Did you know that some third party programs can temporarily store unencrypted sensitive information like passwords in memory? Windows’ virtual memory architecture makes it possible for this information to be present in the paging file.
If you want to increase your security, you might want to clear the pagefile on system shutdown. Although this may increase your security, clearing pagefile on shutdown may also increase the computer shutdown time. The amount of time your computer takes to shutdown will depend on the amount of data in the page file.
Clearing the pagefile on shutdown ensures that no unsecured data is present in the paging file when shutdown is complete. Clearing the pagefile is not an adequate substitute for a computer’s physical security but it may increase data security on a computer while Windows is not running.
To clear the pagefile on system shutdown you need to perform a registry tweak. The tweak presented here is for Windows XP based computers. You should also make a backup of your registry settings as a safeguard against possible errors.
This is how you clear the pagefile when shutting down.
- Click Start and go to Run. Enter regedit and wait for the registry editor to come up.
- Go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE folder on the left of the registry editor. Expand this folder.
- Now go to SYSTEM. Expand this folder to take you to CurrentControlSet.
- Expand CurrentControlSet. Look for Control and expand.
- Go to the Session Manager folder. Expand the folder.
- Now go to Memory Management.
- Look at the right side of your registry editor. Look for ClearPageFileAtShutdown. If you see the value, go to step eight. If ClearPageFileAtShutdown is not there, create the value by following the steps below.
- Right click on the right side of the registry editor.
- Select New and then select DWORD.
- Rename the new DWORD value ClearPageFileAtShutdown or right click on DWORD and select Rename.
If you don’t mind the longer shutdown process and would like greater security, clearing the pagefile may be right for you. However, if you feel that security is not an issue and would rather not have a longer wait period, you can also opt to disable the process.