Are you worried about clicking unfamiliar website links? Do you want to test software without it doing anything permanent to your computer? A program called Sandboxie can help. What it does it is it runs programs in an isolated virtual environment where programs cannot write any permanent data to your actual hard drive. Files stored in the Sandbox folder stay in the Sandbox folder and cannot communicate with outside programs (although it can load settings from your hard disk). Therefore, you can freely install software or even malware into the sandbox.
The above is an animation from Sandboxie showing how with Sandboxie, new content from programs stay inside the sandbox and can’t make any permanent changes to your system.
For example, you can run Firefox (or any browser) in the sandbox and browse the web normally. The only difference is that all cache, temporary files, and downloads are inside the sandbox with an option to restore them. Sandboxed windows are indicated with a [#] surrounding the title. When there is a program running the sandbox, the tray icon will have red dots on it.
The Sandboxie Control Panel lets you delete a sandbox, create a new one, restore contents (take files out of Sandboxie into real hard drive), and more.
You can also run installers inside the sandbox. During the installation, for example, if it installs into C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\, it will actually install into ~Sandbox Directory\~Username\~Box Name\drive\C\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox. No admin privileges are required to install programs into the sandbox (some installers may require admin privileges anyway).
By being able to install into the sandbox, you can experiment with software and try them before officially installing them. To start any program inside the sandbox, simply right click on the file, and select Run Sandboxed from the Context Menu or choose Run Any Program Sandboxed inside the Sandboxie Start Menu Directory.
Sandboxie will not work with Windows Installer. It will simply trigger an error during the sandboxed installation. To use Windows Installer inside the sandbox, you first need to run the Windows Installer Service inside the sandbox. Learn more here.
You can easily and quickly terminate any tasks in the sandbox as well as quickly remove all files from a sandbox. If you open files inside the Sandbox Directory, it automatically opens inside the Sandbox for security purposes.
When you launch another program from within a sandboxed window, you get the option of running the new program sandboxed or unsandboxed.
Sandboxie is completely free for 30 days. After 30 days, users can continue to use it for free, however Sandboxie will have popup nag screens while it is running to alert you to buy a license. With a registered license, you get some extra features and no nag screen. The license price is about $30 (USD) or €22 Euros for a lifetime license. This means that you have access to all future versions of Sandboxie, minor and major, unlike most programs, where a license only gives you access to minor updates.
Sandboxie 3.38 Rating:
Ease of Use: 4
Value for Money: 4.8
Final Rating: 4.62
Sandboxie is an excellent piece of software that I highly recommend all users try. When inside the sandbox, you don’t have to worry about clicking unfamiliar links. Everything is isolated inside the sandbox.
Supports Windows 2000 and higher. 32-bit only.