Making an old computer actually work again: CloudReady to the rescue!

So, my mom has my old MacBook Air, it’s about 6 years old. It use to run as slow as molasses, and I made it a Chromebook. Through CloudReady.

In fact, I’ve done this on a little less than a dozen old devices, and they all work well enough I’d consider doing basic tasks on them. Here’s how you can make your old computer work again!

Required supplies:

  • An internet connection
  • A slow computer
  • A decent computer
  • ~7 GB of disk space
  • A 8 GB or larger USB flash drive that you don’t mind erasing (or storing it’s contents on your internal drive)
  • Time. A good bit of it.
  • The ability to read the instructions below this supplies list

DISCLAIMER:

  • This process erases contents on the flash drive that you’ll be using to install CloudReady, and erases the entire internal drive of the computer. Backup your data if you want to keep your data around! I am NOT responsible if you mess up and lose data, this is your warning!

First off, download CloudReady from Neverware’s website, here, on your good computer: https://www.neverware.com/freedownload

Wait, one more thing. See the 64-bit and 32-bit buttons on their site? That’s important. If you want an easy distinction, most computers made from 2010 on are likely 64 bit, while computers made earlier than 2010ish are probably 32-bit. You can also check the amount of RAM your old computer has, if you’re up to the task.

For Windows, visit Control Panel, System and Security, and then System. In Windows, it will directly tell you if your system is a 32-bit or 64-bit system.

For Mac, click the Apple icon on the taskbar, then About this Mac. In earlier versions of OS X, it should say directly, but in later versions, you’ll need to hit the memory tab. If you have 2 GB or more of RAM, your machine is likely 64-bit. Any less, it’s likely 32-bit. CloudReady won’t work with PowerPC machines (however, Debian does!)

If you have Linux running on your old machine, stick with it. Get a lightweight desktop. Get Debian for crying out loud!

 

Alright. Click your respective download button. The ZIP file is ~650 MB, but in the end, you’ll need about 7 GB of space. Once the zip downloads, extract it, and place the chromiumos_image.bin folder in your downloads.

 

Next, you’ll need Google Chrome. Sorry. Head to the Chrome Web Store using this link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chromebook-recovery-utili/jndclpdbaamdhonoechobihbbiimdgai

And download the Chromebook Recovery Utility. Next, open a new tab in Chrome, and click the Apps icon at the top left of your screen. After that, click the Chrome icon with a wrench.

 

You’re almost there! Next, go fetch yourself that flash drive as I said above. If you want to save it’s contents, be sure to save it on your internal drive of your good computer. Everything good? Good. In the gear icon of the recovery utility (top right), click it, and select “Use local image”. Then, point the program to the chromiumos_image.bin file in your downloads folder.

 

After that’s done, select the flash drive you want to use. Be sure it’s the right one, we don’t want any issues occurring. Click Continue, and agree to the warning that your flash drive will be erased. On Windows, when the User Account Control window pops up, be sure to click yes. It isn’t harmful. And now, off to waiting! The entire writing process can take about an hour, especially for slower flash drives.

 

After your flash drive is written, it’s time to install CloudReady! Plug it into your old computer, and boot it up. But not so fast! You’ll need to find out what the keystroke is for the device boot menu. It should say on boot, and be sure to press it a lot. For Macs, hold down the Alt key at boot. Now, select your flash drive. On Macs, it’ll show up as “EFI Boot”, and on Windows machines, the type of flash drive you have. Use your arrow keys (up/down, right/left, it all depends), and select the drive by hitting enter. Let CloudReady boot.

 

At this point, you have two options. Use CloudReady off of your USB drive (although, it will be VERY slow), or install it to your local hard drive. We’ll focus on installing to your local drive. In the bottom right corner, select the area with the time, and at the top of the menu, click “Install CloudReady”. At this point, you’re presented with a few prompts, but one important thing to keep in mind. Dual booting will only work on newer models of computers. I couldn’t dual boot Windows/CloudReady on a 2009 netbook, so there’s your fair warning. It’s best you erase your entire drive for the best experience. And, CloudReady is off to installing! The entire install should take around 10-25 minutes. Once it finishes, it’ll shut down.

 

At that point, turn it back on, and let it boot into CloudReady! Follow the setup prompts, install Flash, and you’re good to go! Flash doesn’t decrease performance at all. Sign in with your Google account, and that’s it! Just set a nice wallpaper.

 

Prelude here. If you’re super old computer just can’t boot into a USB drive, I’d recommend trying out Remix OS or Phoenix OS. Both operating systems are based off of Android-x86, and will provide an Android-based experience on your old machine, and work pretty much just as well. Most old computers will boot off of a CD, and using software like ImgBurn, you can easily make a CD and install it on any old computer. Check on how CD/DVD booting works on an old computer online.

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