Bricked chromebook, how to clean?
June 14, 2016 12:26 PM   Subscribe

For nearly two and a half years I was the proud owner of an HP 11 Chromebook. The power socket crapped out on it last week rendering it effectively useless (will not charge, battery is dead, will not turn on). It's a cheap machine and has already been replaced...that's not why I'm here.

I'd like to just be able to chuck it in the garbage and move on with my life (actually, I'd love to be able to give it to someone who could use it, but I don't know that it's repairable or even worth repairing) but it has a few things saved to it that I don't want anyone else to have. Like the last three years of tax returns. (What would be even better is if I could have access to the files to copy them just in case, but I'm pretty sure everything is backed up and priority 1 is being able to delete/destroy them.) I need to delete these files off the computer before taking the next step.

There's got to be a better way to do this than popping it in the microwave for a few minutes.

How do I do this?
posted by phunniemee to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Did you enable developer mode? If not, your chromebook is encrypted. Your data, both in the Downloads/ directory and any cached browser data is as safe as anything protected by your google account. You can rest easy. Read more here.
posted by dis_integration at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

As an addendum, unless you enabled Developer mode, there's basically no way to access the data on the chromebook except going through the normal boot process. Chromebooks are locked down and only permit booting through the cryptographically signed chromeos. Booting into developer mode, for example, will wipe the disk. Unless you can fix the power supply, you'll never see that data again.
posted by dis_integration at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, I believe that Chromebook has an embedded eMMC SSD, so you can't just open it up and remove it: it's probably stuck right to the mainboard.

You might try to track down someone handy, as sometimes a busted power plug can be an easy-ish solder job. Depends on what's busted.
posted by selfnoise at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh neat! Thanks! Google is the best.
posted by phunniemee at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2016

Yeah, this is one of the advantages of ChromeOS. I lost a Chromebook a couple years ago and was momentarily freaked out until I remembered the encryption aspect. You could smash it with a hammer or something if you want, but unless you've got the NSA on your tail or something I wouldn't worry (and if you do, you probably have bigger problems).
posted by thefoxgod at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2016

Just take it to a cell phone repair store. Ifixit or whatever. They can probably do it super-fast, super-cheap. Or smash it with a hammer a zillion times.
posted by Slinga at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2016

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