Windows Sandbox: How to test software safely without ruining your computer

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Do you want to experience new Windows software and features, but don’t want a potentially risky program or setting to interfere with your current environment? You need a way to safely isolate these programs or modifications so that they cannot interfere with the rest of your operating system. For that, you can turn to Windows Sandbox, which is available in both Windows 10 and 11.

Sandbox provides an isolated and temporary virtual environment in which you can download, install and run unknown and untested applications. The version of Windows accessible in the Sandbox is the same version on your host environment, i.e. Windows 10 or 11.

Beyond using Sandbox to run unknown applications, you can use it to visit websites that look suspicious, install unknown extensions and browser add-ons, change key settings, and play games with others things you might not want to run in your usual Windows environment. . You can also use it to install trial software that you don’t want to clutter up your main Windows system.

If malware or other dangerous content appears, it’s restricted to the Sandbox, so the rest of Windows stays safe and protected. Once you’re done with applying, adjusting, or making any other changes, simply close the sandbox, and it’s all gone and forgotten with no lasting residue.

The sandbox is lightweight; it only takes 100MB of storage space. The main downside is that Sandbox is only supported by Microsoft on Windows 10 and 11 Pro and Enterprise. Now let’s dig into the sandbox.


Required configuration

First, make sure your PC supports the virtualization required by Sandbox. In Windows 10, right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. In Windows 11, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc or click the Search charm, start typing Task Manager, then select Task Manager from the results.

In the Task Manager window, click the link to More details if necessary. Select the Performance tab and make sure the entry for Virtualization says it is enabled.


Enable Windows Sandbox

Now you need to add Sandbox as a Windows feature. Open the Control Panel in icon mode and select the applet for Programs and Features. Click the Turn Windows features on or off link to display the Windows Features window. You can also access the Windows Features window by clicking the Search charm and typing optional features.

Open Windows Features

In this window, scroll down the list until you see a checkbox for Windows Sandbox. Check the box and click OK. Once Sandbox is installed, you are prompted to reboot. Restart your PC and log in again.

Install the sandbox

Another way to enable Sandbox is to use a PowerShell command. In Windows 10, click on the Start menu, scroll down the list of applications, open the folder for Windows PowerShell, right-click on the shortcut for Windows PowerShell, then select Run as administrator.

In Windows 11, go to All Apps in the Start menu, scroll down, right-click on Terminal, go to the More option and choose Run as administrator. At the prompt, type the following string: Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName “Containers-DisposableClientVM” -All. Restart your PC if prompted and log in again.

powershell-script


Open Windows Sandbox

The Sandbox is now ready for your order. To open it in Windows 10, click the Start button, scroll down the list of apps, and click the shortcut for Windows Terminal. In Windows 11, navigate to the All Apps list in the Start menu, scroll down the list, and select the Windows Terminal shortcut.

If you plan to use the terminal regularly, right-click its shortcut in the All Apps list in Windows 10 or 11 and select Pin to start to add it to the Start menu. Switch to the More option and select Pin to taskbar to add it to the taskbar.

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Windows Sandbox opens in its own window with a clean, pristine Windows 10 or 11 environment. Only built-in Windows features and apps are installed, such as File Explorer, Control Panel, Notepad, and Microsoft Edge.

Open the sandbox


Install programs in Sandbox

If you want to try out a particular piece of software, your next step is to make that program available in the Sandbox. You can do this in several ways. If you haven’t downloaded the program yet and it is available online, open Microsoft Edge in the Sandbox and download the program from the web. But that’s not your only option.

Install the program

Although it works in isolated mode, Sandbox can interact with the rest of Windows in certain ways. For example, you can copy and paste files between Sandbox and your usual Windows environment. If you have already downloaded the application you want to install, copy it from your host Windows system and paste it into the file manager in the Sandbox. Install the file as you normally would in Windows. Launch it and now you can fully use it.

Copy and paste the file

You can resize the Sandbox window like any other window. Maximize it to occupy the full screen. Restart or close the Sandbox session via the Windows Start button and close it by clicking the X in the upper right corner. Just note that if you restart or stop the Sandbox, you lose all apps you installed and changes you made. But that’s the whole idea.

Restart or stop Sandbox

When you’re done testing or using an app or other item, you close the Sandbox window like you would any window, and everything you’ve done is undone. The next time you relaunch the Sandbox, it will present you with a new, clean, pristine virtual session for you to use.


Delete sandbox

If you decide you no longer want to use Sandbox in Windows 11, there are a few ways you can remove it. Return to the Windows Features window in your host environment, uncheck the Windows Sandbox window, then reboot. You can also open Windows Terminal or PowerShell as administrator and enter this string: Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName “Containers-DisposableClientVM” –Online.

Delete sandbox

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