Force Windows 7 to clear virtual memory page file on shutdown

Among the benefits offered to the users, Windows 7’s processing of virtual memory is the most efficient to date. However, as the RAM in a computer increases, the size of the paging file must also be adjusted to accommodate the larger capacity of the computer’s memory.

There are several advantages to starting any Windows 7 session with a wiped paging file. Learn more about virtual memory and how to force Windows 7 to delete your virtual memory page file when the operating system shuts down.

What is Virtual Memory?

The amount of memory you can put in your computer is finite. To make more efficient use of information your computer needs to keep track of, Windows 7 uses a small portion of your hard drive to simulate more memory and make memory allocation more accessible to applications.

The amount of hard drive space reserved for virtual memory ranges from zero to about 1 to 2 times the memory you have installed on your computer. There is much debate about how much memory Windows should reserve for virtual memory, but 1.5 times the physical memory on a PC is the general heuristic.

Why clear virtual memory?

When you shut down Windows 7, the data in your computer’s RAM is lost because PC memory is volatile. This means that as soon as the power supply to the computer is interrupted, all data in the memory will be lost. Since virtual memory is stored on the hard drive, what remains in virtual memory when you shut down will still be there when you start up your computer during your next session.

Virtual memory is quite safe within Windows 7 because only the operating system has permission to read and write to the virtual memory page file. However, there are some security risks associated with it.

If you double boot your computer, it is possible for someone to access and read data from the paging file when you use the other operating system, because Windows 7 is not running and cannot protect the file. A lesser threat is the possibility that a virus or other malware can corrupt or steal information in virtual memory.

One way to counter this is to simply have Windows 7 delete the virtual memory paging file when the operating system is shut down. The only downside to this is that it can add up to three minutes to your shutdown time as Windows 7 erases the file from 2 to 16 gigabytes. Choosing to clear the paging file on exit is a matter of security versus convenience.

Clear virtual memory page file on exit

To force Windows 7 to clear the virtual memory paging file on shutdown, start by logging into the operating system with an account with administrator privileges.

Remark: This method will not work for users who have the Home or Starter edition of Windows, because you cannot access the local security policy.

Then click Start>All Programs>Administrative Tools>Local Security Policy† This opens the Local Security Policy options window.

In the left pane, click the Local Police Map and then click the Security options folder. This shows a variety of local computer security policies that you can choose from for your PC.

Windows 7 Local Policy Security Options

In the right pane, find an option titled Exit: Clear Virtual Memory Page File† Right click on this option and choose Properties

Shutdown Windows 7 Clear Virtual Memory Page File

On the Local security setting tab, choose the Switched on choice. Click on the Okay button and now every time you shut down Windows 7, your PC’s virtual memory page file will be cleared of all data.

Exit Windows 7 Clear the properties of the virtual memory page file

The data that remains in your virtual memory paging file is a security risk, especially if you double boot your PC with an operating system other than Windows 7. Forcing Windows 7 to delete your paging file will make your computer more secure and no information will be left behind. over in your pagefile to slow you down. In fact, many people report an overall better Windows 7 experience when they start each session with nothing in virtual memory.

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