The Fundamental Advantages Of Using A Chromebook

Dan Price 11-09-2014

If you look at the readers’ comments for a Chromebook article, either on MakeUseOf or elsewhere, you’ll quickly reach one conclusion above all else – Chromebooks are highly divisive. Whether you see a long discussion about how useful Chromebooks are when used offline, a tirade against the lack of specialist software, or a stream of comments from the device’s advocates, it’s instantly apparent that a consensus about Google’s offering is a long way from materialising. It’s unlikely that this article’s comments will be any different.


Nonetheless, if we were commenting on articles, you’d find us camped deep inside the advocates section. Therefore, this piece aims to summarise some of the key advantages of using a Chromebook when compared to Windows and Macs.

Superior Security Of Chromebooks

We know that Windows 8 is the most secure version of Windows Windows 8 Is The Most Secure Version Yet: Here’s Why Read More so far, we know Linux machines are typically consider the safest Linux Operating Systems for the Paranoid: What Are the Most Secure Options? Switching to Linux delivers many benefits for users. From a more stable system to a vast selection of open source software, you're onto a winner. And it won't cost you a penny! Read More of the traditional operating systems, and we know that Macs have always held an upper-hand in the battle to stay virus free.

Chromebooks are better than all of them. If you visit a suspicious website by clicking on a bad link, open a dodgy email attachment accidentally, or download a program that has a dubious provenance, a Chromebook has you covered. It’s due to the device’s stateless operating system (meaning no unique software configuration is saved locally – rather it is all synced with the ‘cloud’) and its built-in multi-layered protection which includes features such as automatic updates, sandboxed browsing, verified boot and localised data encryption. Chromebooks don’t solve all digital security issues 3 Reasons Why Chromebook Does Not Solve Digital Security Issues Google's ChromeOS is probably the most secure operating system in the world (at the cost of some limited functionality). Unfortunately, ChromeOS isn't a panacea, and serious security concerns about the platform remain. Read More , but they are a great start.

All Your Data Is In The Cloud

Aside from security, a key advantage of Chromebook’s stateless system is that nothing is saved locally – instead all your apps, preferences, documents, and data are saved on Google’s servers in the cloud What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More . In practice, this means if you are unlucky enough to lose your machine, have it stolen, or throw a cup of coffee over it, there is absolutely no risk to your information. Compare that to Windows or Macs, where unless you are diligent enough to back everything up on a weekly basis you are at risk of losing everything, and it’s easy to see why Chromebooks hold the advantage.

Google storing all your data on servers way outside your control might set alarm bells ringing in certain people’s minds – but frankly, if you don’t feel comfortable with your data being held by an external organisation it’s probably best you never turn a computer on. Or open a bank account. Or have a mobile phone contract. Or a TV subscription. Or a … (you get the idea).


Chromebook Cost: Cheap

How much is a brand new mid- to high-end Windows laptop? In Europe you’d need to spend at least £500 (approximately €625) for a usable, fast machine. If Macs are your usual preference you’d need to shell out £750 (€940) for the lowest spec MacBook Air on Apple’s website.


Contrast those prices with Chromebooks – where you can pick up the latest releases for the somewhere in the £180 – £300 range Need A Cheap Laptop? Here Are The 5 Best Chromebooks In The Amazon Back-To-School Sale The new school term is almost here, and with it, a deluge of Chromebooks at a rock-bottom price, courtesy of Amazon. Here are some of the best. Read More , depending on the specs you need. There’s no comparison, especially if you use your Chromebook as a travel companion Your Chromebook As The Ultimate Travel Device If you're deciding which device to get for your next trip, you may consider checking out Chromebooks. But why choose a Chromebook for travel? Because, when it comes to travel, they are spot on. Read More , and expose it to bumps, breakage and even theft on a regular basis. The lower cost makes the machine easier to replace – meaning less time worrying about your device and more time taking selfies in front of famous monuments. Chromebooks are perfect for college for the same reasons.

