Recover your Chromebook

Recovering your Chromebook lets you remove and reinstall the Chrome operating system (OS). While recovery can resolve most serious issues, it will also permanently erase all information on your Chromebook's hard drive.

Fix the "Chrome OS is missing or damaged" error

What this error means

If this error appears, your Chromebook's operating system isn't working properly, and you should recover your Chromebook.

Because recovery reinstalls the operating system to get your Chromebook working again, it will also permanently erase all information on your Chromebook's hard drive. If you've saved your documents to Google Drive all of it has been safely backed up for you.

In the steps below, you'll create recovery media and go through the recovery process to fix the error.

What you need to get started

Before you get started, you'll need:

  • The Chromebook with the "Chrome OS is missing or damaged" error
  • A different computer with the Google Chrome browser installed (Windows, Mac, or another Chromebook)
  • An SD card or USB drive that you don't mind erasing
  • The Chromebook recovery app (details below)

What you need to do

To recover your Chromebook, you'll first create media with the Chromebook recovery app, then reinstall your damaged Chromebook’s operating system.

  1. Install the app on the working computer (not the Chromebook with the “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” error).
  2. Open the app and follow the on-screen instructions to create the recovery media.
  3. Insert the SD card or USB drive you’ve created into the Chromebook you want to recover.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Troubleshoot Chromebook recovery

I followed the steps, but I can't restore my Chromebook.

If you created your recovery media a while ago, it might contain an older version of Chrome OS. Try creating new recovery media by using the Chromebook Recovery app. If you're still having problems, contact our support team.

A message shows "An unexpected error has occurred."

There may be a problem with the USB flash drive or the SD card. Try using a different USB flash drive or SD card with the Chromebook Recovery app. If you're still having problems, contact our support team.

I restored my Chromebook, but now I can't use my USB flash drive or SD card anymore.

Find out how to use the Chromebook Recovery app to erase your USB flash drive or SD card so you can reformat it. If you're still having problems, contact our support team.

I don't have an error, but I want to recover my Chromebook.

If you want to recover your Chromebook if you don't have a critical error (say, if you wanted to give your Chromebook away), go into recovery mode:

  1. Press and hold the Esc + Refresh Refresh keyboard icon keys.
  2. Press the Power button, then let go.
  3. Continue holding the Esc + Refresh Refresh keyboard icon keys until the “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” message appears, then let go.

Some Chromebooks use a special button to enter recovery mode. Refer to your Chromebook's user manual to find the location of the button.

After you've entered recovery mode, use the media you created to finish the process.

Arneil is a Chromebook expert and author of this help page. Help him improve this article by leaving feedback below.

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