Windows Defender is the anti-virus that Microsoft packages with Windows 10. It does cause problems for some users but overall, if you’re not running an anti-virus, Windows Defender will keep you safe. Microsoft does make changes to it to keep up with new threats. You get regular virus definition updates delivered via Windows updates, and there’s a neat Ransomware protection feature that you can enable for extra safety. Microsoft has added a new sandbox mode for Windows Defender.
This sandbox mode hasn’t been enabled for users just yet. It’s a work in progress but, if you’re willing, you can enable it on the stable version of Windows 10. Here’s how.
Sandbox mode for Windows Defender
In order to enable sandbox mode Windows Defender, you’re going to need admin rights. You’re making a modification to Windows Defender which isn’t something you can do with normal user rights.
Open Command Prompt with admin rights. Run the following command to enable sandbox mode.
setx /M MP_FORCE_USE_SANDBOX 1
Restart your system to apply the change.
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If you find that, after enabling sandbox mode, your system is running slower, there are too many false flags, or you have trouble accessing files or apps on your system, you may want to disable it.
Open Command Prompt with admin rights, and run this command to disable it.
setx /M MP_FORCE_USE_SANDBOX 0
Restart your system.
Sandboxing, particularly for an anti-virus is pretty amazing. At present there aren’t any other anti-virus apps that can run in sandbox mode. Sandboxing basically lets an app run in its own environment that’s blocked off from everything else. Other apps cannot access it unless the sandboxed app allows them in. This isn’t a big deal if an app isn’t malicious but for apps that are malicious or viruses, that means they cannot interfere with Windows Defender.
Windows Defender is a good anti-virus but there are malicious apps out there that can disable it. If it ever comes to that, the only option users have is to format your drive and reinstall Windows 10. The sandbox mode will make it harder for a malicious app to disable Windows Defender, if not near impossible.
The sandbox mode is still a work-in-progress. This means that while you can force enable it, it may not add the level of protection that it should. It’s not going to make Windows Defender less effective if you have it enabled and it isn’t working right but if you have trouble with your system after enabling it, you should disable it and wait until Microsoft gives it a clean bill of health.