Managing Storage in Chrome OS

Chrome OS behaves a lot like iOS and Android when it comes to file management. While other computer-level operating systems like Windows and OS X give the user full access to system files, Chrome OS only provides very basic file management options.

The user access is limited to 'Google Drive' and 'Downloads' folders, and out of these two Downloads is the only truly local folder since Google Drive relies on cloud storage (although it does have offline functionality too). There is no way to create additional folders (or at least I could not find a way), so if you want to store something locally, it must be stored in the Downloads folder.

The 16GB SSD has about 9.7GB left with the operating system installed, so there is certainly not much room for offline storage in the default configuration. With the 256GB SSD installed, the free space increases to about 204GB, although I am not sure where the remaining ~46GB has gone.

Fortunately, it is possible to create folders inside the Downloads folder, so you can at least have some level of organization for local files. Chrome OS has integrated audio and video playback software (even MKV files are supported!) that can be used to play back local files, but especially the audio player is very limited and does not have support for playlists or other more sophisticated features. It works, but the user experience is much better if you have an Internet connection and use Google's web-based Play Music.

Anyway, there is not much to say about Chrome OS' file management. It is very limited and not user friendly for someone who is used to using Windows or OS X, but if you can work around the limitations it can be usable even with a larger internal drive. As far as performance testing under Chrome OS, there isn't much to be done; the MyDigitalSSD Super Boot Drive feels a bit faster on some tasks, but Chrome OS doesn't tend to hit storage much so the performance benefits aren't the primary reason to upgrade. But let's look at performance with the original and upgrade SSDs using our standard storage tests.

The Upgrade Performance Consistency & TRIM Validation
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  • Alexstarfire - Friday, October 24, 2014 - link

    I remember the keyboard and screen resolution being the two biggest drawbacks for me. With the size of the netbooks there really wasn't/isn't a way for them to do much about the keyboard problem. My hands are simply took big for a standard keyboard on a 10" platform.

    The resolution was something they potentially could have fixed, at a cost. I couldn't fit enough on the screen to make it worthwhile for me.

    On the other hand, the netbook wasn't for me but for my GF at the time and she had smaller hands than mine. She didn't really find any issues with the netbook other than the 1 time or so we actually needed an optical drive. Fortunately I had an external drive.
  • xamigax - Monday, January 19, 2015 - link

    I own the C720 (without "p", hence no touchscreen), 2Gb ram 16Gb SSD, and Haswell architecture.
    It's small, light, has a very decent autonomy (>6hours, nothing optimized yet) and is surprisingly fast, thanks to Haswell chipset.

    I dumped ChromeOS and installed a regular Ubuntu 14.10 (only "tweak" so far: update kernel to 3.17.3-031703-generic so touchpad is included), it's quite a fantastic machine for the price.

    I do love this enough to be seriously considering buying a bigger SSD (128Gb should be perfect) to be able to download all my raw photos onto it before working on them with darktable / rawtherapy / ...
    This should become a wonderfull portable studio!

    The 2Gb RAM C720 was available for 199$.
    128Gb ssd M.2 type 2242 can be found near 70$.
    I can't think of any windows based model that might not get totally humiliated in such price range.
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    Not only were SSD's much more expensive 4 years ago but Windows 7 on a 16GB drive would be a nightmare to try and market. I know it can be done with compression but there would be next to no free space. Chrome OS can get away with it because all the apps are tiny little browser extensions and users are conditioned to store next to nothing locally. Windows users expect local storage with enough space to install full-blown 1GB+ software packages and hold all of their media. Netbooks were initially created and marketed as a small, portable web machine that could run some programs if needed but a lot of people just bought them because they saw them as $200-$300 Windows laptops.
  • pSupaNova - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    Microsoft's Windows was not on the first Netbooks, they had a flavour of linux on them. So no Microsoft was not ahead of their time they scrambled to put their bloated OS on these machines and ended up killing them.

    Chrome OS is here to stay because it easy to use and maintain. Windows 10 has not got a chance on these form factors it fuzzy and tries to do to much when the world is quickly moving to SAAS model.
  • LostAlone - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    But no-one bought the Linux netbooks. Geeks who get what linux is did a little bit, but not the general public. If you are a normal human being, what possible reason would you have for getting a linux-anything?

