The new Windows Sandbox or Isolated Environment of Windows 10 allows us to install dangerous applications, even viruses, without any danger to our computer. In this tutorial we explain how to activate the Windows Sandbox.
Windows 10 updates have made headlines in recent months for their problems, rather than their input. And it’s a shame, because Windows has released so many exciting new features so far this year.
One of the most important is Windows Sandbox or Windows Isolated Environment. We will explain what it is for, and how to activate it.
Operating system sandboxes, also called virtual machines, have become very popular in recent years because they are so practical. They basically consist of creating a virtual computer that resides in memory.
This virtual computer can contain any other operating system, so we can create a virtual machine with Linux within Windows to use Linux applications, or with a very old version of MS-DOS or Windows, to use old programs. Windows 10 has released its own sandbox called Windows Sandbox or Windows Isolated Environment.
We have seen the first application of these virtual machines: running a different operating system inside another. But they have another important function. Sandboxes only exist in the memory of the computer, and nothing can escape from inside it.
Nothing we do inside the sandbox is saved or modified by our main operating system. When the sandbox is closed or the computer is turned off, it disappears without a trace.
This means that we can run experimental or dangerous software in a sandbox, from a beta application full of bugs or even a virus, without fear of damaging or infecting our PC, because the sandbox is in an isolated environment in memory , and when closing it, everything disappears.
There are many sandboxes or virtual machines for Windows, such as VirtualBox.
They are very customizable because they allow you to install any version of Linux, Windows, MS-DOS and other systems in the sandbox. But also a bit difficult to configure. Quite the opposite of Microsoft’s proposal.
The Windows sandbox is configured automatically, and although it does not allow us to install another operating system, we have a completely clean virtual version of Windows 10, where we can experiment without fear of spoiling something.
Requirements for using Windows Sandbox
Activating the Windows 10 Sandbox is very simple, but unfortunately it is not available to everyone. It can only be used in Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise, that is, in the professional versions of Windows 10.
This is because in addition to being a tool focused on developers, it requires a series of modules that are only present in the Pro versions. and Enterprise.
These are the Windows Sandbox requirements :
- Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise
- Install Windows 10 May 2019 update (version 1903)
- 64-bit processor with at least 2 cores (4 cores with Hyperthreading recommended)
- Virtualization enabled in BIOS
- 4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended)
- 1 GB hard drive (SDD recommended)
We see that one of the requirements is that the PC BIOS has virtualization enabled . We are going to explain what it consists of.
How to enable virtualization in BIOS
The sandbox or Sandbox of Windows 10 is designed to experiment with dangerous software. For this to be possible, Windows has to ensure that nothing escapes from this sandbox.
To do this, it uses a technology called Hyper-V that isolates the sandbox by hardware, using the CPU . For that reason, a 64-bit processor is needed to handle hardware virtualization.
All processors manufactured in the last 4 or 5 years include it, so you should not have problems, unless your PC is very old. We have tested it on an Intel i7-4790K that is already 5 or 6 years old, and it has worked without problems.
However, to use it, virtualization must be enabled in the BIOS . Let’s see how it’s done.
- Access the BIOS by pressing the F12 or Del key when the computer boots. Each motherboard uses a different method, so check the manual.
- When you are in the BIOS you should look for the virtualization option. Again, on each motherboard and each processor model it is called differently.
- Look for a field with a name like Virtualization, Intel Virtualization, VM Monitor Mode extensions, Hyper V, VT-d or RVI) , etc.
- Activate virtualization, exit BIOS making sure you use the Burn / Save / Save view, and restart the PC for the changes to take effect.
Note that some CPUs have virtualization but it cannot be modified in the BIOS, so it does not appear, but it is active.
Enable the Windows Sandbox
We are now ready to use Sandboxing in Windows 10. It is time to activate it, because it is not active by default. Fortunately, it is very simple.
- Access the Windows search engine on the desktop, and look for the Control Panel. Then go into Programs and Features:
- You can also get to the same site by accessing Windows Settings. You enter Applications , and then Programs and Features , on the right.
- You will arrive at the window where you have to click on Activate or Deactivate Windows features , on the left:
- In the new window that opens, activate the Windows Sandbox option :
- Windows 10 will carry out a series of changes, and will ask you to reboot the computer.
We are now ready to use the Windows 10 Sandbox .
How to use Windows Sandbox
- When you want to activate a Windows Sandbox, simply open the search engine or access the list of installed applications on the Start button.
- Launch Windows Sandbox.
A clean version of Windows 10 will run, in a window:
The big difference is that this Windows resides in a shielded environment in the RAM of your PC. You can use it like a normal Windows, installing applications (in a virtual disk that is also in memory) and starting them. Nothing you do will affect your normal version of the system, so you can test programs with bugs, and even viruses, if you want …
When you’re done, just close the Windows Sandbox window, and everything you’ve done will disappear without a trace. We have seen how to enable a Sandboxing environment in Windows 10, in a simple way.