System Utility Tools
Applied IT (Year 11) - Managing Data (U2)
What are System Utility Tools?
System utility tools are software programs that perform maintenance and optimisation tasks on a computer system to enhance system performance & security and ensure everything runs smoothly & efficiently.
Disk Clean-up Tools
These tools assist in creating more free space on your computer’s hard drive by scanning and analysing it for unnecessary files that can be safely removed with your confirmation. The type of files targeted in the clean-up may include temporary files, internet cache, unused program files, broken links, and items in the recycle bin. Programs such as Window Disk Cleanup, CCleaner, and CleanMyMac are some frequently used disk clean-up tools.
Deletion of Temporary Files/Internet Cache
Temporary files are created by applications to perform a specific task, but the files are rendered unnecessary once the task has been completed. These files include installation files, log files, and backup files, which are used by programs like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop to back up your work so it can be recovered if the program crashes.
Similarly, web browsers also store temporary files in the form of internet cache. When you visit a website, the browser will automatically save certain pieces of data (e.g. images) so upon revisiting, the page will load faster as there’s less data that needs to be downloaded. Additionally, the internet cache also comprises information like browsing history and cookies.
It is essential to regularly clear out these junk files as they can start consuming significant disk space over time and eventually compromise the computer’s processing speed.
As files are consistently created, deleted or modified on a hard disk, the disk can become fragmented over time. This means that new data (e.g. modifications to a file) cannot always be saved in contiguous blocks as consecutive blocks of free space become smaller and scarcer. Consequently, if new files are larger than the available contiguous free space, they will have to be divided into pieces and stored in different locations on the disk. For example, suppose a new file is created that requires 4 data blocks of free space, but the disk only has a maximum of 2 sequential sets of storage blocks available, which is insufficient to store the whole file together in the same place. As a result, the file will have to be split, and 2 data blocks will be stored elsewhere on the disk. Scattering pieces of the file will slow down performance as the computer must move between different locations to retrieve and access the data, resulting in slower read & write times.
The purpose of disk defragmentation is to gather all the scattered pieces of related data and reorganise them into contiguous blocks for more efficient data retrieval. By relocating the data blocks on the hard drive and reuniting all parts of a file, the computer can access data faster, and thus improve performance.
Image: Disk Fragmentation, Image by Enterprise Storage Forum (https://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/management/fragmentation/)
Anti-Malware, Virus, SPAM, and Spyware
Anti-malware is a software program that helps protect computer systems by scanning them for any malware and removing them. It can also prevent malware from reaching your computer in the first place by monitoring incoming files and programs, particularly those downloaded from the internet, to detect and block any potential threats before they can infect the system. Furthermore, some anti-malware programs offer website filtering and ad-blocking features to prevent users from accidentally visiting malicious websites or inadvertently downloading malware through ads.
Short for malicious software, malware is any software that is specifically designed to harm a computer system and render it unusable, often to grant the attacker unauthorised access to private data or extort money from the user to regain access. Malware can take many forms, such as viruses, spyware, ransomware, trojans, and worms, and can spread through various channels, including email attachments, websites, and software downloads.
Viruses are a type of malware that self-replicates and spreads between computers by inserting its code into a file or program. When an infected file or program is executed, the virus will activate and become active, compromising the host computer and altering how it functions, which can lead to file deletion/corruption, information extraction, or a system crash.
Spam refers to the practice of sending unsolicited messages in bulk through email, messages, or other social media platforms. These messages are often related to fraudulent schemes, phishing attempts, identity theft, or contain links to malicious websites and infected attachments.
Spyware is another form of malware that is designed to covertly collect information from a computer system without the user’s knowledge. This can result in the theft of personal and sensitive information such as passwords, browsing history, banking details, and other confidential/personal files, which can be sold to third parties for other malicious purposes or used for identity theft or blackmail.