A sandbox is a secure test environment where, even if something goes wrong, it won’t directly harm your host machines, operating systems, applications or data. The test environment functions as a metaphorical sandbox where you can play around with the system to see how it works. 

A sandbox environment is enclosed and separate from your production environment in order to ensure that failures don’t affect other fully working applications and data. That said, a sandbox environment is similar to a production environment. The major difference is that the changes you make in a sandbox do not affect the production or live environment. 

Advantages of Using a Sandbox 

Using a sandbox environment offers several benefits. By providing a safe and isolated environment for testing and experimentation, sandboxes can help reduce risk, increase productivity and improve security.

When you use sandboxes, you reduce the risk of errors and disruption to the production environment. They also offer cost savings since maintaining a separate environment for testing is more expensive than creating a sandbox. Sandboxes enable developers and testers to work more efficiently by providing a dedicated environment for testing and experimentation. Finally, sandboxes can help strengthen security and identify vulnerabilities in software and applications.

sandbox environment illustration of a child's sandbox. Hovering above the sandbox are different application icons for different computing devices.
Sandbox environment: An image showing a sandbox with applications for different devices. | Image: Abdishakur Hassan

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Why Are Sandbox Environments Used? 

  • A sandbox environment allows you to test new software applications and updates without affecting the live environment.
  • Sandbox environments help you identify and isolate potential security threats and vulnerabilities before they can cause damage to the live environment.
  • Using a sandbox environment means you can experiment with different configurations and settings to see how they affect the system.
  • Within a sandbox environment, you can replicate issues or bugs reported by users in a controlled environment in order to troubleshoot and resolve those issues.
  • Sandbox environments allow you to collaborate with other teams or stakeholders without affecting the live environment.
How to Use Windows Sandbox — A Lightweight Virtual Machine. | Video: Kevin Statvert


How to Set Up a Sandbox Environment 

Setting up a sandbox environment depends on your operating system. For example, Linux operating systems have namespaces, while Windows and MacOS have built-in sandbox features in their respective operating systems. 

To set up a sandbox environment in Windows 11/10, follow these steps:

  • In the taskbar, search “Turn Windows Features on or off” and click on it.
  • Look for Windows Sandbox and Click on it. Then click Ok.

Windows will search for the required files and install them. Once the process ends, you can run the Windows Sandbox from the Start menu. Note that if you cannot find Windows Sandbox, you may need to check if you have enabled virtualization for your machine.

In addition to the built-in sandboxes, VirtualBox is a popular virtual machine for Windows and macOS that you can install on your computer. VirtualBox allows you to create multiple virtual instances and sandbox your applications and code.

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