When you buy a Chromebook, get as much storage as you can

Chromebook apps
Chromebook apps (Image credit: Android Central)

Chromebooks are inexpensive laptops, and some people even go as far as calling them network appliances. They fit the bill for the most part — they are designed to use remote servers for file storage (think Google Drive) and are a great interface to a computer network (the internet). But they also can run local programs, and with Android apps and the Play store coming to Chromebooks, they'll be running even more of those local apps.

The Chromebook Flip's 16GB of storage is going to become an issue.

We've been saying for a while that your next Chromebook should have a touch screen, and we can add another must-have to that list — the model with the biggest "hard drive". Yes, the word hard drive is in quotes. That's because most Chromebooks use internal flash memory and not a spinning disk, but we want to make sure everyone knows what we're talking about here — you want as much space as you can get for Chrome apps, Android apps and files you download or create. The ASUS Chromebook Flip (opens in new tab) (which has Android apps and Google Play for testing on the Chrome Dev channel) is a great little laptop to run both Chrome and Android apps. But the 16GB of storage will prove to be a pain-point for a lot of us.

Google says new Chromebooks that are better suited to run Android apps are coming. We hope that means models with more storage! Just like your Android phone or iPhone, 16GB just isn't enough once you deduct the space taken by the system and start adding some apps. A 16GB (and maybe even a 32GB) Chromebook isn't going to be any different. It already takes a bit of file management for some of us, and that's before we add Google Play apps into the mix.

We know the folks who make laptops like to charge more for premium features like high-capacity drives, but this is one time where we need to bite the bullet and pay up. If you're in the market for a Chromebook — whether it's your first or you're just shopping for an upgrade — storage space is important. Buy as big as you can afford once Chromebooks with more storage become available.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Does anyone make Chromebooks with more than 32 GB storage? I haven't seen any. Posted via my Moto X Pure Edition using the Android Central App
  • Neither have I. I think this is a case where you're going to have to have patience to get a good Android app experience. Patience isn't my strongest virtue, either.
  • $1,300 Pixel does. :p
  • Are you basically telling us that we have to spend big bucks to get more than 32gb? Posted via the mighty Nexus 6P
  • Yep but imo it also means don't bother. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Which seems so weird to me considering there is basically two copies of the OS on there which is going to take up so much space.
  • I got my wife one of the last gen Acer Chrombooks and it has a 120gb hdd in it. Granted the file system isn't really the same as when thinking about Win10, so it's no more than a storage dump.
  • Will we have the ability to store Android apps on an SD card? That should helps solve the storage problems. Bigger SD cards are becoming cheaper and cheaper all the time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I hope we can. That would make it much easier to use some if the older chrome books that are getting the play store update.
  • That's a big question right now. I'm hoping it's going to be an option, since just about every Chromebook made comes with a full-size or micro SD card slot.
  • Any idea when new Chromebooks are going to hit the market with updated specs/more storage? Posted via the Android Central App
  • We sure wouldn't want a mechanical spinning hard drive. A nice Samsung Evo SSD about 128gig would be great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It would be nice but add cost. Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Samsung Evo SSD 128gig can be purchased retail for $65. So minus the cost of the current flash storage in Chromebooks and purchasing in quantity should only add about $35. to the cost of a Chromebook. I would gladly pay that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm definitely wanting to get one so I should probably wait and see whats coming out? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I believe that the SD card or external storage on the Chromebook would act like it did on Android where you could move parts of the app file, if not the whole file, to the external storage. Correct me if I am wrong. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Currently, Android apps cannot access Chromebook USB drives or SD cards. Of course, Android on Chromebooks is still in alpha release, so this may (hopefully) change in the future.
  • Let's hope so. Acer Chromebook 14 here 32 gig onboard will be more than enough but I have a 128gig USB 3.0 mini drive that works great. If anything I will move what I can to the external and open the rest up for Apps and all the baggage they will bring. Should be good for about two years though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It shouldn't be difficult to install a larger hard drive in your Chromebook if you need more space..that being said, you shouldn't have to do it yourself.
  • From the article: "Yes, the word hard drive is in quotes. That's because most Chromebooks use internal flash memory and not a spinning disk."
  • You know, this is what keeps me from buying one. I travel frequently and don't have access to the cloud a lot of times. I need to be able to store my data locally. They could easily throw in a SSD with 500 GBS and I'd buy one tomorrow. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm guessing that the next generation of "Android-ready" Chromebooks will have a lot more storage, at least as an option. What this article really says is that you should skip the currently available Chromebooks if you're interested in heavily using Android apps.
  • A 500GB SSD, say the Samsung Evo, costs around $120 by itself retail. That would add too much cost.
  • You can currently get a 110 GB SSD for about $40. The capacity should be enough but the form factor? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just want a pixel C that runs chrome :-( Posted via my Nexus 6P
  • I really hope Chromebook do not go the way of net books which started out as cheap devices running Linux and ended up as under powered mini laptops running full Windows. Posted via the Android Central App