How to use your Chromebook storage correctly

By - Dan Millward

Published -

I’ve written so many articles on this blog about Chromebook storage. This is because Chromebook storage is different from using storage on a Windows PC. Chrome OS is a cloud-based operating system, which means you should use your local storage differently.

The issue is I reckon a lot of people use their local Chromebook storage the same as they use storage on other computers. There isn’t anything stopping you from doing this and you may never come across any issues. However, just because you can do something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best option.

Chromebooks typically come with less storage than any other type of computer. This is one of the reasons why you should manage your files differently. In the future, we’ll start seeing Chromebooks come with more storage, which is another reason why people may end up using local storage the wrong way. It’s much easier to forget about storing files correctly when you’ve got plenty of storage space available.

Chrome OS downloads folder

If you’ve ever used a Windows PC you will know that the local hard disk is found by looking for the C drive. Usually seen as C:\, which is the root directory of your local hard disk. The root directory simply means your local hard disk before accessing or creating any folders.

On Chrome OS your root directory is the downloads folder. This is where you can store files that you download from the internet. You can create folders in the downloads folder to help manage your files, but many people download directly to the downloads folder.

Although you can help manage your files by using folders. I would strongly suggest avoiding using your local storage to store files. There is a reason why the Downloads folder is called just that. It’s for downloading files you need to have access to. It shouldn’t be seen as a place to store files permanently.

The downloads folder uses up your Chromebook storage

The first issue about leaving lots of files in your downloads folder is how much space they take up. If you own a Chromebook with 32GB or 64GB of storage managing how much storage you have available is different to if you own a Chromebook with 256GB.

The more storage you have available makes it even easier for you to use your downloads folder to store files. The thing is, you can store a whole lot of files even on a 32GB Chromebook. Whether you have 32GB or 256GB of storage, you should try to avoid using it as a dumping ground for all of your files.

You may be thinking, why shouldn’t I use my local storage to store files, what’s the point of having local storage if I don’t use it? This is a fair assumption, but there are many reasons why it’s better to avoid using your downloads folder for storing files on your Chromebook.

Android and Linux apps

All Chromebooks bought today are capable of Android apps and most medium-range and above can also use Linux Apps. These apps are great because they add a whole lot of functionality to your computer. Android apps are the most commonly used because you’ve possibly already used them on your Android mobile phone or tablet.

When you install an Android app it’s installed on your local storage. Android apps vary in size, you’ll find some that only use a few MB and others such as games may use as much as a GB or more. If you want to install a lot of Android apps you’ll want to make sure you have enough space for them. The best way of doing this is by avoiding storing files locally in your downloads folder.

Linux apps also use up your local storage space. You need to decide how much local storage to allocate to Linux when you install Linux on your Chromebook. Linux apps are programs, which have been designed to work on Linux computers. You may find saving files you create with these programs are easier to save locally. Therefore, you should ensure you do a regular backup of your Chrome OS Linux install.

It’s easy to save files in the cloud

The good thing about Chrome OS is that it’s really easy to save files in the cloud. You don’t need to install any programs to do this, as you get access to Google Drive as standard. Google Drive is readily accessible from your Chromebook, and accessing these files is the same as accessing files in your downloads folder.

Files app Chrome OS
Google Drive is accessible from your files app on Chrome OS

Because it’s so easy to use Google Drive on a Chromebook. It makes sense to start using this storage space instead of your local storage. You can create folders and manage files in exactly the same way. You get 15GB of storage space, which you share with your Gmail and Google Photos. That’s quite a lot of storage considering you don’t have to pay for it.

If you need more storage at a later date. You can easily add further storage to Google Drive and it doesn’t cost too much on a monthly basis for an extra 100GB of cloud storage.

Your files will be safer in the cloud

Getting into the habit of storing files in the cloud rather than using your local storage will mean your files will be safer. You don’t need to worry about what would happen if you lost or damaged your Chromebook. Because files stored in your Google drive are linked to your Google account. You can access these files from any device where you login to your Google account.

This is another great benefit of storing files in the cloud. You can easily access them on other devices such as your Android phone or tablet.

Summary

Storing files locally is something you should try to avoid. It’s fine to have files stored locally that you don’t need to keep long term. When storing files locally think about whether you’d be concerned if you could not access them at a later date. If the answer is yes, then you should store them in the cloud instead.

You can help get into the habit of storing files in the cloud by changing where your downloads are saved. Instead of them being saved in the downloads folder, which is the default location. You can change your Chrome OS settings so your downloads are saved in Google Drive.

The best way to use your local storage is for your apps and any files you need to temporarily work on. By avoiding leaving files stored locally that you’ll need in the future. You’ll not only be keeping your files safe, you’ll be taking advantage of the benefits you have when using Chrome OS. It’s a cloud computer, so take advantage of that, and keep your files safe at the same time.

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2 thoughts on “How to use your Chromebook storage correctly”

  1. Very good article! I would almost fully agree, if I always had a good internet connection.
    As a digital nomad, this isn’t the case. Even before being one, living in a country on the contryside with worse internet is a different situation.
    I always have like 99 % of my Google Drive synchronized with an external USB-SSD drive, formatted with exFat. Like 90 % encrypted with Cryptomator.
    As a content creator, I use the SSD on my Chromebooks (Clumshell & Tablet) and macBook Air in parallel.
    Some blogs also recommend to set up a Googe Drive folder as your Download folder on all of your devices, which is a bad idea if you have internet, because the Files app and the Download dialog of Chrome hangs like always while opening them.
    So in practice, the world can be different. 😉

    Reply
    • Must be great being a digital nomad, as it gives you total freedom of where you want to be. I can understand what you mean about internet connection. It must be difficult when it isn’t very good. Thanks for reading my article.

      Reply

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