Tails - DNM Buyer Bible

Tails is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:

  • Use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship (because all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network)
  • Leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly and
  • Use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging

As you can see it is a pretty useful operating system for doing things that you do not want others to find out. An it gets even better: you do not need to install any additional tools for using darknetmarkets! Everything you need as a buyer is already installed.

Here is the default desktop of Tails. Pretty neat isn't it?

Note: you can not run Tails and another OS like Windows or OS X at the same time since they are both operating systems and your computer can only run one at a time.

Is Tails necessary?

YES. Even if you are think you are just a small fish and nobody will go after you. Let me give you an example: you use the Tor browser on Windows to make your order and everything seems to go fine. However unfortunately your package gets caught by customs because the vendor did not package it correctly. Now law enforcement starts to investigate because someone tried to send illegal drugs to you. One possible consequence is that they will deliver the package to you but raid your house shortly afterwards because you are in possession of illegal drugs (called a controlled delivery). Since Windows is not secure, they will find all the evidence they need to prove in court that you made the order. You would not have these issues with Tails because nobody can say what you did on there or say what files you stored on your persistence volume. Tails does not even leave a trace that it was booted on your computer!

So as you can see, Tails is not only to prevent you from getting caught but also for greatly minimizing the damage done if you get caught.

Do I need a VPN?

Normally, no.

Here an excerpt form the Tails website about VPNs:

Some users have requested support for VPNs in Tails to "improve" Tor's anonymity. You know, more hops must be better, right?. That's just incorrect -- if anything VPNs make the situation worse since they basically introduce either a permanent entry guard (if the VPN is set up before Tor) or a permanent exit node (if the VPN is accessed through Tor).

Similarly, we don't want to support VPNs as a replacement for Tor since that provides terrible anonymity and hence isn't compatible with Tails' goal. Quoted from the official tails website

The main goals of a VPN would be to a) hide your tor usage from your ISP and b) add another security layer.

a) If you want to hide the fact that you are using Tor from your ISP, then you can select the "More Options" button on the Tails greeting screen and then select the Option "This computer's Internet connection is censored, filter or proxied". However if you are not living under an oppressive regime in which it is illegal or not possible to use Tor normally, it is not recommended to use that options since it only takes away resources from people who really need it.

b) Assuming that law enforcement would break the Tor network and get the IP address that you used to connect to the Tor network, they would know your real identity (or at least the one of the owner of the WiFi that you used). If you would use a VPN they would only get the IP address of the VPN server that you used (assuming that you set up Tails and the VPN correctly). However it is extremely unlikely that LE would try to attempt this just to bust a buyer that bought a few grams. There is no known case where a buyer got busted by a Tor de-anonymization attack and there will probably never be one.

There are many other OpSec factors which are more important and have a greater impact on your well-being, so please take care of them first before dealing with the Tails with a VPN topic.

If you still want to use Tor and a VPN, please read this.

Ordered without Tails before?

If you did not use Tails for previous orders you made a mistake. The problem is not that much that law enforcement will catch you now because of it, but rather that if you get in trouble later they can still find proof for your past orders and then prosecute you. Therefore it is important to remove the evidence immediately and step up your OpSec for future purchases.

The first step is to uninstall all the tools you used to order on your insecure OS. That includes the Tor browser, PGP tools, Bitcoin wallets, . . .

After that you have to overwrite the free disk space on your hard drive. That is to make it harder to recover the deleted tools (and therefore evidence that can get you in trouble) but it will not delete any other files you have on your hard drive. That means the uninstalled tools will get overwritten but your personal documents (e.g. your pictures in your home folder) will not be affected by it.

Here is how to do it on windows, mac and linux.

Note: this is not 100% secure. There are always log files that you OS might have created which still show that you used tools that are common for DNM buyers (e.g. PGP tools). Therefore it is important that you follow the steps mentioned above and keep everything related to DNM purchases on Tails in the future.

