Record Typing on any Keyboard with Tiny Device.

Keystroke Recorders for USB keyboards ("KeyCarbon USB")

USB keystroke recorder or logger      

The KeyCarbon USB device records all typing on a USB keyboard. It acts as a keylogger to monitor all keystrokes that are typed.

Video demo

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Any questions? The FAQ has the answers.

  • This FAQ has 5 years of product feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions for the KeyCarbon USB series of products.

Introduction

Works with Macintosh, Windows, Linux, Solaris

What computers/keyboards does it work with?

How do I ...?

Rare questions

Date/time stamping on the KeyCarbon USB Forensic

Security Questions

Firmware Upgrade Questions (rare)

Troubleshooting for Apple Macintosh

Troubleshooting for Windows Vista

 

What is the KeyCarbon USB?

The KeyCarbon USB is a miniature device used to record all typing on a USB keyboard. It looks just like a USB thumb drive. It takes seconds to plug it into the keyboard port of any PC or Macintosh computer.
Back to top

My device does not work. How do I fix it?

This section is based on the (admittedly infrequent) calls from approximately 20 customers over a space of 4 years. Each customer, for some reason or other, could not get their device to work. The good news is that all the customers had their problems fixed within a couple of minutes, and the problems were quite straightforward to fix.

If you follow through this "trouble shooting wizard", its almost certain you will end up with a nicely working unit. If you're really stuck, just call tech support on the phone number listed in the "Corporate" section of the website.

Step 1. Do you have a desktop or a laptop? If you have a laptop, go to step 2, if you have a desktop, go to step 3.

Step 2. You have a laptop.

  • The unit does not work like a USB flash dive. It needs a keyboard plugged into it to activate it.
  • The KeyCarbon USB will also not work with the internal keyboard of a laptop.
  • It will only work with an external USB keyboard.
  • For testing purposes, we will use the unit in its most basic mode. You do not have to install any software to use the unit in this basic mode (you can ignore any software downloads from this website).
  • Get hold of an external USB keyboard, plug it into the USB socket on the KeyCarbon USB, then plug the KeyCarbon USB into a spare USB port on the laptop.
  • Start up any text editor such as Notepad or Microsoft Word, then type "phxlog" on the external USB keyboard (not the internal laptop keyboad!) and wait for the menu to come up. The KeyCarbon USB is acting like a keyboard, and typing a menu of choices into the computer.
  • Type "1" (on the left side of the keyboard, above the "q" key), and wait for the log of keystrokes to be sent into the editor.

Step 3. You have a desktop.

  • The unit does not work like a USB flash dive. It needs a keyboard plugged into it to activate it.
  • Plug the keyboard plug into the socket on the KeyCarbon USB, then plug the KeyCarbon USB into a spare USB port on the desktop.
  • For testing purposes, we will use the unit in its most basic mode. You do not have to install any software to use the unit in this basic mode (you can ignore any software downloads from this website).
  • Start up any text editor such as Notepad or Microsoft Word, then type "phxlog" on theUSB keyboard and wait a few seconds for the menu to come up.
  • The KeyCarbon USB is acting like a keyboard, and typing a menu of choices into the computer.
  • Type "1" (on the left side of the keyboard, above the "q" key), and wait for the log of keystrokes to be sent into the editor.
  • You can now save this keystroke log as a file for later use.

    Back to top

How do I plug the KeyCarbon USB in?

Plug the device inline with your USB keyboard.

Think of it as a regular USB extension cable: plug your keyboard into the device, then plug the device into the USB port on your PC.

When you have finished, everything typed on the keyboard will be flowing through the KeyCarbon USB, and all keystrokes will be recorded at the hardware level.

Back to top

How do I record typing on my computer?

Simply plug the unit in - the unit starts to record everything typed from the moment it receives power.
Back to top

How do I view the typed keystrokes?

Keystrokes can be retrieved on any operating system, using a standard text editor. Read the manual or view the animated demo.
Back to top

What's the difference between a PS/2 and a USB keyboard?

