How to Use Google’s Chromebook Recovery Utility

Chromebooks are some of the lightest and most portable laptops available in the market today. These devices run on the linux-based Chrome OS and can perform a variety of tasks using the built-in Chrome browser and cloud-based applications.

Users that run into problems with their device may need to use the Chromebook Recovery Utility at some point. This guide will discuss the different circumstances where you may need to use this utility as well as the steps required to recover your chromebook.

What is the Chromebook Recovery Utility?

The Chromebook Recovery utility is a special tool for assisting Chromebook users. It is designed to recover your Chromebook’s operating system when it is corrupted or malfunctioning.

When to Use the Chromebook Recovery Utility

Users should try the Chromebook Recovery utility when:

  • The software or system is corrupted.
  • You receive the “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” error message.
  • Other recovery or fixing methods are not working.

These other recovery methods include:

  • Turning off your Chromebook and turning it back on.
  • Closing any apps and browser windows that are open.
  • Hard refreshing a page using Ctrl + Shift + r.
  • Resetting Your Chromebook.

What to Know Before Using the Chromebook Recovery Utility

Before using the Chromebook Recovery utility, you should note that the process permanently erases all files on your Chromebook’s hard drive. If you can, it is best to back up your files before attempting the recovery process.

How to Perform a Factory Reset on Your Chromebook

Users should perform a factory reset before attempting to use the Chromebook Recovery utility. The steps for factory resetting your Chromebook are as follows:

  1. Sign out of your Chromebook device.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + r keys.
  3. Choose “Restart”.
  4. Navigate through the box that appears and choose “Powerwash” followed by “Continue”.
  5. Follow each step in the reset process before signing in with your Google Account.
  6. Set up your Chromebook by following the on-screen instructions.
  7. Check if the system issue you were having earlier is still there.

If a factory reset did not solve your system issue, you will need to use the Chromebook Recovery utility.

Using the Chromebook Recovery Utility

Using the Chromebook Recovery utility is a multi-step process that requires a second working computer. The steps are as follows:

Download a New Copy of the Chromebook OS

On a separate working computer, you should:

  • Download and install the Chrome browser.
  • Start-up the Chrome browser.
  • Install the Chromebook Recovery extension.
  • Launch the extension by clicking the “extensions” button on the top right of the browser window.
  • Select “Get Started”.
  • Select “Select a model from a list” option or type in your Chromebook’s model number.
  • Select “Continue”.
  • Insert a USB flash drive with a minimum of 8GB space into your device. You can also use an SD card if your Chromebook features an SD card slot.
  • Select your USB flash drive or SD card in the dropdown menu that appears.
  • Select “Continue” followed by “Create Now”.
  • Wait for the message stating that the recovery media is now ready before removing your USB flash drive or SD card.

Start Recovery Mode

Go over to your Chromebook laptop and:

  • Remove any external devices such as hard drives.
  • Hold down Esc + Refresh, then press “Power” until a message appears on-screen.
  • The message will say” Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card”.
  • Alternatively, you may see a message which says “Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card.”
  • Insert your USB flash drive or SD card containing your recovery media.
  • Follow the instructions displayed on-screen.

The aforementioned steps should help you recover your Chromebook system. Once you insert your flash drive or SD card into your notebook, the process should take anywhere from 5 minutes to 40 minutes.

If you run into any problems, please see the troubleshooting section below.


During the recovery process, you may receive certain error messages. Please follow these steps to correct them.

“An Unexpected Error Has Occurred”

If you encounter this error message you should erase your recovery media. You can do this on your non-Chromebook computer by:

  • Opening Chrome browser
  • Clicking “Extensions” on the top right browser window.
  • Select the “Chromebook Recovery Utility” extension.
  • Select “Settings”
  • Select “Erase Recovery Media”
  • Choose your USB drive or SD card in the dropdown menu that appears.
  • Select “Continue”
  • Select “Erase Now”
  • Remove your USB drive or SD card from the computer.
  • Try the Chromebook Recovery process again.

If the error comes up again, try using a different USB drive or an SD card.

No matter the state of your chromebook, with this useful guide you will be up and running again in no time.

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