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How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Chromebooks include only a small amount of internal storage. However, they support external storage devices like USB flash drives, external hard drives, and microSD cards. Use an external storage device to expand your Chromebook’s storage or transfer files between Chromebooks and other computers, including Windows PCs and Macs.

Google includes support for a variety of file systems, and whatever you connect should just work–mostly. You can even connect an external disc drive via USB to access files stored on DVDs and CDs. Check your Chromebook to see what external storage ports it offers.

Supported File Systems

Chrome OS supports a variety of file systems on removable devices. It supports the cross-platform FAT16, FAT32, and exFAT file systems. It also supports the Windows NTFS file system with full read and write support.

It can also read the Mac HFS+ file system, but it can’t write to it. Chromebooks support the MTP protocol for digital cameras and music players, and for external disc drives that connect via USB, Chromebooks can read the ISO9660 and UDF file systems on discs.

You’re probably best off formatting your external drive as exFAT. In fact, if you format a USB drive or SD card from within Chrome OS, it will automatically format the drive as exFAT without even asking which file system you want to use.

How to Access a Drive and Work With Files

To use an external storage device on Chrome OS, just connect it to your Chromebook and open the Files app. The drive will appear in the left pane of the files app, below Google Drive and the Downloads folder, which contains all the files stored locally on your Chromebook.

To move files to the drive, you can either drag and drop them from the Downloads folder or Google Drive, or right-click them, select “Copy” and then right click in the drive and select “Paste”. When you use the “Save As” dialog to download a file in Chrome OS, you can choose to download it directly to an external drive.

Common keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+A to select all files, Ctrl+C to copy files, Ctrl+X to cut files, and Ctrl+V to paste files also work here. Right-click inside the drive and select “New Folder”–or press Ctrl+E–to create a new folder on the drive.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

The options at the top right corner of the window allow you to change the view, so you can view a grid of thumbnail previews instead of a list of files and sort the files by file name, size, type, or date modified. There’s also a search button for quickly finding files.

Many files, including videos, music files, images, PDFs, and other documents can be opened directly from the external drive. Just store them on the drive and double-click them.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

How to See How Much Storage Space is Available

To see how much storage space is available on your external drive, select it in the left pane and then click the menu button at the top right corner of the Files window. You’ll see an indication of how much space is left. Delete files from the drive to make more room. You can also use this trick to see how much space is available on your Chromebook. Just select the “Downloads” folder first and then click the menu button. (Though this experimental feature will give you more information.)

There’s also an option to view normally hidden files here.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

How to Format a Drive

To erase and format the drive, right-click the name of the drive and select “Format Device”. Chrome OS will format the drive with the exFAT file system. There’s no way to choose a different file system, change the drive’s partition layout, or name the drive.

Warning: Formatting a drive will erase the current file system and any files on the drive at the moment.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

How to Eject a Drive

When you’re done with the drive, be sure to eject it before removing it from your Chromebook. This protects against data loss by ensuring your Chromebook is done writing to the drive before you remove it. It’s the same reason you should “safely remove” drives on Windows

To do so, either click the “Eject” icon to the right of the drive’s name in the Files app or right-click the drive and select “Eject Device”.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

External storage devices work alright on Chrome OS, but you won’t find a lot of extra features. For example, there’s no way to partition your device or rename it without heading to a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. And, while you can connect a DVD drive to your Chromebook via a USB cable, you can only access the files on it. There’s no way to play copy-protected DVD movies without ripping them first. But if all you need is some extra space, an external drive will do the trick.

I have an Acer CB3-531-C4A5 Chromebook and would like to be able to watch movies. I see that there is an integrated Media player with Google Chrome OS and I did try to watch a movie on Amazon.com. That worked fine. My question is can I purchase an external CD/DVD drive that will work with the Chromebook so that I can watch movies from DVDs? I presume that I cannot as the external drive would require software for the interface and being there is no operating system on the Chromebook I would guess that I can not use an external CD/DVD drive. Is this correct?

