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Supafetch

Zaiden

Pizza Time
So I've reinstalled Vista recently and been tweaking things like crazy. One thing I've been told to disable by some and others to keep it enabled is Superfetch. All I really know about it is that it caches ram and uses it for programs you use often.

I've asked a few friends, and two of them said to keep it enabled, while another said to disable it. What do you guys think I should do?

My system specs are:

Windows Vista Home Premium x64
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5600+ 2.81 GHz
4GB RAM
Nvidia 8800GTS 312MB
 

Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Keep it enabled. With 4GB of RAM, this is where Vista really shines; It really speeds things up, like the launching of your favourite web browser, media player, etc. It updates its cache periodically to prune applications that aren't "popular" on the system and prioritizes the applications that you use most often. As I understand it, the information gathered by Superfetch, in some cases, is also used to prioritize the order in which some files are placed on the hard drive during defragmentation. If you had a system with 1GB of RAM or lower, I would recommend disabling it, but with 4GB of RAM, there is no need to disable Superfetch except if you're concerned with startup time (and then you'd only be losing a few seconds versus the extra time required while waiting for Firefox and other programs to load, each time). This was a feature partially implemented in XP, and wasn't controllable by default because the performance impact on most systems was negligible compared to the gains.
 

Zaiden

Pizza Time
Ah, ok. Two questions I forgot to add:

Does it affect games in any way?

If I disabled it, does the progress it's made when it was enabled disappear or is it stored somewhere?
 

Runefox

Kitsune of the PC Master Race
Does it affect games in any way?
If you launch the game often enough, it may be included in the cache and load more quickly in the future; Otherwise, no. Any memory used by Superfetch is immediately released if another application requires it.

If I disabled it, does the progress it's made when it was enabled disappear or is it stored somewhere?
It depends. After a certain amount of time, items in the cache expire and the general readings are inaccurate. Defragmentations may have moved the files to different spots, and the general state of the cache could be completely different from the current usage of the computer. That said, the Superfetch information is stored in "C:\Windows\Prefetch" by default, but I wouldn't recommend doing anything to the files you see there. This is also where information about ReadyBoost is stored.

The only real problem with keeping Superfetch enabled is that when you first install Windows, it very actively tries to seek out what you use the most, and does a lot of work optimizing the system. Once that's over, though, which should take maybe a day of general use, your performance will level off and become what it normally is with Superfetch disabled. The same goes for when you install a Vista service pack (SP1 did this).

EDIT: Oh, I nearly forgot, one other aspect of Superfetch is that it also prioritizes what data gets paged from RAM to the swap file/virtual memory, so that things like virus scans or other intensive activity doesn't impact system responsiveness quite so much. It also catalogues what time of the day certain applications are launched on average so that it can try to preload them in advance.
 
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net-cat

Infernal Kitty
If you're the sort who will spend an extra $500-$1000 on a system to get that extra 2 FPS, then yes. Disable SuperFetch. It's just another background process in that case.

If you're a normal PC user and you have 4GB RAM, might as well leave it enabled. Other than the small amount of overhead the service has it doesn't actually stop you from using your memory. It just caches things in the memory you're not actually using.
 
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