Can you upgrade the SSD on a Chromebook?

Earlier this week, I shared thoughts on how my Chromebook could get me through a master’s program in computer science. With a Core i5 and 16GB of memory, my Acer Chromebook Spin 13 has a lot of power, but not enough storage to work with large data sets. It got me thinking of a question I get repeatedly here: can you upgrade the SSD on a Chromebook?

A drive contacted me to suggest that I upgrade the measly 128GB SSD to an M.2 drive. And in theory, that sounds good.

But, the only Chromebooks that support such an SSD storage upgrade should already use the M.2 hardware specification. And I don’t see any mention of M.2 on my Chromebook specs. You will of course have to check your own model.

To be sure, however, I opened up my Acer Chromebook Spin 13.

It was actually quite easy as I have a good set of pilots (the $ 35 iFixit Mako) and I have experience in building computers. I’m not suggesting that you should follow this example; you don’t want to break your material and if you do, I’m not responsible!

Note that you need to remove the battery cable from any Chromebook to which you have internal access. And don’t leave a power cord plugged in.

After removing all the screws from the rear chassis, I used a thin plastic reward card to gently pry off the keyboard chassis.

With the chassis and keyboard detached, I can now see the motherboard and components inside the Acer Chromebook Spin 13.

And right away I see that there is no M.2 interface to plug in a bigger and faster SSD. I can actually see the storage soldered onto the board as shown below as well as the four RAM chips soldered in the middle.

So the technical sheet didn’t lie. There is no M.2 interface in the Acer Chromebook Spin 13.

The only thing I could actually replace is the battery, which is a simple pull on a cable to pull out because the battery isn’t stuck. My battery is good, so I buttoned up the Chromebook in a few minutes.

Now every model of Chromebook is different. Some newer devices, such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (the successor to my device) use M.2 for storage. Indeed, a Redditor traded for a 1TB M.2 SSD in its Spin 713 last year.

Here’s a photo of her open Chromebook showing the M.2 slot my laptop doesn’t have. I annotated the image so that you can see the new SSD card and the M.2 interface where it is installed.

upgrade SSD on a Chromebook

Once he replaced the storage, he had to install Chrome OS on the SSD, which is done using downloadable Chrome OS recovery images. These are the images provided by Google in case your software has ever gone wrong. Once Chrome OS is on the new drive, it simply boots up and has access to the largest amount of storage.

Most of the time, you’ll find scalable storage options on relatively newer, more expensive Chromebooks. Don’t expect to find one in your Celeron or Pentium Chromebook, for example. And if you own a high-end Chromebook from over 2 years ago like me, you probably won’t be lucky too.

In that case, you can still do what I originally planned to do: connect a high capacity SSD over USB-C or get a large microSD card, even if it’s not as fast as a “real one.” »SSD drive.

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