There are times when you want to give your managed Chromebooks a fresh start. The start of the school year or semester and when you are assigning Chromebooks are both great examples.
Whether you call it a powerwash, factory reset, or hard reset, Google now allows Google admins to reset Chromebooks remotely using the Google Admin Console. This is possible on managed Chromebooks running at least Chrome OS version 85.
Powerwashing will reset the Chromebook completely making the Chromebook forget all settings and users. It returns the Chromebook to what it was like when you unboxed it. The one exception is the Chromebook will remain on its current Chrome OS version.
Considerations when factory resetting a Chromebook
Before you hard reset your Chromebook you need to be aware of a few things.
All WiFi settings will be lost
If your WiFi requires an authentication key (password) or a certificate to be installed prior to joining, you will have to set this information on each Chromebook after the factory reset.
You can push network settings to Chromebooks using the Google Admin Console, but the catch here is the Chromebook has to be able to connect to the Internet in order to download those settings.
Many schools control what devices can connect to their WiFi using mac-based authentication to avoid issues like this.
If you find yourself with this issue, here’s a possible quick solution. Enable a temporary SSID (network name) that any device can join and access the Internet. Once the Chromebook reenrolls in your domain, it will download the network settings you are pushing out and be able to connect to your “normal” SSID.
Force Chromebooks to re-enroll in your domain
Please, please, please do not miss this step. There is not enough ibuprofen in the world to fix this headache.
In the Google Admin Console, the very first Device Setting programs Forced re-enrollment. Forcing re-enrollment is now the default setting, but it’s worth double-checking.
If you do not have this enabled before you powerwash a Chromebook, it will not enroll in your domain and you will have no control over device settings unless it is manually re-enrolled.
If a user has the Chromebook when you reset it without re-enrollment forced, you basically will have given out a free personal Chromebook.
You can read more about forcing re-enrollment on Google’s support page.
Reset a Chromebook using the Google Admin Console
Follow these setups to factory reset one Chromebook.
- Log in to the Google Admin Console
- Click on Devices
- Click on Chrome Devices
- Click Search or add a filter
- Search for the serial number of the Chromebook you want to remove the account profiles from.
- Click on the serial number of the device. It should be listed in blue.
- If you do not see your device, try changing the search status from provisioned to all. You may be dealing with a disabled Chromebook.
- Click the Reset button on the left side of the screen
- If you do not have the reset button option, it means the Chromebook has not been updated to a Chrome OS version that supports remote Powerwashing.
- Select the Factory Reset option
- Click the box next to I understand this will remove data from the device and cannot be undone.
- Click Reset
Google will then try to reset the Chromebook. If the user is logged on to the Chromebook at the time, they will be logged off. If the Chromebook is not online, it will Powerwash the next time it connects to the internet.
After the reset, all the user profiles will be gone. Any allowed user can log on. The Chromebook will set up the user’s profile like it did the first time they signed into it.
Remove account profiles from multiple Chromebooks using the Google Admin Console
For schools, it makes sense to return a Chromebook to “new” status in preparation for a new student using it next year or next semester. You can do this manually, but for Chromebooks running Chrome OS 85 or higher, it is a much easier task if you use the Google Admin Console.
You can remove all of the profiles from a school Chromebook by following the steps in my How to Delete All Accounts From School Chromebooks article.
Since you can trigger a Powerwash from the Google Admin Console, you may consider disabling the ability to Powerwash from a Chromebook. I show you how in my Stop Students From Powerwashing Chromebooks article.