A Normal Laptop With Normal Functionality

Chromebooks are not some odd beast; they should be considered by anyone who is in the process of looking for a new laptop. Do you want to video chat with family and friends? It’s possible. Do you want to browse social media? It’s possible. Video editing? Word processing? Listening to music? Playing games? All possible.



Ultimately, if you’re the type of person who spends most of your time on a computer simply using a web browser, you should get a Chromebook. At their core they have a single goal: running the Chrome web browser as brilliantly as possible. Chrome runs smoothly and quickly, and is designed to seamlessly integrate with all the other features on the laptop. Don’t worry about Internet access, either. Chromebooks really do work offline Chromebooks Don't Work Offline? Debunking the Myths One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Google's Chromebooks is that they are online-only machines – ergo, no Internet, no point. How true is this statement? Read More .

To a lot of people the extra ‘horsepower’ of Windows and Macs is not used and is thus dead weight. Chromebooks don’t have that problem.

You Can Run (Almost) Any Software You Want

Of course, if you need complex software for your hobby or your job you might not be able to install it directly on the Chrome OS – and it is one of their drawbacks. Remember, however, for competent computer users it’s reasonably straightforward to install a Linux distro How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Here's how to install Linux on your Chromebook so you can start using other apps like Skype, VLC Media Player, and more! Read More , meaning if your necessary software has a Linux version it can be used (including Skype). Finally, if all else fails, use Chrome Remote Desktop 3 Unique Ways To Remotely Control Your Windows Desktop Care for a little remote desktop control magic? We present non mainstream methods for accessing your computer remotely using a Chrome extension, SSH clients, or over the air using your mobile device. Read More on full-screen mode to access your traditional OS – you may not even notice the difference.



Do You See The Chromebook Advantage?

Do you agree that Chromebooks have some great advantages or are you in the army of haters? Either way, let us know your opinions.

Related topics: Chromebook, Google Chrome.

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  1. kirk
    June 24, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Word is available now, and it works.

  2. Dan Price
    March 27, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    No you can't - but you can install Linux and use OpenOffice...

  3. Josh
    March 26, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Can I use MS Office? Google Docs, etc have their definite advantages and I use it, but there are still times when MS Office is preferred (e.g. APA Grad-level research papers).

    Thanks, guys!

  4. Brzz
    January 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I've been using Linux since 2009, but realized that since I finished college I practically use my computer for web browsing. I had a netbook that I gave away as soon as I got my iPad, and now I'm really interested in acquiring a Chromebook. After reading the article and all the comments (plus all the other reviews spread on the web both in text and video), I think I should give this one a go.

  5. John Mayson
    January 1, 2015 at 4:17 am

    I "grew up" on Unix and while I've never had a neckbeard, I've long favored "real" computers running "real" operating systems. I bought a Chromebook (and a low-end one to boot) and I absolutely love the thing. In all seriousness I haven't turned on my MacBook in a couple of weeks.

    If someone like me can live with a Chromebook then most people can.

  6. Bruce Barnes
    September 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Low maintenance is a big advantage as far as I'm concerned. In the Windows environment you have the intrusive OS updates but then you have to look for updates to each installed (non-Microsoft) app. You have to make sure your antivirus software is still working and you have to scan regularly for problems. Defragmenting the hard drive is necessary to minimize the computer slowing down with use but slowdown is inevitable with all the Microsoft patches. Reinstalling the Windows operating system sometimes becomes necessary but you'll eventually have to buy the latest version of Windows when your obsolete version slows to a crawl.

    None of these problems exist in the Chrome OS environment. Don't believe me? Try a Chromebook and learn for yourself.

  7. Gerald Z
    September 14, 2014 at 4:54 am

    "Ultimately, if you’re the type of person who spends most of your time on a computer simply using a web browser, you should get a Chromebook."
    My desktop can now go back to doing what is does better, i.e. being a DVR and hosting local storage of stuff i want to keep (I still view storage in the cloud as prone to evaporation) now that giant HDDs are cheap and there are lots of indexing programs.