Using Tails on a personal/work computer

Using Tails on a computer doesn't alter or depend on the operating system installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on your computer, a friend's computer, or one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer will start again with its usual operating system.

Tails is configured with special care to not use the computer's hard-disks, even if there is some swap space on them. The only storage space used by Tails is in RAM, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So you won't leave any trace on the computer either of the Tails system itself or what you used it for. That's why we call Tails "amnesic".

This allows you to work with sensitive documents on any computer and protects you from data recovery after shutdown. Of course, you can still explicitly save specific documents to another USB stick or external hard-disk and take them away for future use.

Quoted from here.

tl;dr you can use Tails on your normal computer and do not have to buy a burner laptop.

Using Tails on your own WiFi

If you use Tails (or Tor in general) on your own WiFi, your ISP will only know that you are using Tor but not what you are doing exactly. If you do not want your ISP to know that you are using tor you can tell Tor to use bridges on the Tails greeting screen (select "Yes" for the more options question and after pressing forward select the "My computer's Internet connection is censored, filtered or proxied" option). That will obfuscate the fact that you are using Tor from your ISP although it is not necessary as long as you are not living under an oppressive regime which blocks Tor and/or makes the use of it illegal. If that is not the case, please do not use bridges as it would take away resources from people who actually need them.

So only reason for using another WiFi than your own is that an attacker would not get your real IP address in case of a de-anonymization attack but the one from the network you are using (e.g. the starbucks WiFi). However these attacks are unrealistic for buyers and the risks that this method brings along (e.g. someone shoulder-surfing or a camera recording your face and/or screen) make it not worth it for buyers. Therefore using your own WiFi along with following all the other tips in the DNM bible is a much better solution.

Is it okay to use a WiFi with login?

Sometimes you will have to log into WiFis with credentials that in some cases are also tied to your real identity (e.g. a college WiFi). Tails spoofs all MAC addresses by default, that means that a system administrator would only see that a seemingly other device than your default one logged in with your credentials. That adds some plausible deniability, because you can claim that someone stole your login credentials and logged in with them on another computer. Furthermore nobody knows what exactly you are doing since the whole internet traffic that Tails produces is routed through the Tor network and is therefore encrypted and nobody knows where it goes. So to make it short: yes you can use Tails in a WiFi that requires you to log in.

Are DNS leaks an issue?

When using Tor your computer does not make the DNS requests for the sites you visit but the exit node (the last node in the chain of relays that route your Tor traffic) makes the DNS requests for you. That is done because Tor does only support TCP but not UDP traffic. So just use Tails, which routes all your traffic through the Tor network, and you will not have to worry about it.

I want to buy a new computer anyway, which works best with Tails?

Many computers are able to run Tails, but if you have the choice you should keep the following tips in mind when picking a computer:

  • Do not use a mac, macbook or any other apple device because they can not always run Tails.
  • Make sure that no hardware parts in the computer are on the list of known issues.
  • If possible choose one that has not windows 8 or 10 installed because they are more likely to cause issues than the ones with older windows versions or no OS at all.

Some users also report that alienware computers are working good with Tails. And here is a list of laptops that work good with Tails too.

Is running the latest version of Tails necessary?

Yes. It is absolutely crucial that you always use the latest version of Tails since the updates usually fix security vulnerabilities to which you are vulnerable by not upgrading. So take the few minutes and upgrade Tails as soon as you get the notification that an update is available.

Compatible hardware

If you run into problems with Tails and your hardware, you might want to buy one of these if you can try using Tails on another computer:

USB sticks

The following listed USB sticks will work with Tails (tested with Tails 3.0).

Note: some USBs are giving the error message "_________USB is configured as non-removable by manufacturer and tails will fail to start on it" This is even happening to drives that were known to work fine before. The Tails team are aware of this and have offered a work around that can be found here. If you want to read more about the bug report you can do so here. Should be fixed in Tails 3.1, due out Aug 8.

