Final cost difference between Chromebooks and Windows?

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The school system where my kids go are talking about adding a large number of Chromebooks to replace older Windows computers. The expectation is that it will be cheaper in the long run but some questions have been raised due to large investment that is going to be needed to the network infrastructure to support so many Chromebooks vs Windows laptops. Some other have argued that the actual cost of the Chromebooks is not significantly less that similar Windows laptops. It sounds like the management of Chromebooks would be easy and cost-effective vs Windows computers though.
I spent a good chunk of the night searching the internet for answers but was having a hard time coming up with what I was looking for. Can anyone here shed some light on this or point me to some links where the cost differences have been explained?

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10 Comments
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  1. 1 | Reply
    a113e21 - 1 month ago

    The cost savings for Chromebooks is based upon having to manage the devices less.  Chromebooks don't have the same management overhead that comes with Windows devices.  Nor do Chromebooks require as many IT people to keep the same number of Windows devices up and running.

    Chromebooks don't have any software installed on them and they rarely needed to be wiped and reloaded to solve issues.  Chromebooks also don't require anti-virus software.  Chromebooks are more secure by default.

    But, becasue everything on the Chromebook is done online, a sufficient wireless network and Internet conenction would be required.

    1. 0 | Reply
      JudaZuk Alpha Member #2098 - 1 month ago
      In reply to a113e21:

      When it comes to ChromeBooks there is actually potentially a bigger security issue then with a on-site managed Windows computer, and having an actual IT department, that a lot of people tend to forget. 

      How do you managed the ChromeBooks .. you do it though the Cloud only.. through  Google Apps Admin Console for instance.

      This lets you not only remote Wipe the ChromeBooks, and potentially wipe the data stored in the Cloud as well 

      You can not influence the security of how this is managed at all, you will have to trust Google and for the most part I'm sure you can regarding this, but what is actually much more important is you need to trust the person you put in charge of managing all the Chromebooks knows what they are doing. 

      If we assume no gmail/Google account has ever been hacked, then that is not a problem. But gmail accounts gets hacked all the time ..and specially if you fire the IT department and give this job to some one already burdened with other responsibilities, how secure are they keys to the kingdom then?

      Securitiy is always an issue, but in the tradiitional setup you most of the time can limit access to people that has physicall access only, or at least very specific way to get access remotely that requires more inside knowledge of the company.  Moving the managment to few accounts, that lets you manage it all from anywhere in the world, sure is convenient, but unfortunately it is also convenient for an attacker. If it is then a account system that is well known and people still get unauthorised access to all the time you might have a problem.

      One good Social engineered attack, and all students data and all Chromebooks are locked. Sure you might be able to get the data back, but to do damage it does not even matter if you as an attacker manage to delete user data or not...  because of course Google would help you out. But how about locking all Chromebooks for all students 1 or 2 days before a huge national test , SAT what ever?

      Lets say you as an attacker managed to remote wipe and lock 10.000 students Chromebooks for 1 - 2 days when they need it the most to study for something important.   How much work would it actually take to do that  if you get access to the administrator account that you then can access online anywhere in the world. 

      I'm not saying this will happen, what I'm saying is that it is important to thing about the risk of placing all you eggs in one basket, and also who are you handing over this responsibility to?  Is it Bob or Sue in accounting , is it Lisa or Ron the special class teachers? 

      Then of course what will the damage cost the school if this happens.. 10.000 or why not 100.000 students are locked out in best case scenariot for a few hours.. worste case 1 - 2 weeks because people scrable and try and figure out what happend and they try and get help from IT but they then realize the fired IT 2 years ago.  Cost does not have to be monitary only, it can also be in reputation.

      My point is, if you go for any system remotely managed that seems very convienent ..be critical, and make damn sure you know who you put in change of it . It goes for Chromebooks but other systems as well 

  2. 0 | Reply
    lordbaal1 - 1 month ago

    Schools would then need lots of wifi AP's. So they have to spend money on that.

    but the main thing is, what happens when google goes down, and the teacher has their classroom work on it. They can't use that if google is down.

    on Windows, that can be on the internal network. So IT would have control over that. It's not like they have control over the google servers.

    you never know in the future if they will be a DDOS, like what happened a couple days ago with Dyn.

