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 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…