Playing in the Avast Sandbox
There are plenty of useful little programs out there that are very susceptible to infection. For example, if you are someone who needs thousands of fresh proxy servers every day, programs like Proxy Finder will auto surf the Internet to get you that list. Many other antivirus programs will shut such programs down before they can do the job. What makes Avast truly beloved by geeks worldwide is the sandbox feature.
The sandbox is a virtual environment where risky programs can be run in a quarantined manner. It's a very new technology (Avast is only the second antivirus program to offer it), so its a bit limited. For example, you cannot install any programs into the sandbox, only run them. This is not a significant draw back as programs such as Proxy Fetcher and the thousands of flavors of bots out there are typically downloaded as ready-to-go executables. Not sure what programs to run in the sandbox? That's not a problem because Avast will tell you, although you may choose to run any program in your system within it. It's main attraction is that the sandbox can help you identify which programs you are considering using may be too risky. I was evaluating two proxy-finders, they both ran in the sandbox, and it did not take long to realize that one of them was downloading as many Trojans as proxies.
Once you have run a program in the sandbox a few times (say half a dozen, just to be safe), you can access the menu and make an exception for the program. For most programs, you will not want to run them in the sandbox indefinitely as Avast will automatically delete any data you save from a program run in the sandbox, a big problem when you have 7,000 proxy-server IP addresses that you need to load into another program. Its other advantage is that the sandbox is a great place to test new programs because it offers a controlled environment to work out any software bugs before they affect the rest of your system.