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Powerwash Chromebook

The Covid-19 pandemic immediately closed schools in February of 2020. This closure forced schools to assign computers for each student. This high volume of computers was costly for school districts so most opted for the low-cost Chromebook. Google reported their sales in 2020, rose to 20M Chromebooks, or up 17% from pre-pandemic levels.¹

This high volume of Chromebooks in schools has created an issue for the processing and sanitization of these devices when they are turned back in. It would be a major failure if pictures and internet content from a 10th grader was found by a 1st grader. This document provides the steps for ‘Powerwashing’ your Chromebook so they can be ‘As New’ and assigned to another student.

Powerwashing your Chromebook is essentially a factory reset and will change the encryption key on the drive. This renders the information on the drive unrecoverable (unless the encryption can be broken)⁴.

This built-in tool completely resets the machine to the version of Chrome OS that was originally installed at the factory. That means it removes any customizations that have been made to the device — background image, display resolution, homepage, themes, and extensions. It also removes all user accounts and local files stored on the machine, but it does not remove any files stored on an inserted SD card. 

The Powerwash will remove all Google Accounts previously used on the Chromebook, as well as any settings associated with the Google accounts.

Here is how you can Powerwash the Chromebook from inside Chrome OS⁵:

  1. Open the Chrome browser
  2. Click the menu button, represented by three vertically aligned dots and located in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window.
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, select Settings.
  4. Chrome’s Settings interface can also be accessed via the Chromebook Taskbar menu, located in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.
  5. Chrome’s Settings interface should now be displayed. Scroll to the bottom and click Advanced.
  6. Chrome’s Advanced Settings appear. Scroll down again until you locate the Reset settings section and select the Powerwash option.
  7. A dialog labeled Restart your device should be displayed, overlaying the Settings interface. Click on Restart.
  8. Your Chromebook will now be restarted and the Powerwash process will complete. When prompted, sign in with your Google Account credentials and follow the on-screen prompts to set up your newly-restored Chromebook.

Powerwashing can be performed at the Login Screen³ by following these steps:

  1. While on the Chrome OS login screen and prior to authenticating, press the following keyboard shortcut: Shift+Ctrl+Alt+R
  2. A window will appear labeled Reset this Chrome device. Click Restart to begin.
  3. Your Chromebook will be restarted. After returning to the login screen, a new version of this window should be displayed. Click Powerwash.
  4. We recommend placing a check mark next to the Update firmware for added security option before continuing with the Powerwash process, as it provides better security protection for your device.
  5. The Confirm Powerwash dialog will now appear. Click Continue.

WipeDrive Partnership

Google Chromebooks have not opened the architecture to allow for high volume, simultaneous PXE wiping by tools like WipeDrive Enterprise. When the architecture is opened, we will add compatibility for these devices. In the meantime, any Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop workstation can be securely erased by WipeDrive Enterprise. For more information or to request a trial contact our Sales Team at 801.224.8900. 

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