All the “for” and “against” debate kept aside, the fact remains that Windows continues to be the operating system of choice for most small and midsized businesses, as well as enterprises with full-blown IT departments.
Windows 10 advertisements, especially those targeted at enterprise customers, look to promote the idea of fast boot (less than 15 seconds). This goes without saying: Quick boot and quick loading of applications continue to be key parameters on which end users evaluate operating system updates. This means you can get more work done quicker.
Windows did the blunder of the millennium with Windows Vista, and after a well-regarded Windows 7 rollout, released the grand mess of Windows 8. The negative feedback that flew from bottom to IT gatekeepers and decision makers was – the operating system is “slow.”
In light of all the negative sentiment that’s grown around Windows operating systems in the past decade, the focus automatically lands on functionalities, settings, customizations, upgrades, tools, and techniques that, well, speed things up. SuperFetch is a technology that promises precisely that – speed. Let’s understand how SuperFetch works, why it’s different than other similar techniques used earlier, and why you’d do well to not disable it in your Windows.
Advanced caching and trace management
SuperFetch delivers the dual benefit of fast OS boot, and fast application loading. The core principle it uses to achieve both these outcomes is pretty easy to grasp.
For the OS to load, or for any application to load, we need data files, which need to be accessed in a specific order. Now, the best-case scenario for quick loading is, when:
- The files are available in fast access memory, that’s RAM.
- The files are placed in the sequence they’ll be needed in.
SuperFetch analyzes the booting, and the application loading, and prepares a trace document with all this information. This trace document, then, helps SuperFetch prepare beforehand, so that it can arrange the files in a manner that enables the fastest loading.
Context of timing
Another superb functionality of SuperFetch is its ability to understand “when” you access certain applications. It uses this information to store those application files in RAM that are likely to be called sometime soon. This timing information is also captured in the trace files it manages.
ReadyBoost: Helping SuperFetch do better
Any files that are not accommodated within RAM are stored in a secondary fast storage. In most cases, this is the hard disk. Now, this is where ReadyBoost comes to the fore, and tries to use faster flash storage for files that can’t be stored on RAM, instead of using disk storage.
Of course, this becomes important in system with low RAM (1GB or less), and is not too evident in systems with large RAM (2GB or more). For low RAM systems operating Windows Vista or higher, SuperFetch and ReadyBoost combine to deliver the maximum observable advantage.
Which Windows versions does SuperFetch work with?
Apart from Windows XP, SuperFetch is supported by all other Windows versions. Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and now Windows 10 – it works with all. In Windows 8 and Windows 10, the SuperFetch service is smarter than ever.
That's because it can automatically switch itself off when it identifies that the solid state device being used is fast enough to offset the advantages to be had by implementing SuperFetch. Also, SuperFetch is enabled automatically when a slow SSD is detected. In Windows 7, SuperFetch is disabled systemwide automatically if a fast SSD is detected.
Should I disable or enable SuperFetch?
Google it, and you’ll see contrasting opinions. Much of the thought process behind disabling SuperFetch in Windows stems from the prevalence of misconceptions around how it works. Here are three opinions “experts” harbor, but which deserve a deeper consideration, and ultimately, are not really true!
Misconception 1: SuperFetch limits free RAM
With SuperFetch activated, you’ll observe that the proportion of your computer’s RAM designated as “free” will be lower than otherwise, and the proportion of memory designated as “cached” will be higher than otherwise.
Reason – SuperFetch keeps files necessary for loading frequently used applications in the memory, to enable quick access. This increases the cached memory component.
Does this mean that new applications won’t get memory to load quickly? Not at all. That’s because in Windows, SuperFetch gets lower priority than memory allocation requests made by new applications. So, even though the free memory seems low, a large portion of the cached memory is also available to new processes and applications. Yes, you get fries with that! But keep them saltless, French fries do not need any extra salt!
Misconception 2: To improve system performance, disable SuperFetch.
Nothing could be further from truth! Several guides about “improving Windows OS performance” suggest that you disable SuperFetch. However, most people suggest this out of lack of knowledge about SuperFetch, and in congruence with the general belief about “switch off what you don’t need in Windows.” If Windows is not performing well on a computer, disabling SuperFetch can only slow things down and not help you out at all.
Misconception 3: SuperFetch slows your boot speed.
Again, this is in total contrast to what SuperFetch delivers to your computer. SuperFetch works to make your operating system’s boot speed better than before by arranging the files needed to boot in the sequence they’re needed. Secondly, a question you should ask yourself is – how many times do you boot your computer daily?
The speed advantage that SuperFetch offers in application loading can’t be offset by even a significant spurt in the time taken to boot.
The answer to the question under discussion, then, is that there’s no reason for you to disable SuperFetch in Windows.
Speedy booting and quick application launches save vital minutes daily, and considering that SuperFetch enables this on every computer in your organization, the potential it has is immense. Use the information shared in the guide to check whether SuperFetch is activated in all computers, and empower your employees with an empowered operating system.