FAQ & Answers

According to Google’s support site, USB CDROM and DVDROM (read-only) devices are compatible with Chromebooks. You will need to download a player from the Google store to play DVD’s though.

I think you may be mistaken but I am not sure and that is what I am trying to find out. I understand the external driver works for read only DVD but I want to watch a DVD movie. I do not believe you can down load the External DVD Drive OTG Player from the Google play store on to the Chromebook as the Chromebook does not have an operating system. Am I correct? The External DVD Drive OTG Player says it is for Android OS and the Chromebook ,like I said , does not have a operating system.

What do you think?

Chromebook runs the Linux-based Chrome operating system. Although there’s no DVD drive or CD drive on Chromebook, you can use a USB drive or SD card to save your DVD movies. Then stream them to Chromebook. But you need to make sure Chromebook can read the DVD movies you want to play. As far as I know, Chromebook can read AVI, MOV, MP4, M4V. You just need to convert your movies to one of the above formats. Or you can read this article, maybe you can get some help there: http://www.videoconverterfactory.com/tips/play-dvd-on-chromebook.html

I read your all post and if you want best qulity movie on chrome book full freee you can use like couchtuner its full free HD qulity Movie

Can I Use an External CD/DVD Drive with Chromebook

If you’re wondering whether you can use an external drive CD/DVD with Chromebook, the short answer is yes, you can. But before you get too excited, know that there are some limitations to what an external drive can do. Let’s start with the things you can do with a Chromebook optical drive.

Chromebooks can read these disk types:

  • CD
  • CD-RW
  • DVD
  • DVD-RW
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray RW

Chrome OS can read files from any of these disks if they are written in data or media format.

You can copy files off optical media to your drive as long as they are actual media files, not CD music or DVD videos. You can also play media files directly from a disk.

Can I Use an External CD/DVD Drive with Chromebook

If you’re wondering whether you can use an external drive CD/DVD with Chromebook, the short answer is yes, you can. But before you get too excited, know that there are some limitations to what an external drive can do. Let’s start with the things you can do with a Chromebook optical drive.

Chromebooks can read these disk types:

  • CD
  • CD-RW
  • DVD
  • DVD-RW
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray RW

Chrome OS can read files from any of these disks if they are written in data or media format.

You can copy files off optical media to your drive as long as they are actual media files, not CD music or DVD videos. You can also play media files directly from a disk.

Of course you can try all the useful solutions that the above posts have provided. But I would never recommend directly using DVD player to play your loved HD movies on your Chromebook since the external drive is too inconvenient to carry, especially when you are on the go.

The best way to solve your problem must be use a DVD ripper to rip and convert all of your DVDs into certain video format which is suitable to your Chromebook player. In this case, I strongly suggest you to use VideoSolo BD-DVD Ripper which I have been using for ages and it never fail

A thread from the buyer of Chromebook.

No, you shouldn’t purchase an external DVD drive.
Chrome OS doesn’t support optical drives (DVD / CD / Blu-ray).
Unofficially, you can get some optical drives to work in very limited ways, but there are many caveats that make this impractical, and not very useful:
1: Not every drive works. There is no list of drives which work because officially no drive works.
2: You can’t play DVD video / CD audio / Blu-ray video. The software packages and codecs required to do that for the optical formats don’t exist on Chrome OS.
3: The device will work as read-only at best, even if it has write capability.
4: Some discs may inexplicably fail to read, even on a drive which can otherwise read discs. (Not every ISO format may be supported.)
5: A drive which once worked might fail to work after a future update. There never has been a commitment from the developers that an optical drive would work in any way. The only reason some do (in limited ways) currently is because of the similarities in reading some optical media and the way external hard drives work.
6: There is no troubleshooting procedure if something doesn’t work. The official stance is that optical drives don’t work at all

Not all of your files are stored in the cloud. Learn how to move files between your Chromebook and an external hard drive, thumbdrive or SD card.