A USB keyboard has a square plug. A PS/2 keyboard has a round plug; see the diagram below:


Back to top

Can I record keystrokes on one computer and retrieve them on another?

Yes. Even if you unplug the device, it never forgets the typing that it has recorded. The device does not need batteries to hold its memory. For technical types, the device uses non-volatile flash memory.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work with any USB keyboard?

Yes. The device works with every known USB keyboard, including Logitech keyboards (other hardware keystroke recorders do not work with Logitech keyboards).

Whats more, the unit will work with any keyboard introduced in the future.

If any manufacturer introduces a non-standard keyboard that does not work, we can email you instructions to upgrade your units firmware via the internet. This makes your unit future proof. None of our competitors offer this service.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work with a wireless USB keyboard?

Yes.

All you do is plug the wireless USB radio receiver into the KeyCarbon USB, and it will work like any other wired keyboard.

Back to top

How do I change the password?

Go into the configuration menu, there is an option to change the password.
Back to top

How do I reset the password?

It is possible to reset the password in the unit. This has the side effect of deleting the existing keystroke log. It also requires a fair amount of technical skill, and involves popping open the case of the unit and shorting two pins on the circuit board together.

Resetting the password for the KeyPhantom USB and KeyCarbon USB.

Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work on a PS/2 keyboard?

No. For a device that records PS/2 keystrokes, see www.keykatcher.com. If you are unsure which type of keyboard you have on your system, check the shape of the plug on your keyboard cable. If it is rectangular, then the KeyCarbon USB will work. If it is round, then you have a PS/2 keyboard - see www.keykatcher.com.
Back to top

What happens if the keystroke log fills up?

There are two options for this: either the oldest keystrokes are discarded, or the recording halts. This option is selectable from the configuration menu.
Back to top

Are the keystrokes are safe, even if device is unplugged?

Yes. The device is just like a USB memory stick, it does not lose its memory if it is unplugged.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon store non-printable keystrokes such as Alt, Ctrl, or Function keys?

Yes. Any non-printable character is converted into a series of printable characters. For example, the "escape" key is listed as "<esc>" in the log. F1 becomes "<F1>" in the log. Alt becomes "<alt>" in the log, and so on for every other non-printable keystroke.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work with an external USB hub?

Yes, however it is not recommended, as it may lower the entire hub speed to USB 1.1. It is recommended that the KeyCarbon USB device is attached directly in line with the cable that the USB keyboard uses.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work with any keyboard that has a built in USB hub?

Yes.
Back to top

Will the KeyCarbon USB work on a laptop?

The KeyCarbon USB will not record keystrokes typed on the laptops built in keyboard. The KeyCarbon USB will only record keystrokes typed on an external USB keyboard that is plugged into the laptop.
Back to top

Can I record typing on a Macintosh computer?

Yes, as long as the Macintosh computer uses a USB keyboard. The device is compatible with any USB keyboard.
Back to top

Can I record typing on a Windows computer?

Yes, as long as the Windows computer uses a USB keyboard. The device is compatible with any USB keyboard.
Back to top

Can I record typing on a Linux or Solaris computer?

Yes, as long as the Windows computer uses a USB keyboard. The device is compatible with any USB keyboard.
Back to top

Why would I want a KeyCarbon USB when I can use a keylogger program available off the internet?

Software keyloggers can be difficult to install and/or use. If the PC is password protected, it will be impossible to install a software keylogger. The KeyCarbon device installs in seconds, onto any desktop PC with any operating system. The KeyCarbon device can be installed when the computer is switched off. It will also pick up passwords used to access the BIOS before boot up.
Back to top

How long can the password be?

Up to 20 characters long. The number of combinations for in a password 20 characters long is 26 to the power of 20 - over 19,000 million million million million. Yes, thats over 19,928,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This number is quite large, nobody could guess it unless they tried for more than a billion years.
Back to top

During downloading of the keystroke log, can I stop the download half way through?

Yes. Pressing the escape, enter, or space bar keys will halt the download.
Back to top

I am using Microsoft Word 2003 - how do I fix the double numbering in the menu?

