When it comes to buying a Chromebook one of the first things you may have noticed is they generally have a lot less storage than a typical Windows PC. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that Chrome OS was specifically designed for cloud computing. Therefore, you don’t install programs on a Chromebook as you do with a Windows PC.
However, this was only strictly true when Chrome OS was originally launched back in 2011. Back then there was no access to Android or Linux Apps, so everything was done in a browser. Since then we’ve seen huge improvements to Chrome OS and this includes the ability to use Android and Linux Apps.
Android apps open up so much functionality for Chrome OS users and there are so many different types of apps you can use. Linux Apps are also great for offering more conventional types of programs such as GIMP.
This test does not take into consideration Linux App usage because you’ll unlikely get an option to install Linux on a budget Chromebook. On the Chromebook I used, the option to install Linux was not available. Find out how to free up storage space on a Chromebook.
What takes up storage on a Chromebook
The first thing we need to look at is what actually takes up storage on a Chromebook. You may immediately think of Android and Linux apps, and it’s true these do take up local storage space. You’ll also find Chrome OS, browsing the internet, saving files locally to your downloads folder, other users, and extensions all use local storage space.
Although this experiment is to check how much you can store on a Chromebook with 32GB of storage. You’ll easily be able to see from the results what you could store on a Chromebook with 64GB, 128GB or even 256GB.
I’m using my Acer 311 C722 Chromebook for this test. It’s a budget device and is the only Chromebook I own that comes with 32GB. Therefore, it’s perfect for the task.
I managed to install a lot of Android Apps
The first thing I noticed was that I already had a few Android Apps installed. However, I still had plenty of storage space to use up. After downloading further apps I still was in a position where I had storage available. It’s actually pretty hard to use up 32GB of storage on a Chromebook.
This is a list of the Android Apps I had installed on my 32GB Chromebook:-
- F1 Clash – Car Racing Manager
- Shadow Fighter
- Hockey All-Stars
- BBC iPlayer
- Google Photos
- Pixlr Editor
- Chrome Canvas
- Bridge Construction
- Hill Climb 2
- Xodo PDF
- PDF Merge
- VLC Media Player
- World War II
- Video Maker
- Police Car
- Bus Simulator
- Ultimate Car Driving Simulator
- The Chase
- Candy Crush
- Brain It on
- Word Lanes
- Who wants to be a millionaire
- Logo Quiz
- Extreme Cars
- Subway Simulator
- Public Transport
As you can see from above I’ve installed a lot of apps. In fact, I’m not even sure what some of these are they’ve been synced to my account for so long. On top of all these apps, I also had the YouTube Music PWA app installed on my Chromebook.
There is a list of 47 Android apps above, and this does not include any system apps or Google Office suite apps I have installed.
I downloaded the whole first series of Peaky Blinders on BBC iPlayer
On top of all the Android apps I had installed above. I decided to download the whole first series of Peaky Blinders on my Chromebook. There are six episodes in the first series and they are all just under one hour long. That is a lot of offline viewing if you were going on a plane trip and needed some entertainment.
Downloaded the first episode of Ozark on Netflix
Because I still had plenty of storage space I also downloaded the first episode of Ozark on my Chromebook from Netflix. If you’ve never seen Ozark then I’d strongly recommend giving it a go. I love it and I’ve sadly now watched every episode. Still, there is plenty more to watch, so no big issue.
I could have easily downloaded further episodes but my WiFi is pretty slow at this time of the day, so it was taking too long. However, I think it shows you can install a lot on a Chromebook even with 32 GB of storage.
What was taking up my Chromebook storage space
By the end of my test I had used up 30.1GB of storage and had 1.9GB still available. I checked the storage data to see what was using up my Chromebook storage.
- 6GB – My Files
- 1.4GB – Browsing data
- 9.3GB – Apps and extensions
- 3.6GB – Other users
- 9.8GB – System
The 6GB of storage being used above for My files includes everything I had in my downloads folder. It also includes the downloads for BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
Browsing data is something you should address if you have issues with storage. Essentially, these are all the files that are kept locally when you visit websites. The reason why these files are kept locally is to make your visits to websites faster in the future.
I would not necessarily assume you should delete these files. If you do you’ll notice websites you visit regularly will slow down because the files will need to be downloaded rather than being used from your local files. You can of course remove these files if you need further storage without any issues, but I would leave them as they are unless you need the storage.
Apps and extensions
A massive 9.3GB of storage was being used by Apps and extensions. When you consider I had installed well over 50 Android Apps, and some of these included games with decent graphics. That isn’t really that bad.
It also includes any PWA apps you may have installed, which in my case includes YouTube Music. Some apps and extensions where you download, for example, movies or music; may be shown in this section. However, they can also be shown under your My Files section when showing what is using up your local storage on your Chrome OS computer.
3.6GB of my storage space was being used up by other users. If you have more than one person using your Chromebook. Then you do need to be considerate when it comes to using up too much local storage. This is a section that can easily become an issue if both users are downloading many Android apps.
Chrome OS was taking up 9.8GB of storage. However, I’ll let you into a little secret. I would take how much storage space Chrome OS needs with a pinch of salt. What you’ll tend to find is that a lot of this space is just to make your system and apps you use regularly execute faster.
Before I started adding extra apps and downloading episodes from BBC iPlayer and Netflix. The Chrome OS system was taking up 10.4GB. The more I used up my local storage space the less Chrome OS used. Therefore, I would not be overly concerned if you think Chrome OS is taking up far too much space.
It’s an intelligent system Chrome OS, and the amount of storage space it uses is directly correlated with how much space it has to use. If you use more storage space then you’ll find Chrome OS will use less if needed.
I think my little experiment clearly shows you can install a lot on a Chromebook even with 32GB of storage. I’m not trying to put across any message here that 32 GB of storage is the best choice. I simply decided to use my Chromebook with the smallest amount of storage for the test.
Although you can install a lot with 32GB of storage. I would personally recommend trying to look for a Chromebook with at least 64GB of storage. I’ve been using my Chromebox on a daily basis for the past three years, and I’ve never had any issues with storage. The 64GB I get on my Chromebox is fine, even if you intend to install a few Linux apps as well. It really does depend on what you’ll be using your Chromebook for.
On the other hand. If you’re looking for a budget Chromebook and are concerned about whether 32GB of storage is enough. I think this shows you can install a lot of apps and still have space leftover. Not yet own a Chromebook? Take a look at my Top Ten Chromebooks in 2022.