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Meet The New Chrome OS Recovery Utility

Creating a recovery device for your Chromebook is about to become much easier with the arrival of a new, dedicated packaged app.

One of the very first things every new Chromebook owner should do after unboxing their device is to grab a flash drive and prepare a fail safe “recovery device”. In a worst case scenario, that little stick will completely reformat your machine and restore it to a known good copy of Chrome OS.

Granted, it is a little extreme for most issues, which is why a ‘Powerwash’ is usually the recommended option for factory resets. In the context of a broken software update or a corrupted system image, however, it will be the only option left on the table. Even with that noted, I often find myself hesitant to recommend creating one.

Why? The process for creating a recovery device is far more complicated than it needs to be. As it stands today, there is a different tool for Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Yes, that’s correct, four different sets of directions based on which type of computer you want to use to create the device.

‘Solution’

Thankfully, a solution is on the horizon. The Chrome team has built a new Chrome packaged app with an absolutely gorgeous interface that will replace all the current tools with a single, dedicated app available directly from the Chrome Web Store.

The new app is currently being recommended by developers on the Chromium tracker, but it has not yet been officially released by Google. Luckily, however, it is available for download. I’ve been using it for the past few days with very few issues, and I have to say it has me excited.

Recovery Utility Welcome Screen

Welcome Screen – Soft and Inviting

Compared to the current imageburner tool found on Chrome OS, the new app’s welcome screen is soft and inviting. It’s a much needed change in my opinion, and is a great way to start the process. There isn’t anything scary here, nor should there be.

Device selection has been improved.

Device selection has been improved.

If you aren’t using a Chromebook to create your recovery device, you currently have to go through the trouble of finding your device’s model number and entering it in manually. This is a massive pain, and in a few cases where the model number wasn’t yet added to the database, immensely frustrating. The new app adds the ability to select your model from a list, which is a huge improvement to the user experience.

Your device is pictured once selected.

Your device is pictured once selected.

In a show of how much attention to detail was used when creating this app, the device icon actually updates to reflect the one you’ve selected. Since installing the wrong recovery image to your device could be a very big deal, more visual checks in place to confirm the correct option has been selected are always welcome.

Selecting your recovery device is easier now too.

Selecting your recovery device is easier now too.

There is now a dropdown that lets you select which of your removable storage devices you would like to use for the recovery device. Again, this is a small but important improvement over the current experience.

Extended options are also available

Extended options are also available

For those that prefer to select local images, don’t fret – that functionality is included in the new app as well. There is also a feedback option neatly tucked behind the settings icon.

Once announced, this app will be an excellent replacement for our current toolset. If you’re the type of person that might like to give it a spin, you can grab it from the Chrome Web Store below.

Please remember that it should be treated as beta software until we see an official release. If you do happen to find a bug, please feel free to report it in this thread on the official product forum.

Download the Recovery Utility

  • Shark Bait

    “One of the very first things every new Chromebook owner should do after unboxing their device is to grab a flash drive and prepare a fail safe recovery device”
    really???? why??

    • http://lewisgoddard.eustasy.org/ Lewis Goddard

      Just in case. Good form on any system.

      • Shark Bait

        but chrome os is already backed up, and whats the point in making a recovery for a clean system?

        • http://www.craigtumblison.com/ Craig Tumblison

          Hey there, excellent question. The primary use of a Chrome OS recovery device is as a fail safe, to restore the Chrome OS image should it become corrupted. This very rarely happens, but it is always possible that a software glitch could render the copy of Chrome OS installed on your hardware to not boot. If that were to happen, the recovery device would format your machine clean and install a known good copy. A more practical use case is for folks that have their devices set to “developer mode” where things are more likely to break :)

          • Shark Bait

            thanks! but wouldnt the built in powerwash be easier?

          • http://www.craigtumblison.com/ Craig Tumblison

            Yes, great point! The Powerwash functionality is a fantastic tool for deleting the stateful partition (where the user data is stored) and starting fresh. However, if a big problem is going to happen, it’s going to affect the system image, which would render the Powerwash tool useless (as it would be broken as well). As I mention in the article, this truly is a “last resort” tool to keep on hand. The average user should never truly have to use it, but I personally prefer to play it safe.

