Announcing the Carbide: The Safest, Most Secure USB Flash Drive on Earth

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on May 9, 2013 - 9:52am Companion is proud to announce the immediate availability of the The® Carbide™: The Safest, Most Secure USB Flash Drive on Earth. It's got military-grade hardware encryption compatible with every operating system. It's water, shock, dust and tamper-resistant. It comes with a full FIVE years of commercial USB antivirus protection. It has an industry-leading 5 year warranty. The Carbide is available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB sizes starting at under $90. It comes with the Platform pre-installed so you can take your favorite software with you. Laser-etching of your name, URL or phrase is included in the price. And there's a hassle-free 30-day return policy. The Carbide is available at

Drive Details

MirandaNGPortable_small.pngThe Carbide is a hardware encrypted flash drive where, instead of having to run an app to decrypt it, you simply enter your PIN on the side of the drive using an alphanumeric keypad. It features:

  • Military-Grade Hardware Encryption - FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified, AES 256-bit. Keeps your data safe!
  • Universal PIN Code Unlock - Drive works with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, TVs and more
  • "Everything" Proof - Resists water, dust, dirt, shocks, hacking, and disassembly
  • Personalized with a Laser! Pew! Pew! - Your name, company or URL laser-etched on the side
  • The Best Portable Software - Your favorite software with you everywhere you go
  • 5 Years of Commercial USB Antivirus Protection - Drive protected by DriveSecurity™ powered by ESET NOD32®
  • Industry-Leading 5 Year Warranty - Your investment is protected by our industry-leading warranty
  • 30-Day Returns, No-Hassles - If you don't love it, send it back for a refund

Buy Yours Today

Our long-time users know we've been wanting to do an incredible hardware-encrypted drive for a long time. And this one is more than worth the wait. It makes a great everyday drive and a perfect gift. Best of all, some of the revenue helps support in our mission to change the world of software. Learn more and buy today!

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John T. Haller's picture

Amazing what lack of sleep can do Smile

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Gord Caswell's picture

I was getting interesting at the end of my shift last night - going on 24 hours without sleeping, my fingers weren't hitting the right keys at all.

Does this replace the Companion as the Flash Drive option, or in addition to ?
It also describes "Admin and User PINS".
What is the difference between the two.

If at first you do not succeed, use more sticky tape.

John T. Haller's picture

The companion is still there as Pyro said. We'll be adding it to a page on PA.c so it's easy to find shortly.

As for PINS, there is an admin PIN and a user PIN. You set both to be what you want. That way you can have a drive out there with a user pin the user uses every day. But, if they forget their PIN or you need access, you can use the admin PIN to access the drive and/or reset their PIN. As a security feature, use of the admin PIN invalidates the user PIN so it will need to be reset. This prevents someone from using the admin PIN without the user knowing.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

When I got my Carbide 8G a week ago [Dec. 2013] all there was in the bubble pack is the following:

the metal tin with the USB drive
a small, laminated, short start guide on how to change the USER PIN
nothing about an Admin PIN at all
and no contact info for support [I know it is on the website but just saying...]
Nothing else in the pack

I thought this was a rather stark approach for $95.

Will there be a USB3 version? Advocate

John T. Haller's picture

The encryption parts don't exist that are fast enough to outstrip USB2's max bandwidth.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Quote from the website:
"'Advertised' Speed (manufacturer): Up to 27MB/s read. Up to 24MB/s write
Benchmarked Speed: 10MB/s and up, comparable to other high-end FIPS-certified hardware-encrypted drives"

This sounds not so good for running PortableApps on it like Firefox and co.
They will load very slow and will mostly lag.

I do understand that the de- and encryption is one of the reasons for it but still... I wouldnt run my PortableApps on it in a regular basis. Beee

Nice piece of equiment anyway, though...

John T. Haller's picture

The apps work just fine. I run Firefox Portable, which is the most susceptible to lag, from mine without issue. Remember, the benchmarked speed is what the retail drives won't tell you. We wouldn't have put our name on the drives if they didn't work well with portable apps. I've clarified that section to make sure other folks aren't confused either.

