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6.2: Utility Software

Exam Board:

Eduqas / WJEC


2020 + 

What is utility software?

Utility software are dedicated programs used for the maintenance and organisation of a computer system.


Antivirus software is used to locate and delete viruses on a computer system.


The antivirus scans each file on the computer and compares it against a database of known viruses.


Files with similar features to viruses in the database are identified and deleted.


A firewall manages incoming and outgoing network traffic.


Each data packet is processed to check whether it should be given access to the network by examining the source and destination address.

Unexpected data packets will be filtered out and not accepted to the network.

Disk Defragmenter

As files are edited over time they will become fragmented -  this is when the file is split into parts that are stored in different locations on the hard disk drive. Files that are fragmented take longer to load and read because of the distance between the fragments of the file. 

Defragmentation software is used to rearrange the file on the hard disk drive so that all parts are together again in order. Defragmentation improves the speed of accessing data on the hard disk drive.


Backup Software

System backup copies data onto a separate storage device in case the original information is lost or corrupted.

Backups should be saved regularly and stored in a different location to the rest of the data. Magnetic tape is a common backup medium.

A typical backup policy is one known as 'grandfather - father - son' which uses three different backups at a time.

Disk Compression

Compression is the process of decreasing the size of a file.


Disk compression is a utility tool that automatically compresses files when saved so that more data can be stored on the hard disk drive.


When a file is to be opened, the program is automatically decompressed. Disk compression increases the amount of space on a hard disk drive but it takes longer to open and close files.

Magnetic Hard Disk Drive.png

Disk Checker

This utility is used to scan a hard drive for any corrupted data.

The corrupted data is deleted to speed up reading from and writing to the hard drive.

More advanced disk checkers are used to scan for bad sectors. A bad sector is a permanently damaged section of the hard drive which can no longer be used and must be skipped over. 

Magnetic Hard Disk Drive.png

Disk Formatter

Disk Partition Editor

This utility tool prepares a storage device such as the hard disk drive to be used by removing the current data and creating a file system


A file system manages how data is stored and accessed.

Other devices like a USB stick may need to be formatted before they can be used for the first time.

Within memory, partitions are segments of data that have been grouped together logically on the hard disk drive.

A disk partition editor allows a user to view and modify these memory partitions. Options include creating, editing and deleting partitions.

Magnetic Hard Disk Drive.png
Magnetic Hard Disk Drive.png

Clipboard Manager

The clipboard is a temporary storage space for copied data. For example, a large amount of text can be copied and stored on the clipboard to be pasted into another document, even when the original file has been closed.

The clipboard manager adds more functionality to the clipboard to allow multiple pieces of data to be copied, cut and pasted.

System Profiles

A system profiler displays detailed information about the applications on a computer system, as well as data about any attached hardware devices.

Information is provided and updated in real-time about the performance of software and internal components such as the CPU.

Data Recovery

Data recovery tools allow deleted, corrupted or otherwise inaccessible data to be returned to a usable state.

The data loss may have been caused by physical damage to a drive, corrupt memory partitions or accidental deletion

Most data is not permanently removed when it is deleted so data recovery software can often be used to reaccess files.

Revision Control

Revision control software manages previous versions of an application so that if an error occurs the program can be returned to a previous state.

This is also called version control software and can be used to manage and monitor changes made to files over time.


Archiving is the process of storing important data that is not currently required. It must not be deleted but it shouldn't take up valuable storage space either.

An archiver compresses multiple files using lossless compression into one folder. This archived folder can be stored on a computer system or transferred to a storage device and won't take up much space.

Cryptographic Utilities

A cryptographic utility is used to encrypt data so that it cannot be understood if intercepted. Encryption is commonly for data in transit - being sent between devices

Cryptographic software can also encrypt data at rest - when stored on a hard disk drive for example - so that hackers would be unable to use the data.

File Manager

This utility tool provides an interface to the user for accessing, editing and moving files and folders on the system.

Programs will be displayed in a hierarchical (ordered) structure with icons representing the application logo or file type. 

Files can be ordered in alphabetical, chronological or other orders and the manager provides an abstracted visualisation of where the data is stored.

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Questo's Questions

6.2 - Utility Software:

1. What is meant by utility software? [1]

2. Describe each type of utility software:

  • a. Antivirus

  • b. Firewall

  • c. Disk Defragmenter

  • d. Backup Software

  • e. Disk Compression

  • f. Disk Checker

  • g. Disk Formatter

  • h. Disk Partition Editor

  • i. Clipboard Manager

  • j. System Profiles

  • k. Data Recovery

  • l. Revision Control

  • m. Archiver

  • n. Cryptographic Utilities

  • o. File Manager  [2]

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