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Desktop Utility Software

Objective   2/15/2016

To document popular utility software.

What IS Utility software ?   2/15/2016


Utility software is system software designed to help analyze, configure, optimize or maintain a computer.

Utility software usually focuses on how the computer infrastructure (including the computer hardware, operating system, software and data storage) operates.

  • Anti-virus utilities scan for computer viruses.
  • Archivers output a stream or a single file when provided with a directory or a set of files. Archive utilities, unlike archive suites, usually do not include compression or encryption capabilities. Some archive utilities may even have a separate un-archive utility for the reverse operation.
  • Backup Software can make copies of all information stored on a disk and restore either the entire disk (e.g. in an event of disk failure) or selected files (e.g. in an event of accidental deletion).
  • Clipboard managers expand the clipboard functionality of an operating system .
  • Cryptographic utilities encrypt and decrypt streams and files.
  • Data compression utilities output a shorter stream or a smaller file when provided with a stream or file.
  • 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 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 devices.
    • Revision control utilities are intended to deal with situations where more than one user attempts to simultaneously modify the same file.
  • Debuggers are used to test and "debug" other programs, mainly to solve programming errors. Also utilized for reverse engineering of software or systems.
  • Disk checkers can scan operating hard drive.
  • Disk cleaners can find files that are unnecessary to computer operation, or take up considerable amounts of space. Disk cleaner helps the user to decide what to delete when their hard disk is full.
  • Disk compression utilities can transparently compress/uncompress the contents of a disk, increasing the capacity of the disk.
  • Disk defragmenters can detect computer files whose contents are scattered across several locations on the hard disk, and move the fragments to one location to increase efficiency.
  • Disk partitions can 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 analyzers for the visualization of disk space usage by getting the size for each folder (including sub folders) & files in folder or drive. showing the distribution of the used space.
  • Disk storage utilities
  • File managers provide a convenient method of performing routine data management, email recovery and management tasks, such as deleting, renaming, cataloging, uncataloging, moving, copying, merging, generating and modifying data sets.
  • Hex editors directly modify the text or data of a file. These files could be data or an actual program.
  • Memory testers check for memory failures.
  • Network utilities analyze the computer's network connectivity, configure network settings, check data transfer or log events.
  • Package managers are used to configure, install or keep up to date other software on a computer.
  • Registry cleaners clean and optimize the Windows Registry by removing old registry keys that are no longer in use.
  • Screensavers were desired to prevent phosphor burn-in on CRT and plasma computer monitors by blanking the screen or filling it with moving images or patterns when the computer is not in use. Contemporary screensavers are used primarily for entertainment or security.
  • System monitors for monitoring resources and performance in a computer system.
  • System profilers provide detailed information about the software installed and hardware attached to the computer.

7zip    open-source file archiver  6/14/2016


7-Zip is an open-source file archiver, an application used primarily to compress files.

7-Zip uses its own 7z archive format, but can read and write several other archive formats.

The program can be used from a command-line interface, graphical user interface, or with a window-based shell integration.

7-Zip began in 1999 and is developed by Igor Pavlov.

The cross-platform version of the command-line utility, p7zip, is also available.

7-Zip is open-source software.

Most of the source code is under the GNU LGPL license.

The unRAR code is under the GNU LGPL with an "unRAR restriction", which states that developers are not permitted to use the code to reverse-engineer the RAR compression algorithm.

Open Zip & RAR Files With 7-Zip [Tutorial]


Antivirus software   3/16/2016


Antivirus or anti-virus software (often abbreviated as AV), sometimes known as anti-malware software, is computer software used to prevent, detect and remove malicious software.

Antivirus software was originally developed to detect and remove computer viruses, hence the name.

However, with the proliferation of other kinds of malware, antivirus software started to provide protection from other computer threats.

In particular, modern antivirus software can protect from: malicious Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), browser hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware.

Some products also include protection from other computer threats, such as infected and malicious URLs, spam, scam and phishing attacks, online identity (privacy), online banking attacks, social engineering techniques, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) and botnet DDoS attacks.

Email    a method of exchanging digital messages  6/14/2016


Electronic mail, most commonly called email or e-mail since around 1993, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients.

Email operates across the Internet or other computer networks.

Some early email systems required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time, in common with instant messaging.

Today's email systems are based on a store-and-forward model.

Email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store messages.

Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need connect only briefly, typically to a mail server, for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.

Historically, the term electronic mail was used generically for any electronic document transmission.

For example, several writers in the early 1970s used the term to describe fax document transmission.

As a result, it is difficult to find the first citation for the use of the term with the more specific meaning it has today.

An Internet email message consists of three components, the message envelope, the message header, and the message body.

