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Utility software is software designed to help analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer. It is used to support the computer
infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy An ec ...

infrastructure
- in contrast to
application software Application software (app for short) is computing software designed to carry out a specific task other than one relating to the operation of the computer itself, typically to be used by end-users. Examples of an application Application may refer ...
, which is aimed at directly performing tasks that benefit ordinary users. However, utilities often form part of the application . For example, a batch job may run user-written code to update a database and may then include a step that runs a utility to back up the database, or a job may run a utility to compress a disk before copying files. Although a basic set of utility programs is usually distributed with an
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
(OS), and this first party utility software is often considered part of the operating system, users often install replacements or additional utilities. Those utilities may provide additional facilities to carry out tasks that are beyond the capabilities of the operating system. Many utilities that might affect the entire computer system require the user to have elevated privileges, while others that operate only on the user's data do not.


System utilities

*
Anti-virus Antivirus software, or anti-virus software (abbreviated to AV software), also known as anti-malware, is a computer program In imperative programming In computer science, imperative programming is a programming paradigm that uses Statement (c ...
utilities scan for computer viruses and block or remove them. *
Clipboard manager A clipboard manager is a computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by a computer to perform a specific task. A computer program is usually written by a computer programmer in a programming lang ...
s expand the
clipboard A clipboard is a thin, rigid board with a clip at the top for holding paper in place. A clipboard is typically used to support paper with one hand while writing on it with the other, especially when other writing surfaces are not available. The ...
functionality of an operating system. *
Computer access control In computer security, general access control includes identity document, identification, authorization, authentication, access approval, and audit trail, audit. A more narrow definition of access control would cover only access approval, whereby the ...
software grants or denies requests for access to system resources. *
Debugger A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer progra ...

Debugger
s typically permit the examination and modification of data and program instructions in memory and on disk. *
Diagnostic program A diagnostic program (also known as a Test Mode) is an Computer program, automatic computer program checklist, sequence that determines the operational status within the software, hardware, or any combination thereof in a component, a Operating sy ...
s determine and report the operational status of computer hardware and software.
Memory tester Memory is the faculty of the brain by which data or information is Encoding (memory), encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If Foresight (psycholog ...

Memory tester
s are one example. *
Network utilities Network Utility was an application included with macOS up to MacOS Catalina that provided a variety tools that could be used related to computer networking, computer network information gathering and analysis. Starting with macOS Big Sur the appl ...
analyze the computer's network connectivity, configure network settings, check data transfer or log events. *
Package manager A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer in a consistent manner. A package manager deals with ...
s are used to configure, install or keep up to date other software on a computer. *
Registry cleanerA registry cleaner is a class of third-party utility software Utility software is software designed to help to analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer. It is used to support the computer infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of funda ...
s clean and optimize the
Windows Registry#REDIRECT Windows Registry The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for the Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several Proprietary software, proprietary g ...
by removing old registry keys that are no longer in use. *
System monitor A system monitor is a Computer hardware, hardware or software component used to monitor system resources and performance in a computer system. Among the management issues regarding use of system monitoring tools are resource usage and privacy. ...
s monitor resources and performance in a computer system. *
System profiler {{noref, date=September 2018 A system profiler is a program that can provide detailed information about the software Software is a collection of instructions that tell a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry ou ...
s provide detailed information about installed software and hardware.


Storage device management utilities

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Backup softwareBackup software are computer programs used to perform a backup; they create supplementary exact copies of files, databases or entire computers. These programs may later use the supplementary copies to restore the original contents in the event of d ...
makes copies of all information stored on a disk and restores either the entire disk (aka
Disk cloningDisk cloning is the process of creating a 1-to-1 copy of a hard disk drive A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device File:Reel-to-reel recorder tc-630.jpg, On a reel-to-r ...
) in an event of disk failure or selected files that are accidentally deleted or corrupted.
Undeletion Undeletion is a feature for restoring computer files which have been removed from a file system by file deletion. Deleted data can be recovered on many file systems, but not all file systems provide an undeletion feature. Recovering data without ...
utilities are sometimes more convenient. *
Disk checker Disk Utility is a system utility Within economics, the concept of utility is used to model worth or value. Its usage has evolved significantly over time. The term was introduced initially as a measure of pleasure or happiness within the theo ...
s scan an operating hard drive and check for logical (filesystem) or physical errors. *
Disk compression A disk compression software utility increases the amount of information that can be stored on a hard disk A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device that stores and retri ...
utilities transparently
compress compress is a Unix shell A Unix shell is a command-line interpreter or shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure)A shell is a type of structural element which is characterized by its geometry, being a three-di ...
/uncompress the contents of a disk, increasing the capacity of the disk. *
Disk defragmenter Disk or disc may refer to: * Disk (mathematics) In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
s detect
computer file A computer file is a computer resource for recording data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualitative or quant ...
s whose contents are scattered across several locations on the
hard disk A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment and the magnetic tape is a data stora ...

hard disk
and collect the fragments into one contiguous area. * Disk formatters prepare a data storage device such as a hard disk, solid-state drive, floppy disk or USB flash drive for initial use. These are often used to permanently erase an entire device. * 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 analyzer A disk utility is a utility software, utility program that allows a user to perform various functions on a computer disk, such as disk partitioning and logical volume management, as well as multiple smaller tasks such as changing drive letters an ...
s provide a visualization of disk space usage by getting the size for each folder (including sub folders) and files in folder or drive. showing the distribution of the used space. * Tape initializers write a
label A label (as distinct from signage) is a piece of paper, plastic film, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a Packaging and labelling, container or Product (business), product, on which is written or printing, printed information or symbo ...
to a
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of . It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on . Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic tape are s and s respectively. A ...

magnetic tape
or other magnetic medium. Initializers for
DECtape DECtape, originally called Microtape, is a magnetic tape data storage medium used with many Digital Equipment Corporation computers, including the PDP-6, PDP-8, LINC-8, PDP-9, PDP-10, PDP-11, PDP-12, and the PDP-15. On DEC's 32-bit systems, OpenVM ...

