Turning and Old Laptop into a Chromebook

How to use Cloudready to turn any old computer into a lightning fast Chromebook

If you have an old laptop gathering dust around your house, you may be able to give it a new lease of life by turning it into a blazing fast Chromebook.

A Chromebook is a special kind of laptop that runs on Google’s Chromium OS. The secret to Chromebooks being so fast is the minimalist nature of the Chromium OS. It is optimized to do one and only one thing: work seamlessly with the Chrome browser and other Google services like Google Drive. It doesn’t have any other software installed.

That use case, while limited to some people, fits the profile of those who just want quick and easy access to a web browser and Google Drive files. It’s also an ideal setup for kids when they need to work on school assignments.

We’re going to use a program called Cloudready, which is based on Chromium OS. All you need is your old computer, an 8GB or 16GB USB stick and about an hour of your time.

Start by downloading Cloudready’s USB Installer. You can download it from any computer, not necessarily the one that you want to convert. Ideally, use a Windows computer or a Mac (the installer doesn’t yet work with Linux).

Once the download is ready, plug the USB to your old computer, turn it on, and interrupt the booting process. Depending on what computer you’re using, the way to do that may be different (usually you have to press the F2 or F12 keys). This link gives you instructions for different brands of computer.

You will now see a menu giving you different booting choices: choose to boot from the USB drive. After that, the booting process will begin. Just go through the motions, which includes at one point typing your Google username and password, and you’re in!

You can play around and get used to the different options, two of which are:

a) Files: To open the file explorer
b) Chromium: Open Chromium, the open source version of Chrome

In the File Explorer’s left column you will have the option to access local files, or files in your Google Drive. This makes accessing your Google Drive files as easy as opening files in any Windows computer!

Once you’re comfortable, you can go to Settings by clicking the clock at the bottom right corner of the screen, and find the Install OS option. By clicking it, you will install Cloudready in your computer. Be aware that choosing that option will erase everything in your hard drive, so past this point there is no going back. If you get second thoughts and don’t want to go ahead, just unplug the USB and next time you boot your computer it will boot from whatever operating system you were using before.

Last updated: May 10, 2020

© 2022 Mario Sanchez Carrion