  • Kingston Data Traveler SE9 G2 16GB
  • Lexar Twist/Turn Jump Drive 16GB
  • Mushkin Atom 16GB • Onn 32GB (Walmart brand)
  • Transcend Jetflash 700 16GB

All of the drives above can be found online easily. They range from $6-15 each. The Onn is a Walmart brand and can be found in most stores. The Lexar can be found in most Target stores.

The Onn is manufactured by Sandisk as a private label for Walmart(just found this out but since passed testing left it in there).

USB WiFi adapters

Note: before you buy extra hardware, try using an Ethernet cable that you plug in your router and your computer. It is usually the easiest solution and recommended over buying a new WiFi adapter.

These USB WiFi adapters are known to work with Tails:

USB Ethernet adapters

These USB Ethernet adapters are known to work with Tails:

Can I buy USB sticks that already have Tails installed on it?

No. Nothings prevents the seller from modifying the Tails installation which is on the USB stick so that it for example sends all the passwords you use to them. Always download, verify and install tails by yourself.

Why is JavaScript enabled globally by default and the security slider set to low?

There are a lot not so tech savvy Tails users who would have a hard time dealing with all the different settings if they were all set to high and they would have to make adjustments. Therefore the developers decided to set the default settings to not so strict values to make the Tails experience better for these users.

You however, have to make sure that you set the security slider to high every time you start the Tor browser (because it is not possible to save the security slider settings between the reboots, even with persistence enabled).

Got Problems?

Common issues

As mentioned previously, Tails works on almost any computer. So it is possible that your installation will not go as flawlessly as it usually should. However there are many way to solve issues that might come up. Please go through the following options one after another if you have difficulties getting tails on a USB stick or to boot:

  • Did you disable secure boot?
  • Look at the list of known issues and check if there is hardware on it that you use too (for example a USB brand or a certain network card). If it is on the list please check if there is also a solution described, if yes try it. Sometimes it is best to try booting Tails on another computer to see if it is working there, so you know if your computer is the problem.
  • Tor is not ready or other internet connection issues? Boot Tails, log in and do something else for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then go back and check if Tor is ready now by opening the Tor browser. If you still get the "Tor is not ready" warning, reboot Tails and try again. If that does not work try disabling MAC address spoofing on the Tails greeting screen when rebooting (select "More Options", click on "Forward" and click once on "Spoof all MAC addresses").
  • Are some password not getting accepted although they should be correct? Please check that you set the correct keyboard layout on the Tails greeting screen as described here.
  • Having trouble booting Tails although you followed the instructions on the Tails website? Check that your USB stick is not on the list of problematic USB sticks (e.g. SanDisk USB sticks are not a good choice for a Tails installation). Also try one of these USB sticks and see if they work.
  • If Tails freezes after you press enter in the boot screen, try not pressing enter to boot but letting Tails count down itself. If Tails worked previously but suddenly has freezing issues, try rebooting a couple of times. Some users report that it worked after about 5 tries.
  • Does Tails freeze and only shows you a blue screen? A user reported that the following worked for him: When Tails first boots up (before choosing tails or tails failsafe version), press tab to open up the console. Don't modify anything, just type all of the following commands: nouveau.modeset=0 modeset.blacklist=nouveau noslash One of the commands above should get you past the blue screen. Unfortunately you will have to enter the commands every time you boot but it's better then it not working at all.
  • Having issues accessing your persistence data? You may be able to fix your problem by simply re-running the persistence configuration tool: Applications > Tails > configure persistent volume and enable the same options that you had before. Then reboot.
  • For OS X: If Tails does not show up when holding the alt key upon restart, try the following. Install rEFInd (if you use a Mac with El Capitan or later, rEFInd may not install properly). Then temporarily disabled SIP: hold command + R when you see the Apple logo after restarting, then go to Utilities -> Terminal, then type "crsutil disable" in the Terminal window then press Enter, then restart as normal and install rEFInd, then repeat the process but this time type "crsutil enable," turning SIP back on.
  • Can you not connect to your WiFi because it keeps asking for the password but you know you entering it correctly (e.g. it just asks for password after a few minutes of trying to connect)?. It could be an issue with Tails not recognizing drivers, so a solution would be to use a WiFi adapter or a wired connection (i.e. plug in an ethernet cable that is connected to your router).
  • Does the Tails installer does not work when clicking an option? Try this.
  • Do you get asked for a password when you want to install Tails by cloning? If the process is like this: you click on "install by cloning" it shows the USB stick you want to clone Tails to, so you click on "install Tails", then get asked to confirm the device selection, which you do, and are then told that authentication is required to "unmount General UDisk (/dev/sda1)" mounted by another user" (or a similar message) - which is when it asks you for the password. If that is the case, follow the instructions here (for the USB stick that you want to clone Tails on) but use fs=fat32 quick instead of fs=ntfs quick in step 9. If that does not work please try using two different USB sticks and avoid using the ones that are on the list of known issues.
  • If you have trouble with copying the persistence volume with these steps, please read the following thread and see if the final solution there works for you.
  • Can not open Electrum any more? Follow this.
  • Issues with your screen resolution? Check out this.
  • Are you using a mac and have issues installing/booting Tails? Try following these steps.
  • Icons and information located on the top right corner of the screen disappeared?
  • Boot problems and an error message like this "(initramfs) unable to find a medium containing a live file system on custom Live USB"? A user reported that using rufus and choose a different partition scheme helped. Also try holding the power button down for 10 seconds till the computer turns off and then turn it on again to see if it works with the second boot.

