Powerwash or Factory Reset Chromebooks Using Google Admin Console


There are times when you want give your managed Chromebooks a fresh start. The start of the school year or semester, when you are assigning Chromebooks, are 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 as 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 rest 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.

  1. Log into the Google Admin Console
  2. Click on Devices
  1. Click on Chrome Devices
  1. Click Search or add a filter
  2. Search for the serial number of the Chromebook you want to remove the account profile from.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Select the Factory Reset option
  2. Click the box next to I understand this will remove data from the device and cannot be undone.
  3. Click Reset

Google will then try to reset the Chromebook. If the user is logged on the Chromebook at the time, they will be logged off.

After the reset all the user profiles will be gone. Any allowed user can log on. The Chromebook will setup 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 much easier task if you use the Google Admin Console.

Now, before following the steps below, make sure you understand the considerations I listed above.

Follow these setups to factory reset multiple Chromebooks remotely at the same time.

  1. Log into the Google Admin Console
  2. Click on Devices
  1. Click on Chrome Devices
  1. Browse to the OU that contains the Chromebooks you want to reset.
  2. You can now click the boxes next to the Chromebooks you want to remove profiles from. If you want to select all of the Chromebooks on the screen, click the checkbox next to Serial Number.

If you do not see some of your device, try changing the search status from provisioned to all. You may be have some disabled Chromebooks.

You can select up to 50 Chromebooks at a time depending on the number of rows per page you have chosen.

  1. Click the Reset Selected Devices button as shown in the image below

If you do not have the reset button option, it means one or more selected Chromebooks have not been updated to a Chrome OS version that supports remotely removing profiles.

  1. Select the Factory Reset option
  2. Click the box next to I understand this will remove data from the device and cannot be undone.
  3. Click Reset

Google will then try to factory reset all of the selected Chromebooks. If there are users logged on the Chromebook at the time, they will be logged off.

Configure Chromebooks to not save user profile information

In some cases, students are not assigned Chromebooks and/or students do not use the same Chromebooks each time. In these cases you can program your managed Chromebooks to to forget the logged on profile when the user logs off. This is done using the Google Admin Console.

This has to be done by someone with Google Admin Console rights to modify Device Settings for the OU in which the Chromebooks are located.

Follow these setups to setup a group of Chromebooks to always forget profiles when users log off or reboot a Chromebook

  1. Log into the Google Admin Console
  2. Click on Devices
  1. Click on Chrome Devices
  1. Change the drop down shown before to Settings
  1. Click on the Device Settings tab
  1. Scroll down the section
  2. Find the User data section
  3. Change the option to Erase all local user data
  1. Click Save

Now every time a user logs out of a Chromebook, their profile will be forgotten. All of the apps, extensions, and settings applied to the user are installed each time they login.

Sometimes a Chromebook locks up and shows nothing on the screen. Let’s take a look at how to force a Chromebook to reboot when this happens.

Dave Carty

K12 district technology administrator, Google domain admin, Certified Google Trainer.

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