How to add extra storage to your Chromebook

When it comes to Chromebooks storage has never really been much of an issue. They generally come with very little storage compared to a traditional computer. The reason for this is because the Chromebook is a cloud based computer, which means you save your work in the cloud on a service such as Google Drive.

However, over the last couple of years the Chromebook has seen the introduction of Android Apps. This is great news for Chromebook owners because we now have access to thousands of Android Apps. The issue with this is that Android Apps are installed on your internal storage, so they take up valuable storage space.

The latest Chromebooks are being shipped with at least 64 GB and in the future Chromebooks will most likely have more than this. Expect to see the storage space on a Chromebook to be 128 GB or even 256 GB as standard over the next couple of years. This leaves Chromebook owners of older models struggling with the storage space they have available if they want to install a lot of Android Apps. So let’s take a look at how you can add extra storage to your Chromebook.

The storage options available for your Chromebook

SD (Secure Digital) Card

If your Chromebook has an SD card reader slot you can add extra storage by buying an SD card. They are manufactured by many different brands, so it’s a bit of a minefield choosing the right card for your Chromebook. It’s always best to try and make sure you get a card from a manufacturer that is well known for making SD Cards.

Adding SD Card storage to your Chromebook

You can get SD cards with many different storage options from 4 GB right the way up to 400 GB. The price difference can be huge though, so it’s best to avoid getting an SD card with too much memory because you will pay for it in your pocket. A sensible option would be anything from 64 GB to 128 GB.

You should avoid going for the cheapest option you can find. Cheaper SD cards will corrupt much easier than better-known brands. It’s difficult to put a cost on your data, so you should choose an SD card from a good manufacturer. I would recommend SanDisk who are well known for offering good quality SD cards at a competitive price. I’ve added a link to Amazon UK and Amazon USA below of the card I would recommend to buy.

USB Stick

Another option for adding extra memory to your Chromebook is by using a USB stick. Again, you will find different storage options, but they tend to range from 16 GB up to 128 GB. There is not too much of a price difference between USB and SD storage options.

How to add USB stick storage to your Chromebook

The benefit of a USB stick for storage is that you can use it in almost any computer that has a USB port. This makes them ideal for anyone who needs to work with data in different locations.

There are many options when choosing a USB stick and again, it’s all about making sure you buy from a trusted brand. You will find many cheap alternatives available, but avoiding these is a wise move if you value your personal data.

One of the issues with some USB sticks is they have a large footprint. Having a huge USB stick, sticking out of the side of your Chromebook does not look good at all. So you should try and buy a USB stick that is barely noticeable when inserted into your Chromebook. I’ve added some USB sticks I would recommend below for both Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

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Other options to expand your Chromebook storage

Using an SD card or USB stick is the best option if you want to take advantage of the extra storage, but also want to keep your Chromebook portable. Both of these methods allow you to still take your Chromebook with you to work or around your friends home without any problems.

However, if you only use your Chromebook at a desk then you could use an external hard disk to add extra storage. This would mean having a lead permanently plugged into your Chromebook, which means it’s not a portable option. I use an external Hard Disk for my Chromebox, which is ideal because it simply means having an extra device sitting on my desk.

So if you are not bothered about having extra storage that is truly portable. Choosing a Hard Disk may be a better option because they are more reliable.

How much storage do you need for a Chromebook

Which is best for your Chromebook – SD Card or USB Stick?

There is not too much difference between the two options. The least intruding option is the SD card because it’s much smaller than having a USB stick to expand your Chromebooks storage. However, this does depend on the type of Chromebook you have.

how to add extra storage to your chromebook
Avoid cheap SD Cards that look pretty but perform poorly

Some Chromebooks have designed where the SD Card does not slot right the way into the chassis. This means part of the SD card will be partially showing when inserted into your Chromebook. I’m not sure why some manufacturers have designed certain Chromebooks this way. The problem with this is that it’s easy to accidentally eject the SD card, which has the potential to cause data loss.

I’ve added an SD card to an Asus C302 and it slots right into the chassis. So it would be highly unlikely that you would be able to eject the SD card by accident. Before buying an SD card it’s best to check your particular Chromebook. If the SD card is half-visible when inserted, it may be best to go with a USB stick.

Always make sure you eject your extra storage correctly to avoid data loss

Whenever you add extra storage you need to make sure you remove the storage correctly. it does not matter whether you are using an SD Card, USB stick or an external Hard Disk. If you do not eject the storage correctly from your Chromebook you will risk data corruption.

It’s fine to insert your storage when your Chromebook is either on or off. However, when ejecting your storage you should only ever do this when your Chromebook is turned off or ejecting it correctly if the Chromebook is turned on.

How to eject storage safely on a Chromebook

When you insert storage you will see this on your Chromebooks file manager. You will also see that your storage has a little eject icon next to it in file manager. You always need to ensure you click on this before removing any storage. The image below shows the eject icon that you should click before removing external storage from your Chromebook.

When you click on the eject icon you should wait a few seconds before safely removing the external storage. Ensure you check to see if any error messages show up on screen before removing the storage from your Chromebook.

how to eject external storage safely on a chromebook
You can see a blue eject icon next to Dan’s Toshiba 1TB. This should be clicked before removing storage

How safe is external storage

Both SD cards and USB sticks use flash memory. This means accessing and writing times are much faster than you would expect from a traditional hard disk with moving parts. The internal storage in your Chromebook is also flash memory.

back up your data when using external storage on your chromebook

Although flash memory is durable. It will not last forever, as every time data is written to flash memory it will over time reduce the amount of memory available. This is not something that happens instantly. For example, you would never have to worry about this with your Chromebook because your Chromebook would be obsolete before the internal flash memory caused you any problems. So we are talking years of use before you would encounter problems with flash memory.

However, your SD card and USB stick may not necessarily get to a stage where it becomes obsolete. Apart from the fact that a 128 GB card you would buy today, may be totally useless in six years time due to the storage size. The actual physical product would not have the same shelf life as your Chromebook.

This is where you need to be careful. Do not expect external flash memory to last forever. You should always ensure you back up your data using other methods. It’s been known for SD cards and USB sticks to become corrupt in as little as two to three years, so protect your data by making back ups.