Still not solved?

Research your problem. That means using a search engine and the search function of the /r/DarknetMarketsNoobs subreddit to search for solutions for your problem. If that does not help you can make a post on /r/DarkNetMarketsNoobs but remember to give it a meaningful title (i.e. "When booting Tails I just get a blank screen" instead of "need help plz").

Installing Tails

The Tails website has a very detailed documentation on how to install Tails from various OS, please follow them here.

Note: if you use another keyboard layout than the default American one, you need to change it on the Tails greeting screen. Just click on the drop down list on the bottom right and scroll through the list. If you can not find yours, select the "Other..." entry at the bottom of that list and then start typing the name of your keyboard layout, i.e. if you want the Serbian one, start typing "ser" and it will automatically jump to it. After you selected the correct one on the list, press enter twice and you will be back at your Tails greeting screen with the changed keyboard layout.

If you run into issues, please check the "Got problems?" chapter before posting on /r/DarkNetMarketsNoobs about it.

Tip: if you choose the 2 USB option (which uses an "intermediary Tails", which is the one on the first USB stick), you can format that first USB stick after you are done installing Tails and everything is working (e.g. the persistence volume is working too). It is just used to install the final Tails and not needed afterwards.

Note: you can download Tails over the clearnet (i.e. without using the Tor browser or a VPN). It is not illegal to download or use Tails. But you have to make sure that you verify the downloaded .iso file afterwards as it is described in the linked guide. Otherwise you could easily end up with a malicious .iso file which sends all your passwords to someone who will later steal all your bitcoins.

