Software Virtualization With SafeSpace

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 7, 2008
Updated • Nov 15, 2010
Software, Windows

Software virtualization is a clever security concept that puts certain applications and files in something that can be described as a virtual room where they cannot harm the underlying system. The benefits of this method are huge but unfortunately though not many users are using software virtualization solutions.

One small example. Downloading an infected file with your web browser or email client will have no negative impact on the core system. The virus will be executed in the virtual space and once that is purged, either manually or by logging off, it vanishes as if it never was executed in first place.

The software virtualization tool SafeSpace comes with a default set of applications that are always run in the sandbox and provides easy means to add additional applications. Besides that several directories, and their subdirectories, are automatically protected as well. This includes the Windows and Program Files directory among others.

SafeSpace protects the files and registry settings of the operating system by virtualizing any changes made by applications running inside SafeSpace. This means that applications can read the real data of Windows and any programs which are installed. But when applications attempt to make any changes to the real data, a virtual copy is created inside SafeSpace and the changes are made to the virtual data instead to prevent any changes from affecting the real data

SafeSpace provides a very clean and easy to use interface that is divided into a Privacy and Application tab basically. The application tab contains those applications that will run in the virtual environment while the Privacy tab contains folders and their status in the environment. Four statuses are available.

  • Virtual: Files can be read normally but write processes are virtualized which ensures that the files remain unchanged
  • Private: Applications running in the virtual environment can't access those folders and files stored within.
  • Read Only: Files can be read but no write process is allowed.
  • Full Control: Gives virtual applications full control over the files in that folder.

When a software gets launched that is listed in the application list of SafeSpace it is specifically marked with a red border. This is a visual sign for the user that the application is running in a virtual environment.

Any file that gets downloaded from a virtual application will also be run in the virtual environment when it is executed even if it is saved in the "real" part of the hard drive.

The software virtualization application comes with another handy feature, a tool to prevent keyloggers for applications in the virtual environment.

Installation was not a problem at all. Just execute it like any other software and restart the computer at the end. Windows XP users need the Microsoft .net Framework 2.0 if they want to run the software virtualization application.

SafeSpace will have created the sandbox after the restart and applications like Firefox or Internet Explorer will automatically run in it.


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  1. Xyborg said on June 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Yes, thats right.

  2. jayminho said on June 18, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    wow, i didnt even know those things existed.
    so, its not really an OS virtualization app. its a app that “creates a bubble” so you can try a software on it, right ?


  3. Gelu said on June 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Installed.Windows crashed.Uninstalled!

  4. Ky said on August 8, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I personally like better Sandboxie than SafeSpace. Yeah, the program is more technical but the good point of it is its low memory footprint. On the other hand, SafeSpace slows down the system considerably. It’s got a nice interface, though.

  5. garbanzo said on August 8, 2008 at 9:40 am

    have any sandboxie users tried this yet?

    i’m curious to know how easily the reg hive can be viewed. it’s kind of a pain in sandboxie…

  6. Xyborg said on August 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm
  7. ak said on August 7, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Safespace is beeing discontinued.From one of the developers: July 1st, 2008
    “To all SafeSpace users.

    As you may be aware, Artificial Dynamics is a subsidiary company of the AppSense Group Inc.
    Artificial Dynamics consisted of a small team of developers who created the virtualization engine which made SafeSpace possible.
    In April, the technologies used in SafeSpace were re-acquired by AppSense Ltd and Artificial Dynamics has since been disbanded. As a result, we have only been able to offer limited support to end users.

    Version was our last official release. Limited support will still be available via the Artificial Dynamics support forums, and SafeSpace will continue to be hosted on – free for personal use.

    Our patented virtualization technology is now being utilized within AppSense user environment management solutions to enable dynamic personalization of physical and virtual corporate desktops.
    If you’d like to know more about these solutions please visit

    I would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to try SafeSpace. Your feedback helped us develop a great security product which is today being used by several thousand home users.

    I will continue to visit these forums regularly and help out with any SafeSpace related topics that occur.

    Best regards,


    Artificial Dynamics.
    Still sandboxie remains as a great alternative.

  8. Xyborg said on August 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Can you post or email me that review?

  9. Martin said on August 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Sandboxie is nice as well. I read a comparison review of software virtualization programs and SafeSpace made second place ahead of Sandboxie. (first place if only free virtualization programs would be considered)

  10. Xyborg said on August 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    You should try Sandboxie :).

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