UPDATE: There is a new version of this guide available for Kali Linux 2018.
Please see: Kali Linux 2018 Live USB with Persistence (Windows)
In this guide we will create a bootable USB of Kali Linux Live and configure a persistent partition so we can retain files and settings between reboots. You will need at least an 8GB USB drive.
If you want encrypted persistence, see this guide: Kali Linux 2017 Live USB with Encrypted Persistence (Windows)
1. Write Kali Linux ISO to USB
Download the latest Kali Linux ISO. Both the 64 bit and 32 bit versions are good for this guide.
Select Kali Linux from the dropdown. Browse for your downloaded ISO file and select the correct USB drive.
Check the box Fat32 Format Drive (Erases Content), and then click Create.
It can take up to ten minutes to write the ISO.
2. Resize USB Partition
Once the ISO has finished writing, download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.
Run the program and locate your USB drive. Right-click on the blue disk space bar and select Move/Resize from the menu.
Resize the partition to 4GB and click OK.
In the example above, I am using a 16GB USB drive.
3. Create Persistence Partition
We now need to create a new partition in our unallocated space.
Right-click on the unallocated space and click Create.
Click Yes if you see a message “The new created partition cannot be used in Windows. Because Windows could only recognize the first partition on a removable disk. Do you want to continue?”
In the File System menu, select Ext4.
In the Partition Label field, enter persistence. Be sure to spell this correctly.
Finally, click Apply to begin the partitioning process. It may take some time depending on the size of your USB drive.
4. Boot Live USB
Once partitioning is complete, restart your machine and boot from USB.
You may need to do some searching on Google on how to boot from USB on your particular machine. Repeatedly pressing one of the function keys (F12, F2, etc) or the ESC or Delete keys on bootup will invoke the boot or BIOS menus on most machines.
In the Kali boot menu, select Live system and press Enter. The menu may look different depending on your version of Kali. It’s usually the first option you want here. Don’t select the persistence option yet, we will do that later.
If Kali prompts for login details, the username is root and the password is toor.
5. Mount Persistence Partition
Firstly, we will run
fdisk to identify the device name of the persistence partition we created earlier.
Open up a terminal window and run:
You will see several entries for partitions listed. Look for your USB disk. It will have a boot partition and the persistence partition you created earlier.
The persistence partition device name is usually
sdb2, though it may be different depending on your setup.
Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/sdb1 * 2048 8390655 8388608 4G c W95 FAT32 (LBA) /dev/sdb2 8390656 30463999 22073344 10.5G 83 Linux
In this example, my persistence partition device name is
sdb2. With this information, run the following commands:
mkdir -p /mnt/my_usb
mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/my_usb
echo "/ union" > /mnt/my_usb/persistence.conf
Restart the machine and from now on always select Live system (persistence, check kali.org/prst)
To test if persistence is working correctly, try creating an empty test folder on the Desktop and restarting. Select Live system (persistence, check kali.org/prst) again and if the test folder is still there, persistence is working correctly.
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