The birth of Windows represented a reference point in the computer history. For the first time, users have been able to work with more applications at the same time, using the new improved system based on the windows - application symbioses. The MS-DOS was immediately rejected and everyone adopted the new operating system with visual interface.
Nowadays, Windows reached a high standard using improved techniques to optimize the application handling. More and more programs are run every day on our computer and the hunger for new applications with exciting features is getting higher and higher. A large number of programs means using a lot of resources.
In order to optimize the applications running process Microsoft developers implemented a method to speed it up using a prefetch folder. The purpose of this folder is to collect and store information regarding the installed applications and later use it to speed up loading programs.
Windows XP is configured to copy parts of applications and later, when users start the application again, it will load faster because Windows has data already available. All the data prefetched will be stored inside the prefetch folder.
The bad part is that Windows prefetches all kind of applications even those you seldom use and this will do exactly the contrary of the main purpose. Too much prefetched data inside the prefeched folder will slow down the system.
To obtain maximum performances I recommend you to periodically check the folder and empty it in order to get rid of unwanted data located inside, which eats up space and memory with a negative implication over the system performance.
To take a look inside the folder follow this path:%systemroot%prefetch. Usually, the system root is c:Windows. Just replace %systemroot% with the correct location of your Windows folder.
Once you got inside the folder, you will be amazed to see how much content you will find. The files inside use the name of the application, some data attached and the .pf extension. Moreover, to see how old some files are, just select the detail view in windows explorer and click the date to sort the files according to the creation date.
You have the possibility to delete all the files inside or just to select the ones linked to applications that you do not use anymore. What you delete is up to you. Deleting all the files is safe, don't worry. It won't affect in any way the proper run of any application. However, do not empty the folder every day, because Windows will keep prefetching applications every time.
Setup the prefetch folder
As I mentioned in the first part of the article, Windows is trained to use the prefetch method. You can tweak the settings in order to obtain what suits you best. The settings are not available under any shortcut or options menu. You need to do a rough job editing the registry yourself.
Go to Start > Run and type Regedit. It will open the Registry Editor. Using the Editor go to this location:
On the right, there is a string called EnablePrefetcher. Double click on it and you will notice that the value data is set to 3. You can change this value according to the value significances and to your need:
0 - Disables the prefetch
1 - Prefetches only the application launch
2 - Prefetch the Boot
3 - Prefetch everything