And, don't forget, it comes with a 30-day no-hassle return policy if you don't love it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

John T. Haller's picture

After having a chat with CustomUSB, we're going to ship the first orders out on Monday rather than today. That way we can load up the new LibreOffice 4.0.3 release (being built now) so you're not forced to upgrade the biggest app as soon as you get your shiny new drive. We're always trying to save you time. Smile

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

John T. Haller's picture

No, it doesn't. None of the suppliers we work with even offer it as an option anymore. When used, you can't save any of your work at all, so it's useful to work on an infected machine and fix it as a technician, but otherwise not terribly useful. And, because it's so rare these days on any flash drives and optical drives are in serious decline, we no longer develop or test our software to work from read-only media.

To support a drive of that nature, we'd have to have a new circuit board custom-made ($10,000 to $15,000+) and then FIPS certified (more $) and then re-work a lot of our software just to support it. So, the drive would wind up being quite a bit more expensive, just to support a small niche of users that want the feature.

If we do a drive from the ground up at some point, we may explore it and weigh the additional cost specifically. But, other than that, read-only switches are basically dead from all major suppliers. A couple niche companies still offer them on retail drives if you really want them. None of them I'm aware of include any encryption at all (let alone the level of encryption this does).

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I am very unhappy with my thumb drive. quite simply, I changed the password from the default, forgot my password and asked if it could be reset. I was told I could reset it by resetting it. Doesn't make much sense.

I will definitely think again the next time portableapps endorse any hardware. It's cost me 139 US and got me zilch.

John T. Haller's picture

You can reset the password by following the steps outlined in the included Carbide manual. If you didn't make a copy of the manual off the drive, you can access it on the website by clicking the Support button and then clicking on the link for the manual. Resetting the drive is on page 9.

Note that resetting your user password will wipe the drive, of course. We recommend setting an admin password in addition to the user password and keeping that saved in a secure location in the off chance you forget your user password.

If you don't have a recent backup, I can provide you with links to redownload ESET and the ESET connector in the menu so you can get your antivirus back. You'll need the email you originally got from CustomUSB with your activation code as well.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

just to let you know, your instructions, with the inclusion of the link you added, got me the information I needed. I'm back up and running. I'm not quite ready to recant my admonition though. Carbide seemed to be not quite ready for prime time when I last looked at the site and there wasn't a copy of the document you pointed me to this time. I was simply told to follow the instructions I received, which did not cover this situation.

I'm happy to work with and around bugs when I'm dealing with the portable apps platform because I figure everyone involved is doing their best and it's a privilege to even have these apps and utilities available in a sub-culture such as ours. It's just when I'm spending a significant amount of money, I need to know things are going to work. It should be noted that whereas the instructions I found here were invaluable, the support from Carbide remained, to reset I should reset the device, until the support finally told me they had no further information to give me and to send it back to them to get it fixed. That was not what I needed.

Anyway, thank you very much for the information and I would like to thank you again for giving me the information I needed to move forward.

John T. Haller's picture

The instructions on the site are the same ones you received on the drive in PDF form. I think we'll need to let folks know to save a copy in case they forget things.

As for support, this drive is still new to the CustomUSB folks, so they didn't know where to send you. I'll have a word with our contacts there to ensure they get the proper details on how to handle a support request.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Really love the carbide, had it for about a week now,and won't go anywhere without it.
One issue though when Drive security tries to activate it throws up the following error:

Line 6070 (File"F:\ESET_ACTIVATOR_0.exe"):
Error - Variable used without being declared.

Any suggestions?


John T. Haller's picture

If it worked the first time, you could try uninstalling and reinstalling it. The activation you have in your original email will still work. Note that uninstalling and reinstalling it from the platform won't accomplish this, you need to manually delete the files from outside the PortableApps directory and then reinstall from the downloadable installer on their site. Also note that I'm not really able to give any support on the product as we don't write or maintain it. We just have a bulk license to pre-install. Sadly, one side effect of it being an $8/year license (retail) is there is no support at all. It's one thing you lose by it coming down in price from $50/year.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

It never worked.

