How to PowerWash / Factory Reset Your Chromebook

Chromebooks feature the Chrome OS that is markedly different from the Windows or the Mac OS. It is a trimmed down OS that is supposed to be more straightforward and user-friendly. Chromebooks are intended to require little-to-no maintenance and not give you any of the woes faced on other platforms.

But it is not true. Like any other operating system, Google’s cloud-based operating system also has its share of problems. Despite being built around a highly-controlled ecosystem, it does slow down over time and develop a few issues. To tackle it, Google has devised a fancy word for what we know as Factory Reset. It is called as Powerwash. Here, we would understand what it is, when you should do it, and how to do it.

What is Powerwash on Chromebook ?

As already stated, a powerwash is another way of saying the factory reset. Performing it on your Chromebook erases all user accounts and locally stored content in the hard drive or the Downloads folder. However, it does not delete any files and folder that you have stored in the Google Drive.

Reasons to Perform a Powerwash

Few reasons for which you might want to perform a Powerwash are:

  • Sometimes, the Chromebook is not performing correctly and gives you the error message, ‘Reset This Chrome Device.’
  • Your Chrome profile settings have all messed up.
  • The Chromebook is working slow or not in the usual fashion.
  • You wish to give your Chromebook to any other member of the family and erase all User Accounts and data from the Chromebook.
  • Software glitches, maladjustment settings, Chromebook freezing, etc. are a few other reasons for performing a factory reset.
  • If you wish to downgrade the OS channel like jumping from the Developer Channel to the Beta Channel or the Stable Channel.

Precautions to Take Before Performing a Powerwash

The beauty of working with Chromebook is that you are able to work and store most of your data is the Google Drive. But there would still be some data on our Chromebook that you need to take a backup if you need to load them back on the Chromebook after a powerwash. Some of the places to look into are:

  • The first folder is the base folder-the Downloads folder. Before you nuke the Chromebook, you can easily drag and drop the files from the Downloads folder to the Google Drive or any other external drive. You must wait for at least 30 minutes after the transfer to powerwash the Chromebook. It will give the Files app, sufficient time to sync it all.
  • Any Android apps that you download and install via the Google Play would get stores in the Play Files. You would find files here like digital sketches, edited photos, local MP3s, etc.
  • The games played on the Chromebook are often saved as Android app data. If it is not automatically syncing to the cloud, you must do it manually and ensure that your game progress and its data get saved.

Steps to Powerwash / Wipeout a Chromebook

You can powerwash a Chromebook through multiple methods. Let us walk through each of them.

Powerwash Via the Chrome Browser

You can do the powerwash through the Chrome browser. For it,

  • Power on the Chromebook and open the Chrome browser.
  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right corner of the browser window to open the Menu Window.
  • Select Settings from the Menu window.
  • In the newly opened Chrome’s Settings interface, scroll down and click on ‘Advanced.’
  • A new window will open. Scroll down to the section Reset Settings and click on the option Powerwash.
  • After some time, a dialog box will open, asking you to restart the device. Click on Restart.
  • The powerwash process will get completed once the Chromebook reboots.
  • If you want to give the Chromebook to a new owner, do not log in with your credentials as it would add back your account to the device. But if you intend using, then sign in with your Google Account Credentials and complete the on-screen prompt to finish the setup.
  • You are done now.

Factory Reset From the Desktop

You can also powerwash from the desktop. For it,

  • Click on the clock at the bottom right corner of the desktop and select Settings.
  • The Settings Window will open. Select Advanced Settings
  • Scroll down the new window and select Powerwash.
  • Click on restart in the newly opened dialogue box.
  • Once the Chromebook has booted, follow the instructions, and complete the process.

Powerwash Using the Shortcut keys

Here you do the powerwash from the login screen. The method proves highly useful if you have been locked out of your Chromebook or have forgotten your password. To perform it:

  • First, fire up the Chromebook to open the login screen.
  • If the account is already logged in, sign out of it.
  • Now press the following shortcut keys simultaneously: Shift+Ctrl+Alt+R.
  • It would open the Reset this Chrome Device Window.
  • Click on the Restart tab to begin the process.
  • The Chromebook would restart, and the new login screen will appear, and the new version of this window will be displayed. Click on Powerwash to start the process.
  • There would be an option Update Firmware for Added Security. Checkmark it before continuing with the Powerwash. It will lend higher security and protection to your Chromebook.
  • You will now get the confirm Powerwash dialog box. Click continue and follow the instructions to complete the process.
  • Once complete, sign in with your Google Account or a new account and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the process.

Wrapping Up

We hope that by now, you are well versed in all the methods of Powerwashing your Chromebook. It is the easiest way to bring your Chromebook to factory settings and with a clean slate. If you found this writeup useful, save it for future reference, and please share it with all Chromies who might need it.


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