    It wasn't until September of 2014 that you could watch Netflix natively on Linux. And even today it still takes a hack to actually work. These kinds of problems exist in droves, and of course that's part of the downside of Linux being free and open, but if you are a consumer all you care about is if you can watch Netflix or not.

    MS didn't somehow bully linux off of netbooks. Microsoft wasn't even involved. OEMs took stock Vista and put it on very underpowered hardware. Off course the results were bad. But it was never Microsoft's fault. It was Dell and Packard Bell and Acer and all the others who put Vista on very low end hardware.

    It wasn't until recently that Microsoft actually got more directly involved in how their OS is used, and as a result we ended up with Windows RT, a slimmed down OS designed for lower powered devices, and specifically for ARM chips that dominate the market in tablets. Once MS actually got involved they did a great job.

    Chrome is a great OS, essentially because it tries to make it so users don't ever need to deal with the operating system, just a browser that they are already familiar with. That's the reason why it's had any success at all. But Windows 10 is going come, and it is going to be aggressively pushed, and with today's low powered chips, the faster speed of storage and the greater amounts of RAM, it's going to perform really well and people are going to buy it because it's familiar to them.

    And for the record - It doesn't matter if the world moves totally to SAAS (good luck making games work like that ;) ) people will still need an operating system on their PC, and they are still going to stick with Windows because it's what they know, and likely what they have used for years. SAAS will never change that the vast majority of personal machines in the world will run windows for the forseeable future. Not even OSX's rise from the ashes as the coolest, hippest, sexiest OS has significantly changed that. Windows is here to stay.
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    "that's part of the downside of Linux being free and open"

    Citation, please.
  • LostAlone - Thursday, October 23, 2014 - link

    Are you saying that Linux's driver support is equal to windows? I think that's something that needs a damn citation.
  • jejones3141 - Saturday, December 20, 2014 - link

    My experience buying a netbook makes me think that someone was flat out intentionally making Linux look bad. Here's my story:

    I bought an Asus Eee 900A at Best Buy. 32-bit Atom CPU, tiny but usable keyboard, 1 GB RAM... and, I am not making this up, a 4 GB SSD with Xandros Linux installed on it using UnionFS. UnionFS makes it easy to drop back to the initial factory configuration, but takes up quite a bit of space for that read-only partition with the factory configuration on it. I took it home, fired it up, it announced that there were a dozen packages with upgrades--sure, download and install them. Before it finished downloading them, the SSD was full and the netbook hung.

    I was lucky--I knew that the thing to do was wipe that read-only partition and install what was then eee Linux, later on easy peasy Linux. Worked like a charm, and later on I got a bigger SSD, maxed it out with 2 GB of RAM, and moved to Bodhi Linux. Still works fine; I'll find it a good home once my C720 arrives (and I'll upgrade its SSD and set up to dual boot ChromeOS or Linux)...

    ...but here would be the more common scenario: Joe Average--no, Grandpa Average--sees an inexpensive computer to get his grandchild for Christmas, buys Eee 900A. The big day arrives, the kid tears open the box, starts it up. "There are a dozen packages that have upgrades." Sure, upgrade them... and the SSD fills up, the computer hangs, and the grandchild throws a tantrum. At the crack of dawn on December 26th, Grandpa Average is pounding on the Best Buy door demanding satisfaction, and I'm sure the salesperson was happy to blame Linux for the problem and upsell Grandpa Average to a far more expensive laptop running Windows.

    I can't believe that kind of misconfiguration was unintentional; someone made sure that people who dared run Linux would have a bad experience.
  • rahvin - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    Microsoft actively killed the netbook. They placed heavy restrictions on the hardware and software allowed to be included through their OEM contracts. For example, netbooks weren't allowed to be installed on anything but ATOM processors, they were limited to IIRC 1 gig of ram, etc. Even stuff like hard drive size was limited. Microsoft didn't want netbooks to succeed because they would have eroded their margins.

    Thankfully Google has no such concerns and has happily eroded the entire PC market pricing. Microsoft's hubris cost them significant market share with chromebooks now occupying the 3-4 of the top five sales spots on Amazon, consistently every month. Even Dell, who is adamantly Microsoft and Intel, has announced their intent to produce a chromebook because chromebooks are now major sellers. Hopefully chromebooks will continue to be successful.
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    Your bias is laughable. At least use your beloved google to learn who defined the category first.

    And how do you even "install" netbook ON to something?

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