Uses isolation technology to prevent unwanted changes to your personal data and programs


Our rating: 


Pros & Cons:

Excellent security.
Virtual environment is inconvenient, keyloggers could potentially steal data before browser is closed, nag screen.


My first recommendation for safe browsing is a free program called Sandboxie, for Windows 2000 and later. It creates a special contained "sandbox" environment on your PC, as this animation shows. While browsing within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie, you are totally isolated from the vital portions of your PC, namely your operating system environment on your hard drive and memory locations for your current OS session. 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 "Sandboxed Web Browser" icon on your desktop (or 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. By default, files that are saved in the Desktop, My Documents or Favorites will have a prompt to ask you whether you want to save the file permanently. I suggest you add your default downloads folder to the Quick Recovery settings so files saved there will be automatically saved to your real hard disk, saving you the trouble of manually recovering files.

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. You can change configuration settings to automatically delete all the sandboxed contents when you close a sandbox. You can also configure a third-party program, such as Eraser or SDelete, to erase the sandboxed contents for greater privacy.

The advantage is clear: any virus, trojan, worm, spyware or adware threats that "infected" your PC while browsing will be eliminated.

Sandboxie allows for in-depth configuration which increases security. For example, you can set it to block access to your personal files, or only allow certain programs to run or connect to the internet in a sandbox. A recent feature of Sandboxie also allows you to run sandboxed programs in a Limited User Account, similar to DropMyRights, for even greater security. This should also prevent most keyloggers from running.

However, there are some downsides to this approach. Firstly, if you want to update your browser addons/widgets, you'll need to open an un-sandboxed browser and do it from there. This also applies to bookmarks but you can configure Sandboxie to automatically retain those. Secondly, Sandboxie is not designed to detect or disable keyloggers. You can get around this (mostly) by always empty your sandbox before you log in to important sites (such as sites involving financial transactions). Thirdly, some people find the nag screen inconvenient, which appears for five seconds before a sandboxed application opens.

Sandboxie works fine with all browsers and most software applications, including e-mail clients (though this requires special configuration), instant messaging clients, Bittorrent clients and games. However, it won't work with system software (software which installs a system driver).

Sandboxie was reviewed by on


Wife and I have been using sandboxie for years. Two different computers, both being used 6-8 hours a day and constantly downloading and trying stuff, music, videos, programs and more. We never have a problem, never a virus or this or that using sandboxie. same version on win7 for years...great program and I would recommend highly.