Portable Archive


The Snowden Archive-in-a-Box is an autonomous version of the Internet-based archive Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive. It is a stand-alone wifi network and web server that permits you to research all files leaked by Edward Snowden and subsequently published by the media. The purpose of the portable archive is to provide end-users with a secure off-line method for individuals to use this database without the threat of mass surveillance. By default, the wifi network is open, but users can create their own wifi passwords and choose their encryption standard.

The Snowden Archive-in-a-Box began as part of an evolving and touring European project called Performigrations which focuses on migration/immigration and was launched in Montreal at the Blue Metropolis literary festival in April 2015. An evolving project in its own right, the Snowden Archive-in-a-Box also includes a surveillance demonstration apparatus that monitors wifi traffic around it and plays it back to the public.

The Snowden Archive-in-a-Box is based on a RaspberryPi 2 mini-computer and the Raspbian operating system. All software is open-source. The most basic setup will run on one RaspberryPi. A more extravagant version may incorporate high-quality battery packs for power autonomy, the wifi sniffer (running on a 2nd RaspberryPi), and a flat-screen for playing back IP traffic.

Here you will find all the information you need to build your own Portable Snowden Surveillance Archive, examples of archives built by other people, and information about occasional public appearances.

How to build your own!

It's quite easy to build your own Snowden Archive-in-a-Box.

First you need to buy some parts.

Equipment needed for Archive. Around $120 Canadian.

Equipment needed to add traffic playback functionality. $120 for RaspberryPi, $150 or more for the screen.


You can power the archive a few different ways.

Software Images

I maintain two images - one for the Archive, one for the playback, which can be downloaded and burned onto microSD card. Then you simply insert them in the microSD slot and turn it on!

Archive image - 32 gig

Sniffer image - 8 gig

Instructions for Windows users


Instructions for Mac users


Instructions for Linux users (I find dd to be the most reliable)


Helpful hints

Photos of different archives

Outstanding installation requests

Sometimes people contact me (like Cambridge) and ask me to build them an archive. In the near future, we will be approaching libraries and other institutions and requesting permission to submit the archive and its contents to be made available.


Evan Light is the creator and maintainer of the Snowden Archive-in-a-Box. You can email him at evan@theotherthing.org

This is his pgp key: Evan Light.txt

News & Events

Cambridge University Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities has their own!

The Portable Snowden Surveillance Archive will be on display at Concordia University's Research Unit Showcase.

On November 26, Dr. Evan Light, creator of the Portable Archive, will be speaking on a panel at Concordia University following a screening of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras' Academy Award-winning documentary on the leaking of the Snowden files.

4-7 February 2016: The Portable Snowden Surveillance Archive goes to transmediale in Berlin, one of the biggest digital arts & culture festivals in the world.