You do what!?

So, I mentioned last time that I regularly reinstall the many Operating systems on my PC. I’ll tell you why, but first a (not so) hypothetical situation:

You’ve been running your PC for over a year, and you’ve started to notice that it isn’t as fast as it once was. What should you do?

I know, you could follow one of those innocuous links that Google has thrown at you. You know the ones ‘Boost you PCs performance!’ or some such nonsense. You could run their online ‘speed measuring software’ to find out how fast your PC is. You could then install the software that they’re advertising for a premium, and watch a temporary speed boost happen; which leads to even more slow downs.

You could do that. Of course, you really shouldn’t. There’s a post in this about being ad savy when browsing The Internet (‘Yes, it’s a proper noun. Who knew?‘), but I’ll save that for another day.

Fido! Do you’re stuff!

Let me introduce you to a guy called the Super Fetch. Here:

Image via CuppaCafe

Actually, that’s not him. That’s Underdog.

What I want to mention (albeit in passing) is the process called the Pre-Fetch, Auto-Fetch or the Super Fetch. They’re all different names for, essentially, the same thing. It’s a part of your Operating System, and it’s job is to guess what you want to do. Here’s the set up:

  1. Install you’re operating system and begin customising it
  2. Install all of your ‘essential’ programs
  3. Start using your PC

From the very first boot the prefetch is running in the background, watching which programs your running, how often you run them, and how long they’re open for. After a few boots, it gets a handle on the type of things you’re starting you PC up to do.

For me, it’s been Games, Movies, and Blogging recently

The more and more you boot into your operating system, the slower it becomes. This is because the prefetch is doing it’s job, and loading in all the programs that you used most recently. If that happens to be a 4gig video game, or After Effects then so be it. The prefetch is only doing it’s job.

All of that memory taken up by the prefetch loading your programs at boot slows down the booting of the operating system itself. So you’ll find yourself clicking on you’re email reader 900 times, swearing like a drunken sailor for it not loading in a timely fashion, then swearing twice as much when presented with 400 windows all telling you that you’ve already got your email reader open.

Why add this into my operating system?

Simple. When it’s used properly, it can make your PC way more efficient. The problem occurs when we are impatient with our PCs.

Don’t pretend that you aren’t either. I’ve seen you, swearing at your computer or saying that you don’t understand them because you’re program has disappeared from view inexplicably.

When people start pulling up programs as soon as the desktop environment (think, ‘That’s my wallpaper and my 400 icons on the desktop,’ and you’ll know what a desktop environment is) appears, thinking that the computer has finished booting. The prefetch takes note of this, and loads those programs into memory the very next time you boot up your computer.

If we all gave our PC’s a second or two to finish booting before firing up iTunes, Firefox and Steam all at once, then the prefetch wouldn’t ‘go nova’ as my brother would say.

So, that’s why you reinstall your operating systems?

The prefetch (and it’s behaviour on Windows) is one of the reasons I reinstall often. Others are efficiency, and a little bit of a compulsion.

Now, I know saying that I reinstall an operating system with the purpose of making it more efficient is a little controversial.

Why should I have to do anything to make it more efficient? Surely if I’ve paid all this money, it should be efficient all by it’s self, right?

Yes, and no. In the sense that a Car is only efficient when it’s maintained. Sure a car is a little different, but it still needs a little help every now and again. (Plus, you don’t expect a car to drive itself, do you?)

All right, enough

I’ll leave you with that, since I can’t really think of anything else to say about the prefetch.

Oh except that, yes I know that you can clear the prefetch data, but that doesn’t take the place of a good reinstall every no and then.

Till next time – which might only be a few hours from now,



Please forgive my rather rambling style today. I’ve had about 40 minutes sleep in the past 2 days, and it seems to be affecting my eyes, my thoughts and my speech.

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Jamie is a .NET developer specialising in ASP.NET MVC websites and services, with a background in WinForms and Games Development. When not programming using .NET, he is either learning about .NET Core (and usually building something cross platform with it), speaking Japanese to anyone who'll listen, learning about languages, writing for this blog, or writing for a blog about Retro Gaming (which he runs with his brother)