This security mechanism creates a virtual PC within the Windows PC which acts as a safe zone for testing untrusting programs, applications that we mostly acquire from unknown sources or websites.
This virtual cum Sandbox PC separates itself from the real PC as a small operating Window. You can securely open browsers; access websites that you often dread would bring malicious codes and viruses to your host device.
So when you find a particular program or application to be absolutely safe, you can bring them out by copying the files out of the Sandbox PC.
Most surprisingly, if you have ever discovered any malicious codes or software vulnerabilities, you can immediately shut down the Sandbox operating Windows. And the entire content that was running within the Window will all be obliterated immediately without harming your operating system.
However, you will need Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise version to run this feature. Windows 10 Home version does not support it.
How to Start Windows Sandbox?
On a precise note, Windows sandbox is a very lightweight tool that offers a tight and secured environment for guest programs to run in. You will be awed to find out how beautifully the virtualization of a new PC within the actual PC is created with its own memory space, operating system, storage, etc.
Although, Windows has already given a similar kind of facility using Hyper-V, but Sandbox is a more user-friendly version of Hyper-V.
But you need to make sure that your Windows 10 PC apart from being Pro or Enterprise version, possess certain special pre-requisites for Sandbox’s powerful virtualization features.
The specifications that your PC needs are as follows:
- Windows 10 Server, Pro or Enterprise version.
- Though 8 GB of RAM is recommended by experts, a minimum of 4GB is enough to maintain it.
- With at least two CPU cores, a 64-bit processor is required. If it is a quad-core chip, that would be best.
- The Virtualization feature needs to be activated in your BIOS settings of the motherboard.
- Minimum of 1 GB of free hard disk space is needed (SSD recommended).
Even though Windows Sandbox comes as a default program with Windows 10 Pro, Server or Enterprise versions, but it does not come pre-installed. You have to install it first from the Control Panel.
So basically you first need to go to “Control Panel” and search in the search field “Turn Windows features on and off.
Now from the newly opened up windows, scroll down and check the “Windows Sandbox” checkbox, click “Ok” and restart your computer and the Windows will start installing it automatically.
Once the installation is done, you can simply type Windows Sandbox in the Windows search box, and it will be loaded within a few minutes.
How to Use Windows Sandbox?
Basically, it would look like a small Window on your desktop screen. Within it, the entire environment looks similar to that of a Windows 10 operating system.
It is cleverly designed in such a way that none of your personalized options which are primarily installed on the real PC is shown here. No personal details, no third party software will appear here. In facts that’s good. It makes your personal data less vulnerable to invading malware contents. Isn’t it?
You can use the File Explorer, with certain restrictions to PC resources since sandbox does not all your real PC contents in its interface.
So now once you have enabled the Windows Sandbox and the system restarts, it is now time to fire it up. You can find the Sandbox option in the “Start” menu or you can type “Sandbox” in the search box. If it asks for administrative privileges, click “Ok” and continue.
Now you will see a blue screen somewhat similar to the image given below.
You will find certain distinctions than a normal Windows screen. It’s more of a simplified version of Windows desktop with default wallpaper in the background and only the default apps appearing on the virtual screen.
So if you have ever before used Hyper-V VM, then you will find familiarity in its usage. Now suppose you have got a file from a friend or colleague, or you have downloaded it from online websites. If you doubt that the file comprises unwanted malware contents which might put your PC to potential threats, simply copy the file and paste it into the newly opened Sandbox virtual Window.
Open it or use it like you normally do with your files, but right now any kind of invading codes will not harm your system anymore since you are protected by the Sandbox protocols within its interface.
Few things you need to keep riveted to your mind. Firstly, you cannot drag files directly to the Sandbox Window, and if you delete any contents within the Virtual PC, it will not go back to recycle bin. In face, you will a get warning notification when you are about to delete something in it.
Once you are done with your testing, you can shut the virtual PC mode, but all the snapshots and changes that you have done within the Sandbox interface will immediately be removed. So next time, you run Sandbox again, it will come clean and fresh before you.
Now PAY ATTENTION – here comes the real advice, never ever try to switch back to the real PC interface from the Sandbox interface carelessly. That might bring the vicious contents to your real PC. Close it normally followed with the notification shown below.
Sandbox does not work actually like a virtual machine but rather like an app, so it would not impede the performance of your real PC. But yes it does suck up a chunk of your PC resources, including hard disk space, CPU processing faculty, memory, etc.
So if you already have a fragile PC with very low RAM, both your real PC and Sandbox will work very slowly. Thus make sure to meet the basic requirements mentioned above in the article to run it smoothly.