  8. dragonmouth
    September 13, 2014 at 8:51 am

    When netbooks made their appearance, there were many articles written by various experts, prognosticators, technology bloggers, and especially, marketing weenies citing similar advantages for those devices. Netbooks were supposed to be the next step in the evolution of the PC, they will replace latops, they were a "paradigm shift", yada, yada, yada. Where are the netbooks now? Despite all the trumpeted advantages, they proved to have many more disadvanatges that caused their demise or at least general disuse.

    Each device has its fans and its uses. For some people a tablet is all that they need. For others, Chromebooks suffice. But there still are those who like and/or require a full-powered PC or a laptop. Each group extolls the virtues of their device and condemns the shortcomings (from their point of view) of the other devices. Each group parochially claims that their device is the best one to use. ("best" in what way?)

    Each group is right and each group is wrong. When used for its intended purpose, each device shines. When not used for its intended purpose, each device is a fail. Let's remember that when you're a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

  9. Tinkicker
    September 13, 2014 at 2:29 am

    To offer contradicting opinions is offer them in as condescending and b*tching a way as possible is trolling.
    Can somebody delete the trolls? Their constantly sh*tty attitude is a totally non-constructive blight on this site.

    • brenden gonzalez
      September 30, 2014 at 3:50 am

      He never said Mac wasn't secure they are they are beasts awesome beasts but at the end of the day a Chromebook is more secure than a Mac Chrome OS that is now 4 years old has never had a virus mal-ware or worm or any form of hack Installing Linux on it isn't a hack Google pays people if they can hack or infect Chrome OS and no one has ever successfully done it.

  10. YellowApple
    September 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Keeping everything synced to the cloud isn't a security feature; it's a security flaw. If your Google account is compromised, then sayonara to any semblance of data security.

    I'm a pretty big fan of Chromebooks, but claiming ChromeOS is more secure than a traditional GNU/Linux system - *especially* for that reason - is a blatant lie and you know it.

    • brenden gonzalez
      September 30, 2014 at 3:46 am

      No it is not a lie when you can turn off Drive in Chrome and have internal storage that isn't synced with Google you have to move it to Google drive folder before it syncs ive used Linux for 6 years and have had more security issues with it then my Chromebooks iv had for 2 years now.

  11. Bud
    September 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Can't disagree MORE about security here ! I have and use an Apple iMac, and as far as I'm concerned, "if it ain't broke, why in hell should I try another OS system? You are obviously as stated "camped deep inside the advocates section." which in itself shows a fundamental flaw........called BIAS!!!

    I've been tempted to purchase a Chrome laptop, because it's cheap, but at what price? I've read enough articles online about Chromebooks to stay away from them. And I have an extension for my Safari that also warns me of bad web sites or blocks the sites automatically.

    Sorry kid, but I don't buy your sales pitch arguments here.

    • brenden gonzalez
      September 30, 2014 at 3:43 am

      Ive had Windows and Mac Chromebooks are far more secure he wasn't saying Mac wasn't secure he was just stating that Chromebook are more secure than a Mac/PC and its true. Macs are beast i love them but at the end of the day id rather buy and have my Chromebook rather than a Mac.

  12. Dave
    September 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I have a Samsung Chromebook 2, and I love it. There are a few downsides of course, but there are also a few downsides on my Windows machine. I still occasionally use my Windows machine for serious wordprocessing or graphics work. I like that my Chromebook is fast to start, and cool, quiet and secure , although for some reason it is slower to open webpages and it's ability to work with doc files is quite limited. But overall this is a nice, handy, easy-to-use machine.

  13. James Bruce
    September 12, 2014 at 9:21 am

    They're not cheaper when they break after a year, creating e-waste as you purchase the latest. By the end of the 5 years that I'll be using my Macbook Air for, you'll have created 3 Chromebook's worth of mostly un-recyclable trash in the world; and mine will still fetch a pretty resale value and be used for years after.

    • Captain Obvious
      September 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Hmmm, Chromebooks are inexpensive, so only work a year; and Macs are expensive, thus work forever, is that what you're saying? I think Apple fans are conditioned to upgrade frequently.

