Sandboxie is a very lightweight Windows sandbox that — guess what — runs applications in a sandbox. This Windows sandbox is completely detached from your Windows installation. So if the website or application starts to do malicious things, everything stays inside the box. No registry keys are set, and nothing is written on your hard disk. You can find the Sandboxie homepage here.
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Keeping your computer secure and tidy is a tedious but necessary job. If you don’t want to waste time on dealing with security measures, there is a simple solution to minimize your computer’s exposure to security risks: Install only the most necessary applications, and don’t surf on untrusted sites. However, in an administrator’s daily life there is always a reason to bend this rule.
You sometimes want to test tools you read about on the web. Other times, you have a problem to fix quickly, and to develop a solution you often need to try out different software versions. Some days you will have to deal with security issues, and during your research you may need to leave the securer part of the Internet and open some hacker sites. These are just a few reasons why nearly every computer is cluttered with unattended applications after some months of work. Virtualization offers a nice solution to this problem, but it is quite resource heavy and often requires additional software licenses.
After the free Windows sandbox is installed, you can run applications shielded from the rest of your installation just by dragging the application to the Sandboxie window.
You can launch applications into the sandbox directly from Windows Explorer, too, because Sandboxie automatically adds itself to the Explorer context menu. Zip files can be opened in a sandbox by using the “send to” context menu.
If you are already running some applications, you will sometimes forget which windows run in the sandbox and which don’t. The Windows sandbox offers a simple tool to check if a window is guarded or not. You just have to drag the Finder Tool over a window and the tool tells you if the window runs in the sandbox or not.
A side note: When I tried to edit the configuration I was quite surprised when Notepad opened and I had to edit an ini file manually. It reminded me a lot of my Linux times. 😉
All in all, Sandboxie is a tremendously helpful Windows sandbox if you want to try out new software or if you are experimenting with potentially harmful tools.