Small office / Home office
Transient storage offers extra protection
There's a lot going on when you use your computer, and most of it occurs without your knowledge. All the background stuff ...e hard-drive...
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
There's a lot going on when you use your computer, and most of it occurs without your knowledge.
All the background stuff — the hard-drive access, the housekeeping functions that endeavor to keep everything running smoothly — all of that happens beneath the surface, and thank goodness for that.
You really don't need to know when the registry is being changed, for example. You don't need to know anything about these things to productively use the machine.
But being completely oblivious to these internal functions can also be a recipe for disaster. You need to perform some preventative maintenance to help keep things running smoothly.
Anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall products are the most popular in the software-protection category. But there are other products that try to protect by using alternative methods, and I'm gratified to see them.
The bad guys are always trying to find methods of defeating the mainstream protection products, so it never hurts to supplement them with an additional layer of protection, especially if that layer is something painless.
I recently came across something called Sandboxie. Although the idea behind it is simple, sometimes it's the simple ideas that can be the most effective.
When you run any program on your computer, data flows between your computer's memory and its hard drive, which stores everything.
The problems begin to happen when something malicious gets written to the hard drive. Sandboxie is a small utility that tries to prevent that from happening.
The metaphor it uses is that of a sandbox. The idea is that instead of letting an application read and write directly to your hard drive, it reads and writes everything that's happening to a temporary holding area, or sandbox.
As the application runs, it may read needed information directly from the hard drive, but it will never write to it.
The idea is that when you first install something new, you try it out using the sandbox. If something goes wrong or something bad happens, the transient nature of the sandbox will allow you to throw out everything that was in it.
When that happens, your computer is restored to its condition before you installed the new product.
This is not a perfect solution. Sometimes infections may not make themselves known for a long time, if ever.
If you don't know that your computer has been turned into a zombie, for example, you won't know to throw out the sandbox in the first place.
Still, the concept has merit for certain scenarios.
A good example would be letting a friend use your computer for a while. You want to ensure that whatever he does with it, you can put it back the way it was by throwing out his sandbox. Makes sense to me.
Give Sandboxie a try, especially because it's free. If you like it, you can register the program for $25 and you'll get a lifetime registration that brings some additional abilities.
These include being able to just sandbox specific programs rather than the whole computer, as well as running multiple sandboxes instead of just one.
Sandboxie works only with Windows and is available for download at www.sandboxie.com.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.