We have been promoting Chromebooks for years now! They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and great for hybrid work. We use them here at Partners Plus, even! Bill always has one in his bag, ready for client visits, and our Marketing Assistant uses one when she’s here twice a week! They are our go-to recommendation, understandably so, seeing as how popular they became with the pandemic-induced working and learning from home.

Like with most things though, they do have a shelf life. Although that isn’t abnormal, the unique struggle with Chromebooks is that the Operating System is directly tied to the browser. Therefore, the impact is farther reaching than most technology. It is critical to look into your Chromebook’s auto-update expiration date. This is important because Chromebooks cannot be repurposed and often stay on the shelf for years into their auto-update expiration timeline. Once they reach their end-of-life date, they begin to lose critical functionality, unable to update the software, and make some tasks impossible due to incompatibility. While some functionalities remain, other services and apps lose their availability. This can lead to increased vulnerability, as updates often include security patches. Vitaly Shmatikov, a computer-science professor at Cornell University, explained it well. “It’s like sailing in a boat that’s accumulating risks. It won’t sink right away, but it’ll fill with water by and by, first gradually, then suddenly.”

For example, we purchased the HP Chromebook for our Marketing Assistant in the fall of 2021. We went to this list and found that its auto-update expiration date is June 2026. Unfortunately, the lifespan pattern is unclear. It is said that prior to 2020, it was five years and that it increased to 8.5 years for those released after 2020, but ours fits neither of those timelines. Our version was released in January 2019, and its end-of-life is June 2026. So, it was 7.5 years but by the time we purchased it, it had gone down to around 4.5 years. Our best piece of advice is to check out the list here. Select the type of Chromebook device, and then look for your specific product. This information is often found near the Serial Number.

At the price point, it’s still worth buying for convenience and budget’s sake, but know it won’t last you forever. Don’t be surprised when it comes time to buy one again!