Chromebooks have an expiration date – here’s how to check
Did you know Chromebooks have an Auto Update Expiration date when it’ll stop receiving updates?
We’re used to expiration dates on food but did you know it also applies to some tech? While some of that may be obvious; Chromebooks take it one step further and build in an Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date.
What this means is that after that date, your device won’t get any software updates. That’s not great, as you need those software updates to patch out bugs, add security patches, and bring new features.
The good news is that any Chromebook launched in 2020 or later will get eight years of software updates, giving you a long lifespan for your device.
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For older devices pre-2020, Chromebooks either have five or six-and-a-half years of software updates. You could conceivably buy a second-hand Chromebook today that will stop getting updates within months, or even be past the AUE date.
How do you know before you buy? We’ll show you what to check.
Check the update expiration date before purchasing
Before picking up that Chromebook (new or used), you’ll want to check out the AUE date.
Head to Google’s Auto Update policy page, and expand the section for the device manufacturer
You’ll see a list like this, with product names and the Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date
This list should be up to date, as Google promises to add every Chromebook’s AUE date after its released.
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That means any second-hand Chromebook you plan to buy will definitely be on here, so you can find out how many years of updates you’ll get.
How to check your own Chromebook for its expiration date
If you already own a Chromebook, you can check when the AUE date is from your Settings.
- Click on the time, then on Settings
- Click on About Chrome OS at the bottom left, then on Additional details
You’ll see a section called Update schedule, which will have your AUE date. On this screenshot, it’s 2024 when the device will stop getting updates.
That doesn’t mean that the device will stop working immediately, but it will lose access to any future security or feature updates.
So, why do Chromebooks have an expiry date?
The auto-update expiration date on Chromebooks serves two purposes. First, hardware doesn’t have an infinite lifespan, and the processors in Chromebooks aren’t the most powerful.
It’s an impressive feat that Google will commit to eight years of updates when so many devices only get a fraction of that.
The second purpose is all about security. Chromebooks are fairly secure by design. That’s not a lifetime guarantee though, as even Google can’t predict the future. Google wants to minimize risk to its users, and making older devices auto-expire is one way they put this into action.
You might not agree with the strategy, but it seems to work. Chromebooks have experienced only a few dozen security exploits in the decade Chrome OS has been a thing. That’s thousands less than macOS or Windows have experienced.
The main thing to remember here is to check the AUE date before you buy. Even an older Chromebook might have years of life left on it.
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