Windows Sandbox lets you run and test software applications in isolation without affecting your host machine. It is an optional feature available in the Pro, and Enterprise editions of the Windows 10 and 11 operating systems.
Unfortunately, if you are on Windows 11 Home, your only options are using alternatives. These alternatives allow you to test untrusted programs and safe web browsing like what Windows Sandbox offers.
Here we have listed the best Windows Sandbox alternatives to run on the Windows 10 and 11 Home editions of the OS.
Sandboxie Plus is the upgraded version of the popular Sandboxie software, recently made open source by its developers, Sophos. Sandboxie is currently developed and maintained by a developer ‘David Xanatos’ on GitHub and their website.
The Plus version of the popular sandbox-based isolation software comes with a new set of features and UI. Sandboxie Plus features an intuitive UI making it easier for new users to use the tool. It allows you to use the default sandbox or create a new one to add and run the apps in isolation.
To run the apps, you can add the program’s execution path or simply drag and drop the app icon into the sandbox. Alternatively, right-click on your sandbox and select Run > Run from Start Menu. Here, you can select the installed apps from the list to run.
To confirm if the app is running in isolation, hover your cursor over the active foreground window to spot a colored border. Sandboxie Plus, by default, shows a colored (Yellow) border around the active sandbox windows.
Sandboxie Plus also features tons of customization options that you can use to customize individual sandboxes. You can customize appearance, create program groups, set start and stop behavior for individual apps and even configure resource access for different apps.
The developer also maintains the classic version of the Sandboxie with the old MFC-based UI that you can download from its GitHub page.
Download: Sandboxie Plus (Free)
SHADE Sandbox works similarly to Sandboxie Plus, except it is not a free application. It is a premium Sandbox software, so you’ll need to purchase a license if you plan to use it after the trial ends.
SHADE Sandbox features a clean UI that looks like built using Visual Basic. However, the barebone look is deceiving as it offers all the basic features you need from Sandbox software.
To run an app in a simulated virtual environment, drag and drop the app’s executable into SHADE Sandbox. Next, double-click on the app icon to launch the app in a safe environment.
App running in the sandbox mode will show a colored border when you hover your cursor over an active app window. Files downloaded from the Internet will be saved to a virtual folder, thus keeping it isolated from your host operating system.
Download: SHADE Sandbox ($29.99/year, free trial available)
3. Virtual Machines
Virtual machines offer similar isolation functionality as sandbox software. However, a virtual machine is a bit tedious to set up, requires its own copy of the Windows operating system to boot, needs resource allocation, and requires some hardware configuration.
That said, it allows you to replicate a separate computer without affecting your host system. All the changes made in the virtual machine run in a virtual environment without risk to your host.
Unlike a sandbox that uses the existing copy of your host operating system, a virtualization tool allows you to install different operating systems over multiple virtual machines.
The three popular virtualization tools for the Windows operating system are VirtualBox, VMWare, and Hyper-V. Explore our guide comparing VirtualBox, VMWare, and Hyper-V to find the best virtualization tool for your needs.
If you don’t want to install a third-party solution, Hyper-V is all you need. Even if you are running the Home edition of the OS, you can use a batch script to enable Hyper-V in Windows 11 Home and create virtual machines.
Some Great Windows Sandbox Alternatives
Windows Sandbox doesn’t have many working alternatives. However, Sandboxie Plus and SHADE Sandbox are solid options if you can’t use Windows Sandbox for any reason.
While the Sandboxie Plus offers tons of customization options at no cost, SHADE Sandbox offers a solution that works without any fuss. Make sure to take both tools for a spin to find the best Windows Sandbox alternative that works best for you.