Tech Made Simple

Hot Topics: How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems | Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy | How to Block Spam Calls | Snapchat Symbol Meaning

We may earn commissions when you buy from links on our site. Why you can trust us.

author photo

How to Safely Dispose of Your Old Chromebook

by Suzanne Kantra on April 12, 2024

Chromebooks have been a fantastic solution for many, offering lightweight computing with a focus on cloud-based services. But just like any piece of tech, they don't last forever. If your Chromebook has reached the end of its useful life, it's time to say goodbye – responsibly, for both your own and the environment's safety. 

Computer recycling concept with a chrombook that has a recycling symbol on the back

Chromebooks store all sorts of personal data, from saved passwords to personal photos and confidential emails. While most of this information is stored in the cloud, you've likely downloaded documents and photos to local storage as well. Proper disposal means ensuring all data is completely irretrievable.

Once you’ve cleared your personal information, you can’t simply throw your Chromebook in the trash. Doing so isn’t safe or environmentally friendly. These devices contain batteries and electronic components that can release hazardous materials, including lead, mercury, and cadmium, into the soil and water sources if they end up in landfills, or pollute the air if incinerated. Finding a responsible recycler or a place to donate your Chromebook is essential.

So, if you have a Chromebook you're throwing or giving away, follow my steps below to make sure you've covered all your bases.

Step 1: Back up your files

Before you start the disposal process, it's crucial to back up any important data you want to keep. Chromebooks primarily rely on cloud storage, so most of your data is likely already backed up to your Google Drive. However, if you have any files stored locally on the device, now is the time to upload them to the cloud or transfer them to an external storage device, such as a USB drive or SD card.

To back up files stored on your local drive:

  1. Click the Launcher button (the circle icon) in the lower-left corner of your Chromebook's display.
  2. In the window that opens, find and launch the Files app. If you don't see the Files app, search for "Files" in the Google search bar.
  3. From the Files window, click Downloads in the left panel. These are the files that you've stored locally on your Chromebook.
  4. Drag and drop any files you'd like to save to your Google Drive, or the USB drive or SD card you plugged into your Chromebook.
  5. Double-check by opening your Google Drive, USB drive or SD card to ensure that all the files are there.

Step 2: Remove your personal data

Once you have backed up all your files, it's time to remove your data from your Chromebook by returning it to its factory settings. This process, also known as a "Powerwash," will erase all the information on your Chromebook's hard drive, restoring it to the same state it was in when it first came out of the box.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Turn on your Chromebook. If you're already logged in, sign out of your account.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R keys on your keyboard. This will bring up the "Reset this Chrome device" dialog box.
  3. In the dialog box, click "Restart." This will restart your Chromebook and bring up the "Reset this Chrome device" screen.
  4. On the "Reset this Chrome device" screen, click "Powerwash" and then "Continue."
  5. The reset process will begin, and a progress bar will appear on the screen. This process may take several minutes, so be patient.

Once the reset is complete, your Chromebook will restart and display the welcome screen, just as it did when you first got it.

Step 3: Recycle or donate your Chromebook

Now that your Chromebook has been reset and all your personal data has been securely erased, it's time to dispose of your Chromebook responsibly. The best options are to recycle your Chromebook or, if it's still in good working condition, to donate it.

Google offers a free and convenient recycling program for Chromebooks. If you live in U.S., you can request a free shipping label from RLGA. Outside of the U.S., you can request a free shipping label from ERI

In addition to Google's program, electronics retailers like Staples and Best Buy, offer free recycling services for devices like Chromebooks.

If your Chromebook is still in good working condition, consider donating it to a local school, library, or non-profit organization. Many of these organizations can put old devices to good use, providing access to technology for those who might not otherwise have it.

Before donating your Chromebook, it's a good idea to contact the organization first to make sure they accept device donations and to find out if they have any specific requirements or preferences.

[image credit: Chromebook recycling concept generated by DALL-E, OpenAI]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.


Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy, Tech 101, Green Tech

Discussion loading

Home | About | Meet the Team | Contact Us
Media Kit | Newsletter Sponsorships | Licensing & Permissions
Accessibility Statement
Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookie Policy

Techlicious participates in affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provide a small commission from some, but not all, of the "click-thru to buy" links contained in our articles. These click-thru links are determined after the article has been written, based on price and product availability — the commissions do not impact our choice of recommended product, nor the price you pay. When you use these links, you help support our ongoing editorial mission to provide you with the best product recommendations.

© Techlicious LLC.