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Protect your PC from the latest threats with Shade Sandbox

04 February 2016, Mike Williams

Shade SandboxSandboxing is a smart technology which isolates programs from the operating system, preventing them from making any permanent changes.

Run your browser in a sandbox, say, and it won’t matter if you’re hit by a drive-by download, a toolbar gets installed or your home page is updated: clear the sandbox and all changes will be lost.

Shade Sandbox is a free application for Windows Vista and later which makes it very easy to run vulnerable or suspect applications in a secure environment where they’re unable to affect your files or Registry.

Installation is simple; one reboot and you’re done. You’ll also need an activation code to use the program for more than a couple of days, but there’s no cost involved – just provide your name and email address.

To get started, drag and drop your browser shortcuts into the program window, or right-click them and select “Put into Shade”. Run those applications as normal (from the desktop, Start menu or wherever) and they’re now sandboxed.

Shade Sandbox

Drag and drop vulnerable apps into the Shade window and in future they’ll be launched in the sandbox

Move your mouse cursor to the edge of the window border, and a purple frame should appear around that application, confirming that it’s sandboxed.

One problem with this isolation approach is that it also applies to downloaded files. If your browser is sandboxed, and you save something important to your desktop, it won’t be there when you look later.

Fortunately there’s a simple solution. Clicking “Open Shade Folder” displays an Explorer window at a folder representing your drive (“C”, probably). Any folders with downloaded files are listed here, so you can browse to \Users\[Name]\Desktop, Downloads or anywhere else and access the file as usual.

If you’re already using Sandboxie then Shade Sandbox is going to seem very underpowered. It won’t detect or adapt to awkward or conflicting applications, it doesn’t display currently sandboxed programs, you don’t get the handy system tray shortcuts, there’s no immediate “run sandboxed” Explorer option, and if you like to tweak, customise or fine-tune this kind of app, tough: you can’t.

Still, if your needs are simple then Shade Sandbox delivers all the core basics, in an easy-to-use interface, for free. Worth a look for sandboxing beginners.

Shade Sandbox is a freeware program for Windows Vista and later.

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