If you teach virtual students who use Chromebooks, you probably hear “Why is my Chromebook so slow?” at least five times a day. With so many students using these devices to learn from home, classroom teachers have also been doing double duty as Technology Support Specialists in helping to resolve some of the problems on the spot. I ended up losing valuable minutes from each lesson helping my students with technical difficulties. Along the way, I learned some tips and tricks that I have compiled into this “How to Fix Chromebook Speed Problems” printable.
My district uses the Google for Education suite of products, including Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Google Slides. When students have to run all three of these programs simultaneously, they sometimes encounter problems such as lagging video, extremely slow loading times, or frequent crashes.
Over these past few months working with my 100% virtual class, I have picked up various tips that helped resolve some of these issues. Some of these ideas were discovered by my students themselves. Ten-year-olds are fearless when it comes to technology, so they often will research fixes during their spare time and then share their findings with me.
If you would like a printable list of tips to help fix a slow Chromebook, fill out your information below. You will receive a PDF to download, which you can then post in your online classroom, or send to your students and their parents for reference.
I am not a computer expert. These are the strategies that have worked for me and my students. When in doubt, contact your district’s Technology department for advice.
Quick and Easy Fixes for a Slow Chromebook
1. If you are having trouble seeing or hearing during a Google Meet, toggle your microphone and camera on and off a couple of times. The keyboard shortcuts for this are to hold down the Ctrl and D keys at the same time to toggle the microphone on and off, or hold down the Ctrl and E keys at the same time to toggle the camera on and off.
2. Hang up from the Meet and then click “Rejoin.” This can help if the problem is a temporary WiFi issue.
3. Turn off the blurred backgrounds or fake backgrounds in Google Meet. These not only slow down a Chromebook significantly but are very distracting for the other students. To do this, click the 3 dots in the white bar at the bottom of Google Meet. Then click “Change Background.” Choose the first choice (the circle with the line through it) which turns off backgrounds.
4. Close any unnecessary tabs. I have found Go Guardian to be a huge help with realizing why some of my students had such slow devices. Some of the children had more than a dozen tabs open at any given time. (If your district uses Go Guardian, the teacher can start a session to see exactly what tabs each student has open.) Teach them to only keep the necessary tabs open. They should exit out of tabs from other classrooms, close tabs for assignments that they are not using at the moment, and close the tabs of any Google Meets that are no longer active.
5. When class is done for the day, check to see if there is an update available for the Chrome Operating System. To do this, click on the bottom right corner of the screen by the battery icon in the taskbar.
Then click the Settings icon. (It looks like a gear.)
Click “About Chrome OS” on the lower right.
Then click the “Check for Updates” button on the top. It will then tell you if there is an available update.
Tip: Do not check for updates in the middle of class. While some updates download in just a minute, others take several minutes. They will require you to restart your Chromebook, so you will get disconnected from whatever you were doing.
It will prompt you to restart your Chromebook if necessary.
6. At the end of the day, students need to shut down their Chromebooks completely, not just close the lid. To shut it down properly, click the bottom right corner of the screen by the battery icon. Then click the power button.
Weekly Chores to Keep Your Chromebook Running Well
7. Clear the browsing data. To do this, click the 3 dots on the top right of your browser.
Then click “More tools.”
Next, choose “Clear browsing data.”
Look to see that there are check marks next to “Browsing history” and “Cached images and files.” Then click the “Clear data” button.
8. Avoid storing files on the Chromebook’s hard drive. These types of devices are not really designed to store files. Instead, move them to your Google Drive. To do this, click the white circle in the bottom left corner. Then choose “Files.”
Hold down the Ctrl button as you click on the files that you want to move to Google Drive. They will turn blue as they are selected. Then hold down the touchpad with one finger as you click on the blue files and drag them over to the left where it says “Google Drive.” (If you have a mouse, use the left click button to drag the files.)
You can then go into your Google Drive to move these files into a folder. so you can easily find them when you need them.
Once you see that the files are definitely in your Google Drive, you are ready to delete them from your device. Go back to the white circle and click “Files.” Then select the files you want to delete. Hold down the touchpad with two fingers, then choose “Delete.” (If you have a mouse, right click the files, then choose “Delete.”)
9. Delete any unnecessary Chrome Extensions. These are the little icons that appear on the right side of the URL bar at the top. Ask the teacher which extensions are not needed. You should never download and install extensions on your own, as these slow down your device and may not be approved by your district.
To see a list of all of your extensions, click on the gray puzzle piece on the far right of the toolbar. Click the 3 dots next to each extension to see if it was installed by your district, which means you can’t delete it.
If there is an option that says “Remove from Chrome” it means you can delete it.
Still Having Problems with a Slow Chromebook?
10. It could be that you have too many WiFi devices connected at the same time. Here is just a sample of devices that might be using up some of your WiFi bandwidth:
- Desktop Computers
- Cell Phones
- Tablets (such as iPads and Kindles)
- Smart Speakers/Displays (such as Amazon Echo and Google Home)
- Video Game Systems
- Smart Thermostats (such as the Nest and the Ecobee)
- Smart Doorbells (Such as Ring)
- Smart Security Cameras
- Streaming TV Devices (such as Roku or Amazon Firesticks)
- Smart Plugs
- Smart Locks
- Smart Light Bulbs
- Smart Appliances
Even if the devices appear to be off at the moment, they still use bandwidth even while in standby mode. Try unplugging as many of these as possible during the school day. Put cell phones into airplane mode, or better yet, turn the power off completely.
11. Try resetting your router. Unplug the router for 30 seconds, then plug it back in. It takes a few minutes for it to completely reboot. If you find that this helps for a little while, and then the problem comes back, it might mean that your router is not working properly.
Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out if the router in your home is strong enough to support all of the devices you have. They can usually run a test for you to see if there is anything wrong with your router, or if it is not powerful enough for your devices. There is a chance you will need to upgrade your router.
Depending on your contract with your ISP, you might be eligible for a free upgrade to your internet speed. This can happen if you have the basic plan, and the ISP is phasing out your current speed, and instead phasing everyone with that plan to a slightly better speed.
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12. Your WiFi strength also depends on how far you are from the router. If it is not possible to sit closer to the router, consider buying a WiFi extender. These are devices that plug into a wall outlet in rooms that are further away from your router, to “boost” the signal.
Here is an example of a basic WiFi extender that costs less than $20.
13. It is possible that there is a widespread problem with the program you are running. Go to www.downdetector.com and type in the name of the program. It will show you in a graph if others are reporting a problem at this time. It also shows you on a map if the problem is in your region. Most of the problems get fixed within a few hours.
If you continue to have problems even after trying out each of these suggestions, contact your school’s Technology department. It is possible your Chromebook is defective and needs to be replaced.
Once you fix your Chromebook problems, remember to follow these tips for what you should do each day, and each week, to keep it running well.
If you are looking for other free websites that are great for 5th graders, visit my post here.
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What other fixes have your tried that have worked for you when you have problems with your Chromebook? Let me know in the Comments section below.