Chromebooks are built with cloud storage in mind and offer a pittance of local storage — usually only 32GB or 64GB. So, instead of storing a bunch of Word docs and Excel files on a Chromebook, for example, you are meant to use Google Drive or Dropbox. Instead of a large music library stored locally in iTunes, you are meant to use Google Play or Spotify. Same deal with photos — instead of storing photos locally, Google Photos, Flickr or another cloud service.

Chromebooks feature USB ports and SD card slots, however, which let you connect to external storage devices for those times when you need to access a file that you have saved not to the cloud but an external hard drive, thumb drive or SD card. When you connect an external drive or SD card to your Chromebook, however, nothing happens. You won’t see a helpful prompt or a new desktop icon that, A. lets you know the system has recognized whatever it is that you connected to it, and B. provides a quick way to view its contents.

Using an external storage device with a Chromebook takes a little more work on your part. I’ll show you how to view and download files on an external drive and which types of files types and file systems Chrome OS can recognize.

Supported file systems

Chrome OS supports a wide range of file systems for external drives. It can read and write to the NTFS file system that Windows PCs use, read (but not write to) the HFS+ file system that Macs use, and cross-platform FAT16, FAT32 and exFAT file systems. It also supports the MTP file system used by digital music players and ISO9660 and UDF used by CDs and DVDs.

Supported file types

According to Google, these are the types of files Chrome OS supports:

  • Microsoft Office files: .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt (read-only), .pptx (read-only).
  • Media: .3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav
  • Images: .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .webp
  • Compressed files: .zip, .rar
  • Other: .txt, .pdf (read-only)

How to read files

When you connect an external storage device to a Chromebook, you’ll need to do a little legwork to access its contents. Click the Launcher button in the lower-left corner of your Chromebook’s display and then click the Files app. If you don’t see it listed, it means you haven’t used it recently and will need to click All Apps and find the Files app listed among all of your Chromebook’s apps.

With the Files window opened, in the left panel you should see your external drive listed directly below the Downloads folder. Just as you can in Windows Explorer on a PC or Finder on a Mac, you can view the drive’s folders and files here. Just double click a file to open it.

How to transfer files

If you want to move a file from an external drive to your Chromebook, you have two options: drag and drop or copy and paste.

More Chromebook news

  • How to find and use a Chromebook’s local storage
  • The 5 stages of Chromebook acceptance
  • Google’s Chromebooks will apparently live on

The Downloads folder is where all of your Chromebook’s local files are stored. You can copy a file from the drive to your Chromebook by dragging it from the external drive and dropping it on the Downloads folder listed in the left panel. You can select multiple files by clicking the tiny, circular thumbnail to the left of the file name; the thumbnail turns into a blue checkmark icon to indicate it’s been selected.

The other option is to copy a file by right-clicking and choosing Copy or using keyboard shortcut Ctrl-C, opening the Downloads folder, and then pasting by using the right-click menu or Ctrl-V.

You can also choose to cut instead of copy, of course, if you want to move the file instead of just copying it. You can also move in the reverse direction and move files from your Downloads folder to your external drive (or Google Drive) to free up drive space on your Chromebook.

Last step: Eject

Like Windows and MacOS, ChromeOS will scold you if you remove a drive before ejecting it. To eject a drive, click the little eject button to the right of it in the left panel of the the Files window.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Theo Lucia

Jul 05, 2021 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Part 1: What Is Chromebook

A Chromebook supports different external storage devices including hard drives, USB flash memory, and micro SD cards. These external storage devices can be used to expand the small storage space on a Chromebook and transfer files between a Chromebook and other devices including Mac and Windows computers. The Chrome operating system supports file systems like FAT32, FAT16, exFAT, and NTFS. It can also read the Mac HFS+ file system but cannot write on it. Chromebook can read ISO9660 and UDF files on disc and also support MTP protocol for external disc drives that connect to USB, digital cameras, and music players. When you connect an external device to a Chromebook for the first time, it will automatically format that drive to exFAT. You can format your storage device to exFAT or let Chromebook do it automatically for you.

