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This is probably a dumb question, but I just want to be 100% sure.

I want to go buy a 128 Gb USB stick to download TAILS. But does the other USB drive onto which I first download TAILS have to be the same size? Or could I download TAILS initially on a 4 Gb USB and then do the second part on my 128 Gb one, and have roughly 126 for file storage on the final drive?

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could I download TAILS initially on a 4 Gb USB and then do the second part on my 128 Gb one, and have roughly 126 for file storage on the final drive?

Yes.

When Tails is installed, it only initially creates a 2.5~GB partition to store the operating system on.

After Tails is installed the encrypted persistence partition is created, which will take up the remaining space on the drive. In your case would be around 126~GB.

A helpful tip: Before buying a USB drive you should know there are some issues with specific models, checking out which might save you some annoyance in the future.

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I know this question is 3 years old, but I'd like to update the question for the newer versions of Tails. Tails currently does not support USBs with less than 8GB of space. You can install it on a 4GB unit by modifying partition images, but you'll get an error during system boot.

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