Tails OS Help

Tails OS Help!!!

The first step is to prepare a computer to communicate from.  You don’t have to use it as your daily PC/Mac, but you can at least have it set up so that you can start browsing the web with security.

Along with a USB drive, you will also need an old laptop, netbook, or desktop.  I know from personal experience that Tails OS works great from a 13” MacBook Pro as well as from a Lenovo Thinkpad T400.  I also know that a majority of netbooks will work.  If the computer supports booting from USB, it will likely work.

To boot, you simply turn off the computer, insert the USB flash drive with Tails OS and boot up the computer. Many times, you need to set the BIOS on the computer to boot from USB.  Most machines have a boot option that allows booting from USB (like hitting F12 when the computer starts up, or holding the option key on a MacBook).

As stated prior, you may also burn the ISO to a DVD and boot from that.  For some, this may be easier than using a USB.  If you need to find out how to burn the ISO you downloaded to a DVD, see this for Mac:

Once you are in Tails OS, the boot will ask if you want to use extra options… like “persistence.”  You would use persistence if you want to save files to the flash drive when you are using Tails (like bookmarks, documents, etc).  When you do this, Tails OS encrypts part of the flash drive to protect your files.  You don’t need to use persistence, but it is helpful if you want to create documents, etc.

When Tails is completely booted, you will need to connect it to your wireless network (or plug it in via an ethernet cable).  There is a wireless icon on the top right of the screen.  Once it is connected to the network, it will start up something called TOR, which is an encrypted method of connecting to the internet.

There are advantages and disadvantages of using TOR.  The advantages are anonymous and encrypted web browsing that even the NSA likely has problems tracking.  You are using a network of “nodes” (or other TOR routed devices) that protect your identity and connect to various networks all over the globe to protect you.

The disadvantage is speed.  It is definitely slower.  You wouldn’t want to try to watch a youtube video or download a large file while using TOR.

You will know that TOR is ready to use on your computer when a green onion icon appears on your toolbar at the top of the screen.  Of course, TOR cannot start until you connect to your wireless network, so you need to
this first.

Once the green onion icon appears, you can open the browser (another icon on the left side of the toolbar at the top of the screen).  It works like a normal web browser, but you need to be careful.  Two great search engines to use are duckduckgo.com and startpage.com, neither of which track you online.

To be careful online, here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t use your real name while you are on TOR
  2. Don’t log into your normal, everyday, email account… set up a new one (see below)
  3. Don’t search for names or things that identify you
  4. Don’t fill out web forms with your real address or other information that identifies you
  5. Do turn off your computer when you are done using Tails OS
  6. Do keep your USB and/or DVD disk you created in a safe place

TO UPDATE YOUR TAILS USB DRIVE: When you boot from Tails, once online it will check automatically for updates.  If an update is available, you should immediately download and install the update!

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