How to use Windows Sandbox on Windows 10 to test apps?

Windows 10 has been bringing in new advancements in the realm of an operating system. Have you heard of Windows Sandbox feature introduced with the latest iteration of the Windows 10 operating system? An excellent option to check the compatibility of apps, it doubles up as a formidable virtualisation solution.

Several new apps are coming off the block that you would want to test on your computer but are unsure of their safety aspects. This is precisely where a virtual machine would come to your rescue and let you test the apps without having to worry about the consequences on your operating system. However, running a virtualisation task on your computer can be quite cumbersome, especially when you are not tech savvy enough. In case you have been looking ahead for a simple solution that can be used to test the unknown apps, Windows 10 has a solution for you through its latest update.
Yes, we are talking about the Windows 10 Sandbox feature that came with Windows 10 May 2019 update, also referred to as Windows 10 Version 1903.

Windows 10 Sandbox - What exactly is it?

If you have been dabbling in software and allied aspects, you should be aware of what a sandbox service is. In fact, it is a virtual machine that resides inside another operating system. This will run independent of the operating system on your system and will work as a medium to test your apps.
It creates a Windows within a Windows environment and thus lets you test the apps that you may or may not trust. The service lets you run the applications without affecting the regular functioning of your other essential Windows components. In a way, it can be considered to be a combination of an app and a virtual machine. Given the complex nature of setting up a virtual machine following other methods, Sandbox will provide you access to an excellent and easy option for doing so.

How does it work?

Well, Windows 10 Sandbox is a half app and a half virtual machine. It creates a virtual machine inside your computer on demand and makes use of Microsoft's Hypervisor technology. Compared to the other sandbox applications currently available, it is quite lightweight and helps you boot and run it faster enough.

It works by creating a virtual environment within your Windows machine. It makes use of the Hypervisor and hardware virtualisation on the Windows ecosystem and runs a separate kernel. This stays separate from the host environment, thus ensuring that the apps can be disposed off once you have tested it. Later on, if you are satisfied with the functionality and safety aspects of the app, you can continue to install the app inside your main operating system.

What are the prerequisites for running Windows 10 Sandbox?

Well, there are a few preconditions that you need to meet if you want to run Sandbox feature on your Windows 10.

To begin with, the feature is available only on Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise versions. If you are on Windows 10 Home, you are entirely out of luck and will not get the feature. Moreover, the function is launched with Windows 10 Version 1903 that launched in May 2019. If you are not yet updated, please check if the update is available for you.

Other system requirements would include
  • Availability of hardware virtualisation
  • 64 bit architecture
  • Minimum two processor cores. You may neeed four if you if you are using hyperthreadiing.
  • Minimum 4 GB of RAM. If you have 8 GB, it should be an excellent option.
  • At lease 1 GB harddrive space. If you have SSD, it would be an added advantage

How to enable Windows 10 Sandbox?

Enabling Sandbox on Windows 10 should be simpler enough. You can enable it through the Windows features functionality. Here are the steps involved -
  • Click on START and search for the option Turn Windows features on or off. You can even reach here through the Control Panel.
  • Check the box that reads Windows Sandbox and click on OK
  • enable sandbox
That does it. You have to restart youur Windows device for the changes to take effect.
Before you can enable the Sandbox feature, you will need to enable the Virtualisation. Make sure that the Virtualisation option is enabled through your BIOS or UEFI firmware. The steps here should guide you on how to do it -
  • Launch Command Prompt and type in the following command -
  • Look for the option Hyper-V Requirements and find Virtualization Enabled In Firmware under it.
  • enable virtualisation
  • If it reads YES, you can use Sandbox without any hiccups.
If you find that it is not enabled, you will need to reach BIOS settings. In the Settings you need to locate a setting called Virtualization and enable it.
You can also enable Windows 10 Sandbox using the PowerShell command as well. To do this, perform these steps -
  • Launch PowerShell as an administrator.
  • Enter the following command and press ENTER.
    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName Containers-DIsposableClientVM -Online -Restart
  • Reboot your computer and the Sandbox feature should be available.

How to use Windows 10 Sandbox feature?

Now that you have enabled both Virtualisation support and Sandbox features on your Windows 10, you can easily test your untrusted apps without any issues on your device. It should be practically one of the simplest and easiest options to work with.
Windows Sandbox will appear as a small window on your desktop. And inside it, you should find another Windows 10 virtual interface. You will find a familiar Windows 10 experience, but none of your personalised settings will carry over to the new virtual machine. It will remain completely independent.
Apart from working with the apps that you do not trust, you can even play with the Windows Settings within the Sandbox experience. Change as many settings you would want to and play with them. Once you close Sandbox, all of them would be gone.

Here are the steps you would work with it -
  • Fire up Windows 10 Sandbox as you would any of the apps on your Windows device
  • You should now find a duplicate Windows 10 environment. It will appear like a clean installation and will not have any of your personalisations.
  • Copy any of your executable files straight into the Sandbox and run them there. Nothing you would do will affect your entire system.
  • sandbox
  • You can even browse the websites that you do not trust from within Sandbox. It will not affect credentials and other essential elements on your original system.
  • Once you are done with all the tasks with your Sandbox; you can close Sandbox as you would with any other regular app on your Windows system.
Isn't quite easy and simple to work with the Sandbox feature?

Right now, the Sandbox functionality on Windows 10 does not support drag and drop functionality, but we would expect the feature to be available quite soon with the upcoming update on your Windows 10 device.

Can it be a perfect Virtualisation Option?

Well, if you are a virtualisation expert and looking to use Sandbox as your one-stop solution as the virtualisation platform, you would be disappointed. It is not a full virtual machine but works as an app. It will not work as a true virtual machine in any manner. And yes, if you have a slower PC, do remember that using Sandbox will make it still slower because it uses a part of your resources for it.

Of course, it cannot run as a complete virtual machine, but it offers you several other options apart from being a test environment for your untrusted apps. It packs an additional layer of security when you are using it to browse the internet. This can be an excellent option to download and run Google Chrome or Edge from within Sandbox, check out the sites that you do not trust without signing into your account and destroy every trace of it when you close Sandbox.

While there are many virtualisation techniques available, Sandbox feature on Windows 10 is a formidable choice for a wide range of reasons. It comes with a few advanced features that include integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual graphics. The best feature we loved with is it is entirely disposable, and once you close it - it removes everything without leaving a trace.

That makes Sandbox capable of a lot more than what meets the eye as of now. In fact, it can indeed be one of the best options to use on a daily basis and how you use it would entirely be dependent upon your personal preferences.

The Parting Thoughts

Sandbox is indeed an innovative option and should be a thoughtful inclusion that Microsoft has been able to provide us with. While there are multiple Sandbox applications available, a default and default Sandbox app should be the best you can opt for. The built-in app understands the intricacies of the operating system, and thus, you can expect a perfect and seamless integration of the Sandboxing experience on your Windows device.

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