative almost immediately. Some companies even allow you to submit questions via their social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook. The best companies respond within 24 to 48 hours.
Blu-ray Burning Software: What We Tested, What We Found
During our evaluation of the best Blu-ray burning software, we subjected each application on our lineup to a battery of tests to determine how they ranked on our side-by-side comparison chart.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of the average consumer. We purchased each of the applications that we reviewed. The software publishers had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. The results of our evaluations were not provided to manufacturers in advance of publication.
Creating high-quality copies of your movies is the primary function of Blu-ray burner software. We tested each product on our lineup, burning test copies of multiple Blu-ray discs. We asked video experts to then watch each burned disc and search for video and audio degradation compared to the original.
Each Blu-ray burner in our review can burn an exact 1:1 copy of a Blu-ray movie. When our video experts reviewed the newly burned movies, they were unable to detect any quality degradation. No matter what product you choose, you can burn copies that are indistinguishable from the source disc – so long, of course, as you have the right size blank Blu-ray disc.
However, buying the large, blank Blu-ray discs needed to make a perfect copy can get expensive. The best Blu-ray burner software applications should offer a way to compress the content of a commercial Blu-ray movie to fit onto a less-expensive but smaller-capacity blank disc or even onto a DVD.
We burned multiple Blu-ray discs and DVDs using the various compression options. Since compression almost always causes quality loss, our video experts noted that while the new discs lost some of the high-quality Blu-ray goodness of the original, the compression was surprisingly good. Pixelation, motion blur, interlacing and other quality issues were minimal. Even the DVD compression copies were as good as or better than their store-bought counterparts.
Because Blu-ray files are large (25 to 100GB), burning new copies can be a time-consuming process. If you're performing a disc-to-disc copy, expect to spend at least three hours before the process is complete.
If you're going to make multiple copies of a Blu-ray movie, we recommend you extract the ISO file to your computer and burn new copies from that. Doing this instead of individual disc-to-disc copies will save you hours of waiting time.
We timed how long it took each application to burn a new disc using an extracted disc image on our test computer. We found that the average time to make an exact copy of a Blu-ray disc is about 45 minutes. Compressing a copy takes a bit longer, especially if you're compressing it onto a blank Blu-ray disc.
In our tests, we found it can take up to 13 hours to compress a 50GB commercial Blu-ray movie onto a 25GB blank disc. This is because the program must examine a 50GB disc image, compress it to 25GB, write a new ISO file and burn it to the new disc. We found this was true regardless of whether we were burning a disc image or performing a disc-to-disc copy.
Burning new copies of your Blu-ray movies can seem like a technical and confusing task. The best Blu-ray burning programs simplify the process so that it's accessible to anyone, regardless of their computer skill level.
We evaluated the interface and workflow of every Blu-ray burner on our lineup. We found that they were generally easy to use. Some are intended for more technically minded users; some users will experience a slight learning curve with these programs, but it's nothing they won't be able to figure out after attempting a burn or two. The programs that ranked in the top tier of our review removed all the guesswork and are simple enough that the casual user should have no problems burning new discs – even the first time around.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
When we completed our evaluation, we found that the following Blu-ray burning programs are the best you can buy:
Blue-Cloner 6: Our Gold Award winner is the Blu-ray counterpart to Open Cloner’s DVD Cloner. And it operates on all the same principals. This program has two modes: Express and Expert. Express mode allows you to begin the burning process with as little as one click of your mouse. Expert Mode is where you can access the program's customization features. It is the only program on our lineup that compresses large commercial Blu-rays to fit onto smaller-capacity blank discs and even DVDs.
Leawo Blu-ray Copy: This program, our Silver Award winner, is arguably the easiest to use of all the programs on our product lineup. Its simple interface removes the guesswork associated with Blu-ray burning. While it doesn't give you the option to compress Blu-ray movies, it does allow you to make a "Movie-Only" copy of your disc. However, this is of limited use if the main movie file is too big to fit onto a smaller-capacity Blu-ray disc.
CloneBD Blu-ray Copy: Our Bronze Award winner is nearly identical to Leawo Blu-ray Copy. Only a color-palate swap separates the two applications. Functionally, they're the same software. But CloneBD Blu-ray Copy is a module in a larger suite of Blu-ray and DVD tools. You can buy the module on its own, but the full suite comes with disc-authoring and video-downloader tools.
Burning backup copies and archiving your Blu-ray movie collection is an excellent idea. However, it can get expensive and is often time consuming. However, if you want access to the movies you've paid for, it's worth the investment of both your money and time.