Ghacks Christmas Giveaway: Returnil Premium

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 20, 2008
Updated • Apr 14, 2016

Today is the 20th day of the Ghacks Christmas Giveaway. We have handed out an incredible amount of software licenses already and will continue to do so until December 24. Up for grabs is Returnil Premium today which is available to anyone. Yes, that is right, no lottery today. If you want it you get it. Here is how it works out. You download Returnil Premium and visit this page that has been specifically created for the Ghacks Giveaway. There you can fill out a form to received your Returnil Premium license.

Returnil Premium is a program that can emulate the operating system in a sandbox - a virtual environment - so that changes have no effect on the system itself but only to the sandboxed copy of it. It does not require lots of computer knowledge to run, the only thing that's out of the ordinary is the (optional) creation of a virtual partition that will be used to store data when the sandbox is active. Here are the steps on how to use the security software:

  • Installation: You get some options here most notable to run the system on the hard drive or computer memory. There is also the optional setting to create a virtual partition on the computer system to store data. An alternative would be to use online storage space.
  • Running Returnil:You can start Returnil after a restart. Once Returnil is started it will redirected access to the virtual system so that the actual computer system will not be harmed. You can then use whatever application you like. Keep in mind that any changes that have been made to the computer system will be undone after a restart as they have only been made in the virtual system and not the actual one. Here is an example:If you bookmark a page while Returnil is running it will show up in the bookmark manager. It will however be gone after a restart of the system.
  • Stopping Returnil: The only way to stop Returnil is to reboot the computer system.
  • Saving Data: Two ways to save data. The first is to use the virtual partition to store the data on as it will not be erased after a reboot on that partition. The second is by utilizing online storage space. You can sync bookmarks online, save files there, edit Word documents and basically do most things online.

How does Returnil work?

It is obvious that Returnil cannot mirror dozens of Gigabytes of data in the sandboxed environment. There is actually no need to clone the whole system. All that needs to be done is to keep track of the changes to the system and act as a proxy between the computer system and the virtual system.

What are the differences between the free and the premium version of Returnil?

The premium version of Returnil adds quite a few features that make it interesting. The user can choose to cache data in the computer memory or on the hard drive, save sessions to continue working with them at a later point, relocate system folders, to browse and move files between the real hard drive and the virtual drive, shell integration and free customer support.

Returnil Premium adds much needed features to the virtualization software that are missing in the free version. The main benefit of both versions is the simplicity of usage. You only need to press one button to turn the protection on once it has been configured the way you want.

Remember, you can request your Returnil Premium key by following the link on top. Would be still nice to tell us what you think of it.


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  1. willdo said on December 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I want too

  2. Yusuf said on June 20, 2009 at 11:15 am

    can i please have a copy of the Returnil premium license?

    best regards

  3. libor said on January 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hello Ghacks readers,

    the license keys are going to be dispatched to your submitted email addresses during the period of this week.

    If you do not receive your license by the end of the week, check your spam folder first and then feel free to let us know.

    All the best in the New Year,

    Returnil Support

  4. rabbitlegs said on January 1, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Great programme, great giveaway, and very much appreciated. I look forward to receiving my licence at your convenience. Thanks again

  5. roman reyes said on December 31, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    hey guys i would like to have a free license to DVDPhoto Slideshow Professional. It would be a great giveaway. Thanks!

  6. libor said on December 30, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Hello everyone,

    New Public Beta for the Returnil Virtual System 2008

    RVS 2.01 Beta Download:



    • Hibernation on some Vista systems would fail to recover properly, resulting in an improper shut down message from Windows at system restart.

    With Kind regards
    Returnil support

  7. libor said on December 29, 2008 at 10:26 am

    to rubricscubed:

    Could u please give us a bit more information about the problem u are having? To help you better, feel free to drop us a note via one of our contact forms –


  8. Sergey said on December 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Really great soft,must have!Thanks!

  9. dan said on December 26, 2008 at 5:40 am

    sounds like a zinger!
    i must hav it


  10. Ruth Abul said on December 26, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Thanks again!

  11. libor said on December 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    to NoName:

    Try downloading the trial version from:

    If it still does not work, please let us know.

  12. Neeraj Kumar said on December 25, 2008 at 8:19 am


  13. Sankeerth said on December 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Thanks a lot for this software. I needed it. Also posting in my blog via urs.

  14. CHRIS said on December 25, 2008 at 8:47 am


  15. Chandra said on December 24, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I hv used VMWare various versions… this looks good for personal use and I would like to have one…


  16. Dave Scofield said on December 24, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Please send me my free license for Ghacks Christmas Giveaway: Returnil Premium.

    Windows Vista 32 Bit Edition

    Thank you
    Dave Scofield

  17. NoName said on December 23, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    I thought this would be worth a try in anticipation of getting the license..
    So i downloaded from the link above but when installing, it tells me my trial period has expired even though i have never used returnil before?

  18. tux said on December 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Would like this as well. Just the other day I was looking for options besides SteadyState. Is there a 64-bit version available?

  19. Goodboyjp said on December 23, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Thanks folks so very much for this generous offer. Looking forward to trying Returnil out.

  20. rubricscubed said on December 22, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Won’t dispute that Returnil is a useful program for true computer wonks, but I take issue with the way the writer implies it’s easy to use. I’ve been around computers for decades, but after installing Returnil and having 4gigs blocked off and then as a multi-tasker feeling way too uncomfortable with having to constantly remember if I’ll need something after a reboot or not and how to preserve it, I’m now stuck with a 4-gig black hole in my system and the instructions to dismount this virtual drive make absolutely no sense at all. Easy? No way.

