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If you're having problems, but are able to see the login screen, try resetting your Chromebook first. This is easier than the full recovery process and may be enough to help.

Recover your Chromebook

When your Chromebook’s operating system (OS) isn’t working properly, you can recover it. Recovery is removing and reinstalling the OS.

Note: If you’re using your Chromebook at work or school, ask your administrator for help. Administrators: For more help, contact Google support.

When to recover

You might want to recover if:

  • You see this error message: 'Chrome OS is missing or damaged'
  • You’ve tried other troubleshooting steps and nothing has fixed your issue
  • You’ve asked the experts in our help forum for help fixing your issue, and they recommend recovery

What you'll need to get started

  • The Chromebook with the 'Chrome OS is missing or damaged' error
  • Another Chromebook, or a Windows or Mac computer with Chrome installed
  • A USB flash drive that can hold at least 4 GB, and that you don't mind erasing. If your Chromebook has an SD card slot, you can use an SD card instead.

Important: Recovery permanently erases everything on your Chromebook's hard drive, including your downloaded files. If possible, back up your files before you recover your Chromebook.

What you need to do

Step 1: Try less invasive steps

If you can sign in to your Chromebook, try these steps first:

  1. Turn your Chromebook off, then back on again.
  2. If your Chromebook still has an error, reset to factory settings.

If neither of those steps fix the error, continue to Step 2.

Step 2: Download a new copy of the OS

On the working computer (not the Chromebook with the error):

  1. If you're using a Mac or PC:
    1. If you haven't yet, install Chrome.
    2. Open Chrome Chrome.
    3. Install the recovery app.
  2. Open the recovery app.
  3. Click Get started.
  4. Click Select a model from a list, or type in the model number of the Chromebook that you want to recover. To find this number, look at the bottom of the error message on your Chromebook screen.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. Insert your USB flash drive or SD card into the computer.
  7. In the drop-down menu, choose the USB flash drive or SD card you inserted.
  8. Click Continue.
  9. Click Create now.
  10. When you see a message saying that your recovery media is ready, remove the USB flash drive or SD card from the computer.
Step 3: Enter recovery mode

On the Chromebook with the error:

  1. If you have anything connected to this Chromebook (such as a mouse or external hard drive), remove it.
  2. Enter recovery mode:
    • Chromebook: Press and hold Esc + Refresh Refresh, then press Power Power. Let go of Power. When a message shows on the screen, let go of the other keys.
    • Chromebox: First, turn it off. Using a paper clip or similar object, press and hold the recovery button. Press the Power button to turn the Chromebox back on. When you see a message on screen, release the recovery button.
    • Chromebit: First, unplug it from power. Using a paper clip or similar object, press and hold the recovery button. Plug the Chromebit back in to power. When you see a message on screen, release the recovery button.
  3. You'll see one of these messages:
    • 'Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card'.
    • 'Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card'.
  4. Insert the USB flash drive or SD card that you used to create recovery media.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Optional: Reuse your USB flash drive or SD card

After recovering your Chromebook, you’ll need to erase the recovery media if you want to reuse your USB flash drive or SD card to store other files.

To erase the recovery media:

  1. Open the recovery app.
  2. Click Settings Settings.
  3. Click Erase recovery media.
  4. From the drop-down menu, select the USB drive or SD card that you'd like to erase.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. Make sure that the storage device you used for recovery is listed.
  7. Click Erase now.
  8. The tool will erase everything on your USB drive or SD card. When you see the message 'Your recovery media has been erased,' click Done.
  9. Remove the USB flash drive or SD card from the computer.
  10. Format the storage device using a tool provided by your operating system.

Fix problems with recovery

'An unexpected error has occurred'
  1. Erase the storage device, then try recovery again.
  2. Try using a different USB flash drive or SD card to recover. Some USB flash drives and SD cards don’t work well with recovery.

If you're still having problems, contact your Chromebook manufacturer for help. Learn how to contact your manufacturer.

'Please remove all connected devices and start recovery'

First, remove anything that's connected to your Chromebook, such as a mouse, SD card or external hard drive. Then follow the steps to enter recovery mode.

'The device you inserted does not contain Chrome OS'

First, make sure that have you inserted the USB drive or SD card that you used to create recovery media.

If you're using the correct storage device but still see this error, the storage device might not be working properly.

  1. Erase the storage device, then try recovery again.
  2. Try using a different USB flash drive or SD card to recover. Some USB flash drives and SD cards don’t work well with recovery.

If you're still having problems, contact your Chromebook manufacturer for help. Learn how to contact your manufacturer.

'The security module on this device is not working'

First, ask our experts for help:

  • If you use your Chromebook at work or school, contact your administrator. Administrators: Contact Google support.
  • Chat with experts on the Chromebook help forum.

If you’re still having problems, contact your manufacturer to repair your Chromebook. Learn how to contact your manufacturer.

Other ways to recover a Chromebook

Press the recovery button

On some Chromebooks, you start recovery by using a paper clip to press a recovery button. Here’s where you can find the button:

When you see a message on screen, continue with recovery.

Use a Linux computer
  1. On the Linux computer, download the Recovery Tool here: https://dl.google.com/dl/edgedl/chromeos/recovery/linux_recovery.sh
  2. Change the script permissions to allow execution with the following command: $ sudo chmod 755 linux_recovery.sh
  3. Run the script with root privileges with the following command: $ sudo bash linux_recovery.sh
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to create recovery media.
  5. Continue recovering your Chromebook by following the steps above.

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

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