How to Convert a Windows Laptop into a Chromebook

This article is “off topic.” That is, it has nothing to do with the normal topics of this newsletter: genealogy, family history, DNA, and related articles. However, I believe it will interest many people, genealogists included, who use more than one computer.

I have written numerous times about the advantages and drawbacks of using a Chromebook. See for my earlier articles about Chromebooks.

If you have an older, possibly obsolete, Windows computer that is in working condition but is no longer being used, an article by Chris Wedel in the Android Central website tells how to easily convert an older (or modern) Windows system into a modern Chromebook.

NOTE: Even older and slower Windows machines make very good Chromebooks. The Chrome operating system requires less processing power, making for faster operation on any computer than what Windows can provide on the same computer.

Chromebooks are not for everyone. If you require high speed and powerful software to run video editing applications, powerful CAD/CAM software for scientific engineering purposes, for architectural applications, or for graphics-intensive games, a Chromebook probably will not meet your needs. However, if you would like to use a computer for all the applications that satisfy the needs of perhaps 95% of today’s computer users, a Chromebook might be perfect for you.

A Chromebook can be used to surf the web; read and write email; use Facebook; access Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter; search MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast, TheGenealogist, and hundreds of other genealogy web sites. Many people use a Chromebook LAPTOP for use while traveling, leaving their powerful Macintosh, Windows, or Linux desktop computer at home where it won’t be stolen by thieves in libraries, hotels, airports, train stations, end elsewhere.

That includes me. I normally use a Chromebook laptop when traveling, even though I also own a much more powerful (and expensive) Macintosh MacBook Pro laptop. While I would hate to have any laptop stolen or damaged, the financial loss of a Chromebook isn’t nearly as bad as the loss of a Macintosh or Windows system. I find the Chromebook does everything I need when traveling (and even most of everything I need while at home).

If you have an older Windows computer that is gathering dust in a closet, you probably will be interested the article by Chris Wedel in the Android Central website at

If you have questions about which programs will operate on a Chromebook, see my earlier article: Will a Chromebook Computer Run Genealogy Programs? at


Any idea how a Chromebook copes with video calls via Zoom, MS Teams etc ?
I have an old Toshiba netbook, Intel Atom processor, 2Gb RAM etc that works but has effectively ground to a halt. I am thinking of trying to resurrect that as a Chromebook.


If we resurrect the old laptops can they used as a backup for safe keeping? If so, do we DL our genealogy software and leave it there until the next month and re-DL the software again? Or it more complicated than that? Thank you. Joan


    —> If so, do we DL our genealogy software and leave it there until the next month and re-DL the software again? Or it more complicated than that?

    If anything, it is quite a bit simpler than that. The process is essentially invisible to the user.

    Most Chromebook apps are downloaded automatically in a second or two. Click on an icon and within a second or two the app launches and becomes available for use.

    From a user’s viewpoint, it makes little difference if the app needs to be re-downloaded again or if it is “cached” for online storage. You probably want it to re-download every time because that insures you always obtain the latest version of the software which means you receive the latest updates, security fixes, and so on. You never have to manually install new updates in the same manner as required in Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iPad, and more. You always receive the latest version automatically, all without any action on the part of the user.


Even after 30+ years in the IT world, you still manage to teach me new tech tricks or make me think about things in a different perspective. To think I came to you *just* for genealogy — talk about value-added!!! You, Sir, are a treasure!


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