Why you should occasionally sign out of your Chromebook

imageSome of our schools are using Chromebooks 1:1. In these cases the assigned Chromebook is only used by one student. Some of our schools let students take them home while others do not. For these users we don’t force a log off when the lid is closed and Chromebooks remember the user the next time they log on. There are many benefits to allowing this, but one major downside. Chrome OS is always evolving. Often a new update comes out every few weeks. The updates download in the background. On our Chromebooks using Kiosk mode and those used my multiple students, the Chromebooks usually auto-install any downloaded updates when the current user logs off. The update and reboot happen so quickly, most users don’t even notice.

This is more difficult with out 1:1 Chromebooks. Most of our students don’t sign out of them. I understand why. I typically don’t sign out of mine either. However, one thing I do look for is an up arrow in the right lower corner by the clock. If you see one, that means an update has been downloaded and it ready to be installed. The update would automatically install if the user signed out, but we’ve already discussed this.

As of right now, Google has not given us a way to force a reboot on anything but a Chromebook running in Kiosk/Public Session. I can see the negative side to allowing this. When would you force the update? 7:00PM? 11:00PM? 6:00AM? Since students often take them home, when would be the right time?

The “problem” is, students are using their Chromebooks a lot. Personally, it’s an issue I’m glad we have. I hope we do eventually get the ability to schedule a reboot. Perhaps we could schedule it for 2AM and the Chromebook could ask the user if it’s an OK time or postpone. To take a page from Microsoft’s book, how many of you have experienced the 14 minute countdown when Windows says basically, I’m rebooting soon, your not going to stop me ( there are ways), better save now. At least with Chromebooks, saving typically isn’t an issue.

Until we have a different solution I recommend you have your students look for the up arrow when an update is ready to be installed and click it. Or maybe a simpler solution would be to sign out, just for a minute, each Friday.

Why does it matter if our Chromebooks aren’t kept up to date. Well, Google is always working on improvements for their OS including things like security and performance. I can give a specific reason that we continually deal with. I call it the Pre-53 issue.

In Chrome OS 53, a change was made to how account syncing is performed. This causes an issue not with Chromebooks running 53, but rather those running a version older than 53. Once a user logs onto a Chromebook running 53 they can no longer use an older OS version. When they try, the typical  result is, when they launch Chrome the screen flashes a few times and either leaves them on a white page or logs them off the Chromebook. Once the Chromebook is updated, the problem goes away.

We see this issue most often in schools that share Chromebooks between students and have added more Chromebooks to their fleet. What’s been happening is the Chromebooks are a few OS versions behind when unboxed and when a user logs on they have the issue. Our current solution to stop this issue as much as possible is to update the OS upon enrollment and prior to the Chromebooks being sent to the school.

To avoid issues like these I also recommend you rotate the use of your Chromebooks. If you have 25 students, and 28 Chromebooks, don’t only use the first 25 and let the others sit until they are needed. Instead, rotate through all 28 weekly so that they all stay up to date.

screenshot-2017-02-18-at-2-32-13-pmTo make signing out easier, all of our Chromebooks have a sign out button at the bottom of the screen. If a user accidentally clicks on it, they are asked if their sure they want to sign out.

  1. #1 by Kiosk Mode Android on March 14, 2017 - 9:16 am


    This post about the Chrome is really informative.

    Thanks for the update.


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