As stated in the about page, Tails is designed to leave no trace on the computer you're using unless you ask it explicitly. It is important to understand some of the consequences of that.

Starting a computer on a media containing Tails doesn't change anything on the operating system actually installed on your hard disk: as a live system, Tails doesn't need to use your hard disk during the whole session. Be your hard disk absent or damaged, it wouldn't prevent your computer to start Tails. Consequently, removing the DVD or USB stick containing Tails is enough to retrieve your usual operating system.

You should save anything you want to keep for later access into a separate device (other USB stick, other DVD or any device you would choose), or use the persistence feature.

Accessing internal hard disks

Accessing internal disks of the computer has security implications:

  • You can leave traces of your activities in Tails on the hard disks.
  • If Tails is compromised, a malware could install itself on your usual operating system.
  • If an application in Tails is compromised, it could access private data on your disks and use it to de-anonymize you.

To access internal hard disks:

  1. When starting Tails, set up an administration password.

  2. Open the Nautilus file manager.

  3. Click on the hard disk of your choice in the left pane.

If your usual operating system is in hibernation, accessing it might corrupt your file system. Only access your disk if your system was shut down properly.

If you have a GNU/Linux system on your disks, you can only access files owned by the first user (uid=1000) on that system.

In all cases, you might encounter permissions problems. To bypass permission limitations, you can run Nautilus with administration rights.