The Hitchhiker's Guide to Tails

~3 min read | Published on 2023-04-12, tagged GuidesPrivacy using 728 words.

Tails or The Amnesic Incognito Live System in full is a portable operating system that runs from a USB drive or DVD. Tails is designed to protect its users' privacy and anonymity. It erases all traces of what the user did and makes all connections to the internet go through the Tor Network.

When you boot your computer from the Tails USB drive connected to your PC, Tails starts running without using your device's hard disk. Tails is also independent of the other operating system installed on your device.
Since Tails only runs from the memory of your computer, it does not keep a record of your internet usage or anything you do on the device. When you shut down your computer, the memory is cleared, leaving no traces of what you did on the device.
To protect your privacy and anonymity on the internet, Tails forces every connection you make to the internet to go through the Tor network. With Tor, third parties cannot tell what websites you visit. You're able to visit websites anonymously and can change identities at will. Your browsing habits are secured from advertisers and other online trackers.

Installing Tails on a USB Drive

The following is a step-by-step guide to how you can install Tails on a USB drive for your Windows PC.
You will need;

Download Tails

Go to the download page on the Tails official website. Download either the USB image or through BitTorrent. Using BitTorrent is way faster.

Verify your Download

Verify your file

At the download page, verify the Tails you downloaded by clicking on the "Select your download" button and selecting the file you just downloaded.

File verified

Download USB Installer

To install Tails to your USB drive, you will need a USB installer.
Download balenaEtcher for Windows and open the file once the download is complete

Install Tails

Plug your USB drive into your PC.
On balenaEtcher click on the "Flash from file" button and select the Tails you downloaded.

Flash from file

Click on the "Select target" button and select your USB drive.

Select your USB drive

Click on the "Flash" button and wait for the installation to complete.

Install complete

Running Tails

Restart your PC and set it to start and run on the USB drive.
In the Boot Menu select your USB drive and press Enter.

boot loader

Your PC will start on Tails, the boot loader will appear and Tails will start.

Configuring Tails

In the Tails "welcome screen" set your desired language and keyboard layout.

Tails welcome screen

Click on "Start Tails" to open the Tails desktop.

Connect to the Internet

Open the system menu on the right-hand corner of your screen. Click on "Wi-Fi Not Connected" and select the network you want to connect to.

Connect to a wifi network

The Tor Connection screen will appear, choose how you want to connect to Tor and click on the "Connect to Tor" button.

Connect to Tor

You will then be redirected to the Tor Browser on Tails.

Creating Persistent Storage on Tail

When you shut down Tails, everything you may have done disappears. Depending on what your threat model is, you may decide to save some of your files and configurations.
To do this, you will need to set up Tails encrypted Persistent Storage on your USB drive.
At Tails desktop, click on the "Applications" menu in the top-left corner and choose "Persistent Storage". Click on continue in the window that opens.

Select Persistent Storage

In the window that follows, set a strong passphrase for your persistent storage.

Set a strong passphrase

Click on the "Create Persistent Storage" button after you set and confirm your passphrase.
Next, turn on the features of Persistent storage you need.

Turn on Persistent storage features

To access files you save in the persistent storage, go to the "places" menu and then click on persistent.
In addition to Tor, Tails gives you access to; Kleopatra, for PGP encryption; Thunderbird, for encrypted emails; OnionShare, for sharing files over Tor; Metadata Cleaner, to remove metadata from files; and other software to help you protect your privacy.
Tails can't protect you in cases where your device has been compromised. It also can't protect you from malicious Tor exit nodes if your data is not encrypted.
Always make sure you are using the latest version of Tails to reduce the risk of your privacy and anonymity being compromised.

Comments (17)


Tails is excellent in relation an privacy and anonymity. I love this OS ;)


Fate, It Seems, Is Not Without A Sense Of Irony


cant import my keys. need to start all over from scratch on it.


You can have persistent storage you dum dum :D

O Canada 2023-04-13

🐄 🐄


what do you think about whonix?


Properly explained.

elude exit scammed2023-04-14

make a post about it lol


If you are new to tails be aware the developers have made a number of questionable decisions regarding its security and usability, such as their refusal to allow persistent guard nodes and the continued borking of updates and user access restrictions. Whonix is a superior solution with an actual support channel and in depth wiki.


Whonix/Qubes is broken. i2p is compromised Find out yourself, don't believe anything you read online..


So, tails or whonix?


delete hardware os off hard drive and use tails os as daily drive


Does it have to be Etcher? Can you use Rufus?


what are some ways to enhance tails and make it even more anomynous.


if tails can not be trusted then we have nothing, get that fud out of here


wow mixed reviews on tails. whonix seems like the hot new thing but who knows.. tails is a tried and true formula right or wrong?


No one knows, no one can be fully sure.