Go into "Tools ... Autocorrect ... Autoformat as you type" and switch off 'automatic numbered lists'.
Back to top

I enter the menu - but it exits immediately, and goes into "recording mode"?

The reason that the menu is exiting immediately into recording mode, is that by default any unknown key will exit the menu.

Do not press "enter" after the password, or press keys any extra keys before the menu has been completely displayed.

This weakness in the product has been fixed in firmware v1.13 and above, available by downloading the KeyCarbon USB Series Firmware Upgrade Utility.
Back to top

Why is the "Found New Hardware" box invisible under Windows, in all critical situations?


The "Found New Hardware" notification is 100% invisible, if the unit is plugged in when:

  • The computer is switched off.
  • The user has yet to log into the computer.
  • The user has logged out for any reason.
  • The computer is password protected.
  • The computer was protected by a screensaver with a password.
  • The computers screensaver is active.

The "Found new hardware" is visible for 5 seconds, for the first time only that the unit is plugged in, if:

  • The Desktop is visible (ie: the computer is logged in).
    • However, this system tray message will automatically disappear within 5 seconds.
    • The system tray message will only ever happen once; Windows will never display the message again.
    • And, since you are sitting in front of the computer, you can simply wait for the message to disappear.
    • To hide any messages, switch the screen off, or activate a screensaver. You can activate a screensaver manually from the desktop.

Back to top

Why is the device undetectable from the Windows "Device Manager" or the "Unplug or Eject Hardware" box?

The device does not show up in the Windows "Unplug or Eject Hardware" dialogue box.

The device shows up in Windows "Device Manager" as a generic USB hub. This generic USB hub has no ID strings, and is indistinguishable from the generic USB hub found in 90% of all USB hubs, 90% of all Macintosh USB keyboards, and 30% of all IBM-PC keyboards.

If any software (such as a virus scanner) attempted to detect this generic USB hub, it would also flag warnings on 90% of USB hubs, 90% of all Macintosh USB keyboards, and 30% of all IBM-PC keyboards. In short, there is no way to detect the device via software.

When the menu is displayed, the device shows up in "Device Manager" as a temporary external USB keyboard. This temporary USB keyboard is completely removed from "Device Manager" once the menu is exited.
Back to top

Why is the device undetectable, in practice, by software?

In short, if software attempted to detect the KeyCarbon USB, it would generate false alarms on almost every keyboard in existance.

The device shows up in Windows "Device Manager" as a generic USB hub. This generic USB hub has no ID strings, and is indistinguishable from the generic USB hub found in 90% of all USB hubs, 90% of all Macintosh USB keyboards, and 30% of all IBM-PC keyboards.

If any software (such as a virus scanner) attempted to detect this generic USB hub, it would also flag warnings on 90% of USB hubs, 90% of all Macintosh USB keyboards, and 30% of all IBM-PC keyboards. In short, there is no way to detect the device via software, without generating false alarms on almost all keyboards.

Back to top

What if someone else types in the access password by mistake?

For a random 20 character password, there are over 19,000 million million million million combinations. That number is over 19,928,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This is the same chance as someone trying to find a single grain of sand, somewhere in the Sahara. In short, there is no chance that someone else would type the access password by mistake, if you choose a password of sufficient length.
Back to top

Do you have any hints for choosing a password?

Do not use a password or subset of a password that you are using elsewhere on your system.

A password should be a consecutive set of characters that would never be typed, except by someone who knew the password.

The password should not be a string of characters that would be typed in normal usage. Examples of poor password choices would include the words father, avenue, and your pet's name. Some good password choices would be tabatha, gbefhome, and ghureee.
Back to top

Where can I download the user manual for the KeyCarbon USB?

A printed manual is included with the KeyCarbon USB. Download the KeyCarbon USB Series User Manual.
Back to top

Firmware upgrading

When would I need to perform a firmware upgrade?

Very rarely. You only need to perform a firmware upgrade if the manufacturer recommends it.
Back to top

How do I perform a firmware upgrade for the device?

See the KeyCarbon USB Series Firmware Upgrade Utility.
Back to top

How do I perform an "Emergency Firmware Upgrade" for the device?