Important settings and tips

  • Every time you start the Tor browser, you have to set the security slider to high. This disables JavaScript (a programming language that websites can use to de-anonymize you) by default and enables some more security features.
  • If you use clearnet websites that require JavaScript (like reddit.com if you want to post, comment or vote), change the NoScript appearance so you can easily allow and disallow the scripts that you need as described previously.
  • If a DNM site ever asks you to enable JavaScript, leave immediately. Ideally warn the community on /r/DarkNetMarkets too by making a post there.
  • When shutting Tails down, it is best to wait until your computer is shut down completely before removing the USB stick. Tails will tell you that you can remove your USB stick now and shortly after that the computer shuts down completely.
  • Is it okay to leave Tails logged in? No, you should shut it down when you are not using it anymore for a longer period of time (e.g. 10 minutes). Yes, it is a pain in the butt to restart your computer every time, but it is good security practice. Otherwise law enforcement could just visit you and would have all the unencrypted evidence they need even though you used Tails.
  • Is it okay to resize the TorBrowser window? Changing the default size of the TorBrowser window should generally be avoided because it makes it a lot easier to track you across different sites. Although it is usually only an issue if you also have enabled JavaScript (which you should never do when browsing DNMs), it can also be done using only CSS (a style sheet language that you can not disable like JavaScript). Here is an example how that is possible with CSS. It is not too alarming, however, so just make sure you set the security slider to high every time you start TorBrowser, and do not change the default size of the TorBrowser window.
  • Never run Tails in a virtual machine (VM). That practice is discouraged by the Tails developers. Only use Tails as a standalone operating system on an USB stick for example. More on this topic.

Setting up the persistence volume

Normally Tails forgets every change you made on it when you reboot (that is why it is called amnesiac). However when you want to order from DNMs you need t save some files. This is possible by setting up the persistence volume which allows you to store data which will not get deleted when you reboot.

Here is how to set up the persistence volume, just follow the instructions there and make sure that you select all the following points when you get asked what data you want to store:

  • Personal Data
  • GnuPG
  • Network Connections (if you use WiFi)
  • Browser bookmarks
  • Bitcoin Client

Note: if you want to store something in text files for example (after you have enabled the persistence volume and rebooted), these files have to be stored under home/Persistence.

Make sure the persistence volume is actually working before you use it. That means for example set up a wallet like it is described later in the bible and then reboot to see if you can still access and read all the data you created.

Note: you absolutely have to make sure that you do not forget or lose your persistence password. If you lose it, you also lose access to your whole Tails installation which includes PGP keys, market accounts, Electrum wallet if you have not written down your seed (which you should do), . . .

Upgrading

To upgrade Tails just follow the guide on the Tails website.

Does it say there is not enough space? Then you have to do a manual upgrade. If you wonder why there is not enough space on your large USB stick, here and explanation.

Backing up

It is crucial that you back up your data. Not just the data you have on Tails but all your other documents too. However this chapter will only deal with how to back up your persistence data which is stored on Tails. You probably do not want to loose access to your market account and wallet with all your money in it, so you need to do the following steps.

Yes, nobody likes to make backups but you will be really annoyed if you loose your Tails USB stick and your market account and bitcoins with it.

Since it is only reasonable to back up data if you already have some, you have to go back to this chapter after you have set up all the other tools and accounts. So before you make your first purchase you need to go back here and do the backup.

In the following you have to ways how to back up your Tails persistence data:

  • Method 1: is a bit easier because you have to make less steps, but takes a bit longer and also produces a bigger backup file. It also makes a complete copy of your Tails USB stick, instead of just copying the persistence data, hence the bigger backup file but it will be faster to restore the backup.
  • Method 2: takes not so long (about 5 to 10 minutes) but requires you to copy and paste a few commands. In case you need to restore your Tails USB stick from that backup it will take a bit longer than the first method.

Choose a method which is more suitable for you.

Method 1

Backing up your entire Tails USB stick

Boot your primary OS (e.g. Windows or OS X) and download and install the tool USB Image Tool. Then plug in your Tails USB stick and use the tool to make an image of it. Then copy that image to another USB stick.

Remember to stash your USB stick with the backup somewhere safe where nobody will find it easily but you can still retrieve it after your properties got searched and your assets seized.

Restoring the backup

You can just plug in the backup USB stick and boot it, since it contains all Tails data files and not just the persistence files.

Method 2

Backing up your persistence data

Reboot Tails and select "Yes" for the More Options question on the Tails greeting screen and enter the password for your persistence volume. Click on "Forward" and set an administrator password. It does not have to be that strong because it will be only used for this session. Confirm by clicking on "Login".

