Here you have 3 main options; full, developer and configuration. The developer and configuration options are pretty similar but the configuration offer users’ dashboards, reports and 500 MB data that developer do not have as it only offers 10 MB of data.
Both of them however can be used to test data despite the fact that they will not give you access to HOC functionality which limits you when you want to do customization or plan to install new applications.The full sandboxes are bought at an additional cost.
Below you will find steps on how to create Salesforce Sandbox effectively:
First, click on the Setup/Data Management/Administration Setup/Sandboxes and click on tab that says “Click on New Sandbox”. Choose a name that depicts what it will be used for and add a description that explains what it will be used for. You are also required to select the right type of Sandbox i.e. full, configuration or developer and start the process by clicking on Start Copy.
You will be directed by Salesforce to a screen that has your sandbox list which also displays the status as it is being created. The time it takes to create the Salesforce Sandbox normally depends on various factors such as number of objects and type you selected among many others. You will receive an email once its copying has been completed to alert you when it is ready for use.
When you access the Salesforce Sandbox list you will see that the one you just created has changes status to read that it is now in use. This also shows details of the date when it was created and the server it is located on. There is also the option of logging into the sandbox using the Login option that is found on the list. You also get information about what the total limit is and the number of sandboxes that you are using currently.
From here you can be assured that you have a safe environment that will be used for trial installation of all the apps that you would like to use in your production. Only when you are comfortable with it and make sure it works in the proper way, should be installed in your production instance.
Keep in mind that when using a full sandbox, you will be required to have a copy of date in the production instance. However it will not contain any data if you are using a developer or configuration sandbox. In this case, you will be required to create or import a sample set of data that will be used for testing. Make sure to check salesforce developer tutorial page.