Almost any external hard drive device will work with a Chrome operating system. The only condition is that it should connect through USB because these are the ports available on a Chromebook. No matter how fancy the drive is or if it has special added software features, it will be blank on a Chromebook and only used as a storage device for moving files. There are different types of Chromebook compatible external hard drives in the market, and you can make your choice in regards to the amount of storage space you need.

If you want to see how much storage space your external drive has on Chromebook, you can do this in the files section by the menu bottom in the top corner of the files page. You will see the available space at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

Part 2: Why Do I Need a Chromebook Compatible External Hard Drive

A Chromebook has some storage space on the device itself and 100GB of free storage space on the cloud. This storage space might be enough for one user and they do not need extra space. But some heavy users require more storage space and other people prefer to have all their files off the Internet for security reasons. An external hard drive is a more personal, more secure, and long term location to store all your files. You can also use it to move data from your Chromebook to your other devices and vice versa easily.

Part 3: How to Use External Drive with My Chromebook

You do not need to install any drivers on your Chromebook. The external drive is also powered through the USB port on your Chromebook so there is no need for any extra attachments or cords before the connection is made. There are no hidden steps. Just plug in the Chromebook compatible external hard drive and the Chromebook will format your drive properly the first time it is inserted. After plugging in, simply open the files section in the launcher. The hard drive will operate just like a hard drive on any other computer with folders that can be broken into subfolders and even more subfolders within that. There is an eject button next to the device in files. You should use this button to eject the hard drive every time you want to disconnect. Unplugging the hard drive without ejecting can have detrimental effects on the hard drive and the Chromebook as well.

Part 4: How to Eject a Drive

Whenever your Chromebook compatible external hard drive is connected to the Chromebook, you should not disconnect the drive without protocol. Disturbing the connection when Chromebook is still writing on the drive can cause data loss and can also be damaging to the Chromebook and the hard drive in different ways. To eject a hard drive properly from Chromebook, you can click on the eject button by the side where the drive name is in the files section. You can also right-click on the hard drive in files and select “eject device” from the options that pop up. Another option is to use the shortcut for this; press Ctrl+Shift+E for this.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Part 5: Recover data from Chromebook

In the process of using hard drives on Chromebook and other ways, data can be lost from your Chromebook compatible hard drive. You will need hard drive data recovery software to recover the lost data. Recoverit can be used to recover lost data from Chromebook in the same way where you recover data from a Windows hard drive. It is simple, easy, and fast to use.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Your Safe & Reliable Hard Drive Data Recovery Software

  • Recover lost or deleted files, photos, audio, music, emails from any storage device effectively, safely and completely.
  • Supports data recovery from recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera, and camcorders.
  • Supports to recover data for sudden deletion, formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, system crash under different situations.

A Chromebook has limited storage space on the device. An option to expand this space can be the use of external hard drives. They can also help you to transfer files between devices. Different external drives work on Chromebook so there are options to choose from. If you lose files on your external drive or Chromebook during the use of external drives, then you can recover them with Recoverit hard drive data recovery software.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Chromebooks are cloud-based machines and low on storage space. However, you can use external drives with them and it’s as straight-forward as Windows or macOS.

Chromebooks are cloud-based computers that are low on local storage. This keeps the price down, but you might have a lot of data and need more storage space. Google Drive is an effective method of storing your files in the cloud so they are always available – and you can always buy more space.

But sometimes you might need to transfer files by moving a flash drive or have a bunch of movies on an external drive for times when you don’t have an internet connection. Or, perhaps you have sensitive files that you don’t want to store online. Whatever the case, whether it’s a flash drive or large external hard drive, here is how to use it with your Chromebook.