The message header contains control information, including, minimally, an originator's email address and one or more recipient addresses.

Usually descriptive information is also added, such as a subject header field and a message submission date/time stamp.

Originally an ASCII text-only communications medium, Internet email was extended by Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) to carry text in other character sets and multi-media content attachments.

International email, with internationalized email addresses using UTF-8, has been standardized, but as of 2016 not widely adopted.

Electronic mail predates the inception of the Internet and was in fact a crucial tool in creating it, but the history of modern, global Internet email services reaches back to the early ARPANET.

Standards for encoding email messages were proposed as early as 1973 (RFC 561).

Conversion from ARPANET to the Internet in the early 1980s produced the core of the current services.

An email message sent in the early 1970s looks quite similar to a basic text message sent on the Internet today.

Email is an information and communications technology.

It uses technology to communicate a digital message over the Internet.

Users use email differently, based on how they think about it.

There are many software platforms available to send and receive.

Popular email platforms include Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, and many others.

Wikipedia Comparison of email clients

Network-based email was initially exchanged on the ARPANET in extensions to the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), but is now carried by the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), first published as Internet standard 10 (RFC 821) in 1982.

In the process of transporting email messages between systems, SMTP communicates delivery parameters using a message envelope separate from the message (header and body) itself.

Servers and client applications

Messages are exchanged between hosts using the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol with software programs called mail transfer agents (MTAs); and delivered to a mail store by programs called mail delivery agents (MDAs, also sometimes called local delivery agents, LDAs).

Users can retrieve their messages from servers using standard protocols such as POP or IMAP, or, as is more likely in a large corporate environment, with a proprietary protocol specific to Novell Groupwise, Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange Servers.

Webmail interfaces allow users to access their mail with any standard web browser, from any computer, rather than relying on an email client.

Programs used by users for retrieving, reading, and managing email are called mail user agents (MUAs).

Mail can be stored on the client, on the server side, or in both places.

Standard formats for mailboxes include Maildir and mbox.

Several prominent email clients use their own proprietary format and require conversion software to transfer email between them.

Server-side storage is often in a proprietary format but since access is through a standard protocol such as IMAP, moving email from one server to another can be done with any MUA supporting the protocol.

Accepting a message obliges an MTA to deliver it, and when a message cannot be delivered, that MTA must send a bounce message back to the sender, indicating the problem.

FileZilla    cross-platform FTP application  6/14/2016


FileZilla is a free software, cross-platform FTP application, consisting of FileZilla Client and FileZilla Server.

Client binaries are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, server binaries are available for Windows only.

The client supports FTP, SFTP and FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS).

Support for SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol), which can be used to share folders over a network, is not implemented in FileZilla Server.

FileZilla's source code is hosted on SourceWorkshop and the project was featured as Project of the Month in November 2003.

However, there have been criticisms that SourceWorkshop bundles malicious software with the application; and that FileZilla stores users' FTP passwords insecurely.

How to Use FileZilla (FTP Tutorial)


Gpg4win / GnuPG    email and file encryption  6/14/2016


Gpg4win is an email and file encryption package for most versions of Microsoft Windows, which uses GnuPG public-key cryptography for data encryption and digital signatures.

The original creation of Gpg4win was supported by Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, but Gpg4win itself and all included tools are free and open source software and it is typically the non-proprietary option recommended to Windows users.

gpg4win Encypting and Decrypting


The GNU Privacy Guard

GnuPG is a complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC4880 (also known as PGP).

GnuPG allows to encrypt and sign your data and communication, features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kinds of public key directories.

GnuPG, also known as GPG, is a command line tool with features for easy integration with other applications.

A wealth of frontend applications and libraries are available.

Version 2 of GnuPG also provides support for S/MIME and Secure Shell (ssh).

GnuPG is Free Software (meaning that it respects your freedom).

It can be freely used, modified and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

PGP / GPG Encryption by Tony Bemus

Immunet    community-driven antivirus application  6/14/2016

Wikipedia   Immunet

'Immunet' Protect Free is a free, cloud-based, community-driven antivirus application, using the ClamAV and own engine.

The software is complementary with existing antivirus software. On 5 January 2011 it was announced that Immunet had been acquired by Sourcefire.

The application occupies 10MB of disk space, is free of charge, and claims to be fast and to provide up-to-date protection against threats.

Virus signature files are stored in the cloud, not on individual computers, so update downloads are not required.

Once a virus is detected and blocked for one user, all other Immunet users receive the same protection almost instantly.

MD5 Checksum    cryptographic hash function  6/14/2016

MD5 Checksum

The MD5 message-digest algorithm is a widely used cryptographic hash function producing a 128-bit (16-byte) hash value, typically expressed in text format as a 32 digit hexadecimal number.

