Two Ways To Reformat Your Chromebook: Powerwash & Full Recovery
One of a Chromebook’s main selling points is its stateless drive’s provision of security and stability – but what are your choices when something goes wrong? You have two options.
While you won’t get anything like Window’s famous ‘Blue Screen of Death’, it’s not entirely true that Chromebook’s are 100 percent hacker-proof. If you operate in Developer Mode you will disable the device’s inbuilt Verified Boot and a kernel could become compromised without your knowledge, and if you run an alternative Linux operating system a bad file or malicious code could potentially infiltrate your machine.
In fact, nothing necessarily has to go wrong for you to want to reformat your machine. If you used ChrUbuntu to load an alternative Linux operating system then the only way to re-partition the drives is by using one of these two methods. Similarly, if you want to sell your machine you’ll want to ensure all traces of your personal details, documents, and passwords have been thoroughly removed. Or, perhaps you followed our instructions on how to try different release channels , and now your device is unusable?
Whatever the cause, the situation is fixable. What are your options? Let’s look in detail.
Note: Remember, both these methods will wipe your locally saved data, so ensure you back up anything important. All cloud-based data, included apps and files in Google Drive, will automatically re-sync with your device.
Powerwashing your Chromebook is the simplest and fastest of the two recovery options. The process can be considered akin to resetting your device – it will delete all locally stored user data in the stateful partition, but it will not install a new version of the Chromebook’s operating system. This differs from recovering a Windows installation , which will always install a new version of the OS.
The process will remove all associated Google Accounts, and erase saved files, saved networks, and owner account permissions. If you used the Crouton method of installing Linux, this will remove it.
There are two ways to Powerwash your device, one of which is done through a user profile, and one which is done prior to login. We will go through both step-by-step.
The first method is done through a user account. This is the method you are most likely to use, though both work equally well.
1. Enter your ‘Settings’ menu through the status area
2. Click on ‘Show Advanced Settings’
3. Find the Powerwash section, and click on ‘Powerwash’
4. You will be presented with a new dialogue box. Click Restart
This method enables you to Powerwash a Chromebook from outside a user account. It can be useful if you have forgotten your password, or bought a second-hand machine where the previous owner has not wiped their own data before the sale.
1. Turn on the device and wait to be presented with the sign-in screen. Do not login
2. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R
3. You will be presented with a large onscreen warning. Click ‘Restart’ to initiate the process
Note: Do not Powerwash your machine if you are using a managed Chrome device, as you will not be able to re-enrol your machine afterwards. Instead, follow Google’s instructions on how to wipe device data and re-enrol the device.
2. Full Recovery
This is the most time consuming of the two approaches, but also the most complete. If you are having problems with updating your Chromebook, or if it entirely stops working, this is the process you should follow.
Instigating a full recovery on your Chromebook will not only delete all your locally saved data, but it will also install an entirely new version of the Chrome operating system on your machine. This is also the only way to re-partition your hard drive back to its factory state, meaning if you installed Linux using ChrUbuntu this is the best method to follow.
Before starting, first try to perform a ‘hard reset’ on your Chromebook to see if it solves your problem. On newer models you simply press Power+Refresh, though on older models you may need to push the reset button with a pin. A hard reset will not re-partition your drive.
To undertake a full recovery, follow these steps:
- Reformat either a USB stick or an SD card that has at least 4 GB capacity
- On your Chromebook, type chrome://imageburner into the address bar and follow the onscreen instructions to create the recovery drive
- Enter recovery mode by pressing Esc+Refresh+Power
- Enter the USB stick or SD card on which you created the recovery drive
- Follow the onscreen instructions and your device will install a new version on the Chrome OS
- Remove the recovery drive when instructed to do so
Note: It is also possible to create a recovery drive from Windows, Apple, and Linux machines. You can find detailed instructions on Google’s website.
Getting a Fresh Start
It’s a sad reality of modern technology that things go wrong. Whether it’s a user error or a software fault, there will always come a day when you need to reset something and start anew.
Chromebooks are arguably the best laptops on the market for being error free and virus free, but when that day comes and something does fail, you can be sure that Google has you covered and the road back to functionality is fast and hassle-free.
Image Credits: TechnologyGuide TestLab Via Flickr