If the unit does not respond to a firmware upgrade, you can always resurrect the unit by shorting two pins on the device when power is applied.

Even if your unit loses power in the middle of a firmware upgrade, you can still recover your unit, see the emergency bootload procedure.
Back to top

Format of date/time stamping on the KeyCarbon USB Forensic

 

What is the format of the date/time stamping on the KeyCarbon USB Forensic?

The KeyCarbon USB Forensic has a built in battery, that keeps track of the current date and time.

The current date/time can be updated by going into the menu, and selecting the current date/time in YYYYMMDD and HHMM format, where:

  • YYYY is the current year (ie: 2017).
  • MM is the current month (ie: 03).
  • DD is the current day (ie: 25).
  • HH is the current hour in 24-hour format (ie: 21).
  • MM is the current minute (ie: 24).

All formats need leading zeros, ie: instead of 8am, you would use 08.

Every minute, a date/time stamp is inserted into the log.

The format of the timestamp is <tYYYYMMDD-HH:MM>, ie: <t20170325-21:24>.

Here is an examle of the time stamping in a live log:

"This is recorded typing from the KeyCarbon USB Forensic. A time/date stamp is insert<t20170820-11:51>ed into the log every minute."

You can also download a sample file showing a worked example of date/time stamping:

Download a sample file showing worked example of date/time stamping.

Note: you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file above.

Back to top

Troubleshooting for Macintosh

Notes for Macintosh:

  • There is no way to use the Windows Rapid Downloader software, even if you install it on a Windows emulator. The only way to download the log is by typing "phxlog" in a text editor.
  • On certain models of Macintosh computer, the logger will not work if the mouse is plugged into the keyboard. Plug the mouse straight into a USB port on the Macintosh.

Back to top

Troubleshooting for Windows Vista

Notes for Windows Vista:

  • Currently, v5.00 of the Windows Rapid Downloader software does not connect under Vista, unless the unit is set into "Rapid Download Mode" by typing "phxlog" in any text editor and selecting menu option "6" (see below). Note that this method will work on 90% of Vista machines. The recommended method under Vista is to use the text editor method (see below).
  • The user does not have to be an administrator. The unit records all keystrokes at a hardware level, before the keystrokes even enter the operating system through the USB port of the computer.
  • The recommended method to activate the device under Windows Vista is to follow these steps:
    1. Plug the keyboard into the KeyCarbon USB.
    2. Plug the KeyCarbon USB into a USB port on the computer.
    3. Now, when you type, keystrokes are flowing through the KeyCarbon USB, the KeyCarbon USB will record the electrical signal of each keystroke.
    4. Open up any text editor, such as Microsoft Word, or Wordpad.
    5. Type the password "phxlog" (without the quotes). Do not type "enter" after the password; just type the 6 characters.
    6. The device will react, create an imaginary hardware keyboard, and create electrical signals to type out the following menu into the editor:

      Press c for compatibility mode 
      KeyCarbon(tm) USB Forensic (2000KB)
       
      Firmware: v4.0.0.7939
      www.keycarbon.com 
       
      ROOT MENU 
      1) Full memory download 
      2) Partial memory download 
      3) Erase memory (quick)
      4) Erase memory (thorough) 
      5) Modify password 
      6) Mode: Rapid Downloader 
      7) Mode: Firmware Upgrade 
      8) Options 
      9) Speed 
      0) Quit 

    7. Type "1" to download the log, the log will download into the text editor. Use the "1" on the left hand side of the keyboard, above the "q" key; do not use the "1" on the right hand of the keyboard (on the number pad).

Back to top

 

 


keycarbon money-back guarantee

Your device fitted the bill perfectly ... Thankyou for making my job easier! - Linda Robinson

More Quotations


[After using the device] I can't tell you how many articles I have lost over the years when Windows flakes out. - Shane McGlaun, About Computer Peripherals, www.about.com.

More Quotations


... Unlike software-based keyloggers, the device can be easily removed and a record of the keystrokes can be retrieved from any computer .... - Ruben Schewarz, Dominion Post Newspaper, 30th January 2006.

More Quotations