Utility software is a smaller sub type of system software which is used to manage and protect the data on a system. There are a number of different types of utility program, some of which are automatically installed along with your operating system as they are vital to maintaining the smooth running of the computer.
Security software includes applications like anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewalls. All security software on the computer system is aimed at protecting the data from malicious attacks and unauthorised access.
Although the operating system is responsible for authenticating users, sometimes attackers will gain unauthorised access to the system which puts data at risk. You can read more about security utility software on the Identifying and Preventing Vulnerabilities page.
With many files being saved on the computer system, file management software allows us to organise our files and data into logical pathways called folders. When you open up your library folders on your system you are using file management.
The ability to name folders (which create pathways to a document) makes it easier for the user to quickly find and access their files. The computer system keeps track of these pathways in an internal table that allows it to present our files to us in a humanistic way through showing us icons on a desktop.
Encryption software is another form of protecting our data. Encryption means to take a plain text message and use an algorithm to change the text into an unreadable format, so that if the data is stolen or intercepted cannot be understood.
Encryption software uses this algorithm to create ciphertext (encrypted text), and decrypt the messages that have been sent to us securely. Encryption software may also be used to encrypt the data on the computer system itself making it unreadable unless the user has additional authentication such as a password to open the file.
As more and more data is saved on the hard drive, especially the hard disk drive (HDD) large sections of available space in which to save the data become difficult to find.
When this happens, part of the file will be saved in the first available location taking up as much space as possible, with the rest of the file being stored in the next available location on the disc. This is called file fragmentation. Sometimes, files can be fragmented many times because of the available space left on the disk created by deleting other files.
Defragmentation software is used to re-organise the files so that their data is stored sequentially as shown in the image below.
Compression software is used to reduce the size of a file in order to save disk space or before sending over a network. Compression software may be specific to a particular file type, or generic allowing us to compress any file using a lossless system like a zip file. More information about the two different types of compression (lossy and lossless) can be found on the Methods of Data Compression page.
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