    • Pork n' burger
      February 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      I've had my chromebook for about 3 years now and It's as fast as the day I got it. I'll probably replace the battery in another year because its life has been declining, but other than that it's all systems go.

      In my house I've got a chromebook, a windows 8.1 desktop, a windows 7 laptop, and a macbook pro. While I get use out of them all(besides the macbook, that's my wife's), the chromebook is best for travel or lugging around the house. It's light and all you have to do is open the lid and you're on the net. If you've got a home project that you're getting help from youtube for, or you're going on vacation and you need to take a computer, Chromebook is your ideal companion.

      For those of us that have needs beyond the internet, chromebook isn't a computer replacement, but it's a great thing to have. It's definitely not the cheap breakable product you make it out to be.

    • Daniel Price
      February 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      I'm with Mr PorknBurger on this one James, I've had mine two years and it's still lightening fast even with Linux on dual boot and heavy daily usage. I've never had a single issue with it. That said, I've also never had a single issue with my Win8.1 laptop, and we all know the reputation they've got. Maybe I've just got a magic tech-touch... (!)

  14. Fahad Ahammed
    September 12, 2014 at 5:43 am

    All Data is in the cloud ?

    How do you think it will serve a guys from low net speed and even zero net speed ?

  15. sim dova
    September 12, 2014 at 5:24 am

    I have a chromebook and like it. but i don't trust google not to spy on me. the apps that come preinstalled are google tracker apps. i try not to use them, but it is difficult because they are so indigenous to this computer. like the chromebook, hate google spying!

    • Adam
      September 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Hate to tell you, but apps that track your usage don't just track when you run them -- that's true of your cellphone, as well. If you don't want to be tracked, you have to take some pretty major & technically-profecient steps, in everything from your home network to your mobile device to all the computers in your house.

    • Bruce Barnes
      September 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Do you think Microsoft or Apple aren't spying on their customers? Google isn't alone in this.

  16. Steve
    September 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

    You can now run Android apps natively on them (Only some so far) but this is yet another reason why Chromebooks are set to destroy MS's marketshare an not just put a huge dent in it.

  17. ed
    September 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I have the Asus c200 and am loving it. Boots in just a few seconds AND is useable OFFLINE. Gmail, G-Docs, Caret (a Sublime-like code editor) are all useable offline. There are a handful of offline desktop apps that save offline, and don't care about cloud syncing or internet access if you don't need it, available and many more offline capable web apps like full coding development environments that will sync up when internet connected, but are useable without a connection.

    Yes, it is still not as feature rich as Windows, Mac OS, or other Linux distros, but that is changing every day, and now we have the first four Android apps available to run on Chrome OS.

    As a bonus, yes you can install a Linux distro via crouton very easily and open up another world of applications just like any other PC. That crouton session boots up in just a couple of seconds (something a virtual machine can't do as fast).

    So run a crouton session on your chromebook; it should be standard. It's kind of like 99% of the linux world that still dual-boots or VMs into Windows because they still need something in Windows they can't get out of linux. Why is that acceptable, but God forbid someone run crouton on a chromebook.

    I like to say chromebooks are better than tablets for my use case and almost as good as a regular laptop with or without crouton. Again, this is for my particular needs.

    Oh, who can get by these days without internet on their regular PC, Mac, or Linux computer anyway - not me?

    • Toks W
      September 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I have an external hard drive and it works pretty well for playing movies on my Chromebook. You only really have to be careful of strange formats--all the standard ones work.

    • ed c
      September 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Er, just what is a "crouton?" Do you possibly have a link that shows how to do what you described?

    • ed
      September 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      @ ed c
      This makes a great chromebook even better :)

      Installing Linux via crouton:


  18. Peter F
    September 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I love the idea of Chromebooks. My concerns over lack of using various programs I have become used to are wained by the fact I can ( and slowly am switching to) google docs and the like.
    I understand the lack of viable oboard storage helps keep costs down and so on, but 16GB/32Gb really isn't an option for me.

