Using the Persistent Storage can have security implications in a system like Tails, which is designed to provide anonymity and leave no trace. Read our warnings about the Persistent Storage.

To create or configure the Persistent Storage, choose Applications ▸ Tails ▸ Configure persistent volume.

The error message Error, Persistence partition is not unlocked. means that the Persistent Storage was not unlocked in the Welcome Screen. You cannot use or configure your Persistent Storage but you can delete it and create a new one.

To change the configuration of your Persistent Storage, restart Tails, unlock the Persistent Storage, and choose Applications ▸ Tails ▸ Configure persistent volume again.

When run for the first time, or after deleting the Persistent Storage, an assistant allows you to create a Persistent Storage in the free space left on the USB stick. Refer to our installation instructions for more guidance on creating the Persistent Storage.

Features of the Persistent Storage

Restart Tails to apply the changes after selecting or deselecting one or several features.

Only the features that are listed below can currently be made persistent. We are often asked to implement new features to the Persistent Storage: language and keyboard layout, Tor configuration, wallpaper, mouse and touchpad settings, etc. See the corresponding issues for more details.

If you turn off a feature, it will be unavailable after restarting Tails but the corresponding files are still saved in the Persistent Storage.

To delete the files corresponding to a feature:

  1. Start Tails and set an administration password.
  2. Choose Applications ▸ System Tools ▸ Root Terminal to open a terminal with administration rights.
  3. Execute the nautilus command to open the file browser with administration rights.
  4. In the file browser, navigate to /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked.
  5. Delete the folder corresponding to the feature:
    • Personal Data: Persistent folder
    • Welcome Screen: greeter-settings folder
    • Browser Bookmarks: bookmarks folder
    • Network Connections: nm-system-connections
    • Additional Software: apt and apt-sources.list.d folders and live-additional-software.conf file
    • Printers: cups-configuration folder
    • Thunderbird: thunderbird folder
    • GnuPG: gnupg folder
    • Bitcoin Client: electrum folder
    • Pidgin: pidgin folder
    • SSH Client: openssh-client folder
    • Dotfiles: dotfiles folder

Personal Data

When the Personal Data feature is turned on, you can save your personal files and working documents in the Persistent folder.

To open the Persistent folder, choose Places ▸ Persistent.

Welcome Screen

When the Welcome Screen feature is turned on, the settings from the Welcome Screen are saved in the Persistent Storage: language, keyboard, and additional settings.

To restore your settings when starting Tails, unlock your Persistent Storage in the Welcome Screen.

Browser Bookmarks

When the Browser Bookmarks feature is turned on, changes to the bookmarks in Tor Browser are saved in the Persistent Storage. This does not apply to the Unsafe Browser.

Network Connections

When the Network Connections feature is turned on, the configuration of the network devices and connections is saved in the Persistent Storage, for example the passwords of Wi-Fi networks.

Additional Software

When the Additional Software feature is turned on, a list of additional software of your choice is automatically installed every time you start Tails.

The corresponding software packages are stored in the Persistent Storage. They are automatically upgraded for security after a network connection is established.

The packages included in Tails are carefully tested for security. Installing additional packages might break the security built in Tails, so be careful with what you install.

Printers

When the Printers feature is turned on, the configuration of the printers is saved in the Persistent Storage.

Thunderbird

When the Thunderbird feature is turned on, the configuration and emails stored by the Thunderbird email client are saved in the Persistent Storage.

GnuPG

When the GnuPG feature is turned on, the OpenPGP keys that you create or import are saved in the Persistent Storage.

You might lessen your anonymity, weaken encryption, or break features of GnuPG if you manually edit or overwrite the ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf configuration file.

Bitcoin Client

When the Bitcoin Client feature is turned on, the bitcoin wallet and preferences of the Electrum bitcoin client are saved in the Persistent Storage.

Pidgin

When the Pidgin feature is turned on, all the configuration files of the Pidgin internet messenger are saved in the Persistent Storage:

  • The configuration of your accounts, buddies and chats.
  • Your OTR encryption keys and keyring.
  • The content of the discussions is not saved unless you configure Pidgin to do so.

All the configuration options are available from the graphical interface of Pidgin. There is no need to manually edit or overwrite the configuration files.

SSH Client

When the SSH Client feature is turned on, all the files related to the secure-shell (SSH) client are saved in the Persistent Storage:

  • The SSH keys that you create or import
  • The public keys of the hosts you connect to
  • The SSH configuration file in ~/.ssh/config
If you manually edit the ~/.ssh/config configuration file, make sure not to overwrite the default configuration from the /etc/ssh/ssh_config file. Otherwise, you may weaken the encryption defaults or render SSH unusable.

Dotfiles

When the Dotfiles feature is turned on:

  • All the files in the /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles folder are linked in the Home folder.

  • All the files in subfolders of /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles are also linked in the corresponding subfolder of the Home folder.

For example, having the following files in /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles:

/live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles
├── file_a
├── folder
│   ├── file_b
│   └── subfolder
│       └── file_c
└── emptyfolder

Produces the following result in /home/amnesia:

/home/amnesia
├── file_a → /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles/file_a
└── folder
    ├── file_b → /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles/folder/file_b
    └── subfolder
        └── file_c → /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles/folder/subfolder/file_c

The Dotfiles feature is useful to make specific files persistent but not their entire folder.

On Tails and Linux in general, the name of configuration files often starts with a dot and are sometimes called dotfiles for this reason. The Dotfiles feature of the Persistent Storage makes it easy to persist such "dotfiles", for example ~/.gitconfig or ~/.bashrc.

As in the previous example, empty folders are ignored. The Dotfiles feature only links files, and not folders, from the Persistent Storage into the Home folder.

Save the configuration of your displays

If you have more than one display (for example, two monitors or a projector), you can save the configuration of your displays using the Dotfiles feature.

  1. Turn on the Dotfiles feature and restart Tails.

  2. Open the Settings utility.

  3. Choose Devices ▸ Displays.

  4. Configure your displays.

  5. Open /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles in the Files browser.

  6. Click on the menu toggle button in the title bar and choose Show Hidden Files.

  7. Create a folder called .config (config preceded by a dot).

  8. Copy the .config/monitors.xml file from your Home folder to /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/dotfiles/.config.