As part of my backup process I record my photos on DVDs. I don't like simplified consumer version of Nero software that came with my DVD writer, so I tried some free tools. I tried several of them which I didn't like - some for uncomfortable interface (e.g. many clicks needed to add a folder to a disk); some failed during recording (which I wouldn't expect to happen at all these days with mature technology). Finally I chosen imgburn that I prefer over the others: http://www.imgburn.com - reasonable interface; some advanced features, and good reliability.
The other tool that I use often is FTP client. Again I tried several options and for the last year I use Filezilla: http://filezilla-project.org, which I know also recommended by many other users.