Do I need a permission to install one or more Dead Drops in my city?

No! Everybody is invited to install one or more Dead Drops  in their neighborhood! I will continue installing Dead Drops around the world but you can make your own too! Please make sure to follow the guidelines how to install a Dead Drop. Once you re done please submit your Dead Drop info and pics and it ll be added to the data base. Credits for the concept (to me Aram Bartholl) and links to deaddrops.com are very welcome!

Do you put any files on the drive after you’ve installed it?

No, they are empty and waiting for your files. I only leave a readme.txt on there which explains the project and links to this site. Yes, the sticks are set to read and write and should mount as a plain mass storage drive (get rid of any autorun custom ‘cruzer’ stlye software).

How about security issues? How do you prevent  misuse with viruses, root-kits and malicious software?

I don’t take any actions here! Dead Drops are placed in public space in the city. They are public domain. This is part of the concept and part of the game. (If you ever worked in the field of street art you know what it means to place things outside). In general everybody is responsible for the security of their computers and systems. Is the Internet a safe place?!? Malicious code for USB flash drives is a problem in general. They could (and will) be misused for malicious software.  Be aware of that! Secure your system! Boot a virtual machine! Or ask your friend to go first ;-) … (It’s the thrill of the ‘glory hole’ says  boingboing ;-). Also! Dead Drops themselves will be subject to digital and or physical vandalism. Don’t be sad when it happens. Keep growing and install a new drive in maybe slight different location.

How can I make sure not to infect my system?

There are many possibilities to be on the safe side. ie. you could just boot from your system CD in save mode (Win or Mac) , this would prevent any virus to access your harddrive. Or go ahead and get  (Linux) Ubuntu ‘Live’ bootable from CD or USB.

What size of USB flash drive do you use?

You can use any size you want. I’ve used mainly 2GB and 4GB sticks. They are less expensive but old very small storage flash drives are cool too. I guess it is more interesting to have a lot of Dead Drops spread over the city, high density than a few with high capacity (USB powered hard drives are thinkable too! The first one who’s cementing one in I’ll buy a beer :-)

Why don’t you use an extension cable!

You can do that if you want. Although I like very much the gesture of plugging the computer directly into a building/wall/curb. I am sure everyone can be gentle enough to not break the Dead Drop. When you install one please make sure it is accessable with and without a cable. Leaning on the wall is very comfortable (ask Bre :-). A cable would be the next step before wireless Dead Drops which I personally don’t like as much. (But we can discuss options …)

How about water and rain?

Try to find places which are less exposed to weather. Try to find walls which are protected by overhanging roofs or similar. Often the rain doesn’t hit the wall itself (unless there is a thunderstorm). Experimentation with dryed flash drives after rain need to be done. … As long as the contacts are dry and the board is sealed of we are good, non?

What file format should the USB drive be?

I recommend FAT32 since a wide range of operating systems can read it


  1. Dominik
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    very cool idea

  2. Posted November 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    can i put a logo, indication or a small banner over the dead drop to gain user’s attention and give them a small hint about what the dead drop is.
    Also What if some body fromats the drive what about the readme.txt and the information over it.

  3. jackmcmorrow
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    I loved the concept! Will try to make one in Brazil pretty soon, but I won’t follow one of the rules: I can’t put them in the streets around Rio, it’s too dangerous and most people won’t have the guts to get a laptop out in the middle of the street. I will try to put one in my university (it’s public space, only closes between 11pm and 6am).

    Thanks for the awesome idea!

  4. tinou
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Great idea ! Now I just have to find a hole in a wall in a blind spot of the CCTV cameras. In London (UK), that’s a challenge …

    • neil
      Posted November 19, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      It most certaianly is a challenge…living in London Worlds capital of CCTV .I myself an oldish man can use a computer ,but have not got a clue how to install this back up stuff .
      We need the Modern Generation to do this not for us ,the old ,but for Humanity before the Worlds I*nternet becomes like China .who are supposedley to become the next super POWER.
      We the Human Race need to take a stand!

  5. Aram
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    @jackmcmorrow yes, i totally agree. not every city and neighborhood is safe enough to get a laptop out. university is fine. i ll think about different grades of Dead Drops in public, semi public spaces …