How to Dispose of a Chromebook (Repurpose and Recycle!)

So, you need to get rid of your Chromebook, but you’re not sure about the proper means to do so.

Or maybe you just want to find a new purpose for your old laptop. I mean, it has to be good for SOMETHING, right?

It’s a freakin’ Chromebook! It’s gotta be good for something, right?

Unless it’s completely bricked and you need to recycle it since it’s just an oversized paperweight.

With all the regulations that overlook the proper way to dispose of used electronics, it can get frustrating and confusing.

But don’t worry, this article SHOULD go over everything you need to know.

We’ll cover these topics in this guide:

  • How to shred your Chromebook’s SSD before you recycle or dispose of it
  • What to do when your device is not supported anymore
  • How to properly get rid of it
  • Different cool things you can do with an older, working Chromebook (repurpose it)
  • How to sell it used or salvage it
  • And more

You should have some new, creative ideas by the end of this page on what to do with that moderately priced paperweight!

Sound good? Let’s get rid of your Chromebook- as weird as that sounds.

My Chromebook is no longer supported – What do I do?!?

It's now safe to turn off your computer meme.
If you remember this, you’re a true 90s kid.

If you get this notification popping up all the time and you’re wondering if you can still use it or if there’s anything you need to be aware of.

First, yes, you can still keep using your Chromebook like the notification never popped up. This is standard for Chromebooks, as Google stops providing updates after 6.5 years, also called the Auto Update Expiration.

You can find out exactly when updates will stop by doing this:

  • Click on your account picture at the bottom-right of your screen
  • Find and click on Settings (gear icon)
  • Scroll down and click on “About Chrome OS”
  • Click on “Additional detials” in the new window
  • Find the section titled “Update schedule”
  • Look for the AUE date. This is the update that’ll end your Chromebook’s support.
  • When AUE expires, you’ll get a notification stating that you will no longer get updates for Chrome OS and the Chrome browser.

Every Chromebook will get a notification after 6.5 years since the manufacturer adopted the OS. This isn’t up to the manufacturer, as it’s a policy set by Google.

When you see the “Final software update” notification, you should be aware that you’ll no longer get critical security patches, UI updates, bug fixes, and new rollout enhancements or cool updates for Chrome OS AND the Chrome browser.

Thus, your Chromebook will be at risk for exploits discovered in both ecosystems.

Older extensions for Chrome or Play Store apps may not work because they may require the newest versions of either.

Note that the timer doesn’t start ticking when you first activate (buy) your Chromebook. It activates when the manufacturer jumps on board.

So even if you buy a Chromebook brand new, but it was launched 2 years ago, you only have 4.5 years of updates leftover.

If you’re worried about getting updates, you should buy a Chromebook when it first becomes available to the public. 6.5 years is definitely reasonable and is comparable to Windows.

But given the cheap price tag of Chromebooks, you’re getting a lot of value for your money.

Can you still use it even if it’s no longer supported?

When you get this notification, you should be aware that without continual updates, your Chromebook becomes vulnerable to security issues.

So you shouldn’t go willy nilly and download shady apps or visit suspicious websites.

What can you do when your Chromebook reaches end of life (EoL)?

There are some options to keep your device running smoothly and protected (and even get the latest updates).

So even if you’ve had your unit for quite some time (congrats), you can keep it going and get the most out of your money.

Turn it into a Linux machine

The first option (and my personal favorite) is to get Linux.

You can do this by using Crouton to install the full desktop version or you can boot from a USB drive. Linux does have a slight learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll quickly find that you can do everything and more.

There are alternative apps, programs, and software for all the essentials you’d find on Windows PC. And many of them are free.

You already know that switching from PC to ChromeOS requires you to find substitutes to your favorite programs already.

So if they exist for Chrome OS, they definitely do for Linux.

Linux offers its own “app store” library of programs that you can easily download and install that are excellent replacements for many common word processors, spreadsheets, game libraries, media players, photo editors, audio editors, web browsers, and more.

Everything you need probably has a Linux component. And Chrome OS is built from Linux in the first place.

(Mac is UNIX-based. Windows stems from MS-DOS in the early times.)

Plus, you’ll get constant updates for your specific distro as long as you get something that’s popular (because they’re widely supported and have plenty of documentation).

