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Can I still use my Chromebook now it is no longer supported?

Can I still use my Chromebook now it is no longer supported?

12.9.2019

Can I still use my Chromebook now it is no longer supported?

Bill’s Acer Chromebook C720 will not receive further updates. It works well so can he still use it?

You will inevitably miss essential security updates to the Chrome browser. However, we can’t know in advance what sort of holes might appear in Chrome, or whether they might be exploited in unpatched Chromebooks, though Chrome OS’s security record is very good indeed.

Either way, simple web browsing may not be much riskier than usual, and there are ways to make it safer. But I’d have second thoughts if you use your machine for financial operations without two-factor authentication, or if your email is full of private medical and financial information, passwords, and so on. The risks might be low but the stakes would be higher.

In 2016, Google introduced an End Of Life (EOL) policy that offered support for five years. About a year later, it changed the name to something that didn’t imply planned obsolescence – Auto Update Expiration (AUE) – and extended support for new Chromebooks to 6.5 years.

In theory, Chromebook manufacturers could keep shipping the same platform for five or more years. Their outdated specifications ought to warn off potential buyers but typical Chromebook users probably aren’t following industry hardware trends. Every buyer should therefore check Google’s AUE page for end-of-support dates.

However, your Acer Chromebook C720 probably has a dual-core 1.4GHz Celeron 2955U laptop processor, which is a Core design rather than a cheap Atom-based or ARM chip. It’s probably not far behind a Celeron N4000, though it will run hotter and use about twice as much electricity. You could repurpose it to run Neverware’s CloudReady, a Linux such as GalliumOS, or possibly even Microsoft Windows. I know you don’t want to do this but other users might.

The C720 is on the list of supported Chromebooks but readers should check first.

You can minimise the amount of information stored on your Chromebook by using the privacy settings and turning off features such as saving web passwords and auto-filling web forms. You could even browse in guest mode, which basically means starting as a new user every time. The drawback is that you will have to log in to each website every time and it will not save your settings.

Have you got a question? Email it to Ask.Jack@theguardian.com

Read more: The Guardian

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