Chromebooks: Desktops you can trust to be there

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I’ve been a Chromebook believer for over a decade now. A week ago, I was reminded of one of the fundamental reasons I use them: when a Chromebook fails, you can buy a new one and be back to work in minutes.

I was in Myrtle Beach, SC, on a semi-vacation — that is to say, I was only working six hours a day — when my old Chromebook failed. I hoped it wasn’t dead. I thought maybe it was just resting or maybe stunned. So, I tried everything: removing a USB drive, a hard reset, beating on it, and yelling, “’ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!”

Nothing.

It was a dead parrot; I mean Chromebook. It had kicked the bucket for good.

Now, if this had been a Windows laptop or even one of my favorite Dell XPS 13 running Ubuntu Linux 20.04, I’d be in real trouble. That’s because not only would I need to buy a new replacement, I’d need to re-install my applications and restore all my documents.

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That’s no fun.

Not only was it a big job, but I was away from my office, where I kept my backups. To avoid damage from ransomware attacks, I keep my main backups on a QNAP TS-453BT3 network-attached storage (NAS) device. At my home office, it’s available on a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) that’s inaccessible from the Internet.

Many people who are now working from home don’t have a local backup.

If their Windows, Linux desktop or Mac stops working, they too are out of luck. Yes, Mac makes it easy to create local backups with Time Machine. But do you have an external drive or NAS? Unfortunately, all too frequently, home workers only have their main machines without any backup drives.

The result? You’re hours — even days — from getting back to work. This is, in a word, bad.

But, if you have a Chromebook, it’s another story.

As it happens, I had another Chromebook with me: An Acer Chromebook 515 CB515. This was a review unit — spoiler alert, it’s a good machine — that I hadn’t even unboxed yet. So, I took it out, plugged it in, connected it to my condo’s Wi-Fi, and I was back to work in five minutes.

Moreover, I wasn’t just back to work. I was literally back on the same line in my document. I hadn’t lost a single word.

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That’s one of the big reasons I recommend Chromebooks for small businesses, especially for those who have a lot of remote workers.

You don’t have to worry about backups if you standardize on Chromebooks. Unless you save work locally, which few people do, everything your people work on is automatically saved to their Google Drive.

If you have more than a handful of staffers, you can subscribe to a Google Workspace account, and for as little as $6 a user a month, their work is preserved even if their Chromebook gets run over by a truck.

Yes, there are many other Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings. However, most of them are more complex to set up. If something happens to a Windows machine using Windows 365 Cloud PC, for example, your users may still need to install and set up their Windows Desktop client on their new PC.

It’s not a big deal, but it will take some time.

With a Chromebook, there is no remote installation or setup. You turn it on, connect to the Internet, log into your account, and get back in business — no fuss, no muss.

Now, you may say that with a Chromebook, you can only get work done when you’re connected to the Internet.

That hasn’t been true for years.

Google Docs works locally. You can also install Linux on your Chromebook. I always do.

Besides, this viewpoint misses a fundamental truth of computing in 2022. There is almost no work for any of us on any operating system that doesn’t require the Internet.

If you don’t have the net, you’re not going to get much work done, period.

So, for many small businesses, or any businesses with staffers who are working from home, a Chromebook makes a great deal of sense.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go on a business trip, and I need to pack my Pixelbook Go.

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