What to Do When Your Chromebook Won’t Boot

In a world obsessed with productivity and cost-efficiency, Chromebooks are a natural fit. They provide a robust and stable platform that encourages collaboration. But, they’re still essentially laptops. Like all other laptops, they can run into software and hardware issues and refuse to turn on.

What to Do When Your Chromebook Won't Boot

The main selling point of Chromebooks is their cost, but a close second is a reliability. Many people choose Chromebooks because they have a great track record of stability, so it can be very frustrating if one refuses to boot up. In this article, you’ll find some ways to deal with common issues that prevent Chromebooks from starting or booting.

Help, Chrome OS Isn’t Loading

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Chromebooks all run the same OS but they’re manufactured by several different companies. The steps featured herein may vary slightly but they should roughly follow the same outline no matter which brand it is.

External Devices

Sometimes peripherals and other external devices might cause problems for Chromebooks and prevent the Chrome OS from loading properly. That’s a good place to start. If you have any USB devices plugged in, remove them. Also, make sure that all memory cards are removed from the relevant slots. Anything non-essential should be disconnected, including external hard drives.

Once you’ve removed all the devices, start the Chromebook. If it boots up, one of the devices was causing the issue. Reconnect them one at a time and restart your Chromebook after reconnecting each device to find out which one it was.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, the next solution is to perform a hard reset.

Hard Reset

The forced reset will not delete data stored on the computer’s hard drive. Anything that’s saved on Google Drive won’t be affected nor will anything on external memory banks.

The good news is that if this works, your Chromebook should run as well as it did the first time you started it.

To perform a hard reset, you should press and hold theRefresh” and “Power” buttons down for five seconds. The computer should turn off completely (no lights will be on) and then turn back on. If it doesn’t start after all the lights are off, wait for five seconds and press the power button again. If you’re working on a tablet-style Chromebook, press and hold the “Volume Up” and power buttons instead.


If the lights go off but it doesn’t start back up at all, an error in the operating system may be to blame. To fix it you’ll have to do a system recovery.

System Recovery

If your Chromebook simply isn’t starting up, go through all the other fixes before doing this, because it’s a little more involved. If none of them work, try asking on expert forums for a solution to your specific problem. If it is starting up but it shows the message “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” then it will need a system recovery.

The system recovery will erase everything on your Chromebook, including the settings and anything in the download folder. You’ll also need another working computer to perform the recovery, as well as a blank USB drive with at least 8GB of memory.

First, install the Chrome browser on your working computer and download the Chrome Recovery Utility. Start the utility and select your Chromebook model from the list. You can also select a model number that will be displayed on the bottom of the error message on the Chromebook. Then, click “Continue.”


Insert the USB drive into the working computer and select it from the drop-down menu that appears and click Continue again. In the following screen, you should click on “Create Now” to finish the procedure. You can then remove the flash drive from your computer.

Now you need to enter recovery mode on the Chromebook. Press and hold the Escape and Refresh keys and press the Power button once. When you see a message on the screen, release the other keys. You should see the message “Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card.” on your screen. When that happens, insert the USB drive that you prepared into the Chromebook and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.

When the system is fully restored, you’ll be prompted to redo the initial setup.

A New Beginning

Chromebooks are generally very stable and reliable. That, however, doesn’t mean that they’re infallible, and if you run into trouble with yours, one of these methods should help.

Make sure you go through every possibility before you commit to a System Restore. In fact, a system restore should only be performed if the Chromebook explicitly calls for it with an error message.

Are you happy with your Chromebook? If you’ve had trouble what were the causes and how did you fix it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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