A program that supports using the computer, an application or a development environment. Also called "utilities," utility software is programmed like any other software, except that it plays a supporting role. Usually relatively small programs, they typically perform a limited number of tasks.
Utility programs include file management (creating, moving and renaming folders, copying and deleting files), file search, comparing file contents as well as performing diagnostic routines to check the performance and current health of the hardware.
Utilities that support a development environment can perform myriad tasks. For example, at the end of each update cycle of this encyclopedia, custom-programmed utilities are run that make sure all "See this term" references and all picture references are valid.
Utility software is system software designed to help analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer. A single piece of utility software is usually called a utility or tool.
Utility software usually focuses on how the computer infrastructure (including the computer hardware, operating system, application software and data storage) operates. Due to this focus, utilities are often rather technical and targeted at people with an advanced level of computer knowledge - in contrast to application software, which allows users to do things like creating text documents, playing games, listening to music or viewing websites.
Utility software categories
- Anti-virus utilities scan for computer viruses.
- Backup utilities can make a copy of all information stored on a disk, and restore either the entire disk (e.g. in an event of disk failure) or selected files (e.g. in an event of accidental deletion).
- Data compression utilities output a shorter stream or a smaller file when provided with a stream or file.
- Disk checkers can scan operating hard drive.
- Disk cleaners can find files that are unnecessary to computer operation, or take up considerable amounts of space. Disk cleaner helps the user to decide what to delete when their hard disk is full.
- Disk compression utilities can transparently compress/uncompress the contents of a disk, increasing the capacity of the disk.
- Disk defragmenters can detect computer files whose contents are broken across several locations on the hard disk, and move the fragments to one location to increase efficiency.
- Disk partitions can divide an individual drive into multiple logical drives, each with its own file system which can be mounted by the operating system and treated as an individual drive.
- Disk space analyzers for the visualization of disk space usage by getting the size for each folder (including sub folders) & files in folder or drive. showing the distribution of the used space.
- Disk storage utilities
- Archive utilities output a stream or a single file when provided with a directory or a set of files. Archive utilities, unlike archive suites, usually do not include compression or encryption capabilities. Some archive utilities may even have a separate un-archive utility for the reverse operation.
- File managers provide a convenient method of performing routine data management tasks, such as deleting, renaming, cataloging, uncataloging, moving, copying, merging, generating and modifying data sets.
- Cryptographic utilities encrypt and decrypt streams and files.
- Hex editors directly modify the text or data of a file. These files could be data or an actual program.
- Memory testers check for memory failures.
- Network utilities analyze the computer's network connectivity, configure network settings, check data transfer or log events.
- Registry cleaners clean and optimize the Windows registry by removing old registry keys that are no longer in use.
- Screensavers were desired to prevent phosphor burn-in on CRT and plasma computer monitors by blanking the screen or filling it with moving images or patterns when the computer is not in use. Contemporary screensavers are used primarily for entertainment or security.
- System monitors for monitoring resources and performance in a computer system.
- System profilers provide detailed information about the software installed and hardware attached to the computer.
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