The purpose of different software utilities is to make it easy for users to control and manage a computer system, usually through a graphical user interface.
Security Software Utilities
Antivirus software is designed to help prevent viruses and malware from infecting a computer system and causing harm to files or other software on the system. Modern antivirus software also monitors files downloaded from the internet and checks them for viruses prior to allowing users to open them. If a virus or suspicious data is detected within the file, the antivirus software will warn the user.
Antivirus software can also protect against spyware from being installed on a machine. Spyware often goes undetected by users and gathers information on their browsing habits or computer files whilst discretely sending them to a malicious third party without the users consent or knowledge.
A firewall is also a useful security software utility as it monitors incoming and outgoing traffic on a network or individual computer (or both). If they network is receiving traffic from untrusted sources or known malicious sources, it will block those sources from communicating with the network or computer. Windows comes with a built in firewall which is switched on by default. It learns to trust certain users and devices on a network and guards against worms and hackers. One negative of firewalls or antivirus software is that they can often block legitimate traffic or applications from running properly on a machine or network.
Clean Up Tools
All systems require regular clean up and maintenance in order to keep them running quickly and efficiently. Any activity carried out on a computer results in various files and folders building up on a computer such as data logs, cookies (that are downloaded when visiting websites) or deleted files and folders and applications that may not be completely removed. Software that has been removed or is no longer in use can also leave behind temporary files and registry entries, all of which take up space and can potentially slow down a system.
Clean up tools such as ‘CCleaner’ and Windows Disk Cleanup can help to remove these files safely and increase free disk space whilst also boosting system performance. Defragging a hard drive helps to remove unnecessary files and arranges all files in an order which makes them more efficient to access. If something is ‘fragmented’, it means things are disorganised and all over the place. Defragmention is the reverse – an attempt to bring things together in an organised manner.
Formatting a hard drive means erasing everything from it. This is often necessary is a system has been infected with a virus as it’s the quickest way to ensure the virus has been removed. When selling a computer or lending someone a hard drive or any kind of storage media, it’s also a good idea to format the hard drive to ensure no sensitive files are easily accessible.
Operating systems can be stored on hard drives, usually in ‘partitions’ (dedicated, allocated space within storage). Formatting the drive or partition the operating system is on is obviously not a good idea unless you have good reason to. Drive formatting and reinstall an operating system often results in improved performance and load times.