How to configure Windows Sandbox settings


Learn how to configure and manage settings in Windows Sandbox. The tool can be used by developers and IT staff to test settings, apps, or malware behaviors without compromising the host system.

Image: iStockphoto/Ukususha


Microsoft’s Windows 10 update, the May 2019 release

dubbed build 1903, has brought some notable fixes and additions to the stable OS now going on its fourth year. Among the features included, Windows Sandbox is one of the highlights that stands out for both its ease of implementation and versatile functionality.

In a pinch, IT staff can launch a fully usable, windowed testing environment that uses Windows 10 as a foundation to run just about any piece of code on the test bed to see how it interacts, without compromising or affecting the underlying host. Best of all, the environment is volatile (like RAM), which resets to a clean slate each time Windows Sandbox is restarted, making it ideal for test beds that require quick startup and access to resources without retaining data, maintaining snapshots, or managing virtual machines or the servers that host them.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Windows 10 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Though a fresh environment is loaded each time Windows Sandbox runs, that does not mean it isn’t without some level of configuration for customized setups. Fortunately, Microsoft has included a mechanism by which certain aspects of the virtual machine can be configured to create a customized environment to best emulate your ideal testing needs. Below we’ll include not only what aspects can be modified, but also how to control these through the creation and use of a configuration file.

What settings can be managed in Windows Sandbox?

Windows Sandbox settings can be managed using a configuration file–more on creating one later. While Windows Sandbox does offer some flexibility in its current incarnation, Microsoft has limited the configurable settings to the following sections only.

vGPU: Turn this feature on or off. (Supported values are Disable or Default.)

value

Networking: Allow or deny network access. (Supported values are Disable or Default.)

value

Shared folders: Shared folders between the host and tenant with granular permissions settings. (Supported values are HostFolder, which must include path to host folder, and ReadOnly, which must include a value of true or false.)

C:pathtohostdirectory False

Startup scripts: Run startup scripts on Windows Sandbox. (Supported values are Command, which must include the command to be invoked.)

command name or path to script  

How to create the configuration file to manage Windows Sandbox settings

1. Launch Notepad or your favorite text editor.

2. Type <Configuration>, press the Enter key to move to the next line, and type </Configuration>.

3. Go to File | Save As and then navigate to the location you wish to save your file to.

4. Enter a name for the configuration file (any name will do), though type in the extension as .WSB, and then click the Save button to create the file.

You’ve created the configuration file necessary to manage Windows Sandbox settings. The file must be edited using a test editor that is able to parse XML formatting.

Sample configuration file for Sandbox:

Disable

Default

     C:Temp

     true

   cmd.exe C:TempScriptsRemoteControl.cmd

While the example configuration above offers a sampling of what can be done with Windows Sandbox settings, it is in no way intended to be a definitive take on settings configuration, as each environment will surely have different needs. Additionally, Microsoft could always expand on this feature set through update or future versions of Windows.

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