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How to enable and use Windows Sandbox in Windows 10

How to enable and use Sandbox mode in Windows 10

Whether it’s a new image editing software you found on the Internet or somebody has shared it via flash drive, running executable files has always been risky. Testing these kind of untrusted software in a clean system requires virtual machine (VM) software, an example of such software is VirtualBox.

VM is great for testing a new software application but it is hard to use too. Other pitfalls of using virtual machine are like, you need a valid Windows 10 license to run on the virtualized OS. Secondly, running a virtual machine at decent performance requires reasonably powerful hardware and lots of storage space.

Fortunately, Microsoft’s Windows 10 (v.1903)  solves all of these problems at once by a new feature called “Windows Sandbox”.

In this tutorial you will learn what is Windows Sandbox, how to enable it and finally how to use it in a step by step method.

Outline of this post:

  • What is Windows Sandbox?
  • Minimum system requirements for Windows Sandbox in Windows 10
  • Turn on Windows Sandbox in Windows 10
  • Use Windows Sandbox in Windows 10

What is Windows Sandbox in Windows 10? 

Windows Sandbox is a new feature introduced by Microsoft for Windows 10 (v.1903), which lets you install and run any suspicious software in the sandbox mode without affecting the host PC.

In short, Windows Sandbox is half app, half virtual machine. When you close the sandbox, any programs you installed or files you created will be discarded and permanently deleted. Which means that every time you start the feature, you will start with a clean install of Windows 10.

“Windows Sandbox is currently available for Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10.”

Minimum system requirements for Windows Sandbox in Windows 10

In order to use Windows Sandbox, your system must support the following requirements:

  • Virtualization capabilities enabled in BIOS
  • At least 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • At least 1 GB of free disk space (SSD recommended)
  • Windows 10 (Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions) version 1903 or later
  • Requires a 64-bit processor with at least two cores, but quad-core CPU device with multi-threading is recommended

– Source: Microsoft 

How to turn on Windows Sandbox in Windows 10

By default, the Windows Sandbox feature is turned off and you can enable the feature using these step by step instructions.

Step 1: You need to make sure virtualization is enabled in your system’s BIOS. To cross check, type CTRL + SHIFT + Esc keyboard shortcut to open Windows Task Manager. 

Go to Performance Tab, Make sure the CPU category is selected on the left and on the right, just make sure it says Virtualization: Enabled.

Also Read: How to enable virtualization in your computer’s BIOS

Windows task manager virtualization enabled

Step 2: Open Search and type “Turn Windows features on or off “ and select the result.

Type turn windows features on or off and select the result

Step 3: In the Windows Features, check the “Windows Sandbox” option and click “OK”.

Enable windows sandbox in windows 10

Step 4: Click the “Restart now” button to finish installation of Windows Sandbox.

Click the restart now button

How to use Windows Sandbox in Windows 10

In our previous section we have successfully installed Windows Sandbox. In this section your are going to take a sample app like VLC media player and try installing under Windows Sandbox environment.

Following steps demonstrate how you can use Windows Sandbox in Windows 10.

Step 1: The next time you sign into Windows 10, Open Search and type “sandbox” where you can launch Windows Sandbox mode as an administrator.

Run windows sandbox app as an administrator

Step 2: You should then see a near replica of your current Windows 10 desktop with minimal apps installed by default. Then copy VLC media player from host computer and paste it inside the Windows Sandbox environment.

Copy your executable file from host PC to windows sandbox environment

Step 3: It’s time to hit the ground and install our test application (VLC media player) under Windows Sandbox environment for experiment.

VLC media player installation under windows sandbox environment

After successful installation, you can play around with your test application. If you trust this application under Windows Sandbox environment then you can go ahead and repeat the same process of installation under your host PC.

VLC media player in action under windows sandbox environment

Step 4: Closing Windows Sandbox environment is easy. Click on the close (X) button at top right corner then it ask you for conformation. Select “OK” button.

Closing windows sandbox environment

Once it is closed, everything is permanently deleted.

Conclusion 

Windows Sandbox once started, it will appear as a new installation of Windows 10 running within a Window like an application. You can open, download and run any files or programs in sandbox and no changes will be made to the actual system.

Impressively, It runs well on minimal hardware. At the beginning you might feel Windows Sandbox run noticeable slow, but after a few minutes, it runs smooth without any constraints.

The same performance you will receive while closing and reopening the app too. Once it is closed, everything is permanently deleted. The next time you lunch Windows Sandbox, you will find it back to a clean slate, and you can begin testing again.

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Sunil Pradhan

Sunil is a front-end developer, illustrator and an online entrepreneur. He is the founder of "Hello Sunil" where he shares his love of technology with the world. He loves to write technical how-tos and tutorials. He is open minded and willing to explore beyond his knowledge.

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