MD5 has been utilized in a wide variety of cryptographic applications, and is also commonly used to verify data integrity.

MD5 was designed by Ronald Rivest in 1991 to replace an earlier hash function, MD4.

The source code in RFC 1321 contains a "by attribution" RSA license.

In 1996 a flaw was found in the design of MD5.

While it was not deemed a fatal weakness at the time, cryptographers began recommending the use of other algorithms, such as SHA-1—which has since been found to be vulnerable as well.

In 2004 it was shown that MD5 is not collision resistant.

As such, MD5 is not suitable for applications like SSL certificates or digital signatures that rely on this property for digital security.

Also in 2004 more serious flaws were discovered in MD5, making further use of the algorithm for security purposes questionable; specifically, a group of researchers described how to create a pair of files that share the same MD5 checksum.

Further advances were made in breaking MD5 in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

In December 2008, a group of researchers used this technique to fake SSL certificate validity.

As of 2010, the CMU Software Engineering Institute considers MD5 "cryptographically broken and unsuitable for further use", and most U.S. government applications now require the SHA-2 family of hash functions.

In 2012, the Flame malware exploited the weaknesses in MD5 to fake a Microsoft digital signature.

What is MD5 Checksum and How to Use it

MD5 Checksum

Network enumeration   3/16/2016

Network enumeration is a computing activity in which usernames and info on groups, shares, and services of networked computers are retrieved.

It should not be confused with network mapping, which only retrieves information about which servers are connected to a specific network and what operating system runs on them.

Network Enumeration is the discovery of hosts/devices on a network.

Network Enumeration tends to use overt discovery protocols such as ICMP and SNMP to gather information.

It may also scan various ports on remote hosts for looking for well known services in an attempt to further identify the function of a remote host.

The next stage of enumeration is to fingerprint the Operating System of the remote host.

Nmap    Network Mapper  6/14/2016

Wikipedia   Nmap (Network Mapper)

Nmap (Network Mapper) is a security scanner originally written by Gordon Lyon (also known by his pseudonym Fyodor Vaskovich) used to discover hosts and services on a computer network, thus creating a "map" of the network.

To accomplish its goal, Nmap sends specially crafted packets to the target host and then analyzes the responses.

The software provides a number of features for probing computer networks, including host discovery and service and operating system detection.

These features are extensible by scripts that provide more advanced service detection, vulnerability detection, and other features.

Nmap is also capable of adapting to network conditions including latency and congestion during a scan.

Nmap is under development and refinement by its user community.

Nmap was originally a Linux-only utility, but it was ported to Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, BSD variants (including OS X), AmigaOS, and IRIX.

Linux is the most popular platform, followed closely by Windows.

Shell    is a user interface for access to an operating system's services   6/14/2016


In computing, a shell is a user interface for access to an operating system's services.

In general, operating system shells use either a command-line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface (GUI), depending on a computer's role and particular operation.

The design of a shell is guided by cognitive ergonomics and the goal is to achieve the best workflow possible for the intended tasks; the design can be constricted by the available computing power (for example, of the GPU) or the available amount of graphics memory.

The design of a shell is also dictated by the employed computer periphery, such as computer keyboard, pointing device (a mouse with one button, or one with five buttons, or a 3D mouse) or touchscreen, which is the direct human–machine interface.

CLI shells allow some operations to be performed faster in some situations, especially when a proper GUI has not been or cannot be created.

However, they require the user to memorize commands and their calling syntax, and also to learn the shell-specific scripting language, for example bash script.

CLIs are also easier to be operated via refreshable braille display and provide certain advantages to screen readers.

Graphical shells have a low burden to start using a computer, and they are characterized as being simple and easy to use.

With the widespread adoption of programs with GUIs, the use of graphical shells has gained greater adoption.

Since graphical shells come with certain disadvantages (for example, lack of support for easy automation of operation sequences), most GUI-enabled operating systems also provide additional CLI shells.

Wikipedia Graphical shells

Graphical shells provide means for manipulating programs based on graphical user interface (GUI), by allowing for operations such as opening, closing, moving and resizing windows, as well as switching focus between windows.

Graphical shells may be included with desktop environments or come separately, even as a set of loosely coupled utilities.

Most graphical user interfaces develop the metaphor of an "electronic desktop", where data files are represented as if they were paper documents on a desk, and application programs similarly have graphical representations instead of being invoked by command names.

Wikipedia List of alternative shells for Windows

Wikipedia Comparison of Start menu replacements for Windows 8

Wikipedia Comparison of command shells

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This page was last updated April 30th, 2017 by kim

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