P1 - Explain the function of computer hardware components

P2 - Explain the purpose of operating systems

P3 - Explain the purpose of different software utilities.

M1 - Compare the features and functions of different operating systems

D1 - Explain how software utilities can improve the performance of computer systems






Software Utilities


This report is about the purpose of system utilities and how they can be used to improve your PC’s performance and make your PC easier to use. There are millions of utilities for PC’s and it can be hard to find the best for each job. Utilities can be very useful for those who aren’t as careful with their PC’s as they can remove those programs and toolbars which you accidently installed, utilities will optimise the performance of your PC by removing all those unwanted programs slowing down your PC and making it hard to use. There are even utilities which will help prevent it getting clogged up in the first place. The aim of this report is to tell you about various software utilities and how they help you and your PC.

Virus protection

There are many different types of viruses but all of them aim to get on your PC without your permission and then to get onto other peoples PC’s. A standard PC virus spreads by making copies of itself and being passed onto other computers. Some viruses will corrupt and delete files and make your PC unusable. Anti-Virus software is used to try and prevent viruses and detect and remove them if you do pick any up, therefore protecting your PC from damage and losing important files. Viruses are getting more complex and some are Polymorphing which means that they change on each computer and are harder to detect. Big anti-virus companies are constantly detecting potential weaknesses and create updates for their definitions files. Preventing viruses will save you a lot of time as if you did get one which corrupted your system then you would have to reinstall everything which would be time consuming. Kaspersky is an anti-virus software provider, they have many different anti-virus products you can buy or you can use free trials. There are versions for Mac, Windows and android devices. If your computer has some viruses and spyware they may slow down your PC, removing them can speed up your PC as it has less things to deal with.


A firewall controls connections in a network both incoming and outgoing. A firewall tries to block connections which aren’t secure and allow connections which are. A firewall can block certain websites which a company wouldn’t want people to use as it might stop them focussing. You can get both hardware and software based firewalls, a lot of large companies will use hardware firewalls as they are harder to change the settings. Firewalls will have rules and filters and if the packets of data don’t fit the rules the packet won’t get through to your PC. Firewalls can also prevent hackers from getting information on all the computers in a network, if one computer doesn’t have a firewall then a hacker could set up an FTP server. Windows comes with a standard firewall however it is hard to manage and there are better utilities to be used. The best firewalls are hardware based however there are a lot of utilities which will do a decent job such as Comodo free firewall, It is very easy to use and does a good job at preventing malware and blocking unsafe connections and has advanced options so it can be suited for the individual’s needs. They have versions you can buy as well for total security, Comodo firewall is only available for windows operating systems.

Disk Clean up

Disk clean up analyses what is considered not important and then deletes it from your hard drive to clear space, this will make your PC slightly faster as it won’t have as much on the hard drive to read all the time. It can remove program files for programs which have been updated and no longer require the old. It will clear temporary internet files, these may be files which you downloaded but clicked to open instead of save, it can also be history, cookies and cache. Again it saves space on the hard disk, this is why it is called disk clean up. Other features include emptying the recycle bin, removing temporary remote desktop files and setup log files. CCleaner is a software utility which has many features to improve your PC’s performance, It has disk clean up, drive wiper and more shown in this screenshot from their website. It is available for both Mac and Windows.

The benefits of using CCleaner is that it is free, very easy to use and hard to damage your PC with it (won’t accidently break it).


Backups will make a copy of your files on your PC, you can choose what files you backup, some people may want everything backed up however the more you want backed up the more space you require on that device. You can put a backup onto any storage apart from the one being used, it could be internal or external or even online. Backups are for safety, if something happens to your hard drive and things get deleted or corrupt then you will still have a copy of all your important data and programs (if you did a full back up and took the system image). EaseUS - Todo is a good backup utility as it is free and easy to use with the options to take a system image or take a backup of personal files.


Over time your hard drive will become fragmented which means that information is located in lots of different areas of the hard disk, this means that when the data is read it has to keep searching in different places. Defragmentation utilities reunite the data and reorganize it so it is all close together so it can be read quicker as the hard drive doesn’t have to search around for it. This only works for hard disks and won’t work on solid state drives. Windows has its own defragmentation utility which is part of its system tools which come installed with the operating system. I would recommend it as you don’t have to download additional software and will save you space and it works.

Drive Formatting

Formatting a storage medium is getting it ready for use by configuring it with a new file system. After formatting the storage medium will be ready for use with an operating system unless you want it to be partitioned which is splitting it up virtually. Formatting a hard drive will also erase the data on there. Some utilities specialise in wiping the hard drive clean of all data completely so it cannot be accessed or recovered. The best wiping utilities work by completely overwriting the hard drive with useless information and the wiping again. The main partition types used are NTFS and Fat32. NTFS is more powerful however Fat32 is compatible with more devices. Again Windows system tools disk management is a good tool to format any drives as it is preinstalled and does the job. However If you want to wipe a drive as clean as you can then this isn’t the best utility.







£70 for latest (8.1)


Comes with mac





Driver Support




Software utilities








Ease of use

Very easy



Suggested Audience




An operating system is needed to create and interface between the user and the computer, an operating system gets drivers and gets them to work for the hardware. This allows every component to be used. An OS provides the user with a Command Line Interface (CLI) or a Graphical User Interface (GUI).

There are two types of operating systems – CLI and GUI, advantages to CLI is that if someone goes on your PC they won’t be able to find your files easily, it is also very precise so you don’t have to spend ages looking for files, you can just type in the exact commands. Disadvantages are that you need to know the commands and type them in correctly. GUI is more user friendly as anyone should be able to use them without much knowledge.

Different OS brands include: windows, Ubuntu, OSX, Backtrack and many more.



Apple OSX


Features from slide 8 & any others you can think of

Integrated Firewall

Overall Benefits

The majority of the world uses it so it has more software and support. Most things are made to be compatible with it.

Overall Limitations

You “have” to buy it


Computer management Utilities

Positives + and negatives -

control panel – is the main control for all of windows settings and is very easy to use.

Task manager – used to view open applications, running processes, services, PC performance, networking and users. You can start and stop programs and services. + is powerful and will close programs which aren’t responding. – If you close the wrong process you may have to restart you PC.

event viewer - It logs warnings with hardware and software so you can find out what errors have occurred and when.

Services – Allows you to control what services run on your PC and allows you to enable or disable them.

performance monitor – shows you how much work your CPU and Ram are doing and how much they can do.

Networking – shows network usage is mbps transferred

reliability monitor – Shows applications errors, Windows failures, Miscellaneous errors, Warnings and information.

system information -


system configeration utility

direct x diagnostics tool

command prompt


windows memory diagnosis

data sources