In this article, we will learn How to Enable Sandbox in Windows 11. Sandbox is a lightweight Windows 11 tool that allows you to run apps in a secure, isolated environment without fear of harming your PC.

Whether it’s a program you found online or something that came in your email, running executables has always been risky. Testing software on clean systems requires virtual machine (VM) software and a separate Windows license to run inside the virtual machine. Microsoft is going to solve this problem with Windows Sandbox.

We all received an email with an attachment. Opening it, we are at risk of infecting the computer. Or maybe you’ve found a great app online, but the source of the get is pretty questionable. What to do? 

Take a chance to download and run it? With things like ransomware viruses, it’s almost impossible to be sure of security.

When developing software, sometimes the developer needs a clean system the most – a fast and easy-to-use operating system that doesn’t have programs, files, scripts, or other baggage installed. Anything extra can distort the test results.

The best solution to both situations is to use a virtual machine. This gives you a clean, isolated OS. If an attachment or questionable program turns out to be malicious, the only thing it affects is the virtual machine. Restore it to an earlier state, and you’re done. If you’re a developer, you can test as if you were setting up a new computer.

However, there are some issues with the VM software.

First, it can be expensive. Even if you’re using a free alternative like VirtualBox, you still need a valid Windows license to run a virtual OS. And, of course, you can do without activating Windows 11, but this limits testing possibilities.

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Secondly, to run a virtual machine at a decent level of performance requires sufficiently powerful hardware and a lot of storage space. You can quickly fill up a small SSD. If you’re using a large hard drive, performance may be inadequate. You probably don’t want to use these energy-intensive resources on a laptop.

Finally, virtual machines are complex. You’ll undoubtedly be able to set everything up but to check a questionable executable file. You’re unlikely to do so.

Fortunately, Microsoft has announced a new solution that addresses all of these issues at once.

In this post, you’ll learn how to enable the Windows Sandbox feature in Windows 11.

Sandbox for Windows 11 (eng. Windows Sandbox)

Sandbox is a lightweight Windows 11 tool that allows you to run apps in a secure, isolated environment without fear of harming your PC.

Like a standard virtual machine, any software installed in the Sandbox remains isolated and cannot affect the host computer. When you close the Sandbox, all programs you have installed, the files you have added, and the settings you have made are deleted. The next time you run Sandbox, the system will return to its pristine, clean state. Microsoft uses hardware virtualization through a hypervisor to run a separate kernel to isolate it from the host.

This means that you can safely download an executable file from a dangerous source and install it in the Sandbox without risking your main system. Or you can quickly test the development scenario in a new copy of Windows.

Impressively, the requirements are quite low:

  • Windows 11 Pro or Enterprise (NOT FOR HOME EDITIONS)
  • x64 architecture
  • Virtualization features must be enabled in the BIOS
  • At least 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • At least 1 GB of available disk space (SSD recommended)
  • At least 2 processor cores (4 hyperthreaded cores recommended)
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One of the best features of the Sandbox is that you don’t have to boot or create a virtual hard disk (VHD). Instead, Windows dynamically generates a clean snapshot of the OS based on your computer’s installed system.

This makes the image incredibly lightweight – only 100 MB. If you don’t use a sandbox, the image shrinks to a tiny 25MB. And since it’s essentially a copy of your OS, you don’t need a separate license key. If you have Windows 11 Pro or Windows 11 Enterprise, you have everything you need to run Sandbox.

For security reasons, Microsoft uses the container concept it introduced earlier. The operating system in the Sandbox is isolated from the host, allowing the virtual machine to run as an application.

Despite these degrees of separation, the host machine and Sandbox work together. As needed, the host will recover memory from the Sandbox to prevent the computer from slowing down. And the Sandbox is aware of your host computer’s battery levels to optimize power consumption. You can run the Sandbox on your laptop on the go.

All of this and other enhancements make an extremely secure, fast, and inexpensive virtual system. It provides a fast and secure VM-like solution with much lower costs than a traditional solution. You can quickly invoke, test, and reset the system state and then repeat as needed. As in all cases, better equipment will make the work even smoother. But, as shown above, even a weak PC should be able to run the Sandbox.

The only downside is that not all devices come with Windows Pro or Enterprise. If you’re using Windows Home, you won’t be able to use the Sandbox.

How to Enable Sandbox in Windows 11

To enable sandboxing in Windows 11, follow these steps:

  • Press two Win+R keys at the same time to open the Run dialog box, type in the Open field:
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optionalfeatures.exe

Enable Sandbox in Windows 11
  • In the Windows Components applet that opens, select and select (check the box) the check box for Windows Sandbox and click OK.
Enable Sandbox in Windows 11
  • Restart Windows 11.

That’s All! The function is ready to go.

Enable or disable Windows Sandbox by using PowerShell

If you do not want to use the Windows Components applet, you can activate the Sandbox using Terminal or PowerShell.

Enable Sandbox in Windows 11
  • Open Windows Terminal or PowerShell (Administrator)
  • Copy and paste the following command:
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature –FeatureName "Containers-DisposableClientVM" -All -Online

And press Enter. After rebooting (prompted in the process), the Windows sandbox will be activated. 

To remove the Sandbox, use this command:

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature –FeatureName "Containers-DisposableClientVM" -Online

Enable or disable Windows Sandbox by using the command line

Of course, we are also talking about the good old cmd.exe

  • open a command prompt as an administrator
  • Run the command
Dism /online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:"Containers-DisposableClientVM" -All

Now restart your PC, and you can start the sandbox.

Disable Windows Sandbox.

Again run the command prompt as an administrator and run following the command.

Dism /online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:"Containers-DisposableClientVM"
Enable Sandbox in Windows 11

Once the Windows sandbox is installed, running it is virtually the same as running any other application or program. Just find it in the Start menu, run it, and accept the UAC prompt as an administrator. After that, you can drag and drop files and programs into the Sandbox for testing as needed. Just close the program, and this will undo any changes you have made.

Conclusion: Enable Sandbox in Windows 11

I hope this article on how to enable Sandbox in Windows 11 was helpful.  If you face any issues, share in the comment section below. Here are some other Windows 11 guides.

Author

Ruby has been a writer and author for a while, and her content appears all across the tech world, from within ReadWrite, BusinessMagazine, ThriveGlobal, etc.

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