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Windows XP automatically loads programs it thinks you might need. The prefetch folder helps increase the loading of programs. However, it is waste of memory if it grabs unnecessary programs.
The prefetch folder can be accessed at C:Windows\prefetch. If you have installed Windows in any other drive, replace C with the corresponding drive.
Open the above folder and delete all the contents. Once you start using common programs, Windows will go through the same process and grab the required programs. Just like the TEMP directory on your system, the prefetch folder can fill up with lots of unused entries and take up needed space.
To change settings for your prefetch folder, go into the system's registry. You can do this with regedit. Type Start --> Run --> type regedit --> Enter.
Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows XP Pro