If your Chromebook is having problems or you’re thinking of selling or passing it on to someone else, then resetting the device is a good idea. Chromebooks make this very easy thanks to a feature called Powerwash, which returns your laptop to a box-fresh condition, hopefully solving any issues you had and leaving no data for snoopers to stumble across.
Here’s the easy way to reset a Chromebook.
Will I lose my files if I reset my Chromebook?
One of the advantages of Chromebooks is that the vast majority of your data is kept in the cloud rather than on the machine itself. This means that when you reset one, you don’t have to worry about whether your files will safely make the transition. There are a few notable exceptions though.
Anything in your Downloads folder will be deleted as will any other music, pictures or videos that you currently store on your device (although if you have copies in Google Drive then they will be safe online).
The easiest way to check what’s on your hard drive is to open the Files app the select the My Files section from the left-hand column. In here you’ll see any folders on your device and the files kept within them. If you find ones that are important and not already stored in Google Drive, quickly make back-up copies and pop them in your Google Drive folder.
With that done, you’re ready to reset your Chromebook.
How to reboot a stuck Chromebook
If your Chromebook has frozen and become unresponsive, then a quick reboot can sometimes get things running once more. To do this simply hold down the power key until you see the machine turn off and reboot. When it comes back to the desktop, log in, then try updating the software to clear out any lingering bugs. To do this, go to Settings > About Chrome OS > Check for Updates.
How to Powerwash your Chromebook
For a complete refresh, the Powerwash feature is what you’ll need. To access this, open Settings > Advanced > Reset Settings, then in the Powerwash section click the Reset button.
Your Chromebook should reboot then ask you to log in once more and confirm you choice. Do so and you’ll have as as-new Chromebook desktop with none of your files or account details onboard. If you want to get everything back, just log in with your Google account and things so return to how they were before the Powerwash.
Of course, if you’re giving your old Chromebook to someone else, be sure to check out our guide to the best Chromebooks to pick an excellent replacement. Or, if you're thinking of a change, have a look at our roundup of the best budget Windows laptops.