Among the innovations offered to users, by far the most efficient is the handling of virtual memory in Windows 7. However, as the RAM on the computer increases, the paging file size must match the larger capacity of the computer memory.
There are several benefits to running every Windows 7 session with a cleared paging file. Learn about virtual memory and how to force Windows 7 to clear the virtual memory paging file when the operating system shuts down.
What is virtual memory?
The amount of memory that you can fit into your computer is limited. To make better use of the information your computer needs to track, Windows 7 uses a small portion of your hard drive to simulate more memory and make memory allocations more accessible to applications.
The amount of hard disk space set aside for virtual memory ranges from zero to 1-2 times the memory installed on your computer. There is much debate about how much Windows memory should be allocated for virtual memory, but 1.5 times the physical memory on a PC is a common heuristic.
Why wipe the virtual memory?
When you turn off Windows 7, data in your computer’s RAM is lost because the PC’s memory is volatile. This means that all data in memory is lost when the computer is turned off. Since virtual memory is stored on the hard drive, what remains in virtual memory when you shut down will still be there when you turn on your computer during your next session.
Virtual memory in Windows 7 is fairly safe since only the operating system is allowed to read and write the virtual memory paging file. However, there are some security risks.
When you dual boot your computer, someone might be able to access and read data from the paging file while using a different 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 could damage or steal information in virtual memory.
One way to combat this is to simply force Windows 7 to delete the virtual memory paging file every time the operating system shuts down. The only drawback to this is that the shutdown time can increase to three minutes as Windows 7 cleans up a file that is 2 to 16 gigabytes in size. Choosing to clean up the paging file at shutdown is a matter of security or convenience.
How to clear the virtual memory file on shutdown
To force Windows 7 to clear the virtual memory paging file on shutdown, start by logging on to the operating system using an account with administrator privileges.
Note. This method will not work for Windows Home or Starter users as you do not have access to the local security policy.
Then click Start All Programs Administrative Tools Local Security Policy. The Local Security Policy Settings window will open.
In the left pane, click the Local Polices folder and then click the Security Options folder. This will display a variety of local computer security policies from which you can choose your computer.
In the right pane, find the Shutdown: Clear Virtual Memory Pagefile option. Right-click this option and select Properties.
On the Local Security Settings tab, select the Enabled option. Click OK, and now every time you shut down Windows 7, your PC’s virtual memory paging file will be cleared of all data.
Leaving data in the virtual memory paging file is a security risk, especially if you are dual-booting a computer with an operating system other than Windows 7. Forcing Windows 7 to clear the paging file will give you a safer computer with no leftover information. in your swap file to slow you down. In fact, many people report that the overall Windows 7 experience gets better when they start each session with nothing in virtual memory.