Windows 10 Sandbox
- Apr 03, 2019
In Windows 10 Microsoft keeps on coming with new features that amaze its users, Sandbox is enlisted to the latest feature that Microsoft is offering.
Whenever you are going to install or check any software in your computer particularly when it is from an untrusted developer you feel worried, to reduce your worries Microsoft has launched a new feature in Windows 10 known as Sandbox.
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In software development, sometimes the thing a developer needs the most is a clean system—a quick and easy to pull up Operating System that has no other installed programs, files, scripts, or other baggage. Anything extra could twist testing results.
The best solution to both situations is to spin up a Virtual Machine. This gives you a clean, isolated Operating System. If any software or attachment turns out to be malware, then the only thing it affects is the virtual machine. Restore it to an earlier snapshot, and you are good to go. If you are a developer, you can do your testing as if you just set up a brand new machine.
There are some problems with the Virtual Machine
First, it can be expensive. Even if you use a free alternative like Virtual Box, you still need a valid Windows license to run on the virtualized Operating System. Although, you can get away with not activating Windows 10, which limits what you can test.
Second, running a Virtual Machine at decent performance levels requires reasonably powerful hardware and lots of storage space. If you make use of snapshots, you can quickly fill up a smaller SSD. If you use a large HDD, then performance can be slow. You probably don’t want to use these power-hungry resources on a laptop.
Virtual Machines are complicated. Fortunately, Microsoft has announced a new solution that solves all of these problems at once.
The tech giant Microsoft revealed that Sandbox is referred to as InPrivate Desktop, this feature creates an “isolated, temporary, desktop environment” that you can run software on without fear of harming your machine.
Much like a standard Virtual Machine, any doubted software that you install in the Sandbox stays isolated in the Virtual Machine and it cannot affect the host machine. When you close the Sandbox, any programs you installed, files you added, and settings changes you made are deleted. After that whenever you will start Sandbox it will be clean. Microsoft is using hardware-based virtualization, through the hypervisor, to run a separate kernel so it can isolate Sandbox from the host.
This means you can safely download an executable file from a risky source and install in Sandbox without risk to your host system. Or you could quickly test out a development scenario in a fresh copy of Windows.
The requirements for Sandbox are low:
- Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise version 18301 which is not currently available, but it will be released soon by Microsoft.
- x64 architecture
- Virtualization capabilities enabled in BIOS
- At least 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
- 1 GB of free space in disk
- 2 CPU cores are required
One of the best things about Sandbox is that you will not need to download or create a virtual hard disk VHD. Instead, Windows dynamically generates a clean snapshot OS based on the Host OS on your machine. During this, the machine refers to common files that do change and connects to the files that do not change.
This makes for an incredibly light image, just 100 MB. If you don’t use the Sandbox, the image gets compressed to a tiny 25 MB. And because it’s essentially a copy of your OS, you don’t need a separate license key. If you have Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise, you have everything you need to run Sandbox.
For safety and security, Microsoft makes use of the container concept it has introduced previously. The Sandbox OS is isolated from the host, allowing what is ostensibly a VM to run like an app.
Despite those degrees of separation, the host machine and Sandbox do work together. As needed, the host will reclaim memory from the Sandbox to keep your machine from slowing down. And the Sandbox is aware of your host machine’s battery levels so that it can optimize power consumption. It’s feasible to run the Sandbox on a laptop on the go.
All of this and other enhancements make for an extremely safe, fast, and inexpensive virtual system. It provides a fast and safe Virtual Machine like the solution with far less overhead than a traditional solution. You can quickly call up, test, and destroy snapshots, then repeat as necessary. Like all things intensive, better hardware will make this run even more smoothly. But as shown above, even less powerful hardware should be able to run the Sandbox.
The one downside is that not all machines come with Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. If you’re using Windows 10 Home, you won’t be able to use Sandbox.
How Can I Get Windows 10 Sandbox?
Microsoft just released Windows 10 build 18305 to Insiders on the Fast Ring, which means if you’re willing to live on the edge, you can update to the latest preview build now by joining the Insiders program and updating. We definitely don’t recommend doing this on your primary PC though.
Unfortunately, you can’t get Windows Sandbox quite yet. It requires Windows 10 build 18301 or higher, which Microsoft hasn’t released yet. But once that version is available it’s a straightforward affair. You will want to make sure that your BIOS has virtualization capabilities enabled. Then you will just need to turn Windows Sandbox on in the Windows Features dialog.
Once the Windows Sandbox is installed, launching is nearly the same as any other app or program. Just find it in the Start menu, run it, and accept the UAC prompt giving it administrative privileges. You’ll then be able to drag and drop files and programs into the Sandbox to test as you need. Just close the program when you’re done, and Sandbox discards all the changes you have made.
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