Simplify your Device Refresh This Summer

It’s never too soon to start thinking of ways to make your life easier this summer! If your district has been using Chromebooks for more than three years, you’ve probably gone through a device refresh already, and you know how daunting it can be. If not, and you’re preparing to do so for the first time this year, we’ve got some tools that will help!

Why Refresh?

One of the biggest advantages of Chromebooks, aside from their affordability and centralized management, is Google’s commitment to providing frequent, automatic Chrome OS updates to qualifying devices. That said, Google’s Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Policy puts a timestamp on their commitment to continue to guarantee these automatic OS updates for each and every Chromebook model in the market. Once a device reaches AUE, it may no longer receive updates, meaning that it may not be able to support the latest Chrome management updates or the latest updates to end-user applications. Especially if you are relying on Chromebooks for standardized testing, devices with older OS versions may no longer be able to support the testing application.

For these reasons, many districts choose to refresh (read: replace) Chromebooks that have reached AUE before the next school year. Beyond budgeting and procurement — a process that can be made simpler using Gopher for Chrome’s AUE report (read on!) –, the process to replace these devices is to first identify the exact devices that need to be refreshed, deprovision them within the G Suite Admin Console, manually enroll each new device, and move the new devices to the correct Organizational Units (OUs) in the domain. Overwhelmed? Read on below for three ways you can simplify this process.

1. Gopher for Chrome AUE Reports and Bulk Deprovisioning

Gopher for Chrome is a Google Sheets Add-on that takes the pain out of Chromebook management, providing an easy way to identify and update devices in bulk, as well as insight reporting on your fleet. Gopher for Chrome lets you quickly pull in your device metadata to a Google Sheet, and then filter that data for specific actions, like bulk deprovisioning.

If you’ve ever tried to deprovision a large number of devices in the G Suite Admin Console, you know that you’re severely limited by the pagination that’s available in the device list. With Gopher for Chrome, you simply filter by device OU or model in the Sheet and use the Update menu to perform the Deprovision in bulk, removing the management licenses from the selected devices. This action cannot be undone in the Sheet, so make sure you’ve got the correct devices showing up on the Sheet before running the action (don’t worry, it will ask you to confirm several times before you can proceed)! Once the devices are deprovisioned, the licenses will be added to the total available licenses listed in the Admin Console, but will only be usable by the same make/model of the device of which it was originally assigned.

When deprovisioning devices, it’s important to consider what you will be doing with them once they’re no longer on your domain. If you are planning to give the devices to students or teachers for personal use, they will also need to be wiped prior to being used so they no longer act like a managed device.

In addition to its bulk action super powers, Gopher for Chrome also provides auto-refreshing AUE reports and a dashboard, so you always know when your devices are approaching AUE, and where these devices are located across your domain. That way, you can plan your device refresh budget accordingly and take action to replace expired devices ahead of testing time.

2. Enroll New Devices with Centipede

Whether you’re replacing deprovisioned devices, or enrolling devices for the very first time in your domain, you must go through the Chromebook enrollment process and allocate a Chrome Management License to the device in order to manage it in your Admin Console. Centipede is a free script that has helped many districts tackle this manual and tedious process. Using an Arduino micro-controller and programmed open-source Arduino Create code, Centipede performs the manual keystrokes needed to add devices to your domain, saving you hours of time spent on the enrollment process.

If you’ve used Centipede in the past, we have good news! The development team has recently pushed out updates to the script, including “sign_in,” “update_via_guest,” and “sso” flags to make the enrollment process smoother. Also included is a “powerwash” action for troubleshooting the Centipede script.

Want to see Centipede in action? Check out this video produced by one of Centipede’s happy users!  

3. Bulk OU Changes with Gopher for Chrome

When new devices are enrolled on the domain, whether manually, via Centipede, or through a white-glove provider, they are often placed in the root OU or the OU of the account used to enroll the device. Your work is not done yet! Now, you must allocate these devices to the appropriate OU(s) on your domain in order for them to receive the policies and apps that you’ve set up in the Admin Console. Enter our friend Gopher for Chrome!

In addition to bulk deprovisioning devices, Gopher for Chrome also allows for the bulk updating of editable fields: OU, Annotated User, Annotated Location, Asset ID, and Notes. By filtering the Sheet to show your newly-enrolled devices in the Root OU, or by loading devices based on their enrollment date, you can then change their OU path, and you can even change the location and user as well if you like. Once you’re done making changes in the Sheet, click back into the Update menu to push these changes back to the Admin Console. Now, what would have taken hours in the Admin Console at scale can be accomplished with just a few clicks!

Want to watch a quick how-to video on bulk updating Chromebooks? Check out our FeatureFeature video for a 90-second walkthrough in Gopher for Chrome!

Summary and Next Steps

Now that you’ve deprovisioned your AUE devices and enrolled and organized your new ones on the domain, you can continue to use Gopher for Chrome to track usage across your Chromebook fleet, and to run individual user and device reports throughout the year. Want to try it out for yourself? Request a quote and get a free, full-featured 30-day trial!

Find this article useful? Share it!

  • Melanie Long
    Data, Implementation, and Engagement Consultant

  • About the Author:

    Melanie lives in Virginia and is based in Amplified IT’s home office located in Norfolk. One of the first members to join the Amplified IT team, Melanie has worn many hats at the company.  She most enjoys interfacing with customers and helping them implement tools that solve common pain points and frustrations. Today she leads the onboarding and interfacing with Labs tool clients, making lives easier and breezier one implementation at a time.