Variant A: Using a script (shorter)

Instead of entering all the commands one by one, you can also use a small script. To do that just click on "Applications" the top left corner, go to the category "Accessories" and select "Text editor". Then paste the code below into it and click on the save button. Store it as script.sh on your desktop and close the editor window after that.

#!/bin/bash 

DATE=`date +%m-%d-%Y-%H.%M.%S` 

FNAME="$DATE-backup.tbz2.gpg" 

OUTDIR=/home/amnesia 

echo "Creating backup: $FNAME" 
echo "Placing in directory /home/amnesia" 

cd /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked 
tar cjf - . | gpg --cipher-algo AES -c - > $OUTDIR/$FNAME 
chmod ugo+rw $OUTDIR/$FNAME
cd -

Then switch to your desktop, right click on the script.sh file, select "Properties" and switch to the tab "Permissions" on the newly appeared window. Check the box "Allow executing file as program" and close the window again.

When you are on your Tails desktop, click on "Applications" the top left corner and go to the category "System Tools". Select the "Root Terminal" entry and enter the root password you have previously set.

Then enter the following line and press enter:

/home/amnesia/Desktop/script.sh

After you press enter it will prompt you for a password. Choose a strong one because if law enforcement can guess it, they have all the evidence they need laid out in front of them. Note: when you enter it, the characters will not appear in the terminal. Just enter your password, press enter, confirm it by entering it again and press enter again.

Wait till it is finished, i.e. the last line of the root terminal (at the bottom) starts with "root@amnesia:/home/amnesia#". Then you can close the terminal window and follow the directions under Copying the backup file.

Variant B: Entering commands manually (longer)

You can also choose to enter the commands to make the backup manually all by yourself. To do that just do the following steps.

When you are on your Tails desktop, click on "Applications" the top left corner and go to the category "System Tools". Select the "Root Terminal" entry and enter the root password you have previously set.

Now enter the commands one after another by copying them and then right click in the root terminal and select "Paste", after that press enter. Wait after each one till it is finished, i.e. the last line of the root terminal (at the bottom) starts with "root@amnesia:".

cd /live/persistence/TailsData_unlocked/

This goes into the directory where all your persistence files are stored.

tar cjf - . | gpg --cipher-algo AES -c - > /home/amnesia/YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg

This backs up all files in that directory and pushes them into a file called YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg in your persistence file folder. Replace the date placeholders with the actual current date so you later know when you made this backup just by looking at the filename (e.g. 2017-02-10-backup.tbz2.gpg).

After you press enter it will prompt you for a password. Choose a strong one because if law enforcement can guess it, they have all the evidence they need laid out in front of them. Note: when you enter it, the characters will not appear in the terminal. Just enter your password, press enter, confirm it by entering it again and press enter again.

cd /home/amnesia/

This goes into your home directory.

chmod ugo+rw YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg

This makes it possible for every user to read and write the backup file. It is necessary because you created the backup file as root and only he would be able to read and write the file. That does not mean that everybody can read the content of your encrypted backup, it just allows you to copy it to your USB stick in the next step. The content of the backup is still only readable if you know the password you set earlier. Note: you can press TAB once to use the autocomplete function. That means just type the beginning of the long backup filename (e.g. "2017-") and then press TAB. That will add the rest of the filename to your command. Now you just have to follow the next part: Copying the backup file.

Copying the backup file

Almost done! Now just plug in your USB stick on which you want to store the backup file (it does not need additional encryption because the backup file is already encrypted itself). Then go into your home directory (by clicking on "Home" on your Tails desktop) where you will see the backup file. Copy it to your USB stick that you plugged in by clicking on the name of your USB stick on the left sidebar and then pasting the backup file.

