It’s no secret that affordable laptops have become extremely popular in the past few years. In fact, some of the most popular devices out there right now aren’t even PC or Mac. The latest laptops gaining popularity around the world are running a different operating system altogether, known as Chrome OS. While these computers have been around since 2011, the recent wave of remote work and schooling put the spotlight on Chromebooks like never before.
With a starting price point of around $200, it’s no wonder that Chromebooks have become a viable alternative to traditional laptops. With PC’s starting in the $500 range, and Mac’s inching closer to $1,000, it’s not difficult to understand why Chromebooks are so popular. However, what you might not know is that Chromebooks are only meant to last about five years. Shred Nations is here to help you navigate this planned obsolescence, and understand the importance of proper electronic waste disposal.
Chromebooks Surge in Popularity
At the beginning of 2020, every school in the country was dealing with the pending coronavirus shutdown. The next challenge became how to get all of these students online. While many families had access to home computers, a shocking percentage did not. It was here that the Chromebook really exploded onto the scene. With such a low-cost entry point, Chromebooks became the go-to learning tool for many schools and students. In fact, many schools were able to offer these machines at little to no cost for some students.
As the pandemic continued into 2021 and beyond, Chromebooks became an essential learning tool. Aside from schools, many working professionals opted to purchase Chromebooks for themselves, as a portable low-cost alternative to traditional laptops. It’s been estimated that in the 3rd quarter of 2020 alone, over 9 million Chromebooks were sold. What was once a machine for a niche market, now accounted for over 11% of the entire laptop landscape. This number has only continued to grow as we move into 2022.
Planned Obsolescence or AUE
Chromebooks were created with the intent of being portable, lightweight, and affordable. They certainly are all of these things, but did you know that these machines also come with a built in expiration date? It’s not uncommon for PC’s and Mac’s to last a decade or more with proper upkeep and maintenance, but Chromebooks simply weren’t designed with this in mind.
Many people were surprised to learn that the Chrome OS has an auto update expiration, or AUE as it’s called. This is essentially a built-in expiration date for every Chromebook on the market. The AUE for every single Chromebook sold, is roughly 5-7 years from the manufacture date. The AUE could be significantly less if the machine you purchased was used or refurbished. Simply put, these machines will no longer receive software updates after that date.
On the one side, this makes it much easier for Google to streamline their operating system, without needing to account for older machines. On the other side, this leaves people exposed to a number of zero-day attacks and hacks due to outdated software. While the hardware itself may be fine after the AUE, the operating system is left open to a whole host of hacks and data exploits. Google makes it easy to find this information, but many people are unaware that an AUE date even exists.
Secure Disposal of Old or Outdated Machines
If 9 million units were sold in the third quarter of 2020, you can imagine that millions upon millions of these laptops are currently in circulation. This creates a vital need to dispose of these assets properly. Throwing away or donating an old laptop can be risky. Depending on what that machine was used for, it may contain a wealth of personal information. This could be anything from financial records, business information, and even medical records.
Even if the laptop was only used for an elementary school aged child, it could still have enough information to put that child at risk for identity theft. It’s important to know when the AUE is for your machine, and to stop using it once the updates stop. Google makes these devices affordable, with the hope that you’ll simply replace it.
Once the device is outdated, it’s really best to have it professionally disposed of. If you insist on donating the device, make sure to at least wipe the drive or factory reset the machine several times. Even then, there’s no guarantee that all of the information has been erased. Aside from the obvious threats of criminality, improper disposal of electronic devices is a huge threat to the environment. Many of these devices contain lead, mercury, and enough plastics to cause serious damage. In fact, the EPA has strict guidelines on how to properly dispose of these items, and throwing them in the trash is illegal in most cases.
Shred Nations Specializes in Secure Disposal of Electronics
Shred Nations helps you keep your information safe by offering secure electronic disposal. All of our partners meet or exceed the highest standards for e-waste disposal, including HIPAA, FACTA, and all EPA guidelines. We help to keep you and the environment safe from the hazards of e-waste.
To start the process fill out the form to this page, use the live chat option, or give us a call at (800) 747-3365. You’ll receive a free, no-obligation quote in minutes from e-waste specialists in your area.