Load up some malware and it's eminently possible that it'll do its best to wreak as much havoc with your PC as it was designed to. Often, a double-click will be all such a piece of software needs - once executed, your PC and its many files are fair game. It's this problem that Bufferzone Pro has been created to combat. Should you be unsure of a program, you can run it in isolation - essentially placing it in a virtual quarantine. Running a suspect application in this way will mean that it has no access to outside files.

Safe environment

Ensuring that no programs are able to sneak through its defences, Bufferzone will run any file from an external media source in its "virtual zone" as well as intercepting email attachments.

A pleasing range of settings makes it possible to specify whether the program will monitor each such source, enabling you, for instance, to monitor your CD drives, while allowing USB flash keys to escape its attentions. A limited firewall to prevent outbound excursions is also present.

By default, the program will place a red border around all protected applications, giving the sense that your PC is in total lockdown. Our efforts to test whether this was truly the case yielded generally favourable results. Malware programs typically installed without issue, yet proved unable to make changes beyond their quarantine area.

Should you decide that you trust an installed program enough to release it from its virtual cage, you'll need to uninstall and reinstall the program outside of the program - a necessary, yet not particularly elegant solution.

Because it's not compatible with Windows Vista, Bufferzone isn't a solution for all PC users. Indeed, the somewhat restrictive and overbearing feel of the software, coupled with its price, might mean that it's better to rely on pure instinct as to what programs will be safe to run and which won't. It does, however, do a good job of securely isolating files and programs from the rest of your system.