All ChromeOS computers come with an Automatic Update Expiry (AUE) date. Until this date, your device will receive monthly updates, which include new features and security updates. Once the AUE date is reached you’ll no longer receive any updates.
If you already own a Chrome OS computer, you can check the AUE date on your device.
If you’re considering buying a new ChromeOS computer, you can use the ChromeOS AUE tool below to find when a specific device will stop receiving updates. The all devices tab shows all devices ever made, and more popular manufacturers have their own tab to make it easier to find each device.
I’ve used a colour coding system to make it easier to see how long updates will be received for each device.
What happens once a Chromebook AUE expires?
If you own a Chromebook where the AUE date has expired you will stop receiving ChromeOS updates. These updates are rolled out each month and include new functionality and security patches. You can still use your Chromebook after the AUE date expires.
If you continue to use your Chromebook after the AUE date you’ll no longer benefit from any new features. Some new features are minor updates whilst others may include functionality you’d like to take advantage of. In this situation the only way to get access to these new features would be to buy a new Chromebook.
The internet and the technology we use is ever changing. This also means the security threats we face when browsing the internet are advancing just as much as the technology we use. To combat this the ChromeOS team rolls out security patches necessary to keep you safe when surfing online using ChromeOS.
Can I use a Chromebook safely after the AUE date?
This is something that has been talked about a lot, and you’ll hear different opinions depending on who you speak with. Although it’s highly unlikely your Chromebook would be unsafe to use the moment the AUE date expires. The potential to no longer be safe when browsing online will increase over time. As an example, if you continued using your Chromebook for ten months after the AUE date expired; you would have missed out on potentially ten security updates.
At the moment ChromeOS and the Chrome browser are integrated. This is completely different to how you would use the Chrome browser on any other type of computer. Because of this integration, when you stop getting ChromeOS updates your browser also stops receiving updates.
To combat this the ChromeOS team has been working hard to separate ChromeOS and the browser. This is still a work in progress, but you can already take advantage of what they’ve done so far. If your Chromebook reaches its AUE Date in 2022 or after. You can continue to safely use your Chromebook for internet browsing by enabling Lacros.
What is Lacros?
Lacros is a project the ChromeOS team has been working on for some time. It will essentially separate the Chrome browser from the operating system. At the moment if the team wanted to update a security floor in the browser they would need to update ChromeOS. There isn’t an option to roll-out security patches for the browser alone, as they are both integrated.
This changes when you enable Lacros on your ChromeOS computer. At the moment this means enabling flags, but it’s a straightforward process, and you don’t need to leave the stable channel. Lacros separates the browser and Chrome OS, which means updates can be rolled out to your browser even if your Chromebook has reached its AUE date.
This means although you’ll no longer receive new functionality once the AUE date has expired. You will continue to receive security patches for the browser. This will make using a Chromebook after the AUE date as safe as using any other type of computer.
At the moment you have to enable flags to use Lacros. If your Chromebook has just reached its AUE Date, then it’s a good idea to use the link above to find out more. In the future Lacros will be rolled out as standard. Therefore, ChromeOS and the browser will no longer be integrated, which will remove the risk of not being safe when browsing online once the AUE date has been reached.
Is it best to buy a new Chromebook?
This will depend on when your Chromebook reached the AUE date. If it was before 2021, you may find you cannot enable the Lacros flags. It’s best to check on this for your Chromebook, as all devices may differ when it comes to the flags they can use. If you have access to the flags and your AUE date has expired, you can enable Lacros and continue using your Chromebook safely. However, you’ll not receive any new features that are released in the future.
If your Chromebook AUE date expired some time ago and you don’t have access to the Lacros flags. Then you could be at risk when browsing online. Find out more about whether you can use your Chromebook safely after the AUE date.
I personally would not want to use a Chromebook for too long after the AUE Date, but this will depend on what you use your laptop for. If you don’t do any online banking and never buy products online using your debit or credit cards. Then you may decide the risk is small. On the other hand, if you do buy products online or use internet banking; would you really want to take the risk?
It’s possibly a better idea to buy a new ChromeOS computer. This will not only ensure you get the security updates needed to stay safe online. You will also get access to any new features that are released on ChromeOS in the future. Also, you can use the tool above to ensure you buy a Chromebook that receives updates for a longer period of time. Check out my Top Ten Chromebooks in 2022.
Is there another option for my old Chromebook?
If you love your Chromebook and still want to use it after the AUE date but you don’t have access to Lacros flags. Then you could potentially install ChromeOS Flex. However, it’s worth noting that Google does not recommend this option because it means having to remove the physical write-protection that all ChromeOS computers have.
ChromeOS Flex is very similar to ChromeOS and was developed for people who own older PCs and Mac computers. It was not designed to be used on older Chromebooks. That being said, you can install ChromeOS Flex on a Chromebook, but you would need to remove the physical write protection. You can check out a video where I installed ChromeOS flex on my old Toshiba Chromebook.
If you decide to go down this route you’ll want to find a video on YouTube for your specific Chromebook model. Doing a quick search on how to remove the physical write protection for your specific device; should hopefully bring back some results. You can find out more by reading I Installed CloudReady on my Toshiba Chromebook. This article discusses the process, but CloudReady has now been superseded by ChromeOS Flex.