If you are like me and you have a few older laptops in a cupboard somewhere in your house that you are not quite ready to part with, then consider turning one of them into a Chromebook. While we covered the topic of using an Android emulator in one of our articles, this software will allow you to do a fresh install of a Chromium based OS on your older laptops. The guys and girls at Neverware have created CloudReady which is a standalone solution that will breathe new life into your older laptop that might not be powerful enough to run Windows 10 smoothly.
Now Neverware offer three different packages to choose from. The Home or individual version is free to use, however it does not come with tech support. You will have to either go through the forum if you run into an issue or search on Google for a similar problem. The school and business versions offer support via phone, email, and chat and the cheapest package that is offered is for students at $1 a year. You can also purchase the OS for a once-off fee of $59 and this will no longer require a yearly subscription. However you will only get 3 years of tech support with this option. The business version is the most expensive at $49 per year, however it is completely transferable between devices. As with Chromebooks, if you wish to use the Google Admin Console with your CloudReady devices, you will have to purchase a Google Chrome Device Management Licenses separately.
Before Installing CloudReady:
What you will need:
20 minutes for USB installer creation
To create the USB installer, a PC, Mac or Chromebook running the Chrome browser
An 8GB or 16GB USB flash drive
Not all computers are the same, as some do not support dual-boot or they might have hardware incompatibilities. So check Neverware Certified Models List on their site to see if your device is compatible with the OS. This might save some time and frustration.
Installing CloudReady is extremely easy and the instructions provided by Neverware are easy to follow and carry out at home.
To permanently install CloudReady on the computer you choose, each computer needs to start or “boot” from the CloudReady USB installer that you created. This is called USB booting, and all computers models certified to work with CloudReady are capable of it.
1. Make sure the chosen computer is turned off.
2. Plug in the USB installer that you created previously.
3. Turn on the machine while repeatedly pressing the machine’s special boot key. The special key varies between different computer manufacturers:
4. A small menu will be displayed on your screen. Use the arrow keys and enter key on your keyboard to select the CloudReady USB installer. Depending on the specifics of your machine, your USB installer will be described on the menu as “USB device”, “USB storage”, or a name that matches the brand of the USB flash manufacturer.
5. When your CloudReady USB installer has finished starting, you will see a network configuration page. You can ignore the configuration box at the center of the screen – you do not need to configure networking before installing CloudReady.
6. Click on the clock at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. On the menu that appears, click the first option: Install CloudReady. A wizard will pop up to walk you through the installation process.
7. Click Install CloudReady
8. Choose the installation mode. You will have two options, standalone and dual-boot.
CloudReady will be installed as the only operating system on the computer. Any existing content on the computer’s hard drive will be erased and overwritten.
CloudReady will be installed alongside your existing Windows operating system. Existing content on your computer’s hard drive will not be overwritten.
Once you read and agree to all warnings, the installation process will take 15-30 minutes to complete.
9. When installation has finished, your machine will shut itself down. You can then unplug your CloudReady USB Installer and turn the computer back on.
10. After installation, you will be presented with the same setup menu as Chromebooks, where you can set language, keyboard and network preferences. Once you are connected to an Ethernet or WiFi network, click Continue.
11. Your machine will check for updates, and then present you with the standard Google login screen. You can now log in! Your username must be a <target=”_blank”>gmail.com address, or a Google domain registered through the Google Admin Console.
Overall it is quite an easy and straight forward process to install CloudReady. There are some optional steps that are required to install Adobe Flash and media codecs, however they are easy to add and the instructions can be found at the bottom of their installation guide on their web site. While many of us either throw away or store our old devices, this is one way to upcycle our old laptops for a new purpose. If a Chromebook is what you are after, then head over to our best Chromebooks guide to check out our selection of top Chromebooks. Or, if you are after a cheap laptop to play around with, then head over to our laptops under $300 guide or our laptops under $200 guide where you might find a suitable machine to experiment with.