Question from Karla: Hi, Rick. I hope you can give me some advice about “reviving” an old laptop.
What I have is an older laptop that had Windows on it before the hard drive died.
I bought a new Windows 10 machine but I’d like to replace the bad hard drive in the old laptop and experiment with a different operating system.
I read your post about installing Linux in place of Windows but I’ve been reading a lot about Chromebooks lately. I stopped by Best Buy yesterday and tried one out, and I really like it.
My question is can I install Chrome OS on my laptop and use it as a Chromebook?
I’m pretty tech savvy so I should be able to follow instructions and get it installed. I just don’t know if it’s even possible to do this or where I would go to download the files.
Rick’s answer: That’s a great question Karla, and the answer is a definite “Maybe”.
The reason I say “maybe” is because it depends on your laptop’s brand and model.
Chrome OS will work on most recent laptops, but not all of them as there are some hardware devices that aren’t currently supported with working drivers.
This is what I recommend if you want to give it a try (and I think you should):
1 – Replace your laptop’s bad hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The smallest one you can find should work fine since Chrome OS stores your user files in the cloud.
If you’re wondering how much a new SSD will set you back, a quick check on Amazon (#ad) just found several SSDs selling for as little as $20.
2 – Visit this page and check out CloudReady, an enhanced version of Chrome OS that’s optimized to work with a wide variety of older laptops.
3 – When you’re ready to install CloudReady on your laptop, scroll down and click the orange Install It Now button in the “For personal, home use” box.
4 – Follow the instructions provided to build an installer onto a USB flash drive and install CloudReady onto your laptop.
That’s all there is to it. If all goes well your old laptop should be converted into a fully-functioning Chromebook in just a few minutes.
Caveats: As mentioned above, although CloudReady works just fine with many (fairly) recent laptops, there’s no guarantee that it will work with yours. All you can do is give it a try and see what happens.
The reason I recommended going with CloudReady instead of a plain-vanilla version of Chrome OS is CloudReady seems to work with the widest variety of laptops.
As always when dealing with cutting edge technology, YMMV (i.e. Your Mileage Might Vary)… In other words, give it your best shot and see how things go!
Bonus tip: If you find out that CloudReady just won’t work on your laptop, you can always install Linux on it instead. You should be good to go since you have already read that post.