What to do if your Chromebook won’t start

Chromebooks are generally durable machines, and their software has been supported by Google for years. This does not mean, however, that they are immune to malfunctions. More Chromebooks come with entry-level hardware, making them even more vulnerable to system failures. But if your Chromebook won’t turn on, you don’t need to panic right away.

Boot failure is a common error faced by Chromebook owners. But more often than not, the problem stems from a harmless bug rather than a serious hardware failure. So, before you rush to the manufacturer’s service center, there are a few solutions you can try at home to troubleshoot your Chrome OS device. Here’s what to do if your Chromebook won’t turn on.

Check if your Chromebook is charging

Your first step in reviving your Chromebook is making sure it has enough charge to turn on. The majority of Chrome OS devices have a small LED next to their charging ports that lights up every time you plug them in. If it’s red, your Chromebook is charging. Green indicates that your computer is fully charged.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Even when this LED is working fine, it’s best to leave your Chromebook plugged in for at least an hour before attempting to turn it back on. External environmental factors such as ambient temperature can often impact your Chromebook’s battery capacity to hold charge; therefore, in such scenarios, it may take longer than usual for the juice. Additionally, the LED module itself might have malfunctioned and become unreliable.

If the light on your Chromebook doesn’t come on and you’ve already charged it for an hour, you may have a faulty charger on your hands. Check if it works with another device or try charging your Chromebook with a different power supply.

Make sure your Chromebook is not affected by external devices

Another factor that can prevent your Chromebook from starting is the presence of a damaged external accessory. This can range from a microSD card to a Type C dongle. Electrical signals from a faulty device can potentially interfere with the internal components of your Chromebook.

(Image credit: Avenir)

More importantly, if an accessory continues to fail when you start your Chromebook, it can cause permanent damage to your machine’s hardware. So before you do any troubleshooting, disconnect everything from your Chromebook except the charger.

Is your Chromebook screen broken?

It’s also possible that your Chromebook turns on, but you can’t see anything due to a dead screen. Connect your computer to a monitor or TV via the HDMI or USB Type-C port to rule out this possibility. Hold down the power button on your Chrome OS machine for a few seconds to force restart. If the external screen is showing your wallpaper, it is confirming that your Chromebook’s display – and not its motherboard – is faulty.

(Image credit: Avenir)

People who don’t have access to a second monitor can check if their keyboard backlight is working. Press Alt and the brightness button on your keyboard to adjust the backlight brightness. Alternatively, you can plug in your phone and see if the Chromebook is charging it.

Perform a hard reset on your Chromebook

Once you’ve established that the module inside your Chromebook is the culprit, you need to perform a hard reset. This restarts several of your Chromebook’s major internal components, such as the trackpad and keyboard, and clears out any temporary piles of data your device must have accumulated. Don’t worry, despite what the name suggests, a hard reset on Chrome OS won’t erase your data.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

To perform a hard reset on your Chromebook, press and hold the Refresh button on your keyboard and press the power key. If and when your Chromebook screen turns on, release the Refresh button.

On Chrome OS tablets, you must press the volume up and power buttons for at least 10 seconds and then release them. For all-in-ones and Chrome OS mini-PCs, remove the power cable and plug it back in after a few seconds.

Recover your Chromebook and reinstall Chrome OS

When none of the above methods are suitable for you, your only recourse is to reinstall Chrome OS on your laptop. Before continuing, check if your Chromebook is able to enter recovery mode in the first place.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Click and hold the Esc and Refresh keys, and then press the power button. When a message appears on the screen, release the keys and go to the next step. Unfortunately, for Chromebook owners who failed to access recovery mode, you now have no choice but to contact your device manufacturer.

Note that this will essentially reset your Chromebook to its factory settings and delete any data that you may have stored locally on your computer.

Now you will need a spare Windows PC or Mac and an empty flash drive. Open Google Chrome on a working computer and install the recovery extension. Launch the extension and follow the onscreen instructions to create Chrome OS recovery media.

Insert the flash drive into your Chromebook while it is in recovery mode and continue with the setup wizard to reinstall Chrome OS on your laptop. This should hopefully fix your Chromebook startup issues.

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