Using an External Drive with a Chromebook

When you plug in your external drive (here I’m using a flash drive) you should see a notification in the lower-right corner of the screen. Click on it to open the Files app to view the content on the drive.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

If you miss the notification or want to look at the files on your external drive, you can click the Launcher button and open the Files app.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Choose your drive and like you can with other file management systems such as File Explorer on Windows or Finder on macOS. You have all the options you’re familiar with such as changing the file view, renaming or deleting files, sorting by type, name, or date modified.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

If you need to search for a file, click the magnifying glass icon at the top and type in your query.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

The process of moving files in and out of the drive or into other folders is also the same as other computer systems. You can drag and drop items or copy and paste. Keyboard shortcuts are essentially the same as on Windows, too. Hit Ctrl + A to select all, Ctrl + C to copy, and Ctrl + V to paste them. Of course, there is also the ability to “Cut” instead of “Copy” if you are moving a file and not copying it.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Another important thing when using an external drive on your Chromebook is you need to eject it. On Windows, you just remove the drive, but Chrome OS is pickier. If you just remove a drive, you will see a notification like the one below.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

To eject a drive properly, click (or tap on a touchscreen) the small “Eject” button to the right of the drive.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Your Chromebook will work with the most common file types including Office files, video files like AVI and MP3, and image files such as JPG, GIF, and PNG. To see all supported files check out this Chromebook support page.

However, if you have a file that your Chromebook can’t open, there’s probably an app for that. When that happens, Chrome OS will ask which app you want to use and even make suggestions. For example, in the shot below I need to open a VOB video file and it’s suggesting VLC. And because VLC isn’t installed yet, it gives me a link to install it from the Web Store. If you don’t like the app suggestion, hit the “See more” link at the bottom of the window.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Using an external drive on a Chromebook is straight-forward. If you’ve used one with a PC or Mac, you’ll have no problem using it and getting things done.

Part 1: What is Chromebook

A Chromebook supports different external storage devices including hard drives, USB flash memory and microSd cards. These external storage devices can be used to expand the small storage space on a Chromebook and transfer files between a Chromebook and other devices including Mac and Windows computers. The chrome operating system supports file systems like FAT32, FAT16, exFAT and NTFS. It can also read Mac HFS+ file system but cannot write on it. Chromebook can read ISO9660 and UDF files on disc, it can also support MTP protocol for external disc drives that connect to USB, digital cameras and music players. When you connect an external device to a Chromebok for the first time it will automatically format that drive to exFAT so you can format your storage device to exFAT or let Chromebok do it automatically for you.

Almost any external hard drive device will work with a Chrome operating system. The only condition is it should connect through USB because these are the ports available on a Chrombook. It does not matter how fancy the drive is or if it has special added software features, it will be blank on a Chrombook and only used as a storage device form moving files. There are different types of Chromebook compatible external hard drives in the market, you can make your choice in regards to the amount of storage space you need.

If you want to see how much storage space your external drive has on Chromebook you can do this in the files section by the menu bottom in the top corner of the files page. You will see the available space at the bottom of the drop down menu.

Part 2: Why do I Need a Chromebook Compatible External Hard Drive

A Chromebook has some storage space on the device itself and 100GB of free storage space on the cloud. This storage space might be enough for one user and they do not need extra space. But some heavy users require more storage space and other people prefer to have all their files off the internet for security reasons. An external hard drive is a more personal and more secure and long term location to store all your files. You can also use it to move data from your Chromebook to your other devices and vice versa easily and more comfortably.

