How to Clear the Windows Paging File at Shutdown

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Article ID: 182086 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q182086
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 314834.
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SUMMARY

This article documents the method for clearing the Windows paging file (Pagefile.sys) during the shutdown process, so that no unsecured data is contained in the paging file when the shutdown process is complete.

Some third-party programs may temporarily store unencrypted (plain-text) passwords or other sensitive information in memory. Because of Windows virtual memory architecture, this information may be present in the paging file.

Although clearing the paging file is not a suitable substitute for physical security of a computer, you may want to increase the security of data on a computer while Windows is not running.

MORE INFORMATION

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows
  1. Start Registry Editor.
  2. Change the data value of the ClearPageFileAtShutdown value in the following registry key to a value of 1:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\ Memory Management
    If the value does not exist, add the following value:
    Value Name: ClearPageFileAtShutdown
    Value Type: REG_DWORD
    Value: 1
  3. Restart your computer for the change to take effect.
Note: When you enable this registry change, your computer may take more time to shut down. For additional information about Session Manager memory management settings, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
102985 REG: CurrentControlSet Entries PART 2: SessionManager

Properties

Article ID: 182086 - Last Review: February 27, 2007 - Revision: 3.3
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbenv kbhowto KB182086

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