What Does Prefetching Mean?

Prefetching is the loading of a resource before it is required to decrease the time waiting for that resource. Examples include instruction prefetching where a CPU caches data and instruction blocks before they are executed, or a web browser requesting copies of commonly accessed web pages. Prefetching functions often make use of a cache.


Techopedia Explains Prefetching

Prefetching allows applications and hardware to maximize performance and minimize wait times by preloading resources that users will need before they request them.

Web browsers employ prefetching by preloading commonly accessed pages. When the user navigates to the page, it loads quickly because the browser is pulling it from the cache. Some browser plugins download all of the pages that have been hyperlinked to attempt to speed up the browser.

Some operating systems, such as Windows, cache files that a program needs on startup to make loading faster.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.