How to Delete Windows Prefetch Files

While deleting Windows Prefetch files is generally safe, it’s important to understand the pros, cons and the right way to do it before doing it.

How to Delete Prefetch Files

Disk Cleanup:

  • Search for “Disk Cleanup” and run the utility.
  • Select the drive where Windows is installed (usually C:).
  • Check the box for “Prefetch files” and click “OK”.

Manual Deletion:

  • Navigate to C:\Windows\Prefetch.
  • Select all files (Ctrl + A) and delete them. You might need administrator privileges.

What are Prefetch Files?

Purpose: Prefetch files contain data about frequently used programs. Windows uses them to speed up application launch times.

Location: They’re found in the C:\Windows\Prefetch folder.

Why Delete Prefetch Files?

Reclaim Space: Prefetch files can accumulate over time, although they usually take up minimal space.

Troubleshooting: In rare cases, corrupted Prefetch files can cause slowdowns. Deleting them can force Windows to regenerate clean versions.

Privacy (Mild Concern): Prefetch files contain information about the programs you run, which could be a minor privacy concern for some.

Why You Might NOT Want to Delete Them

Minimal Performance Impact: The speed gains from deleting Prefetch files are generally negligible especially on modern systems with SSDs.

Self Maintaining: Windows limits the Prefetch folder size and older files get automatically deleted.

Other Things

Windows Regenerates Them: Prefetch files will be recreated when you use your computer again.

Focus on Broader Optimization: If performance is your goal, prioritize other system maintenance like freeing up disk space and defragmenting your hard drive (not as crucial on SSDs)

Should You Delete Prefetch Files?

In most cases, no. The potential benefits are minimal and Windows manages them relatively well. If you have a specific reason (troubleshooting or extreme space constraints) you can delete them.

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