Setting up your malware test environment correctly is very important. This is my 2 cents on the matter.
There are 2 main options in my opinion:
1) A basic, portable lab.
2) Fully professional lab.
The essential components:
1) Easily restorable. Definitely. 2) Correct tools.
My setup (which I’m going to use here) is what I would consider basic, say in comparsion to Fireeye’s lab or perhaps the People’s Liberation Army lab.
Install a Windows 7 VM on a host. Personally I use VMWare. I find it solid. (Set the patch level of the machine to low).
Ensure the VM is isolated BUT you can connect to the Web when needed. Point 3 - easily managable!
Take a snapshot when finished and you’re golden. Next we’ll discuss Static vs Dynamic Analysis. All good analysts should at a minimum be able to perform Static Analysis! Fullstop.