          • Roland

            I created a Recovery Stick as soon as I first setup my Acer C720, and to this day I’ve never had to use it. But making Recovery Media is a habit that I’ve gotten into since the day OEM’s stopped providing Recovery Discs with Windows Laptops.

          • Kenny Strawn

            Another use case Craig forgot to mention: If you switch to the Beta or Dev channels (or, in my case, Canary builds), you can only switch up, not down. If ever you end up updating to a Dev and/or Canary build that renders your Chromebook inoperable (I’ve had that happen), you are only able to revert back to a more stable Chrome OS version by performing a recovery.

          • Mark Dodsworth

            You can change up or down the channel, this was an issue fixed a few months back.

  • Boothy

    Whilst this is nice, and all. The time spent creating packaged apps for tasks that are rarely done would probably be better spent (or appreciated by users) on creating packaged apps for some of their popular services.
    Gmail packaged app (1 app for on/offline).
    Where is that Movies packaged app????
    Quick office/Google docs(Drive) packaged apps anyone?

    • http://omgubuntu.co.uk/ Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      It’s not an either or. Different tasks are often handled by different teams, and it’s easy to see why recovery would be more of a priority than providing something which can already be accessed on/offline in the browser (gmail, google docs, etc)

      There is a gmail packaged app for offline. I get why a unified app would make sense on paper, but if you’re online, use a tab. The movies packaged app is on its way, while a quick office app is already available on Chrome when opening specific file types.

      • Boothy

        “quick office app is already available on Chrome”
        Yeah, but it’s barely worthy of it’s beta tag and seems to have made minimal improvements in the year or so since “release”.

        You can already burn a recovery image using chrome://imageburner/ or using the recovery tool for windows.

        The chrome app manager app is missing options from just using the old route in settings.
        If Google don’t drive packaged apps for their own platform, why should other developers bother to convert their current web offerings?

  • mthiker52

    thanks, very good info. Hopefully never need this, but 4gb sticks are dirt cheap

  • kris n

    Great get the job done without the hassle.
    I bought hp chromebook 14 and for some reason I wasn’t able to make recovery image with original image burner ( rhe preinstalled one)

  • stuart binning

    thanks for the heads up, nly had my chromebook 2 weeks and was wondering about that, i always feel safer with a backup image in my collection….sometimes late at night i just get the urge to fiddle, i cant help it, an i got no idea what im doing, windows always crashed on me, those images saved me, i can now root and rom and re-kernel android devices, and i only lost one for 3 days before managed to get it back. great learning curve..now i must not, will not fiddle with my chromebook…but just incase im gonna make that backup. ill feel so much safer…..thanx

  • Tom King

    A flash drive with this utility should already be included with the purchase on the new Chromebook.

    • dourscot

      Why? No other computer includes media these days.

  • syntheticMedia

    How is this different and/or better than using chrome://imageburner? I understand it has a nice gui (so does/imageburner), but is there a compelling reason to use this app over the built in chrome commands? Or perhaps its the same, but a good attempt at marketing backups to more users that may not know about commands??

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      By making it a packaged app the app can also be run on Windows, Mac and Linux — handy if your Chromebook ends up borked.

      Now, while all the platforms above can already ‘burn’ recovery media through various dedicated apps/command line functions transitioning to a packaged app means Google only has to maintain one codebase as opposed to 4 (windows, mac, linux and chrome://imageburner).

      It’s less about what benefit this adds in features, and more about what benefits it offers in simplification and unification across platforms.

      • syntheticMedia

        Ah yes, that does make sense, I had not thought of it that way. But at its core, is there any reason I should make a recovery with this app if I have already done so with imageburner?

  • Mark M

    Wonderful idea but the tool doesn’t work very well. I am on by 6th attempt with two different USB drives and two different computers and it fails to write the image every time.