How to factory reset a Chromebook

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Chromebooks are great classroom and office companions, as they are inexpensive and suitable for taking notes, managing spreadsheets, and creating presentations.

If you are planning to sell or give away your old Chromebook to someone else in need, factory resetting it is a good idea. It’s also helpful in case your Chromebook starts having slowdowns after accumulating gigabytes of residual data over a long period.

The factory reset option in Chromebook is straightforward to access. If you haven’t done it before, follow this guide to learn how to wipe your Chromebook and make it run like new again.

Powerwash your Chromebook

To erase your Chromebook data, you can use Chrome OS’ Powerwash option. It gets rid of all your existing apps and data on the Chromebook so that you can set it up from scratch again. The feature is useful when you no longer use your device, sell it, or give it away. You can also powerwash your Chromebook to fix performance issues and abnormal software behaviors.

In uncommon cases where the system gets corrupted during a software update, Chrome OS boots into recovery mode and powerwashes the Chromebook to fix the corruptions.

Besides, a powerwash is mandatory when switching between Chrome OS stable and beta channels. Rolling back from beta to stable or vice-versa requires existing data on the device to be wiped out, similar to how it works on Android.

Back up your Chromebook before powerwashing it

If you use your Chromebook on a daily basis, you probably are aware that most of your work is done on the cloud, and they get backed up to Google Drive. Having said that, there are a few exceptions, which we have discussed below. Make sure to check them out before you powerwash your Chromebook to prevent unintentional data loss.

  • Downloads: Most of your downloaded files from the web goes to the Downloads folder. Hence, you should check it out and transfer all your important files to an external storage solution or upload them to Google Drive.
    Note that it might take several minutes/hours to upload gigabytes worth of files on Google Drive, depending on your internet connection.
  • App data: If you play games on the Chromebook in your free time, log into them if possible, and check if your save files are synced to the cloud before your powerwash the device. Else, you will lose your progress and start over from the beginning.
    For apps that support cloud synchronization, go to the settings to confirm whether your app data is synced to your account or not.
  • Play files: Apps that you install on your Chromebook from the Google Play Store saves files to the “Play files” folder. You should definitely head over there and back up your important media (e.g., local photos, videos, music, documents) before factory resetting your laptop.

Once you go through the following instructions above and back up your important data to the cloud or an external storage device, you can safely powerwash your Chromebook.

Steps to powerwash a Chromebook

The Powerwash option is a few steps away from the home screen. The following steps will show you how to access it:

  1. First, click the status bar pill at the lower-right section of the home screen.
  2. Now click the cog icon in the status bar to visit the Settings menu.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings and click Advanced to expand the advanced options.
  4. Scroll down to the end once again. You should see the Powerwash option below the Reset settings row.
  5. Click the Reset button next to Powerwash, then tap Restart in the pop-up dialog box.
  6. Your Chromebook should now reboot and ask you one last time whether you wish to proceed with powerwashing your device. Click Confirm to continue.

It will take several minutes for the Chromebook to factory reset itself, as it will delete all of your personal data and remove accounts linked to the device. Once it’s done, it should boot you into Chrome OS again, where you can either set up your Chromebook as new or power it off before you give it away.

Wrapping up

We hope this guide has helped your factory reset your Chromebook. In case powerwashing your Chromebook didn’t fix the performance slowdowns or software issues, consider contacting the device manufacturer for further assistance or upgrading to a new Chromebook. There are plenty of affordable options available for both students and regular users.

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