Android Central

Whether you're planning to run Linux or just need more space to work with, an SSD upgrade is easy and cost-effective.

Chromebooks are all about working in the cloud, and we admit there's not a whole lot you can do on one without an active internet connection. But sometimes you want to have a local copy of those cloud backed-up files. Or maybe you want to carry around 20GB worth of movies and music to watch offline when streaming isn't an option. And let's not forget how simple it can be to load up your favorite copy of Linux onto your Chromebook if you want to break out of just using Chrome OS.

Whatever the reason, you may find the paltry offering of a 16GB SSD on the Acer C720 Chromebook to be lacking for some use cases out there. You can pick up a C720P model with 32GB of internal storage — and a touchscreen — for $50 more than the regular C720, but what if you already have one or need more than 32GB? Well, it turns out it's extremely simple to replace the SSD in the Acer C720, and we're going to show you how to do it.

Hit the break for the entire step-by-step process.


Reader comments

How to upgrade the SSD in your Acer C720 Chromebook


I don't think this SSD swap is worthy of putting a "score" on. Follow the guide, see how hard you think it is and then go for it!

No, you can't upgrade the RAM on the C720. Its soldered in as part of the "make it thinner" process. You can upgrade it on the 710 though I believe.

RAM is locked down. Not sure why you'd ever need more than 4GB though. That's more than enough (even the 2GB RAM model handles about 30 tabs) for just about anything you'd do on hardware of this level, even on Linux.

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"640K is more memory than anyone will ever need" -- Bill Gates

Yeah I know he didn't actually say it, it just the first thing I thought of when Andrew wrote his comment.

Yes, I know that you more than likely will never need more, Linux is a RAM hog like Windows is...

Obviously if you hold onto this computer for 4 years or so you'll start to maybe see some restriction by only having 4GB of RAM. But like I said considering the machine and the other specs its plenty of memory.

Modern web browsers are RAM hogs, though to be fair that is largely due to modern web sites. For my Linux netbook, it definitely benefited from the upgrade from 2GB to 8GB. 2GB just wasn't enough for my use, it kept having to swap. To be fair, 4GB would be ok, but having the spare 4GB for the Linux kernel to use as cache makes a real performance difference.

Sure for light web browsing 2GB is plenty, for heavy browsing 4GB is a more comfortable amount, although IMO Chrome doesn't handle having lots of tabs open well from a UI perspective.

I'm not criticising the manufacturers for their choices, the RAM options are fine for Chrome OS, but if you want to run Linux on it, having the option of more RAM is useful.

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What brand and model of netbook is the one you talk about? And how did you get it to accept the 8GB of RAM?

Linux may run well on 4GB, but saying you'll never need more is just ridiculous. what if I want to keep my chromebook for two years and not have a machine that lags so bad it's unusable at that point? 4GB is now a bare minimum in any machine, imho. And if I'm looking to buy something long-term, any less than 6GB goes straight in the rejected pile when I'm shopping.

then in 2 years buy another $199 computer. even though you can use it as a linux machine its not exactly a $1500 top of the line laptop that has specs to last 5 years.

The 4 gb ram option wasn't available when I got mine, but they did have a 2 gb ram with 32 gb ssd for $249. I figured it'd save me the trouble of trying to upgrade the ssd myself. Running ubuntu on it now to do some light programming. This thing is a pretty beastly little laptop!

For what it is, yes it is beastly. No it doesn't play many games. But show me any other computer that you can buy for $200 that has 9 hour battery life and runs full linux this well.

I wouldn't use this as my only computer but for a screw around dev machine... fantastic for the cost.

There's a refurbished Hp on Woot for $259, win 8.1, core i5. You lose battery life.... But can run anything, including Linux.

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I'd also like it to be light :) But yes, there are some alternatives if you get lucky with a good sale, but regardless, getting that performance and efficiency in that small of a package is pretty amazing (yay tech). If I want a gaming rig I'll use my desktop.

It seems pretty good. Crouton runs on top of the ChromeOS kernel so theoretically the drivers work the same. That said... touchpad works fine but I haven't gotten the 2 finger scroll to work but I think its doable.

