Feb 27 2024

3 Ways to Extend the Life of Chromebooks

Schools can get the most out of their device investments when IT teams and students work to protect technology assets.

As school-issued devices near the end of their lifecycles, K–12 institutions are searching for ways to sustain these technologies. In many cases, districts are trying to get the maximum return on their investments by extending the life of the laptops and tablets that students use.

Google announced in September that it would extend automatic updates for Chromebooks. “All Chromebook platforms will get regular automatic updates for 10 years,” notes a company blog post.

While the new initiative will provide support for a longer period than ever, some school leaders don’t feel that their devices are currently up to the challenge.

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“In my experience, especially in the hands of middle schoolers, those Chromebooks aren’t going to last 10 years,” says Emily Stapf, customer success manager at Incident IQ. “We’re going to replace these in a timely fashion, not necessarily because of the operating system but because they’re in a pile of plastic on the floor.”

How can schools expand the lifespan of their Chromebooks to take advantage of extended support and increase their ROI? Here are three ways schools can get the most out of their devices:

DOWNLOAD THE INFOGRAPHIC: How can you maintain the device lifecycle?

1. Repair Chromebooks and Recycle Usable Components

When a Chromebook breaks, IT professionals should determine whether they can repair the device by replacing the piece that’s broken. Stapf says that LCD screens are commonly damaged in K–12 environments but are easy to replace without cycling out an entire machine.

“In the district I worked for, the LCD was a universal part. We could pull it out of one Chromebook and put it in one of three other models,” she adds.

When a Chromebook cannot be repaired or the repair is more costly than replacing the device, Stapf recommends that schools use them for parts.

Devices TOC


2. Choose an Asset Management System and a Dedicated Overseer

To get the most for their money, it’s important that schools keep track of student devices. IT departments should know how many Chromebooks they have, how many times a device has been worked on and what the cost will be to repair or replace a broken device.

“If you don’t currently have a system for inventory management, that’s the first step in the right direction,” Stapf says. She advises against manually tracking assets with spreadsheets due to the potential for error.

Stapf also recommends having someone on staff dedicated to IT asset management. “We want to make good decisions, and good decisions are based on good data. In my experience, good data comes from good people,” she says. Someone on the IT staff can take the lead on this role, or a librarian may be equipped to handle the workflow.

“Sometimes that comes with the territory of being a library media specialist,” Stapf says. “Now, not only are you checking books in and out, you’re also checking Chromebooks in and out.”

"If you don’t currently have a system for inventory management, that’s the first step in the right direction.”-Emily Stapf, Customer Success Manager, Incident IQ


3. Educate All Students and Staff on Device Care

One of the best ways to extend the life of school-issued Chromebooks is to ensure that they don’t get lost or damaged in the first place. Education for students on how to care for technology should start early and continue for the entirety of each school year.  

“It’s about making sure that they understand that these are things we have to do all of the time,” Stapf says. “We have to teach our grownups how to take care of the things as well, because we don’t always put the pieces together.”

Chromebook care best practices include:

  • Food safety: Remind students not to eat or drink around their devices. “One school had to do pest control because of a kid that ate crackers over their Chromebook every day at snack time,” Stapf says. Crumbs and liquids can easily get into keyboards, but students aren’t always thinking about this when using their devices.
  • Transportation safety: Go over how to safely pick up and carry devices. Picking a Chromebook up by the LCD can damage the screen or leave a thumbprint impression that makes the device inoperable. When it comes to carrying devices, “close it, carry it like a book, hug it in the hallway,” Stapf says.
  • Backpack safety: Make students aware that Chromebooks can get damaged when they are inside of their backpacks. They shouldn’t drop or throw their bags with devices inside, and they should be aware of what else they’re transporting. “Their water bottles could open up and spill all over everything,” Stapf notes.

These tips can help better protect Chromebooks, keeping them in use for much longer in a school system and helping IT teams get the best possible ROI.

UP NEXT: Envision new life for devices as refresh cycles approach.

Getty Images: AnnaStills edcorbo, September15, Satoshi-K

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