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Chromebooks FAQ

Chromebook FAQs answered by

Have a question about Chromebooks? Below follow the most frequently asked questions about Chromebooks and Chromeboxes answered by Google Top Contributors.

  1. What is a Chromebook?
    Chromebook being used ina  School

    Basically a laptop running Google Chrome OS, an operation system based on Linux and the Chrome web browser.  Chromebooks do not allow any software to install, so it's impossible to get a virus, and no local programs can slow the system down: almost all software is in the cloud.

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  2. Which companies manufacture Chromebooks?

    1. Samsung
    2. Acer
    3. HP
    4. Lenovo
    5. and now Google

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  3. Do Chromebooks get updated frequently?

    Google aims to update Chromebooks every six weeks, with new features and bug fixes. These updates happen quietly in the background and unless the update provides a large change most Chromebook users do not notice.  

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  4. How do we control Chromebook usage and deploy apps for our business, company, school, college or university?

    Google offers, to Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Education, a web-based management console via the Google Apps control panel that provides control over when updates roll out, the deployment of apps directly to your Chromebooks and control over what apps will install and black lists and whitelists of available websites.

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  5. What storage options do Chromebooks provide?

    Local Storage Options

    Chromebooks provide a limited amount of internal storage: the amount of storage available depends on the model of Chromebook you own and start at 16GB and rise to 300GB of internal, local storage.  All Chromebooks provide an SD card slot so you can extend storage using SD memory cards.

    Google Drive Logo

    Cloud-based Storage Options

    Alternatively you can use various cloud-based storage solutions also, Google Drive for example.  Google provide offers on time-limited free storage plans, e.g. if you buy the recently released Chromebook Pixel Google provide 1TB of Google Drive cloud-based storage for 3 years at no additional cost.  Google do not tie you to just Google products: you can use any cloud-based storage platform provided you can access it via the Chrome web browser.

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  6. If I cannot install software how do I do anything?

    The whole idea of a Chromebook is to work in the "cloud": this means that you use software as a service provided from web-based cloud service providers.  If you want to word process a document then you can use Google Docs in Google Drive completely free.  Google Drive also provides Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawings and Forms - all for free!

    To find thousands of apps that work on your in the Chrome Web Store, like Games, Business Tools, Productivity, Entertainment, Social and Communication and much more.

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  7. Do I really not need Antivirus?

    Yes!  No need for antivirus!  Since a Chromebook does not provide any way to install local software you cannot get a virus.  You do need to take care, however, when you use web apps as you may provide the app with elevated permissions to the browser or another web app.

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  8. How safe is the data on my Chromebook?

    The Chromebook encrypts any data stored on it and you can only access this locally stored data if you sign in with your Google Account username and password.  If someone stole your Chromebook, or your lost your Chromebook and someone found it, they could not access any of your personal files without your Google Account, even if they removed the internal drive from the computer to connect to another computer (as the Chromebook encrypts the data).  The worst that could happen is someone could reset the Chromebook and wipe your data (a great reason to keep it in the cloud), but they can never access it.

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  9. How do I print from a Chromebook?

    Since you cannot install anything to a Chromebook, printer drivers included, you need to take a different approach to printing. Below follows the different method of printing available on a Chromebook:

    Google Cloud Print
    Google Cloud Print - Current Printer and Another Computer

    Google Cloud Print enables you to connect an existing printer to the cloud via a Windows or Mac computer you already have.  In Chrome in Windows or Mac you connect your printer to the cloud and then when you sign in to your Chromebook you will see the printer available to print to.  This requires the Windows or Mac computer to be switched on to print, but if you want to print and your other computer is not switched on Google Cloud Print will store the print job until you switch on the computer Mac or Windows computer.  For more information on how to connect an existing computer and printer to Google Cloud Print see Connect your classic printers with Google Cloud Print.

    Google Cloud Ready Printer
    Google Cloud Print - Direct to a cloud ready printer

    If you need to buy a new printer (you don't need to for Chromebook use, just if you happen to need a new one) then make sure you get a Google Cloud Ready Printer.  These printers attach themselves directly to the cloud, so no need for a second computer, so you can print from your Chromebook to the printer via the cloud.  For a list of cloud ready printers see Google Cloud Ready Printer.

    Third-Party Print and Collect/Mail Provider

    You can also use any online service that allows you to submit your documents for print and then either collect the printed copies of get them mailed to you via the post.  One example of this is FedEx Office Print Online.  For more information see Access Google Docs with FedEx Office Print Online.

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  10. How do I back up my data?

    If you choose to store everything in the cloud then you do not need to backup: you can pick up another Chromebook and sign in and all of the data in the cloud will be available on the Chromebook.  If you choose to store data on the internal storage (the Downloads folder) then you need to manually copy this to somewhere else safe.  Try to save everything to Google Drive as Chromebooks provide built-in connectivity to Google Drive. Amazingly, in most cases when you buy a Chromebook, Google provide you with extra storage on Google Drive.

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  11. Can I do everything the web has to offer, e.g. do Java, Silverlight or Skype work on Chromebooks?

    Google chose to not allow Java or Silverlight to run on Chromebooks as they can interpret and execute harmful code, so any web app that requires Java or Silverlight will not work on a Chromebook.  Google foresees the implementation of HTML5 as a more powerful way to achieve what some of Java and Silverlight offers.  Since Skype is not a web application but software you need to install on your computer  you cannot run this on a Chromebook either.  Chromebooks include everything you need to use Google+ Hangouts or Gmail Video and Voice Chats so you can use those instead and no extra cost.

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  12. Chromebook Pixel By Google
    How long does it take to boot up a Chromebook or Chromebox

    It takes from as little as 7 seconds - imagine that compared to an average PC or laptops! It takes 1 second to recover from standby.

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  13. Can a Chromebook or Chromebox save a business money?

    Every so often in technology there is a so-called paradigm shift, when the technology doesn't just evolve but there is a revolution. Chromebooks  are really that because suddenly a load of costs of managing and maintaining an estate of laptops or PCs disappears - just imagine that:

    • You don't need to worry about backup
    • Virus protection which normally cost many dollars/euro and pounds per month is eliminated
    • Machines suddenly become endpoints and if the user loses one you can simply sort them out then another
    • They can be remotely managed
    • Once you've got used to them they will save a lot of money and time in efficiency

    This is worth hundreds of dollars in addition to any initial cost of the laptop.

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