Freeware / Windows · December 13, 2006 0

Sandboxie: Excellent Browser Protection Freeware

I came across this terrific freeware tool called Sandboxie that can run almost any given program in a virtual sandboxed space and revert your system back to the original state it was in, once you terminate the program. For instance, when you surf using your favourite browser (Firefox/IE/Opera) – they can easily get infected with n-number of scumwares floating around on the net. More often than not they manage to slip through your AntiSpyware tool and infect your browser. Sandboxie provides a perfect solution for that. I found a very good review and description of the tool and am going to paste that here.

According to TechSupportAlert.Com

There’s a scumware plague at the moment. All it takes is a visit to a pushy web site or a “loaded” shareware install and next minute your Internet Explorer homepage has been changed, your default search setting altered, unwanted ads pop up on your screen and worse.

If you use Windows 2000 or later my top recommendation for safe browsing is a free program called Sandboxie [1] that creates a special contained “sandbox” environment on your PC. While browsing within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie you are totally corralled off from other parts of your PC. So any files you download are isolated to the sandbox. Similarly, any programs that are executed only do so within the sandbox and have no access to your normal files, the Windows operating system or any other part of your PC.

Usage is remarkably simple. To start a sandboxed browsing session you just click the Sandboxie icon from the Quick Launch tray and this will launch your default browser in the sandbox. You can then use it in the normal way to browse to sites or download files.

If you downloaded a file it will install normally but again will be corralled off from your real PC. Anything it writes to your hard drive, any changes to the Windows Registry or changes to the Windows startup will be held in a separate area within the sandbox. Similarly, any new processes running in your computer memory will be sandboxed.

After you have finished browsing you can right click the Sandboxie icon and delete all sandboxed files and processes and your PC will be returned to the same state it was in before the browsing session. If you want retain particular downloaded files you can save them permanently before clearing the contents of the Sandbox.

The advantage is clear: any spyware, trojans, keyloggers or other malware products that infected your PC while browsing will be eliminated.

Sandboxie works fine with all browsers but requires Windows 2000 and later. It can cause problems on some PCs so backup before installing.

I grabbed it and started using it the moment I read about it – it works much smoother than any related Virtual Machine tool I’ve seen. I’ve used a couple of System State Restorers like DriveShield and DeepFreezeXP – but the biggest problems with those were that they render your system/protected drive(s) completely readonly and could be made writeable only on a subsequent reboot. However, NOT SO with Sandboxie.

Sandboxie User Interface

Features of Sandboxie I really liked:

  • Extremely small Disk Footprint of 900KB
  • Installer is only 241KB
  • Runtime Memory Footprint of 2.2MB (Sandbox Server)
  • Ability to selectively save some settings/downloads before shutting down the hosted program
  • Ability to define certain programs to be ALWAYS auto-launched in Sandboxed mode (so you don’t have to manually run Sandboxie first and then run the program inside it)

Moreover, Sandboxie provides you with a Windows Task Manager like interface, where all processes you run under it are listed – and you can selectively terminate any of those processes in case of a freeze-up.

Give it a shot. Grab Sandboxie.

If you like it and are really satisfied with the results, make sure you come back and add in your opinion. If you find flaws with it, report those too.