ChrUbuntu operates more like a dualboot with its own kernel but it patches the touchpad driver for you so it works great. With other linux distros you may have to work at it more and find a way to fix it yourself. It also has support for sleep as well

I upgraded the ram in my 710 but can't bring myself to upgrading the SSD simply because I won't have a use for the left over 16gb SSD.

damn, what a bit of brain power could do for you ... p/n: SY-ADA40050; and I had a USB2.0/3.0 storage of 16GB just laying around for my laptop ... !!!!!!

Still waiting to hear about possible new models in 2014, possibly with 64-128gb ssd, maybe even 3 or even 4 gb ram becoming standard, or just a laptop that has open upgrade possibilities

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Thats a bummer about no upgradable RAM... I have the 720p, with the bigger harddrive, and I can't quite figure out what I need more space for. Cool project, though.

I've been wanting to get a Chromebook for school and I'm just waiting for one that has 4gb of RAM. I hope more from different companies come out or at least Acer should make more of the 4gb model of the C720. I just don't want to be caring around my heavy and old laptop to class and everywhere else when I need to study.

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OK thank you Andrew, I'll go check it out there. It's not a huge thing, but just nice to know if I could feasibly do it or not.

Has anyone seen the white c720p that was announced at CES on sale anywhere? The lady decided she would rather have the white one so we sent back the gray one but I can't find the white one for sale anywhere.

Possibly puncture the warranty seal next time versus scratching up the bottom of the Chromebook?

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ironically, ive been looking at the new hp chromebook 14 and have been planning on doing this. Though there are no tutorials (except 1) i expect it to be roughly the same

Great job. I really appreciate the care you took in presenting all of the step-by-step procedure, appropriate warnings, and supporting links to help find tools and parts.

I'm not in need of a storage expansion yet, but the time will come, the warranty will cease to be an issue, and I'll pull up your article again for guidance.

$249 + 99 = $349.99 investment total for this mod. Seeing that Netbooks cost the same and provide a similar type of experience especially on a more complex operation system, Windows 8. I'm still having a hard time to understand the advantages of Chrome OS over Windows, more or less this Acer vs any netbook. SSD? Big deal.. Yes it's heck of a lot faster but regular netbooks yield 320~500gb of storage and the processor are similar as well.

Forgot to mention that you can still get the same Google experience on a cheap netbook by downloading the Chrome App Launcher..

You talk about a notebook with Windows like it's a good thing. That's why chromebooks are great!! They are sans MS's bullshit garbage diseased OS. Besides, these are not netbooks. They are more like a notebook with slightly lower specs.
BTW, I challenge you to find a single touchscreen Windows laptop on the market for $350. You can't!! Buy a c720 with a touchscreen, and you've just saved yourself ~50% over buying a windows machine!!

I was contemplating this mod for awhile after getting my 720P back in November until I figured out that I can pick up a few San Disk Cruzer Fit 64gb micro USB drives from Amazon for around $30 apiece. Sure they might not be as fast as a SSD and they stick out about a half an inch on the sides of the 720P but you now have the advantage of removable storage to be loaded up from your PC without the hassle of cables or wonky connections and you can get 128gb for almost half the price of the 128gb SSD. Not for everyone out there but it is an alternative.

Because I happened to order a Belkin tool kit for the swap? That's really what you get out of this article?

Truth be told, for this specific project you simply need a prying device, the right sized Phillips head screwdriver and an anti-static wrist strap (if you're smart). But there's nothing wrong with having a good screwdriver set. Small electronics screws are notoriously easy to strip, so be careful.

Seriously... theres no endorsement of Belkin here, it's a how-to article.

Great article! I plan to do this upgrade. ChromeOS is not bad, but a little more flexibility with ubuntu/disk space will let me leave the bulky laptop at home more. Thanks

Hate all this void warranty stuff. It is like we don't own our devices and do whatever we want but we can do that put the warranty is voided. That's silly IMO.

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Good article, Keep up the good work. I did smile at the beginner tear down instructions. You didn't really use a screwdriver to remove that label? :)

Can you add a link to installing Linux/Ubuntu/Mint. The link to Jerry's article doesn't have one.just a reference to a G+ post.

Never mind, you just enable legacy boot from dev mode...