I did not receive an email with an activation code, the only emails I got were the order confirmation.

Should I have received an email from your organisation or from ClevX.



John T. Haller's picture

You should have received one from CustomUSB when you placed your order. If you did not or it wound up in spam/junk, drop them an email and they can send it to you again.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Quick question. Just got the drive, and love it so far. But when I tried to copy over from my old drive, I found it's formatted FAT32. I have some files >4GB. Is it possible to convert this drive to NTFS? If so, how do I go about it? Didn't find anything about doing so in the User Guide, and I don't want to just format it without checking first.
- Dayton - Thu. 09/05/2013 @ 10:41:44

John T. Haller's picture

You can format it as NTFS through the same Windows Explorer and Windows tools you'd usually use. The hardware encryption engine is at the drive level and works below the format level, so you're fine with FAT32, ExFAT, NTFS, etc.

Be sure to copy everything off the drive first and then back after formatting.

Note that NTFS can have some permissions issues when moved between computers if Everyone is not set as Full Control within the Security tab. I believe Windows 7 and up (note sure about Vista) do this automatically on removable drives. XP does not and that's where many issues arise.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Excellent. Thank you for your clear and complete response. Very helpful!
- Dayton - Thu. 09/05/2013 @ 13:04:21

Or you can open up a Command Prompt window and run


Also you can add /V if you want "verbose mode" and /X if you need to force the "volume" to dismount first.
(with /X any open handles to the volume will no longer be valid.")
This will convert from FAT or FAT32 to NTFS without losing the contents of the drive (use the /NoSecurity switch to prevent the security issues JohnTHaller mentioned)
Though you should definitely copy everything off of the drive first so you can fix it if for some reason it screws up.

Outstanding! I love command line utilities! Surprised I never heard of this one before. VERY handy! Thanks!
- Dayton - Thu. 09/05/2013 @ 13:06:11

Have had my Carbide 8g about a week. All was well and then suddenly yesterday I started getting the following message when inserting into my USB port:
"One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and windows does not recognize it. Try reconnecting the device. if Windows still does not recognize it, replace the device."

It is the only device in any of the ports.
Am running WIN 7
I have retired a total of 8 times with the same message.
It is Saturday and the Carbide Support phone number says they are not there today...
All my p/w/s are on my Carbide.
This is way beyond frustrating and has cost my nearly an entire day trying to just access my Carbide USB drive.

vf2nsr's picture

like corrupt USB drivers on computer. Does it recognize other usb drives? Or other devices? Is this your computer? If so go to start then right click on computer, from the menu choose properties When window opens choose device manager.Any items have ? or ! on them? is so you can uninstall them and then reboot to have them re-installed. Also does drive get recognized on other computers? So far with out answers and not being there It is sounding like the drivers for the usb got corrupted

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

Yes it recognizes all my other 4 drives with no problem.

Yes it is my computer and no one else has access [100%].

Do not know if the Carbide gets recognized on other computers; have only used on this one.

Can't understand why I had no problem at all for a week and then suddenly this.

Will try what you have said r.e. device manager.

T/Y for your input.

Made sure on the Disk Drives and USB Controllers that all are working properly and the driver software is up-to-date.

Could it be that somehow the Carbide Drive is unstable? I don't know how/what but it would explain it working 100% for a week and then suddenly not loading.


I just bought my Carbide USB drive.
I bought it looking for a utility drive that will help me clean customer computers and do things like password changes, antivirus, disk cleaner, disk eraser etc...
Is there a way to boot to the drive and have these features?
Also, when i connect it to a MAC, my MAC locks up.

Thank you very much

John T. Haller's picture

In theory, it would be bootable, but it's not a feature we support.

Once the password is entered, there's nothing special going on in appearance to the PC other than as a USB drive. Can't speak as to why your Mac would be locking up. But then, I'm also not hardware support. CustomUSB handles that.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!