    1. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      Yes, with Windows there could be Windows file servers . . . along with the added cost of the Windows server and maintaining it along with maintaining Windows client machines for teachers and pupils. In most US school districts the IT department is a school district employee with other primary responsibilities or a close family member of such an employee.

      For most school districts, Google, Chrome OS and Chromebooks are OVERALL less expensive to use and maintain than Windows. Yes, there's a modestly higher chance of Google's servers being down and/or unavailable than local file servers, but on the cost-uptime trade-off continuum, most US schools hang out on the low cost extreme and live with the risk of downtime. Since teachers SHOULD be able to teach without computers for a day or two a month, computers shouldn't be seen as mission-critical in primary and secondary schools.

  3. 0 | Reply
    maethorechannen Alpha Member #377 - 1 month ago

    Is there some difference between how the children will use the Chromebooks compared to how they use Windows laptops? Because if they're only going to be using web based tools then I don't see how CBs would need a beefier network than an identical number of Windows machines. If anything, it would probably be slightly less heavy overall on the network than Windows. 

    1. 0 | Reply
      Sprtfan Alpha Member #153 - 1 month ago
      In reply to maethorechannen:

      From the info I was given it would be a lot higher network traffic.  Document, picture, photo manipulation and creation could be done locally on the Windows machine but would not be on the Chromebook.  This was an example that was given at least.  I honestly really don't know though and is the reason I was looking for more info.  

    2. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      In reply to Sprtfan:

      Web apps don't download entire applications to local machines every time they're run. Chrome OS caches client portions of commonly used web apps, so they're not downloaded on every use. Many web apps can fetch user files stored in the cloud directly, e.g., Pixlr would access Google Drive directly rather than download from Google Drive to Chromebook then upload from Chromebook to Pixlr (and the reverse when saving).

    3. 0 | Reply
      Markus_Mobius - 1 month ago
      In reply to Sprtfan:

      Chromebooks are usually used together with GAFE (Google Apps for Education). They could also be used together with Office Online.

      When you load a document in Google Docs or Office Online the word editor is loaded from the cloud into the browser (only the basic program - other modules are loaded as needed; the basic program might be 1MB or so large and hence will know quickly if the internet connection is good - otherwise it might take a few seconds). After its loaded once, the files (Javascript mostly) are cached for a while. The same is true for documents - when they are loaded for the first time then they are downloaded from the cloud - subsequent loads might use the local cache. However, the document file size is usually small compared to the actual editing program (however, that doesn't change much from day to day - so caching is more effective for the latter).

      The advantage from a management point of view is that there is no need to keep the word editor up to date. Moreover, documents are loaded from the cloud as needed - so there is no need to wipe or backup devices. They can also be easily shared between students.

      Thw downside is that working with an uncached existing document (for example the student worked at home and now wants to show to teacher) requires a reasonable internet connection. So in that sense a working connection is more important to Chromebooks than Windows laptops.

      For schools this downside is small: kids usually stay inside the building (no traveling salesforce with sometimes spotty internet) and network infrastructure doesn't fail much (unlike hard drives, server backup systems etc).

    4. 0 | Reply
      jimchamplin - 1 month ago
      In reply to Markus_Mobius:

      Seconding Markus here, I ran CloudReady on a PC for a while and noticed that Chromium OS is actually very aggressive in caching web app data.

    5. 0 | Reply
      Sprtfan Alpha Member #153 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Markus_Mobius:

      Thanks for the info.  The Chromebooks disscusion was only a small part of the meeting I went to the and the people that would be in charge of deploying them were not there so it was hard to get any real answers.  It very well could be the network infrastructure just needs to be upgraded but it was tied to the Chromebooks when presented.  I could probably contact the district about it but was just curious more than anything and was a little surprised that I had trouble finding the info I was looking for.