I recently learned about DOSBox-X. It's basically a somewhat less awful version of the basically-abandoned DOSBox.
I currently have it installed inside a Windows 10 VM inside of my Windows 10 bare metal PC. It's the only computer I have. If I could afford it and had the physical space, I would set up a real classic PC and not bother with any emulators.
Every time I want to play around in my "nostalgia box", I have to first fire up the Windows 10 VM. Then wait for it to fully start. Then switch to it, run DOSBox-X inside of it, and then finally start using it. Fullscreen and "Alt-tabbing" between it and programs on my hos OS is either highly impractical, or impossible. It's basically a damn chore.
It would of course be quite technically possible to install DOSBox-X on the host OS instead. Then it would (probably) allow me to "Alt-tab" between it running something in fullscreen and my host OS's programs. Great.
Only one problem with that: security. Just trusting DOSBox-X to begin with is a major deal for me, but then you explicitly read this on their own website:
DOSBox-X cannot claim to be a "secure" application. It contains a lot of code designed for performance, not security. There may be vulnerabilities, bugs, and flaws in the emulation that could permit malicious DOS executables within to cause problems or exploit bugs in the emulator to cause harm. There is no guarantee of complete containment by DOSBox-X of the guest operating system or application.
If security is a priority, then:
Do not use DOSBox-X on a secure system.
This, while honest, does not make me more likely to trust it on my main OS.
You probably don't realize how big of a deal this is to me. Actually, while I'm specifically asking about DOSBox-X in this case, this question could also be made much more generic. Every single program I run on my host OS is a total security nightmare waiting to happen. A ticking bomb. Yet all the programs I do run on it are ones which logically have to run there; they cannot run in a VM for logical reasons.
How does one reasonably handle things like this? I know of "Sandboxie", but it was never able to instill any confidence with me. I wonder why this feature isn't part of Windows itself. It should be possible to "isolate" individual programs while still running them on the actual OS and not have to fiddle about with these slow and cumbersome VMs. Ironically, I don't trust Sandboxie!
I'm afraid that the answer is going to be: "you have to trust people in life or you will be unable to function whatsoever". While true, it doesn't help me feel any safer. I have a lot of personal and valuable data which I truly don't want leaked or stolen.