Old PCs find new life with Google ChromeOS Flex

I’m the kind of person who runs computer hardware until it’s dead, dead, dead.

I mean, I still have a 1984 KayPro that can be stowed away. I’m keeping that one out of nostalgia, but I also have over a dozen Macs and PCs that first saw the light of day in the late 2000s and early 2010s and are still doing valuable work.

How? I’m running Linux on it.

While Linux isn’t for everyone, with Google’s release of ChromeOS Flex, it’s now easy to turn an otherwise outdated computer into a useful Chromebook.

This can be very useful.

For example, I know that many companies have rooms full of old, dusty PCs. Chrome OS Flex can give them a new lease of life. That, in turn, allows you to drastically save on computing costs. For example a new one Dell OptiPlex 3000 Small Form Factor Business PC will cost you about $1,000. But a 2013 Dell Optiplex 3020 with Windows 7 can be revived for nothing with ChromeOS Flex.

Zero, nothing — that’s how much Google charges for ChromeOS Flex. Of course, you still have to install the operating system with a USB stick or over a network, but it’s not difficult to do.

On my first attempt on the aforementioned 3020 PC, using a USB drive for installation, it only took me half an hour from start to run my Google Workspace desktop.

Now I’m an expert in installing operating systems – that’s what you get when you’re a Linux user – but trust me, anyone can do this.

Once installed, syncing user settings and policies with the device is child’s play. It also takes about a minute. With a small office, you could have all employees in less than a day with ChromeOS Flex.

And since ChromeOS Flex, like Chromebooks, only requires users to know how to use a web browser, there’s no learning curve. This allows you to increase productivity with no hardware costs and minimal downtime.

ChromeOS Flex is also more secure than macOS or Windows; almost no viruses or malware target it. And even if or when attacks appear – hackers are going to hack – remember: ChromeOS Flex refreshes every few weeks, so there is minimal time for an attacker to hit your users.

In a Google case study, after a ransomware attack halted operations, Nordic Choice Hotels used ChromeOS Flex to replace the operating systems of his compromised PCs and get them back online. ChromeOS Flex enabled Nordic Choice Hotels to turn disaster into an upgrade. With a one-page guide and a USB, workers at 200 Nordic Choice hotels in Scandinavia were able to convert 2,000 computers in less than 48 hours, enabling their business was protected from costly shutdowns.”

As Bjørn Arild With, deputy CEO of Nordic Choice Hotels, said, “The implementation of ChromeOS Flex really saved us.”

I believe it. ChromeOS Flex is fast, simple and secure.

You can use Chrome Enterprise Upgrade to manage all your new ChromeOS Flex boxes. This provides an easy and secure way to manage all your devices in the Admin console. (You can try the administration tools for free for 30 days to see if the installation works for you on up to 50 machines.)

If you decide to buy it, you must first Google Workspace Subscription for your devices. This starts at $6 per month per user, with the suggested retail price of Chrome Enterprise Upgrade costing $50 per device per year. For all but the smallest businesses, Google recommends you work with a Google partner.

For comparison, Microsoft 365 for Business Premium, which doesn’t even work on older hardware, costs $22 per user per month. Granted, there are cheaper versions of Microsoft 365, but they don’t come with email or calendar. As far as I’m concerned, both are essential for business.

So if you want to save money on PCs and your desktop software, I highly recommend giving ChromeOS Flex a try.

It is of course not for everyone.

If you’re stuck with a Windows or Mac-specific, mission-critical program, ChromeOS Flex isn’t the way to go.

But if your business only needs basic office software functionality and access to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) programs, ChromeOS Flex could be just what you need, especially if you have a ton of dusty PCs and Macs lying around.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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