Part 3: How to use external drive with my Chromebook

You do not need to install any drivers on your Chromebook. The external drive is also powered through the USB port on your Chromebook so there is no need for any extra attachments or cords before connection is made. There are no hidden steps just plug in the Chromebook compatible external hard drive and the Chromebook will format your drive properly the first time it is inserted. After plugging in simply open the files section in the launcher. The hard drive will operate just like a hard drive on any other computer with folders that can be broken into subfolders and even more subfolders within that. There is an eject button next to the device in files. You should use this button to eject the hard drive every time you want to disconnect. Unplugging the hard drive without ejecting can have detrimental effects on the hard drive and the Chromebook as well.

Part 4: How to eject a Drive

Whenever your Chromebook compatible external hard drive is connected to the Chromebook you should not disconnect the drive without protocol. Disturbing the connection when Chromebook is still writing on the drive can cause data loss and can also be damaging to the Chromebook and the hard drive in different ways. To eject a hard drive properly from Chromebook you can click on the eject button by the side where the drives name is in the files section. You can also right click on the hard drive in files and select ‘eject device’ from the options that pop up. Another option is to use the short cut for this; press Ctrl+Shift+E for this.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Part 5: Recover data from Chromebook

In the process of using hard drives on Chromebok and other ways data can be lost from your Chromebook compatible hard drive. You will need Hard drive data recovery software to recover the lost data. Wondershare Data recovery for Mac that can be used to recover lost data from Chromebook the same way you recover data from a Windows hard drive. It is simple, easy and fast to use.

The Best Data Recovery Software

  • Recover lost or deleted files, photos, audio, music, emails from any storage device effectively, safely and completely.
  • Supports data recovery from recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera and camcorders.
  • Supports to recover data for sudden deletion, formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, system crash under different situations.
  • Preview before recovery allows you to make a selective recovery.
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista, Mac OS X (Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8, 10.9, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.10, 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra) on iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro etc.

A Chromebook has limited storage space on the device. An option to expand this space can be use of external hard drives. They can also help you to transfer files between devices. Different external drives work on Chromebook so there are options to choose from. If you lose files on your external drive or Chromebook from the use of external drives, then you can recover them with Wondershare Data Recovery for Mac software.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

This article would show you step by step guide on how to partition a flash drive, how to partition USB and what to do when partition a flash drive failed. .

Wondershare Verbatime Store Data Recovery program helps you to retrieve lost or deleted files like photos and documents from Verbatime Store storage device with ease. .

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

What is credit card flash drive? How to use credit card flash drive? This article would show you tips to use credit card flash drive and steps to recover lost data from credit card flash drive. .

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

This article displays reasons for data encryption and tells how to encrypt usb flash drive to ensure data security. .

This page offer the best tips for you to choose the best USB hard drive models. .

This page introduce the top 10 credit card flash drive,and the best way to recover data from flash drive storage. .

Given its limited space, many people have been asking me about using an external DVD drive for Chromebook. Can you use an external drive for Chromebook? Do external drives let you play CDs and DVDs?

It’s fun and convenient to have so many features to add to your laptop. However, before you buy a Chromebook DVD drive, make sure you know what you can and can’t do with one.

Note: This article is about Chromebook optical drives, which play CDs and DVDs. If you want to know about external hard drives for file storage, check out this article I already wrote on the topic.

Optical Drives for the Chromebook

If you’re wondering whether you can use an external drive CD/DVD with Chromebook, the short answer is yes, you can. But before you get too excited, know that there are some limitations to what an external drive can do. Let’s start with the things you can do with a Chromebook optical drive.

Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.

What you can do with a Chromebook DVD drive

Chromebooks can read these disk types:

  • CD
  • CD-RW
  • DVD
  • DVD-RW
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray RW

Chrome OS can read files from any of these disks if they are written in data or media format.

You can copy files off optical media to your drive as long as they are actual media files, not CD music or DVD videos. You can also play media files directly from a disk.

What doesn’t work in Chrome OS

There are serious limitations to what an external DVD drive for Chromebook can do, since the system was created to function primarily online.

