Utility software is system software designed to help analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer. It is a type of system software, used to support the computer infrastructure in contrast to application software, which is aimed at directly performing tasks that benefit ordinary users.
Although a basic set of utility programs is usually distributed with an operating system (OS), utility software is not considered part of the OS and users often install replacements or additional utilities.
Types of utilities
- Anti-virus utilities scan for computer viruses.
- Archivers output a stream or a single file when provided with a directory or a set of files. Archive suites may include compression and encryption capabilities. Some archive utilities have a separate un-archive utility for the reverse operation.
- Backup software makes copies 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).
- Clipboard managers expand the clipboard functionality of an operating system .
- Cryptographic utilities encrypt and decrypt streams and files.
- Data compression utilities output a shorter stream or a smaller file when provided with a stream or file.
- Data generators create a file of test data according to specified patterns.
- Data synchronization utilities establish consistency among data from a source to a target data storage and vice versa. There are several branches of this type of utility:
- File synchronization utilities maintain consistency between two sources. They may be used to create redundancy or backup copies but are also used to help users carry their digital music, photos and video in their mobile devices.
- Revision control utilities can recreate a coherent structure where multiple users simultaneously modify the same file.
- Disk checkers scan an operating hard drive and check for logical (filesystem) or physical errors.
- Disk cleaners 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 transparently compress/uncompress the contents of a disk, increasing the capacity of the disk.
- Disk defragmenters detect computer files whose contents are scattered across several locations on the hard disk, and move the fragments to one location to increase efficiency.
- Disk partition editors 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 provide a 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.
- File manager provide a convenient method of performing routine data management, email recovery and management tasks, such as deleting, renaming, cataloging, uncataloging, moving, copying, merging, generating and modifying folders and data sets.
- Hex editors directly modify the text or data of a file. These files could be data or an actual program.
- HTML checker validates HTML code and checks links.
- Memory testers check for memory failures.
- Network utilities analyze the computer's network connectivity, configure network settings, check data transfer or log events.
- Package managers are used to configure, install or keep up to date other software on a computer.
- 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.
- Sort/Merge programs arrange records (lines) in a file into a specified sequence.
- System monitors monitor resources and performance in a computer system.
- System profilers provide detailed information about the software installed and hardware attached to the computer.
- Parsons, June Jamrich; Oja, Dan (2013). New Perspectives on Computer Concepts 2014: Comprehensive. Cengage Learning. p. 129.