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Windows sandbox – test before you install anything on your windows system


There are a lot of time that we think before installing an app on our system if it is safe or not. In May 2019, Windows got a system update with Windows Sandbox feature. Basically it lets you use anything before installing it. This feature is available with version 1903.

To be more specific, Windows Sandbox is a virtual machine which can be created on-demand using Microsoft‘s hypervisor technology. It’s a very lightweight environment using a resource of 100MB only, and it’s well optimized to boot and run faster. It focuses on security. It’s an example of efficient usage of integrated kernel scheduler, virtual graphics and smart memory management.

Although you can create a virtual machine to accomplish a similar experience, there are some key benefits with Windows Sandbox. For instance, you don’t need to spend additional steps creating or downloading a virtual machine. Every time you launch the feature, it runs a new clean installation of Windows 10. When you finish testing an application and close Windows Sandbox, everything gets deleted automatically. Also, using virtualisation isolates anything occurring inside the environment from your main installation offering maximum security to test untrusted applications.

sandbox requirements

Before proceeding, to enable and use Windows Sandbox, your device must meet the following minimum hardware and software requirements:

  • Windows 10 Pro (or Enterprise).
  • Hardware virtualization.
  • AMD64 architecture.
  • 2 processor cores minimum (4 cores with hyperthreading is recommended).
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB is recommended).
  • 1GB of HDD space (SSD is recommended).

How to enable Sandbox on Windows 10

The process to enable Sandbox is straightforward using the Windows Features experience.

Enabling virtualization

Before you can enable Sandbox, you must make sure that your device supports hardware virtualisation. Also, the feature needs to be enabled in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware.

To check if your device supports virtualization, use these steps:

  • Open Start.
  • Search for Command Prompt. And click the top result.
  • Type the following command. And press Enter: systeminfo.exe
  • Under the “Hyper-V Requirements” section, if “Virtualization Enabled In Firmware” reads Yes, then you can use WindowsSandbox.
Windows Sandbox
Check if you can enable Windows Sandbox

If virtualisation isn’t enabled, you’ll need to start your device in its BIOS or UEFI firmware and enable the feature. This process typically requires hitting one of the function keys (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), the ESC, or Delete key as soon as you start your computer. However, these settings will vary by manufacturer. And even by computer model. So make sure to check your device manufacturer’s support website for more specific instructions.

Enabling Windows Sandbox

To enable Sandbox on Windows 10 version 1903 or later, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Turn Windows features on or off, and click the top result to open the Windows Features experience.
  3. Check the Windows Sandbox option.
  4. Click the OK button.
  5. Click the Restart now button.

After completing the steps, you can start using the new virtualization layer to temporarily install and test untrusted applications.

How to use Sandbox on Windows 10

The process to get started using WindowsSandbox is easy; just follow these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Sandbox. Right-click the top result. And select the Run as administrator option.
  3. On your physical device, right-click the app installer. And then select the Copy option.
  4. Inside the Windows Sandbox experience, right-click on the desktop. And select the Paste option to transfer the executable.
  5. Double-click the installer (.exe, .msi, etc) to begin the installation.
  6. Continue with the on-screen directions to complete the installation.
Windows Sandbox

Once you complete the steps, you can start using the untrusted app. It’s just like any other application. Besides, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + Break (or Pause) keyboard shortcut to enter WindowsSandbox. To exit WindowsSandbox in full-screen mode do the same. If you use high contrast mode, inside the virtualisation experience, you can use the Shift + Alt + PrintScreen keyboard shortcut to enable high contrast.

Thanks for reading!

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Full Stack Developer, Tech Geek, Audiophile, Cinephile, and Lifelong Learner!