DECtape
formatted the tape into blocks.


File management utilities

* 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. One nearly universal type of archive file format is the zip file. *
Cryptographic Cryptography, or cryptology (from grc, , translit=kryptós "hidden, secret"; and ''graphein'', "to write", or '' -logia'', "study", respectively), is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third ...
utilities encrypt and decrypt streams and files. *
Data compression In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electricity, electro ...
utilities output a shorter stream or a smaller file when provided with a stream or file. *
Data conversion Data conversion is the conversion of computer data from one file format, format to another. Throughout a computer environment, data is Character encoding, encoded in a variety of ways. For example, computer hardware is built on the basis of cert ...
utilities transform data from a source file to some other format, such as from a text file to a
PDF Portable Document Format (PDF), standardized as ISO 32000, is a file format ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for pe ...
document. *
Data recovery In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softw ...
utilities are used to rescue good data from corrupted files. *
Data synchronization Data synchronization is the process of establishing consistency among data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualit ...

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 File synchronization (or syncing) in computing is the process of ensuring that computer file A computer file is a computer resource for recording data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of u ...
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 device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets ...
s. **
Revision control In software engineering Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering approaches to the software development, development of software. A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to d ...
utilities can recreate a coherent structure where multiple users simultaneously modify the same file. * Disk cleaners find files that are unnecessary to computer operation, or take up considerable amounts of space. *
File comparison In computing, file comparison is the calculation and display of the differences and similarities between data objects, typically text files such as source code. The methods, implementations, and results are typically called a diff, after the Uni ...
utilities provide a standalone capability to detect differences between files. *
File manager A file manager or file browser is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer progra ...
s provide a convenient method of performing routine data management, email recovery and management tasks, such as deleting, renaming, cataloging, uncataloging, moving, copying, merging, setting write protection status, setting file access permissions, generating and modifying folders and data sets.


Miscellaneous utilities

* Data generators (e.g. IEBDG) create a file of test data according to specified patterns. *
Hex editor A hex editor (or ''binary file editor'' or ''byte editor'') is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative prog ...
s directly modify the text or data of a file without regard to file format. These files can be data or programs. * HTML checkers validate
HTML The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML is the standard markup language #REDIRECT Markup language In computer text processing, a markup language is a system for annotation, annotating a document in a way that is Syntax (logic), syntacticall ...

HTML
code and check links. *
Installation Installation may refer to: * Installation (computer programs) * Installation, work of installation art * Installation, military base * Installation, into an office, especially a religious (Installation (Christianity)) or political one {{disambig ...
or setup utilities are used to initialize or configure programs, usually applications programs, for use in a specific computer environment. There are also
UninstallerAn uninstaller, also called a deinstaller, is a variety of utility software designed to remove other software or parts of it from a computer. It is the opposite of an installer. Uninstallers are useful primarily when software components are installed ...
s. *
Patching Patching is a small village and civil parish that lies amid the fields and woods of the southern slopes of the South Downs in the South Downs National Park, National Park in the Arun District, Arun District of West Sussex, England. It has a vis ...
utilities perform alterations of files, especially object programs when program source is unavailable. *
Screensaver A screensaver (or screen saver) is a computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by a computer to perform a specific task. A computer program is usually written by a computer programmer in a ...

Screensaver
s prevent
phosphor burn-in Screen burn-in, image burn-in, or ghost image is a discoloration of areas on an electronic display such as a cathode ray tube (CRT) display or an old computer display, computer monitor or television set caused by cumulative non-uniform use of th ...
on
CRT CRT may refer to: Science and technology Medicine * Calreticulin, a protein *Capillary refill time, the rate at which blood refills empty capillaries *Cardiac resynchronization therapy, a treatment for heart failure, and CRT defibrillator (CRT-D ...

CRT
and plasma
computer monitor A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a electronic visual display, visual display, electronic circuit, some circuitry, a casing, and a power supply. The display de ...

computer monitor
s. * Sort/Merge programs arrange records (lines) of a file into a specified sequence. * Standalone macro recorders permit use of keyboard macros in programs that do not natively support such a feature.


See also

* List of Microsoft Windows utilities *
List of DOS commands This article presents a list of commands used by DOS operating systems, especially as used on x86-based IBM PC compatibles (PCs). List of DOS operating systems#Other operating systems, Other DOS operating systems are not part of the scope of this l ...
* List of macOS utilities *
Support programs for OS/360 and successors This article discusses support programs included in or available for OS/360 and successors. IBM categorizes some of these programs as utilities and others as service aids; the boundaries are not always consistent or obvious. Many, but not all, of ...
*
List of Unix commands This is a list of Unix commands as specified by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Std 1003.1-2008, which is part of the Single UNIX Specification (SUS). These commands can be found on Unix operating systems and most Unix-li ...
* List of KDE utilities * Batch script *
Shell script A shell script is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer program'' is a Set (m ...


References

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