XP: Speed Up Your System by Clearing the Prefetch Folder

Posted September 8, 2004 by MickeyMouse in Windows

Prefetching can speed up or slow down your computer. Having too many files in your prefetch folder could slow down your system; however, deleting unused or unwanted files can help speed things up again. This tutorial explains how to explore your prefetch folder to determine if you have unwanted or unused files that can be deleted.


Windows prefetches parts of files to help speed up the applications you use the most. Windows loads aspects of programs beforehand to accelerate your program execution.

If Windows places enough of these sections of files in the prefetch folder, the system can slow down. The systems that I have seen this affect most are those with a small amount of memory. Users that run (and try out) a huge number of different programs seem also to be affected.

To see what you have prefetched, use the following steps to explore your prefetch folder.

    1. Click Start.
    2. Click Run.
    3. Type the following in the textbox, and click OK:
    C:\windows\Prefetch

My folder currently contains several installers which I will never run again. If you look at the Details view, you can see the date of these files. You can delete all of these file sniplets from the Explorer window or though a DOS box:

    1. Click Start.
    2. Click Run.
    3. Type cmd in the textbox, and press OK to open a command prompt.
    4. From the command prompt, type the following and hit ENTER:
    del c:\windows\prefetch\*.pf

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