Write Files

Unfortunately, there is no way to write files to an optical disk for Chromebook. USB devices, including external DVD drives, function as read-only. You can read the information on a disk as long as it’s in an accepted format, but you cannot write information to it.

Play CDs and DVDs

You can’t play music CDs or DVD videos with a Chromebook DVD drive.

Chrome OS does not support optical disks to let you play music or movies. The primary reason for this is that Chrome OS doesn’t come with codecs. Codecs are necessary to compress and decompress large files like DVD videos. If you want to play DVDs on your Chromebook, you’ll need to install Linux.

Run Programs

Chromebooks are all about staying simple and keeping storage in the Cloud. Chrome OS downloads all of its programs from the internet. They don’t have the capacity to run additional programs from an external drive. You can’t run any Windows programs on Chrome OS either.

Rip Music or Movies

Chrome OS doesn’t include any ripping software. There are several DVD ripping tools for Windows Mac OS X and Linux, but none that function with Chrome OS.

If you want to rip music CDs or DVD movies, you have to use another machine that has Windows, Mac OSX or Linux. You can then transfer those media files to your Chromebook.

How to Read CD/DVD Media in Chrome OS

To read CD or DVD media, plug in the external optical drive to your Chromebook via USB. Insert a disk that has regular computer files. Then, access the files in the same way you would access your local files by clicking Launcher > Files.

If you’d prefer to watch a tutorial, here’s an easy, clear guide on reading files using a Chromebook DVD drive:

How to Play Music and Movies on Chrome OS

Even though you can’t play content directly from CDs or DVDs, there is a way to play music and movies on your Chromebook.

Google has confirmed that you can play music files, like mp3s, and converted video files, like mp4s. So to watch movies, you first need to convert your files into a supported type. You can find a full list of supported file types and codecs in this guide.

Once you have the right files, you can use VLC by VideoLAN, a free media player that lets you play media files on Chrome OS.

Take a look at this video for a full walk-through on using VLC to play a DVD:

Conclusion

In summary, a Chromebook optical drive:

  • Can read disks, but with only accepted file types
  • Can play music from accepted file types, like mp3
  • Can play movies from accepted file types, like mp4
  • Cannot burn files to a CD or DVD

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Are you still looking for an external DVD drive for Chromebook/Chrome OS? Shopping for an optical drive is an easy task, so it won’t take long.

All you need to worry about is making sure the external drive connects with USB. Other than that, make sure the drive you choose is meant for PC and not just Macs. Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.

I recently purchased a Acer Chromebook 15 to replace an old Windows laptop. I had previously purchased a WD My Passport 2 TB external hard drive that i had pictures/music/videos saved to as a large flash drive with the Windows laptop. When i attempted to use it with the new Chromebook, it would not recognize the drive (it showed up on the “Files” window, but it needed to be formatted. I tried this after I backed everything up on the Windows laptop, but it would not format on the Chromebook. After some digging, I read that WD external drives are miserable for Chromebooks due to their extra security. Needless to say, the WD external drive is now useless.

Are there any brands of external drives that are compatible with a Chromebook specifically to be used as a flash drive? I don’t want to purchase another if it will not work with the new Chromebook. Any suggestions for this use? I am basically using it to back up music, pictures, and video from Google Music and Photos as an emergency cloud backup.

Thanks for help/suggestions.

FAQ & Answers

I do not see any real problem with device.

“Built-in 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption with WD Security software helps keep your content private and safe. Easily add a “return-if-found” message as the password prompt in case your My Passport drive ever gets lost.”

I’m guessing the above is what caused a problem. I would use Paragon Partition manager 14 to view the drive with a view to reformatting, and then re-using. 3rd party encryption tools should be available.

As to transfer speeds, USB 3 wont be quick and USB anything else less than a snail’s pace.

So don’t write it off completely.

