Have you ever received a suspicious file in your inbox? If you’ve ever downloaded a file thinking it was a program you needed and it turned out to be a virus, you know how devastating it can be. Whether on a laptop or a desktop, your whole system can crash and burn in no time. Running such files is always a risk, especially when they come from the Internet.
You need to test the software before you run it to protect the security of your PC. This can be done with a virtual machine. A virtual machine (VM) creates a virtual environment that is safe and allows you to test a program and check if it’s clean.
Most VMs require a separate Microsoft Windows License to create a virtual OS. Luckily, Microsoft has released the perfect solution to the problem: Windows Sandbox. Now, you can test endless software programs without needing an OS license, ensuring programs are safe before they affect your computer.
Though Windows already offers Windows Defender and other Windows security, Windows Sandbox gives you something different and is best described as one-part VM and one-part application. Software programs that you install within Sandbox stay isolated.
As a result, they cannot affect your PC and are, in effect, “sandboxed.” The best part is that any changes or installation you made inside Sandbox is deleted once you close the program. This enables you to download .exe files and run them in a secure space without worrying about your system’s security.
The program is only available for the Enterprise, Education, and Windows Pro. You cannot run it if operating Windows 10 Home.
A major advantage of the program is its low system requirements. These are as follows:
- 64-bit Windows version (any of the above versions)
- 4GB RAM
- 1GB disk space
- Dual core processor
- Virtualization capabilities
Currently, you can get Sandbox by joining the Windows Insider Program. Furthermore, you need to put your PC on the Fast Track Updates. This can lead to loss of data and system crashes, so you need to be careful. Microsoft is always releasing new updates that tend to be unstable.
We recommend installing it to another PC or including a backup of your system. Install Insider build 18305 or a higher version on your system.
Enabling Windows Sandbox is a relatively simple process, involving the following steps:
- Enable virtualization in the BIOS of your system. It is most often already set up by default. However, we still recommend that you check for it.
- Start the Task Manager program and open the Performance tab.
- Select the CPU option and check if the Virtualization is enabled on the right panel.
- If not, enable it by going to your computer’s BIOS settings.
- After enabling the virtualization, navigate your way to the Control Panel. Open the program and select the Turn Windows Features On or Off option.
- In that window, click on the Windows Sandbox option to enable it.
⦁ Afterward, click OK and restart your system.
- After restarting your windows, you’ll find a shortcut to Sandbox in the Start Menu. It may ask for permission to make changes to your system. Grant it the privileges it asks for.
- You’ll see an exact replica of your system within the Sandbox windows.
The best part is that the virtual system is generated from your host system. Thus, Windows will always be up to date. However, since it’s a clean installation, it will only run the default apps that are included with Windows as well as the original Windows wallpaper.
Another benefit of Sandbox is you can run it inside a VM you’re already using. However, you will need to turn on the option for Nested Virtualization. To do this, go to PowerShell inside the VM and type in this command:
Set-VMProcessor -VMName <VMName> - ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $true
This way, your virtual Windows inside the VM can make use of the virtualization extensions, enabling Sandbox to use them within that VM.
How to Use Sandbox
Sandbox is simple and easy to use, especially if you’ve used a VM before. You simply copy and paste the software files you want to test into Sandbox.
To make it even safer, you can download the file within Sandbox from your preferred browser then continue running the program as usual.
If you’re working with a .exe file, you can install it within Sandbox so it remains isolated from the host system.
Deleting a file deletes it permanently from your system. It does not end up in the Recycle Bin. After testing your required program, close Sandbox as you would any other app that deletes the copied system entirely.
Your system remains in its original condition and you’re returned to a clean slate every time you close it. That’s all that is required. Using the software program is hassle-free and reduces risk to your PC.
Benefits and Drawbacks
The best thing with Sandbox is that you do not need to create a separate Virtual Hard Disk for creating a virtual system. Instead, the program works with a clean replica of your version of Windows.
Also, it links to the files on your system that don’t undergo changes. This ensures a light replica of your system. The typical size of the replica is about 100 MB.
In addition, it does not require a license to run your OS as it is a copy of your host system. Even though the host and the VM are separate, they do work together occasionally. To ensure that your system doesn’t slow down, the host system often reinstates memory space from the VM. This enables proper optimization of power.
While this may work on minimal hardware, having better components will increase the chances of better operation. The only downside is that it doesn’t work with the Windows 10 Home version.
Overall, Sandbox is an amazing new feature that will allow you to test software programs before they affect your system. The separate and isolated environment ensures the security and safety of your host system.
Sandbox offers many different features, the most impressive of which include that it’s suitable for a laptop and requires minimal storage space.