Google

Chromebook update gives admins ability to disable lost or stolen devices

Google recently updated its admin console with a feature that allows admins to place lost or stolen Chromebooks in a disabled state. Here's a walkthrough on how to do it.

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Google is gaining ground in the enterprise with its Google Apps suite and other tools like the Google Cloud Platform. As such, more and more organizations are adopting or considering Chromebooks for their operation.

In addition to the integration with the Google ecosystem, Chromebooks also offer a low price point, decent speed, and easy deployments in forgoing a traditional imaging process. However, lack of compatibility with some legacy applications and security concerns have kept many companies from giving them a shot.

On Wednesday, February 4, Google's Lawrence Lui penned a blog post announcing updates to the admin console that would make Chromebooks a better business option than before. According to the blog post, there are four new updates to the console:

  1. Lost or stolen devices can now be disabled.
  2. Partial matches for serial numbers are now accepted in search.
  3. New user policy shows which users can enroll new or deprovisioned devices.
  4. Deprovisioned devices aren't blocked from enrollment due to the new user policy.

All of these updates are important to the enterprise, but I am going to camp out on the ability to disable lost or stolen devices. This feature is good news for enterprise IT that have deployed Chromebooks, as it adds peace of mind about the devices accidentally slipping into the wrong hands.

If a Chromebook is disabled by an admin, all that will be visible to the user is a screen alerting them that the device is disabled and a customizable message where you could list contact information or an address where the devices could be returned.

Disabling a Chromebook will cause the following to happen:

  • All users will be signed out and the disabled message will be displayed.
  • Once disabled, no user can sign back into the device and it will remain disabled until re-enabled by an admin.
  • While disabled, the individual device's license will return to the license pool.
  • The serial number will no longer be viewable in the "Provisioned" view in the admin console.

If you think one of your devices may have been lost or stolen, there are a few steps you need to take to disable the device, according to Google support. First, though, you need to make sure that the device is running Chrome version 40 or above, and you may want to make sure that you have enabled the forced re-enrollment feature.

Once those issues are accounted for, you'll start by signing into the admin console. Click on "Device management," and then click on "Chrome devices."

In the device list, you should see all of your devices listed by serial number. Select the device you want by clicking on the check box to the left of the serial number. Once you have the device selected, click on the "More Actions" tab at the top left hand of the console.

A drop down list of actions will appear, of which you will choose "disable." When prompted by the warning message, click "disable" once more to finish the job.

To reverse the process and re-enable a device that you have disabled, you'll need to first view your disabled devices. Under "device management" and "Chrome devices" you will see a drop-down tab on the top left of the console that allows you to select the type of device you want to view. Click that tab and select "Disabled" from the drop down list.

Select the disabled devices, or multiple devices, and click the "More Actions" tab on the top right again. On the list that appears, choose "Re-enable" and choose "Re-enable" again when it appears with the accompanying warning message.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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