    I have tons of stuff in the cloud and there is no issue there, but having a collection of my movies on hand and space for my projects ready for offline use would be of great benefit.

    This may not be the best place to ask, but how simple is it to plug in my external hard drive/ thumb drive and click a button to watch my stored films etc....

    If anyone can rest my fears, I'll be buying one asap.


    • Jean-Francois Messier
      September 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      The issue of storage can be fixed with those bigger-than-ever SD cards (there are now 128G SD cards available), or a USB 3 external hard disk, which can b=have several terabytes today.

    • Charles R
      September 12, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      It's literally plug and play, just like a regular PC. I've had a couple of Chromebooks, and just bought another one. (I received the original cr48 as a tester, sold it, then bought an Acer c720 for a semester, regrettably had to sell that, and now just bought a c720p). I'm also in the same boat, storage wise. All of my music is on google play, but I have a large capacity external drive that I back up movies to.

      However, it does depend on what type of file format you want to play. Chromebooks won't play every single format, but they do handle many of the most widely used. (

      Especially since models now have USB 3.0, you don't even have to worry about trying to copy to the small internal storage for stutter-free playback, not that it was much of an issue to begin with.

    • Adam
      September 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      External storage is dead-simple. You can even put a Linux distro on an SD card or thumb drive and run it that way. Depending on the model Chromebook, many have a "full" SD slot, where you can mount a card and leave it there without sticking out. Hell, they just dropped a 528gb SD card. Crazy-expensive right now, but give it a few months. Plus, some models (like the c720, I believe) can swap out the SSD with relative ease. Lastly, depending on how & where you travel, how much you want to spend, you can get a model with a 4g radio (or LTE on some of the newest ones, IIRC) and a 10gb/mo plan for about $30. Easy easy easy.

    • ed c
      September 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      I have done just what you asked - attached an external USB hard drive, clicked on a movie and began to watch it. Didn't work for divX, tho. If it matters, there's also a built-in photo viewer with a slideshow capability.

      I haven't yet found a way to record the sounds being played,

  19. dragonmouth
    September 11, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    "Superior Security Of Chromebooks"
    Only an advantage if you assume that Google is a beneficent company and will do no wrong, and if you mind Google being in control of your PC, not you.

    "All Your Data Is In The Cloud"
    Again, only an advantage if you want someone else in control of your data. Whoever owns the server, controls the data. You can be cut off from your data on any corporate whim.

    "Chromebook Cost: Cheap"
    Yes, it is cheap-er. But you are comapring pears and oranges. Chromebook is a glorified tablet with a keybord and some ports. The others are full powered laptops.

    "A Normal Laptop With Normal Functionality"
    Depends on your definition of "normal." If the your connections is down, there is nothing you can do with a Chromebook other than use it as a paperweight or a boat anchor. On a laptop. you may not be able to access the Internet but you can still use locally stored programs.

    "for competent computer users it’s reasonably straightforward to install a Linux distro"
    If I have to install Linux to get gain functionallity, why should I bother with a Chromebook? I'll install Linux on a full powered, full featured laptop.

    "are you in the army of haters?"
    I resent the characterization. I do not "hate" Chromebook. I may even get one at some point. I just do not blindly worship in the Church of Almighty Google, I do not trust the god. Therefore, all the advantages you mention, to me, are disadvantages. Chromebooks are great for consuming content but that is all they are good for.

    • Usman M
      September 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

      that is why I really do not get the point of chromebooks, you want an experience like that, get a phablet, want something more, go for mainstream OS laptop, chromebook is in the middle possibly targeted to those with lots of money to spare on every gadget that releases or those who can be easily lulled into anything technical.

