Chromebooks: The Good, the Bad, and the Cloud

chromebook

Chromebooks offer a budget-friendly alternative for schools looking to purchase mobile devices. Recently Chromebooks have risen in popularity but many questions still surround their advantages and disadvantages for implementation in a school setting. They’re essentially mini-laptops that operate on the cloud, which means that virtually all of their functions are accessed via the internet. Here’s a breakdown of their main advantages and disadvantages:

The Good

Price: The price of Chromebooks are more budget friendly when compared to Microsoft laptops or Macbooks. The pricing of Chromebooks start at $199 with many under $299 which is a fraction the cost of other laptops. Along with this lower price, users should also be aware of the $20/device per month management fee from Google which includes updates, cloud-based management and support.

Management: Administrators are able to easily change or update settings for an entire set of Chromebooks with just a few clicks, whether it be adding/removing an application or changing the security setting for web browsing. You can also create unique user groups so each grade level has different settings and programs.

Security: The Chrome Operating System (OS) is based on Linux which makes the possibility of getting a virus very low when compared to Windows. In addition, all applications run on a sandboxed mode which means they’re isolated and can’t alter or infect the operating system.

Updates: The Chrome OS seamlessly updates by itself so it starts up each time with the automatically updated version. All of the software updates are also free so there is never the need for a costly upgrade to a new operating system.

The Bad

Requires Wireless Internet Access: Since Chromebooks are web-based, they require to be connected to the internet at all times. Some applications are usable while offline but full utilization and complete access to documents on the cloud will require a stable internet connection. Therefore if you don’t have a stable and reliable wifi connection Chromebooks won’t work well in your school.

No Optical Disk Drive: Chromebooks don’t contain optical disk drives and don’t support external optical disks. Therefore if you’re still using CD/DVD’s, Chromebooks might not be the best choice for your school.

Limited Compatibility with Windows/Mac Applications:  Chromebooks don’t support any Windows or Mac based applications. This means programs such as Microsoft Office and other applications without online alternatives won’t be usable. An exception to this is Microsoft’s Office 365 which is their new web based office product. It’s advised to search the Google app store for equivalents of your current applications before purchasing Chromebooks. Applications available such as Google Docs is an online free alternative to Microsoft Word.

Overview

Chromebooks do have their unique advantages as well as disadvantages for implementation in schools. When compared to traditional laptops, Chromebooks remove the hassle of security and maintenance of software while being a fraction of the price. When looking to purchase laptops, schools should consider Chromebooks but also realize the trade-offs of using the unique Chrome OS.

How Secure Is Your Password?

passwordsecurityIn today’s world our internet passwords hold the key to almost everything. From emails, to personal information on Facebook, and even our valuable banking information. Having your password compromised puts all your information at risk which is why having a secure password is extremely important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Recently, a team of cyber security researchers discovered a database that contained about 2 million stolen internet passwords. If that wasn’t surprising enough, the majority of the stolen passwords were identical! The researchers found many of the compromised passwords to be simple and common ones such as “123456” or the obvious choice “password.” This just shows that people are still using insecure passwords.

Here’s a few tips on making your password secure:

  • Use capital and lowercase letters
  • Make sure to include numbers
  • The longer and more complex, the better
  • Avoid using common words and words found in the dictionary
  • Don’t use the same password for everything

If you’re using a common password hopefully after reading this you’ll reconsider and create a more secure password. Scared of forgetting your complex passwords? You can always take advantage of password manager apps or simply save them in your notepad on your smartphone.

Microsoft Launches Student Advantage Program

microsoft-office

Microsoft announced yesterday the launch of their worldwide Student Advantage program. This initiative brings the Microsoft Office 365 suite to students for free whom attend schools that already license Microsoft Office 365 for their faculty and staff.

The majority of schools already use Microsoft Office which is great news for this program. Microsoft estimates that over 35,000 educational institutions are currently eligible for the Student Advantage program. Besides having zero-cost, having this program in place is great since Microsoft Office skills are much needed among students in today’s high-tech world.

Every student should look into this new Student Advantage Program since you’re getting critical software for free. Find out today if your’re eligible by seeing if your school licenses Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus.

Tablet Takeover

ipad-air-back Tablets will account for 50% of all PC’s shipped globally in 2014 according to research done by Canalys. In the past we’ve seen desktops being replaced by laptops and now the trend is turning in favor of tablets.

This is a big jump in the tablet market being that tablets only made up one-third of all PC’s shipped earlier this year. Contrary to popular belief, Androids are leading the tablet movement instead of the iPad. This is mostly due to the sheer number of Android tablets available on the market compared to the iPad line. A variety of Android tablets are also offered at more affordable pricing than iPads.

With tablets soon becoming the majority of PC’s being shipped globally does this mean the end of desktops and laptops? Most likely not, desktops and laptops will continue to have their place but tablets will become the popular choice due to their affordability and mobility. It’ll definitely be interesting to watch how the fierce competition between iPads and Androids will continue to shape the tablet market.

The End of Windows XP

Windows-XP-End-of-SupportWindows XP has had a long run but sadly its reached the end of its Microsoft support cycle. Microsoft will be ending all support for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8th 2014. The operating system was originally launched back in 2001 following the short-lived Windows 2000.

If you’re still utilizing Windows XP and haven’t upgraded yet then you’re behind. Mainstream support for XP ended in 2009 and now the extended support still offered is coming to an end in 2014. This means there will be no more security updates, automatic fixes, or technical assistance. If you upgrade to Windows 8 you won’t have to worry about that support ending until 2023. The time to upgrade is now especially with Black Friday and Holiday special deals right around the corner.

If you have any questions about transferring data or want advice on a new pc purchase don’t hesitate to give us a call!