Step 3: Setting up Internet Explorer

Virtual machines are a great way to maximize your hardware investments, but they can also help you secure your client OS. According to contributor Brien M. Posey, you can run Internet Explorer on a virtual machine to prevent any viruses or spyware from corrupting your OS. This guide explains how to set up a VM and run IE on it.

After Windows finishes installing, go ahead and configure the virtual machine in the same way that you would configure

a physical machine. I recommend installing all of the latest patches too. Since you are going to be using the virtual machine solely for the purpose of running Internet Explorer, it's not a bad idea to go into the Control Panel's Add / Remove Programs applet and remove any Windows components that you don't specifically need. Doing so won't decrease the size of the virtual hard drive file, but it will decrease the virtual machine's potential attack surface.

After you are finished setting up the machine, do a full shut down of the virtual Windows operating system. Then go to the folder in which the virtual hard drive is stored and make a copy of it. If Internet Explorer should ever become infected with anything, you can delete the virtual machine. After doing so, make a copy of your backup virtual machine (always leave the backup pristine and untouched).

Now all you have to do is to create a new virtual machine. As I showed you when I walked you through the process earlier, the New Virtual Machine wizard has an option to use an existing virtual hard drive. By pointing the wizard to the copy that you just made of the backup virtual hard drive, you can be back up and running in a matter of minutes without having to reinstall or reconfigure Windows.

Running Internet Explorer in a virtual machine won't prevent Internet Explorer from becoming infected with malware. It will however make it a lot easier to undo the damage when infections do occur. It will also prevent malware from spreading to your workstation's primary operating system.


Running IE on a virtual machine

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: VMware versus Microsoft Virtual PC
 Step 2: Deploying Microsoft Virtual PC
 Step 3: Setting up Internet Explorer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit his personal Web site at www.brienposey.com. .
Copyright 2005 TechTarget
This was first published in June 2006

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