How to fix ‘Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged’ on your Chromebook

How to fix ‘Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged’ on your Chromebook

Google’s Chrome OS is an intuitive simple interface to navigate. Of course, even the best operating systems have the occasional bug or issue that pops up. If you’ve recently encountered the Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged message on your Chromebook, you might be concerned. This error is relatively easy to troubleshoot, but it’s also a good idea to understand why you might receive this message on your Chromebook.

The message Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged displays when your device encounters a problem loading the operating system. You usually encounter this during startup, but the message can also appear at random while you’re using the computer. The error screen looks slightly different depending on the device model, but the potential solutions are the same for all Chromebooks.

This message will also appear if you decide to enable Developer Mode on your Chromebook or Chromebox. Keep in mind if you’re attempting to enable Developer Mode, this is completely normal and actually part of the required process. However, if you encountered this message unintentionally, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot it.

Developer mode screenshot on Chrome OS

Below are options to troubleshoot Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged errors. These options are listed in order of increasing severity. If you can solve the problem with the simplest choice, do not proceed to any of the further choices.

Power Chromebook off and back on (quickest option)

Occasionally you can fix issues like this by simply powering your device off and then turning it back on. Press and hold the Power button until the device turns off, then wait a few seconds and press the Power button again to turn it back on.

This option will likely only fix the issue if there was a small glitch or bug, but it’s also the least time-consuming option and it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

Powerwash your Chromebook (factory reset)

Before attempting this step, be aware this will erase all locally stored data on your machine. Make sure to back up anything you wish to keep to an external drive or cloud storage service. You can find the option to powerwash your Chromebook in the Settings menu.

This process can be a bit more time intensive if you have a lot of data stored on your device locally. If you store most information in the cloud, this shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes to complete. Powerwashing fixes most issues so if you received the Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged message, this will hopefully do the trick.

Powerwash in settings on Chrome OS

Reinstall Chrome OS (most severe issues)

If a simple reboot or Powerwash doesn’t work, you may need to reinstall Chrome OS entirely. This option should only be attempted if the first two suggestions didn’t work. Reinstalling Chrome OS requires access to another Chromebook, Mac, or Windows PC. You’ll also need a spare USB flash drive or SD card with around 8GB of free space on it.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and reinstall Chrome OS for scratch, here’s how to do it:

  • Using the Google Chrome browser on another computer, download and install the Chromebook Recovery Utility by selecting Add to Chrome in the Chrome Web Store.
  • Launch the program. You’re asked to provide the Chromebook model number, which you can enter manually or choose from a list.
  • You may be asked to grant permission to make changes to your USB flash drive or SD card. Simply click Yes.
  • Plug the USB flash drive or SD card into the Chromebook, and then follow the on-screen prompts to download Chrome OS to your external drive or card.
  • Once the download is complete, remove the USB flash drive or SD card.
  • With the Chromebook powered on, hold Esc+Refresh on the keyboard, then press the Power button to reboot in recovery mode.
  • At the Chrome OS is missing or damaged screen, insert the SD card or USB drive containing Chrome OS. You should then go through the operating system’s installation process.

Chrome OS recovery utility in Chrome store

This process should restore your Chromebook to like-new condition, just as it came out of the box. If you continue to get any error messages, it’s likely you have a hardware issue that needs repairing by the OEM you bought from. Most OEMs like Acer offer some type of warranty coverage, so reach out and find out what options you have.

Hopefully you feel a bit better now about getting your Chromebook back to working condition. The Chrome OS is Missing or Damaged message is not the end of the world. Most of the time the issue is easily repaired via a quick reboot or Powerwash. Make sure that before you attempt any options, you back up all of your personal data to prevent loss.

If you have any additional questions about fixing this issue with your Chromebook, drop them in the comments. If you’re looking to take your Chromebook to the next level, check out our guide on Linux apps for Chrome OS.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.