    • Adam
      September 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Sorry boss, but you're hating. I have a Chromebook, the HP 14, and I get roughly equal functionality as on my old Windows machine. There's a few things that took a little extra setting up (the Linux distro & WINE to run Windows programs under Linux), but the machine was ready-to-go out of the box and took another hour and half to get Linux totally set up. Games, any programs I want, plus I can do 90% of what I need it for without switching over to Linux -- it's mostly there for gaming & a few Windows programs. For $190, it's far more machine than I could buy in a laptop, the battery life is excellent, as is the build quality. I'm not paranoid about google's access to my data; anything truly sensitive is locked up on a safe server at home. Your arguments seem to come from hyperbole rather than experience. @Usman M, same thing. You try to get a $180 laptop that will run modern games, offer 8+ hours on a charge, and has a 4g radio. With the SD slot, storage is a non-issue, even without touching Google Drive. I spent that money and saved a couple hundred on a slightly-better Windows machine.

    • dragonmouth
      September 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      "Sorry boss, but you’re hating"
      And you have the gall to criticize me for hypebole?! IOW, if I don't gush praise for the Chromebokk, I must hate it. Sounds like you have an inferiority comples when it comes to Chromebooks. What I do hate is fanbois who only use their heads as hat racks. Baaa, baaa, baaa.

      "With the SD slot, storage is a non-issue"
      Oh really?! At present time, you're limited to 128 GB. Any half-decent laptop comes with a 1TB hard drive and at least two USB ports.

    • DonGateley
      September 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      If only it were easy and affordable to create a Windows virtual machine in the cloud (Windows as a Service) and connect to it with Chrome Remote Desktop from a Chromebook while giving that virtual machine transparent access to its USB ports.

      Oh, and the ability to migrate the Windows installation that might exist on some given PC into that virtual machine.

      If the above were available in an easily operated way the potential market for the Chromebook would expand suddenly and radically.

    • PlasmaPower
      September 17, 2014 at 4:37 am

      "I’ll install Linux on a full powered, full featured laptop." As a Linux user, my next laptop will be a Chromebook. Chromebooks are cheap, and have long battery life.

    • dragonmouth
      September 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      "As a Linux user, my next laptop will be a Chromebook"
      If you can replace ChromeOS with a Linux distro, that's great. If you have to dual boot, I wouldn't do it.

      "Chromebooks are cheap"
      As long that means "inexpensive" rather than "crap"

    • Will
      September 28, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      I've got CB, my mom's got a Mac, and my sister has a Windows. I've had a chance to try them all. First off, do you think that a $150 Billion Company like Google is going to steal any user data from the cloud and risk being discovered? Don't get me wrong, I don't worship Google but I know they're not stupid. You can also disable Google Drive on your CB. It's in the settings. Also, if you choose the right apps, you can use everything offline as well. You can already make spreadsheets, presentations, documents, etc. without internet, as well as tons of other things, and as of a few days ago, you can run almost any android app on a Chromebook. Tons of these don't require internet. Also, even if you choose not to use Drive, 128 gigs is plenty, if you need a terabyte than you can go ahead and get your $600 slow virus ridden Windows laptop that takes 20 minutes to update. You can also use locally stored programs on a Chromebook anywhere. I can assure you that the Chromebook has quite a lot of functionality, more so than a tablet by a long shot. Also, a Chromebook is lightning fast and updates in seconds. Almost all of them have kept support for the latest version of Chrome OS, and function fine after 2 and a half years. Do some research before commenting.

    • Maison
      September 29, 2014 at 4:30 am

      Just a little Bing search (see what I did there <-- with "Bing") would reveal that this statement...

      “A Normal Laptop With Normal Functionality”
      Depends on your definition of “normal.” If the your connections is down, there is nothing you can do with a Chromebook other than use it as a paperweight or a boat anchor."

      ... is not correct. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides all function perfectly normal off line without an Internet connection.

      If you really aren't "just another hater" then I am sure you are not purposely spreading misinformation about ChromeOS.

      As the CEO of a very small non profit organization (interpret that as small budget) I have been using Chromebooks almost exclusively for 2 years. We've got one Windows machine because - it is completely true that ChromeOS cannot do everything (yet).

      But it does 98% of what I need to do at 1/5 the cost of a comparable Windows laptop. And we don't have to buy multiple licenses to use a Word Processor or create a spreadsheet.

      Anyways... I couldn't let the "paperweight" misconception go.