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Some online game on Facebook needs virtual coins. A way to earn coins is by installing trial software, such as a PDF reader (as it claims). Is a virtual PC the safest bet in this case?

I'm concerned these trial software may not be too "legit", containing malware, adware or even viruses, sending my passwords or keystrokes or even modifying my operational system. So I was reluctant to install it on a test Win 7 installation, where the Vista and other Win 7 partitions are visible to the current Win 7.

In this case, is installing the trial software on a Virtual PC the safest and best way?

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If you add the name of the app/game in question, people might know specific information about it (though that might not be the right sort of question for SU, as it would be specifically game related). – David Spillett Nov 2 '09 at 16:06
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you are not sure about the content of the software then I wouldn't even use it on a VM.

If you do run it in a VM, make sure that you don't share user credentials between it an any other machine/VM (i.e. don't use the same username+password) and make sure your other machine's/VMs have relevant firewall provisions installed and correctly configured in case any malware inside, if there is malware inside, decides to look around your network to find security holes that would not be accessible from the outside due to your router's or ISP's filtering. Is the game really worth the potential hassle?

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If the suspected software contains a virus, and if the VM has some sort of access to the network or the router, then your entire network is in danger.

If the VM doesn't have access to the network or the router, then you can't download and install the software that will get you the virtual coins.

Conclusion: There is no safe way to install this software.

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Virtual PC is way to go. As long as you don't copy anything from virtual machine, you are safe. However, do notice that you need additional license for your OS inside of virtual machine (exception is Windows XP mode in Windows 7). You may get around that with getting evaluation version and reinstalling every 3 months (or just rearming).

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Safe? Image a virtual machine full of malware connected to the internet! It could send out all the spam it wants and help ddos a few servers, but of course, your host OS would be safe. – innaM Nov 3 '09 at 9:43
Correction: Safe for him. Responsible behavior toward virtual machine is implied. – Josip Medved Nov 3 '09 at 11:42

Personally, I just wouldn't use any game or service that requires me to do this.

However, if you really want it, I do suggest you use it in a Virtual PC (Take a snapshot before, and restore after).

It will most likely have web/analytic tracking capabilities or adware inside it.

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