Prefetch vs Superfetch
Prefetch and Superfetch are two very different methods with the same goal in mind: to speed up your computer by storing information about your drive and trying to anticipate what you want to do next.
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Prefetch is an algorithm that attempts to speed application startup and load times by storing file-specific information in a Prefetch folder in the Windows directory. All these files have an extension PF. An old argument used to exist: you could delete these files from time to time in order to speed up your computer by eliminating obsolete information. Whether it’s really beneficial or not, the debate is open, but on older systems with slower hard drives, I would say it might have been useful until it was done often. Probably about once a month would have been a good amount of time depending on how long you used your computer during this time. If you delete these files, Windows will have to rebuild them, although they are different, and during this period, things may slow down slightly.
Superfetch is a totally different animal. Yes, it still stores information on your drive, but it does much more than that. It basically monitors your computer habits and preloads the programs and files in memory that it thinks you’ll be using soon. It even keeps track of the days you use certain programs to refine these predictions. Running programs from memory is much faster than loading them from a drive, even an SSD. The difference is like trying to compare apples and oranges – they are on a totally different plane of existence.
Enable Or Disable? That Is The Question…
If you are using your system on a hard disk, the answer is obvious: leave both enabled. Their registry entries should contain the value “3” and I will show you how to do that in a minute. Here are some basic rules:
If you are using an SSD as the main system drive, I would advise you to disable Prefetcher and perhaps Superfetch as well.
If you are using an older SSD that is more likely to have a shorter lifetime due to disk writes, disable both functions.
If you are using a new SSD and you have a lot of RAM installed, it may be best to keep Superfetch active.
Note: An old SSD and 32 GB of RAM are installed. Prefetch and Superfetch are both disabled on my system, mainly because I do not notice any improvement, and I want as little writing as possible on this SSD.
If you are using an SSD, you will only know if these settings help you or hinder your computer while experimenting. It will be a riddle and god experience. You will not do any harm when trying and the Prefetch and Superfetch settings are easily changed. (You will need to restart your computer after each change for the new settings to take effect.)
Getting To The Setting
Modifying the Standard Registry Warning: The following instructions will ask you to modify your Windows registry. Be sure to make a backup of your registry before making any changes. Making errors in the registry can cause problems that are hard to diagnose, or even prevent Windows from working properly. If you do not know how to back up your registry.
- Use the Windows + R key to open a run box.
- Type regedit and press Enter.
- In Registry Editor, follow the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Session Manager \ Memory Management \ PrefetchParameters.
This should bring you to a window similar to this one:
In the above image, the Prefetch and Superfetch parameters have a Data value of zero (0). It’s because I disabled them on my computer. The settings available for both are:
0 – disabled
1 – Pre-extraction of activated application.
2 – Pre-boot enabled.
3 – Pre-extraction of applications and startup enabled.
To change a parameter, simply double-click on the value name and enter the new value data:
You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
The Superfetch hitch
Since Windows v1803 (I think), a change has been made to the services. There was a service called Superfetch, but it is now associated with the new name. The reason I mention this is not the case before the “stick” when trying to disable Superfetch.
- Use the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC buttons to open Task Manager.
- Click the Services tab.
- At the bottom of the window, click the link labeled Open Services.
- In the Services Manager, drill down until you see the entry labeled SysMain and double-click on it.
- In the Properties sheet that opens, click the Stop button if the service is running.
- In the drop-down menu, choose Disabled.
- OK your way out of all the windows.
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