How can I return my Windows XP computer to its original speed after goofing up the Prefetch folder?
September 18, 2006 10:17 PM   Subscribe

How can I return my Windows XP computer to its original speed after goofing up the Prefetch folder?

Last week, I followed some advice that said to erase all the files from my Prefetch folder and change the registry so only boot files are preloaded. After getting irritated by slow program loads, I changed the registry back to normal.

Now, however, when I open programs, my computer stops dead for 10-15 seconds to load it. Is there any way I can get my computer back in shape? Or do I just have to wait it out until the Prefetch folder learns which programs to preload?

By the way, even opening "My Computer" or "My Music" will take 10-15 seconds to load.
posted by jordanian2 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)

The hit "Launch System Restore," and restore it to a time before you deleted the prefetch. I was in the same boat.

By the way, it shouldn't delete documents or anything you've downloaded since then, it really just restores the system settings and Windows folder.
posted by awesomebrad at 10:35 PM on September 18, 2006

FYI...I know it's probably too late to help you, but here's why it's probably not a good idea to clean out the prefetch folder.
posted by jaimev at 11:23 PM on September 18, 2006

It's overkill to do a system restore. The information here should be enough to get the job done (although it should just do it by itself). Read the whole thread before diving in. This Google search will bring some more info.

Here's why nuking the Prefetch folder is not helpful.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:02 AM on September 19, 2006

Whoops, I see jaimev already posted that last link.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:02 AM on September 19, 2006

More explanation...

Optimization Myths

Also known as "Bad Tweaks" these are frequently recommended and included in various tweaking programs claiming to improve performance. In each case they either do absolutely nothing or even worse, actually hurt performance. For Tweaks that work use the Optimize XP guide.

Myth - "Deleting the contents of the Prefetch folder improves performance"

Reality - "Every time you delete an application's Prefetch (.PF) file you will cripple that application's load time the next time you go to launch it. This can temporarily increase load times by as much as 100%. For one thing, XP will just re-create the Prefetch (.PF) trace files anyway; secondly, it trims the files if there's ever more than 128 of them so that it doesn't needlessly consume space. However you do not regain optimal application load times back until after the second time you launch the same application due to the Prefetch (.PF) trace file being re-created.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:06 AM on September 19, 2006

System Restore is only useful if you have a recent enough restore point to use.

I recomend using this guide to automagically create one daily. You'll never lose more than a days worth of changes!
posted by lemonfridge at 3:55 AM on September 19, 2006

I recommend turning it off entirely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:19 AM on September 19, 2006

I recomend not implementing changes that you read about on unless you know what you are doing.
posted by fixedgear at 8:50 AM on September 19, 2006

I recommend not implementing changes to your PC you read about on lifehacker. I am not in a position to judge the quality of their mac advice, but I know they're big on macs there. Also, I've come across several ill-advised PC tips lately, and they've recommended some really shitty spyware infested software quite recently.

Sorry Gina, but it's true. Your PC tweaks are just not up to the high quality of all your other stuff.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2006

I did it, too (hangs head in shame). I swear when I'm under stress, I seem to fill up my time by overtweaking my computer and end up making the whole situation worse. So far, I haven't had any bad repercussions, but I do think that the advice to not launch in and make changes just because Lifehacker said they were a good idea is great advice. Who KNOWS what damage I've done in the last few weeks from over-tweaking! I'm a great software and web user, but in terms of tweaking the way Windows and local hardware works, I'm a moron to say the least. My poor registry is probably reeling from all the damage I've done lately!
posted by abbyladybug at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2006

"they've recommended some really shitty spyware infested software quite recently"

Yeah, is that why I get some stupid popup error message lately telling me that is not a valid entry or whatever? Ugh! (If you know about this, please email me. Spybot + Adware can't find this spyware, and I'm getting sick of it!)
posted by abbyladybug at 2:05 PM on September 21, 2006

Anybody that knows their way around Windows has been fully aware of the Prefetch folder for several years; no late-breaking news here. It made me smirk to see this on LifeHacker last week, immediately reminding me of all those 'tutorial' posts they're always posting, like they know their way around a PC.

Personally, I just use LifeHacker for the comments section, because 9 times out of 10, I've just read the same thing she did and gather more info or alternatives from the masses via the comments than the post itself.

You can always tell when they want to broaden their database, when they ask the public 'what do you think/use/suggest?', so that, like Google, they acquire for free, and get the 'eyes' money for it, but I guess it's a good source for those that need quik-stop shopping; everyone just needs to do their own research as well.
posted by BillyG at 8:04 AM on September 23, 2006

forgot: to lemonfridge:

your 'daily fix' assumes people reboot everyday, otherwise I would've checked it out on my box, then again, my nightly external HD Ghost image, and then using Karen's Replicator for a complete drive backup (giving me access to non-imaged individual files) already suffices just fine.

posted by BillyG at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2006

Mr. Gunn: Care to pass on the evil software that we should stay away from?
posted by lukemeister at 2:29 AM on September 26, 2006

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