How to run your own secure, portable PC from a USB stick

For those who are looking For the ultimate in portability and security in their computing, there is the option to run a system directly from a USB drive that you can carry in your pocket.

Plug it into an additional USB port on a Windows or macOS computer, and the flash drive acts as system storage and software when it borrows everything else from the connected machine — display, keyboard, processor, graphics.

Turn off the computer, pull out the USB drive, and it looks like you weren’t there. This is an attractive option for those who value their privacy, as well as those who spend a lot of time moving around in the office.

For the purpose of this guide, we are going to take a look at Tales. It was created as a way to avoid surveillance, censorship, advertising and viruses and comes with a stack of useful, privacy-oriented software applications. It’s also free to use, and all you have to pay is a USB stick 8

We’ll show you how to set up Tales in its default configuration, which gives you maximum anonymity and protection; Every time you start it, it feels like you are starting a new computer for the first time This is also possible if you want the tails to remember your activity and hold the files stored on the USB stick – the instructions are here.

Tail set up

Etcher will help you install the tail.

Photo: Ichar by David Neeld

Tales means the Amnesic Incognito Live system, a reference to how your activities get better as you unplug the USB drive from the connected computer and move on. It is based on the Debian Linux distribution, and it should work just fine with computers of the last decade or so.

To turn it on and off, you need a USB stick with a minimum capacity of 8 GB With this in hand, go to the Tales download page and select the operating system you are using to set it up. Follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll get a USB image file about 1 GB in size, which you’ll need to manually transfer to a flash drive.

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