Chrome OS Is Missing or Damaged: How to Fix This Error

You may need to reset or reinstall your Chromebook's operating system

No error message is more frightening to Chromebook users than "Chrome OS is missing or damaged." Fortunately, there are a number of ways to address this dreaded startup error. We show you how below.

Instructions in this article apply to laptops with Chrome OS, regardless of who made the device.

Causes of the 'Chrome OS Is Missing or Damaged' Error

The "Chrome OS is missing or damaged" error appears when a machine encounters problems loading the operating system. The problem is usually encountered during startup, but it 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.

How to Fix the 'Chrome OS Is Missing or Damaged' Error on Chromebooks

Try these steps in order until your Chromebook can boot successfully:

  1. Power the Chromebook off and 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.

  2. Reset the Chromebook to factory settings. If you're able to log in to the Chromebook, powerwash Chrome OS to return the machine to its original state.

    Performing a factory reset erases your locally stored files, so make sure you back up everything to your Google Drive.

  3. Reinstall Chrome OS. If the computer is still stuck at the Chrome OS is missing or damaged screen, then your only option is to perform a fresh install of the operating system. You can find instructions on how to do that below.

Reinstalling Chrome OS in recovery mode completely wipes the hard drive, including your downloads and personal files.

How to Reinstall Chrome OS

To reinstall a Chromebook's operating system, you need another working computer with Chrome OS, macOS, or Windows, as well as a formatted USB flash drive or SD card with a minimum of 8 GB of space.

  1. Using the Google Chrome browser on a working computer, download and install the Chromebook Recovery Utility by selecting Add to Chrome in the Chrome Web Store.

    You can find the Chromebook Recovery Utility in the Chrome Web Store
  2. Launch the program. You're asked to provide the Chromebook model number. You can enter it manually or choose it from a list.

    If prompted to grant the OS permission to make changes to the USB drive or SD card, select Yes or Allow

    You need to enter your Chromebook model number before downloading the OS
  3. Plugin your USB flash drive or SD card, then follow the on-screen prompts to download Chrome OS to your removable media.

  4. Once the download is complete, remove the USB drive or SD card.

  5. With the Chromebook powered on, hold Esc+Refresh on the keyboard, then press the Power button to reboot in recovery mode.

  6. At the Chrome OS is missing or damaged screen, insert the SD card or USB drive containing Chrome OS. You should then be taken through the operating system's installation process.

Once complete, your Chromebook should function as it did when you first purchased it. If the problem still isn't fixed, you may have a hardware issue. Contact Google or the device manufacturer for further assistance.