However, it would be a shame if you lost your Tails USB stick but think you at least got a backup of it, just to later discover that there is a problem with it and you really lost all your data permanently. This would suck, so invest one more minute in checking if the backup was successfully:

  • Right click on the YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg file and select "Open With Decrypt File". Then you will see a file called YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2 in the same directory. Double click on it and go through the folders a bit to see if your persistence files got backed up correctly (e.g. go into the folder called "persistence" and check if you can open some txt files you stored there).
  • If that is the case you can delete the YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg and the YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2 file from your Persistence folder, but do not delete the YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg file from the USB stick.
  • Remember to stash your USB stick with the backup somewhere safe where nobody will find it easily but you can still retrieve it after your properties got searched and your assets seized.
  • It is also recommended to follow the 3-2-1 rule:

3 copies of your data, 2 different mediums (USB, CD/DVD, Paperkey), 1 stored offsite (Bank Box, Friends/Relatives, etc).

Restoring your persistence data

Now if the worst case happens and you loose your Tails USB stick or it gets destroyed you have to do the following to restore your data. Create a new Tails USB stick and enable the persistence volume on it. Make sure that you enabled the persistent volume for the exact same categories as you had on your old one (e.g. they should be Personal Data, GnuPG, Network Connections (if you used WiFi), Browser bookmarks and Bitcoin Client).

Reboot Tails and select "Yes" for the More Options question on the Tails greeting screen and enter the password for your persistence volume. Click on "Forward" and set an administrator password. It does not have to be that strong because it will be only used for this session. Confirm by clicking on "Login".

When you are on your Tails desktop, click on "Home" and select your USB stick from the left sidebar of the file explorer window. After you left clicked on the USB stick you will see the content of it, it should contain the backup file (YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg). Now hover over the entry of your USB stick on the left sidebar and you should see where it is mounted, e.g. if your USB stick is called "backup", the path should be "/live/amnesia/backup". Remember that path.

Then click on "Applications" the top left corner and go to the category "System Tools". Select the "Root Terminal" entry and enter the root password you have previously set.

Now enter the commands one after another by copying them and then right click in the root terminal and select "Paste", after that press enter. Wait after each one till it is finished, i.e. the last line of the root terminal (at the bottom) starts with "root@amnesia:".

cd /live/persistence/

This goes into the directory where all your persistence files are stored.

rm -r TailsData_unlocked/*

This removes all files currently stored on your persistence volume since you want to replace them with your old ones from the backup).

cd TailsData_unlocked

This goes into the directory where all your persistence files were stored.

cp /live/amnesia/backup/YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg ./

This copies the backup file from your backup USB stick (which is called "backup" in this example) to the directory where all your persistence files were stored. There may be some issues if your USB stick name contains spaces or other special characters. In that case copy the backup file to your home folder (using the file browser) and then enter the command "cp /home/amnesia/YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg ./" instead of the above.

Note: you can press TAB once to use the autocomplete function. That means just type the beginning of the long backup filename (e.g. "2017-") and then press TAB. That will add the rest of the filename to your command.

gpg -o backup.tbz2 --decrypt YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg

This decrypts the backup file, enter the password for it in the terminal when asked for it.

tar xvjf backup.tbz2

This extracts the files from the decrypted archive.

rm YYYY-MM-DD-backup.tbz2.gpg

This removes the encrypted backup file from your current directory because you do not need it any more.

rm backup.tbz2

This removes the decrypted backup file from your current directory because you do not need it any more.

Now reboot Tails and see if you have your old files back by:

  • Starting Electrum and checking the balance • checking the home/Persistence folder for your old files
  • Checking the browser bookmarks by starting the Tor browser
  • Checking the PGP keys by clicking on the clipboard icon, selecting "Manage Keys" and then going in the "GnuPG Keys" section on the left sidebar.

If you get an error that the clock failed to synchronize (your old data should still be recovered) just reboot Tails and you should be able to connect to the internet again.