  21. libor said on December 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Voodoobew/Tom: If it worked on Vista x64 I would be interested. But It don’t. :(

    This is true for the time being. The engineers are currently looking into the possibility of releasing x64 compatible version, but we will just have to wait and see :).
    Bewc: Once I switched to Vista, I installed Retunil again (of course) and that’s when the problems would start. After months of rebuilding my system, crashing again, and over time isolating which app was the problem, I discovered that I had no more issues if I gave up on Returnil.

    If you experience any issues on Vista with the 2.0 edition, please try out the newest Beta release ( which addresses some reported Vista problems. The one issue with Vista that is not thoroughly solved has to do with Vista hibernation. This is being worked on.

    Happy Holidays!

  22. Tom said on December 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Agree with Voodoobew: As long as there is no way to use it under x64, it is useless for me :-(

  23. kimrich said on December 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Haven’t tried Returnil yet. Have used sandboxie for ~ 10 months and am (so far) 100% satisfied with the latest iteration.

    But it’s always better to have more than one screwdriver in your toolbox. I intend to give Returnil a place on my home network.

    Thanks to for giving me/us this opportunity.

  24. august said on December 21, 2008 at 11:01 am

    guys its says available to anyone so just download and install…… ahihihihi

  25. Matthias said on December 21, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Once again I’ll try

  26. smurf said on December 21, 2008 at 7:01 am


  27. Liam G said on December 21, 2008 at 3:07 am

    This is a very good program, as good as, if not better than, the Zone Alarm equivalent and a few others based on the same basic idea I’ve used. It’s still a lot less convenient than Sandboxie, ( is free, doesn’t mess with your registry, your start up set-up or use a huge amount of memory. Still, if you’re worried about folks visiting porn sites or other risky areas of t’internet while using your computer, this is a good program to get for now’t

  28. RG said on December 20, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Thanx Martin, this is great, have heard good things about it. The form says license will arrive in the new year. Looking forward to post about it then :)

  29. Bewc said on December 20, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I’ve used the free edition for a couple years now. It works EXTREMELY well on Windows XP. I’ve left my system in virtual mode for days with no issue.

    I can’t say the same for Vista though. Once I switched to Vista, I installed Retunil again (of course) and that’s when the problems would start. After months of rebuilding my system, crashing again, and over time isolating which app was the problem, I discovered that I had no more issues if I gave up on Returnil.

    I had thought about the premium version for the support option, but decided it to be too much trouble. Recently though I bought an external drive so I could backup my system easier.

    So I was just thinking about asking for Returnil Premium for Christmas (last minute eh?) and Ghacks just gave it to me for Christmas! Thank you Ghacks and Returnil! I’m looking forward to this A LOT!

  30. Joseph said on December 20, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    This looks like a great alternative to Sandboxie as sandboxie was originally written for web use and has retained some quirks that bear that out. I am tickled to have another option.

    That being said, Sandboxie works great, is totally free, and keeps data between reboots, shutdowns and sessions in a virtual drive that requires no setup and configuration. The only config needs for the drive are what areas that you want to be monitored for what is called “quick recovery” which notifies you that you have files in this area which you may want to transfer out of the virtual protected area into the “real world” hard drive and os structure. The rest of the “virtual hd” is totally recoverable as well, by simply browsing through the normal tree style view we are all accustomed to and choosing to “recover” the wanted datum.

    Thanks again for this great alternative, and thanks to Returnil for the chance to try out and brag for them.

  31. ak said on December 20, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Grabanzo this is better than sandboxie becouse you can install programs with drivers(that don’t require a reboot).But for this reason it is not that safe.Anyway this and it’s alternative(shadow defender) are great and actively developed.

  32. Kao said on December 20, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    would love to give it a shot. I’ve tried sandboxie. This one seems good too.

  33. Mezan said on December 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Another giveaway after usb safelyremove which is open to all! Thanks Martin, ghacks is the best!

  34. James Bond said on December 20, 2008 at 7:26 pm


  35. Nicolai H said on December 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks, its almost as good as Sandboxie !

  36. barney_ghl said on December 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Interesting. Now … if I just remember to put the stuff I wanna keep in the right place …

  37. Tomas said on December 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    What a nice offer! :)

    Thanks very much, and Merry Christmas to all!

  38. johnny said on December 20, 2008 at 5:06 pm


  39. Mohammed Khawaja said on December 20, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Give it to me!

  40. Linasi said on December 20, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Triffic sounds like a gem of a program :)

  41. Mario Filipe said on December 20, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I’m in

  42. Hlinker said on December 20, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Very strong compared to sandboxie, Thanks

  43. Voodoobew said on December 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    LOL I looked it up, They just copped the free Microsoft Steadystate, didnt even bother changing the function names….

  44. Voodoobew said on December 20, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    How Could this be better then the free Sandboxie or Microsofts own Steadystate. If it worked on Vista x64 I would be interested. But It don’t. :(

  45. cicom3nd3z said on December 20, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    This is a great software. I’d love a copy!

  46. giglmania said on December 20, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    i am interesting …

  47. Dan said on December 20, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Wow! Of all the giveaways so far, this is the one I most want. Thanks for making it available!

  48. Tangdongdong said on December 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Wow, I like the idea very much.

  49. Paul said on December 20, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I;d like a copy please.

  50. garbanzo said on December 20, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    so this creates essentially sandboxes whatever you do during a session, letting you mess with stuff without fear of making a huge mistake? even changes to system files and windows settings?

    if so, this is huge. sandboxie and the like only sandbox one app at a time. this could allow for some serious experimenting :)

  51. Jose said on December 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Sounds nice!, I want one of this.

  52. paul. said on December 20, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Looks great maybay even better than zonealarm and sandbox. Going to give it a try.

  53. Bam said on December 20, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Haven’t tried the program but read various positive articles about this gem.

    Looking forward to give it a go.

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