I have movies other files. I would like to be able to open use safely without risk of infecting the host OS. So they would be opened from an external hard drive with the internal hard disk removed. I've done some research into this, and the live OS has access to the internal hard drive and external.
I want to know if people think this seems like it would be reasonably safe.
This information I found on that.
Use a live CD with a Linux distro to access the untrusted USB Most popular Linux distributions can be booted directly from USB devices. Download one, boot into it from your USB, and now safely read the contents of the other untrusted USB drive you just found. As a USB booted Live OS would use only your RAM, nothing malicious would ever get into your hard disk. But to be on a safer side, disconnect all your hard drives before you try this.
Technically, a virtual machine is the least safe way available to access a random suspicious USB device. Like any software, virtual machines are vulnerable too.
I had been thinking about buying a read-only DVD-r or CD-R might provide more protection or a write protected USB stick. Then I found this explanation of live OS
A LiveUSB installs a read-only image (like the one you would get on a DVD), but creates and sets aside one additional partition for the storage of data. Since the read-only image is compressed, it can take up little space and the rest of the USB stick can be used for persistent data. This is necessary because a non-persistent LiveUSB works by first creating a RAMdisk, then loading the whole OS into this volatile virtual disk. Upon shutdown, your data would be lost. A persistent LiveUSB works the same way except that /home is mapped to the USB partition set aside for data. The whole OS still loads into RAM, but your data is on the separate partition in your USB stick.
So because it says it installs as a read-only image I'm not sure a CD-R or DVD-r or write protected USB would make a difference?
Obviously any potential malware would have access to the external USB drive it's running from as well.