I recently purchased a Acer Chromebook 15 to replace an old Windows laptop. I had previously purchased a WD My Passport 2 TB external hard drive that i had pictures/music/videos saved to as a large flash drive with the Windows laptop. When i attempted to use it with the new Chromebook, it would not recognize the drive (it showed up on the “Files” window, but it needed to be formatted. I tried this after I backed everything up on the Windows laptop, but it would not format on the Chromebook. After some digging, I read that WD external drives are miserable for Chromebooks due to their extra security. Needless to say, the WD external drive is now useless.

Are there any brands of external drives that are compatible with a Chromebook specifically to be used as a flash drive? I don’t want to purchase another if it will not work with the new Chromebook. Any suggestions for this use? I am basically using it to back up music, pictures, and video from Google Music and Photos as an emergency cloud backup.

Thanks for help/suggestions. My Seagate works great — U can only move one file at a time from hard drive to / from Chromebook

I recently purchased a Acer Chromebook 15 to replace an old Windows laptop. I had previously purchased a WD My Passport 2 TB external hard drive that i had pictures/music/videos saved to as a large flash drive with the Windows laptop. When i attempted to use it with the new Chromebook, it would not recognize the drive (it showed up on the “Files” window, but it needed to be formatted. I tried this after I backed everything up on the Windows laptop, but it would not format on the Chromebook. After some digging, I read that WD external drives are miserable for Chromebooks due to their extra security. Needless to say, the WD external drive is now useless.

Are there any brands of external drives that are compatible with a Chromebook specifically to be used as a flash drive? I don’t want to purchase another if it will not work with the new Chromebook. Any suggestions for this use? I am basically using it to back up music, pictures, and video from Google Music and Photos as an emergency cloud backup.

Thanks for help/suggestions.

Seagate works great. Chromebook to harddrive will only move one file at a time.

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

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Sometimes SD cards and USB thumb drives play up, get full or just otherwise require a quick once over to get them back in shipshape.

But can you format a USB drive or memory card on a Chromebook? It’s a question I often see Chromebook owners ask.

“Yes,” is the answer — so I grabbed the nearest SD card in need of wiping to help me create this simple guide for you to follow.

How to Format a USB or SD Card in Chrome OS

Armed with my thumb-sized peripheral I booted up my Chromebook, connected my dongle and expected to have to dive into the Chrome Shell (a command line prompt) to achieve what was needed.

But…Chrome OS, I shouldn’t have doubted you.

Formatting options are available directly in the Chrome OS File Manager, meaning no extra apps, add-ons or actions are needed.

First things first, plug your SD Card or USB drive into an available USB port on your Chromebook.

Next, open up the Files app (the blue circle with a white folder icon). In the sidebar you’ll see a list of folders, drivers a locations. Find your device (if you have more than one connected do make sure that it’s the correct one before proceeding).

Right-click (two finger tap on a touchpad) on the drive you wish to format and select the Format device option from the menu:-

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Chrome OS will ask you to confirm that you wish to format the removable media drive. To proceed click ‘OK’:-

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Chrome OS will then do its thing!

How to work with external drives on a chromebook

Formatting on a 2GB USB drive happened in pretty much no time at all, but do be patient if you’re formatting something larger, such as an external USB drive.

When the SD card or USB format is complete Chrome OS will show a small notification in the lower right hand corner to let you know!

Details on Chrome OS formatting

Devices are formatted to a FAT32 file system. This is perhaps the most versatile and widely supported, with read and write support through most operating systems and devices (such as smartphones and digital cameras).

But one of the biggest downsides to FAT is fragmentation that may occur over time.

While this won’t be a big deal for your flash drive, traditional hard disk drives (such as many portable USB external hard drives) that have physical moving parts can be greatly affected by fragmentation, meaning read and write speeds can start looking rather paltry as time goes on.

While Chrome OS lacks any “defragging” tools for your external drives, reformatting every so often can, in theory, help improve read and write times if one of your hard disk drives is underperforming.