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Installing ChromeOS Flex to Speed Up a Slow Laptop

By August 31, 2022No Comments

Is your old Windows laptop slowing down after a few years on the job? It’s no secret that as tech gets older it gets slower. But thanks to Google, your old, slow laptop can get a second life when you convert it into a Chromebook. This is made possible with ChromeOS Flex, an operating system made by Google to install on an older PC.

Compared to Windows 10, Windows 11 and MacOS, Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system. You don’t need a ton of processing power to run Chrome OS which allows Chromebooks run on low-power mobile CPUs. In terms of processing power, an “aging” six-year-old Windows laptop with an 8th generation Intel Core i5 CPU can compete with a new Chromebook in the $400 price range!

The ChromeOS Flex install is open to super-senior laptops as well. The Certified models list includes venerable old workhorses dating back to the Lenovo ThinkPad T410, Dell Latitude E5410, and even Compaq-era HP laptops.

If you are using your laptop for work or school, you are likely doing most of your tasks in a web browser already. On top of that, ChromeOS is reasonably secure and well protected against malware.

Installing ChromeOS Flex: What’s the Catch?

For most users, upgrading an old PC to run Chrome OS Flex is an effective fix for a slow laptop. A few things to keep in mind before you execute the change:

  • First, make sure to check your model against the certified list published by Google. If you don’t see your laptop on the list, it might be smart to hold off until support is added.
  • Know that reverting to Windows from Chrome OS requires you to reinstall Windows plus all the drivers from your old laptop.
  • Spinning up a new operating system means your old applications and files will be deleted from your local disk. Make sure to backup any files you might want later.

Disclaimer: We are not responsible for anything you do to your laptop. Do your due diligence and prepare for installation as per guidelines.

Creating a USB installer

  1. You will need a 32GB flash drive or larger for the installer. Google advises that SanDisk flash drives might have issues. We used a SanDisk drive without issue in our demonstration.
  2. Open the Chrome web store.  Find and install a web store extension called Chromebook Recovery Utility.
  3. Open Chromebook Recovery Utility in your Chrome extensions and right click. You will be prompted to Create a recovery media for your Chromebook.
  4. Click Get Started to create recovery media.
  5. When it asks you to Identify your Chromebook, select model from list and locate Chrome OS Flex in both fields.
  6. Click Continue, then insert your USB drive.
  7. Click Create Now to copy Chrome OS data onto the USB drive. WARNING: This will wipe any existing data from the flash drive.
  8. Next, click boot the device using the USB installer. As your computer restarts, press the button that your computer designates to view the Boot Menu. Usually, it is the F11 or ESC key.
  9. Your computer should then boot into the ChromeOS Flex welcome screen.
  10. Click Get Started, then Install Chrome OS Flex.
  11. WARNING: Installing Chrome OS Flex formats your local hard drive. Make sure to perform a data backup to preserve any files you may need later.
  12. Follow the on-screen instructions to sign into Chrome and start syncing your devices with your old-new Chromebook.

Author Adam Lovinus

A tech writer and Raspberry Pi enthusiast from Orange County, California.

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