As noted in the article, check installment of new SSD. The ngff can be installed upside down. I kept running into unknown error when reinstalling chromeOS. Flipped new ssd over (manufacturer sticker facing down) and install worked as expected.

I purchased the SSD that is linked on this article....the 3rd party that sells it on amazon sent me the wrong one. i got a 50mm instead of the advertised 42mm. had to contact amazon, they gave me a refund and i shipped it back. just fair warning to everyone who uses this article. might want to look elsewhere for the SSD.

I am unable to get the recovery system image on a USB pen drive. I have tried six different brands, all 4GB+, but nothing happens. I have even let the my 720p sit for hours on end and still nothing happens. Considered using the Linux script available to download the image file, but there is no file for PEPPY E6E-J7E-Q35, which is the code for the 720p.

Any help appreciated.

Hey there! I've used the linux version of the recovery tool. I used ubuntu. When it first asks you to type in your model, just type peppy. It will then list out chromebooks in a number system. I think acer c720p was like 20 something. It asks you to type in which one you have. (Just type the number it was labeled.) and then you should be good. Let it work its magic.

Hey. I just ordered a 64 gig NGFF for my Acer. I plan to install Ubuntu. I've done it before on my Chromebook, but i'm afraid of a problem occurring, and not having it recognize the extra space. Has anyone tried this? Any help would be very nice. Thanks!

I own the Acer C730 chromebook. Even more easy to open up and no "void-warranty" stickers!
But once opened I can't locate any SSD card.. I may think that unfortunately this model has a not upgradable MMC.
I can't find any info on the net.. when I bought it I even thought I was lucky in finding the N2930 CPU model (slightly more powerful)... thanks for your tutorial!

Hey Andrew. Love this article - quite useful stuff here for a tinkerer like myself. :) Say, may i run by you (and anyone else out there) an idea I have inspired by this article?

I snatched up an Acer C720 at a pawn shop for dirt cheap at a time where I needed internet access beyond the smartphone, but was scraping by on funds, waiting on a first check from a new employer. Love this little thing! As a Linux lover, this move worked out great, as I found I could dual-environment the new toy with XFCE and really expand the usability of it. Now, a few months later, I am about to begin an IT Networking Systems Administration program at the local technical college, and the challenge being I may have to install Windows software for some of my classes. I know the easy answer is "go buy another computer," but as a minimalist, I prefer to have no more than the smartphone and one machine. That, and I enjoy tinkering.

I've worked with Oracle's Virtual Box before when I owned a Thinkpad 440 and loved it, and I'm thinking I will do that again with the C720 (I have a copy of Windows 7 to run inside the virtual machine). Theoretically, this should work, or at least, I'm going to run with it until I find out I am wrong and have to buy another machine anyway (grumble grumble). But, I know VMs are purported to suck resources like mad. So, I thought I might back up my ChromeOS, perform the SSD swap with the new Transcend 256GB m.2 per your article's instruction. My intention to use all this memory as converted zRAM, as I'm guessing the 2GB I have to deal with will be insufficient. But, I'm a bit confused on how zRAM works. Is it something the system just automatically turns into swap as required, or do I need to partition the hard drive manually? Also, I was told by an old colleague that zRAM was not a preferable RAM to use, due to compression and conversion rates, etc. Being that I have 256GB to play with, however, is it possible that I could, say, partition off 128GB of storage and get the equivalency of another 2GB of RAM? I'm kinda swimming in unknown waters here; any help/enlightenment from anyone out there would be kindly appreciated! Kind thanks.

(Sorry about the novella).


I would caution people with one particular step of this operation (upgrading the ssd)--using a plastic implement to open the back from the rest of the case. The achilles heel of the c720 is a very delicate pressure switch near the back left hinge, and if you probe too deep with something like a bank card you can easily break this piece and thereby brick your mother board. I've seen two examples of this already, one symptom will be that the chromebook instantly shuts down if disconnected from the charger/power source.

I love my Acer C720P Chromebook. Great tutorial on changing out the SSD. Now my question is somewhat related, but can you upgrade memory in these puppies or is it even necessary? Mine currently has 4GB.

Thanks in advance. Have a great day!