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Safely run rogue Windows software in a sandbox with Sandboxie

Afraid of software that installs spyware, malware, trojans, viruses on your computer? Who isn't?
Well! Here's a nice little software that can relieve you of this big headache.

Sandboxie is a form of virtualization software, much like VMware, Virtual Server or Virtual PC. However, unlike other virtualization software, Sandboxie works at the application level.

Sandboxie is an application that creates a 'sandbox' on your computer. This sandbox acts as a temporary storage location on you machine. Whenever you run a program through this sandbox, changes made by your application(like adding a file, adding keys to the registry etc) aren't reflected in your system. In fact, these changes are written in the sandbox and not the system.
So the sandbox isolates the program from the operating system.

How does Sandboxie isolate your program from the system?
Below, the first image shows how a system works without a sandbox and the second image shows the working when a sandbox is involved. (Image source: Sandboxie website)



Confusing? I'll try to give a very simple illustration.
Open Internet Explorer in a sandbox. Surf to a website and add that site as a favourite.
Now, open Internet Explorer the way you normally do and check your favourites list. Guess what! The favourite you added from the sandbox is not there.
Open IE from the sandbox and you'll find your favourite.

Offcourse, you can remove the sandbox by simply deleting its contents. This tool can be of great use for surfing the web, opening email attachments which your not sure about, testing shareware and other applications which may contain spyware etc.
Another intriguing option is the use of trial programs within a sandbox. I haven't tested this yet, but if it works, a 10 or 30 day trial program can be used indefinitely.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Monday, April 23, 2007


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