You must have heard about how crazy and scary the internet can get sometimes and now you want to browse safely for certain activities online. Well, Tails is a live operating system that can be run directly from a USB, SD stick, or even a DVD. Yeap you saw it right it can be run even from a DVD the only drawback is that you have to re-write it every time there is an update which is a bit of an inconvenience. If you are going after Invisibility and Anonymity then this is the right choice for you.

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

What is Tails?

Tails is a portable operating system that protects your privacy and helps you avoid censorship. Avoid surveillance, censorship, advertising, and viruses. Tails uses the Tor network to protect your privacy online and help you avoid censorship. Enjoy the Internet as it should be. It is designed for people on the go and that’s why it’s portable.

You can run it via USB stick, SD, or even a DVD. Pretty handy as this makes it resistant to viruses. It’s also beneficial if you don’t want your hard drive to leave remnants of your browsing session. The best part is that it’s free and based on Linux and comes with a chat client, email, office, and browser.

How does it work?

To use Tails, shut down the computer and start on your Tails USB stick instead of starting on Windows, macOS, or Linux. You can temporarily turn your own computer into a secure machine. You can also stay safe while using the computer of somebody else.

Tails always starts from the same clean state and everything you do disappears automatically when you shut down Tails.

You can save some of your files and configuration in an encrypted Persistent Storage on the USB stick: your documents, your browser bookmarks, your emails, and even some additional software.

Tails includes a selection of applications to work on sensitive documents and communicate securely.

All the applications are ready-to-use and are configured with safe defaults to prevent mistakes.

Everything you do on the Internet from Tails goes through the Tor network. Tor encrypts and anonymizes your connection by passing it through 3 relays. Relays are servers operated by different people and organizations around the world.

A single relay never knows both where the encrypted connection is coming from and where it is going to:

  • The 1st relay only knows where you are coming from but not where you are going to.
  • This 3rd relay only knows where you are going to but not where you are coming from.
  • The connection to the final destination is encrypted whenever possible to prevent the 3rd relay from reading its content.

This way, Tor is secure by design even if a few relays are malicious.

How to install it?

Download tails installer here and make sure your computer has no viruses. You’ll need to authenticate your download they tell you in their site how to do that. 

You must first install it somewhere, like a DVD, and then clone it the USB stick or SD card. To do that you need to download the Universal USB Installerfrom the Installation page.

  • Windows users will be guided through an installation wizard and prompted to install the Tails image on the USB drive.

Important: use your mobile device to open the Instructions URL. In the next step, you will need to restart your machine. This instruction list will walk you through getting back online fast.

  • Restart your computer. During the bootup process, press the Boot Menu Key, usually F12 or esc, and select Boot Tails from your USB drive.
  • Follow the instructions on the Welcome to Tails prompt.
  • Next, insert your second USB drive.
  • Under Applications click Tails Installer and follow the prompts to install Tails on your second USB drive.
  • After the installation completes, shut down your computer.
  • Remove your first USB drive, leaving the second USB drive attached.
  • Repeat the startup process and run Tails.

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