7

Testing out recommendations can lead to installing a ton of software, especially when asking more than one question here.

That can slow down a running system, at least running on Windows.

What are you recommend on how to test recommendations? Using a Virtual Machine?

7

Yes, unless the application is super lightweight or that I need it for sure, I personally I use VM since it is tough to guess how much crapware an unknown application contains.

2

I personally use sandboxie. It is lightweight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandboxie

2

I run a VM in most cases.

With modern versions of windows - XP and better, I use the VMs from modern.ie to test on virtualbox. I tend to have a lot of ram, and the ability to snapshot makes life a lot easier for me.

With linux, I either use a VM or a livecd

This is why though, a good descriptive answer is useful - I try to answer in such a way that the OP can decide if its the right tool for the job. If someone looks at one of my answers and goes "this tool is awesome" I've done it right. This is probably why I use a lot of images in answers!

1

That can slow down a running system, at least running on Windows.

I prefer using the portable edition of tools, if there is any.
(By the way, autostart entries can slow down every PC — this is not limited to Windows.)

Other than that, you have to trust the tools other people recommend to you.
You will never be able to fully trust external software. There are some factors (at least for me) which increase the likelihood of the software not being malware. The list is sorted from the strongest to the weakest factor:

  • Open source
  • An appropriate website / presentation of the tool (i.e. not "my super award-winning world-wide best tool")
  • Number of users (do an online search) and upvotes on the post

There are also execution environments which lower the ability of a software to cause damage. For example libraries for web front-end development fall into this category.

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