If you decide to go this route, it won’t cost you anything but some time and your favorite energy drink (or six).

I’d suggest following this guide to learn about the different distros and sticking with something like Linux Mint or Ubuntu for starters.

Note that getting Linux is completely free and won’t cost you a dime.

But, it will erase your Chromebook. So you’ll want to save your important data first before proceeding.

Download and install CloudReady

CloudReady is software that magically transforms devices into Chromebooks.

It’s not exclusive to Chromebooks and can be used for any old laptop like Macs or Windows into some speedy machines. Imagine that. Your old Windows 2000 laptop auto-magically transformed into a Chromebook. Much wow.

CloudReady allows your Chromebook to continually get software updates, even if it’s past the 6.5-year support timeline. The only drawback is that this technique will keep your machine a few updates behind the official latest releases.

So you’ll be running an older version of Chrome OS. But if you’re not screwing around and downloading shady apps and visiting random sites, you should be OK even if you’re a few updates behind.

Before you start, you should make a backup recovery drive. This is easy to do and will come in handy in case something breaks and allows you to quickly jump back to a working version of Chrome OS.

The recovery drive only takes a few minutes to make and Google has a tool specifically for this purpose.

Additionally, you should also make a backup of your pictures, videos, and other files you want to preserve.

This should give you some confidence so you can play around and have a good time. It’s all a learning experience and you’ll feel like some badass hacker if you’re never done this before.

Here’s the process in detail, as derived from their official resource library:

Backup your data using a backup drive or cloud service (DropBox, Google Drive, etc.)

Download CloudReady from Neverware. Find the appropriate file for your OS. If you’re more comfortable using a Windows or Mac, they have files for those systems. You can create the USB file for most operating systems.

Find a clean work station and keep it clutter-free. Remove the bottom panel of your Chromebook and look on the mobo for the write protection switch. It’s usually a single screw that completes a circuit. The switch can be a jumper, sticker, or physical switch if it’s not a screw.

Here’s a video that shows what it looks like:

Removing the write-protect screw on an HP Chromebook.
And here’s one for an AcerC720 Chromebook- note the similarities in the location of the screw.

Depending on your Chromebook model, it varies. Some older ones are trickier to find.

Once it’s removed, it allows for your device to be overwritten. Note that this does void the warranty, but if you’re doing this because your Chromebook isn’t supported by updates anymore, you probably don’t have coverage anymore. Unless you bought some third-party warranty extension.

Replace the bottom panel back onto the device. Save the screw somewhere safe. Label it so you know where this random screw belongs to in the future.

Now that your Chromebook’s write protection is disabled, we can freely mess around and get CloudReady ready. This first step is to enable recovery mode.

Press and hold “ESC + Refresh” at the same time, THEN press the Power button and hold all three keys down until your Chromebook restarts automatically.

When it boots up again, you’ll see a scary screen that says “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.” This is a good thing and it’s completely normal. If you don’t see this, you need to repeat the previous step.

On this screen, press “CTRL + D” to proceed. The next screen is just as scary. It asks you to “disable OS verification” which is also a good thing. Hit the Enter key.

Your Chromebook will then restart multiple times and do its thing.

When it’s done, it’ll show another screen with an updated status: “OS verification is OFF” which is again, a good thing.

Just like before, hit “CTRL + D” and proceed. When you get to the login screen, set up your WiFi as usual.

Next, press “CTRL + ALT + Refresh” and your device will quickly run through some scripts. You’ll see a black and white screen prompting for some code.

We’re going to install the Mr. Chromebox script, which will allow us to add a new BIOS to our system. Type in the following command:

cd; curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh && sudo bash firmware-util.sh

You can refer to this guide for detailed instructions if you get stuck.

Be patient and let it install. After a few seconds, you’ll see a neat little table of contents. You should see that write protection is DISABLED. If not, this won’t work.

You can find this entry under “Fw WP” at the top. It’s the fourth item in the list, following your device, CPU type, and Fw type. If you see that Fw WP is ENABLED, you need to check the screws again. Something went wrong.

If everything looks good, hit option 3, which would be “Install/Update FULL ROM Firmware” at the time of this writing. Follow the on-screen prompts and let it install.

When it’s done, you’ll hit the “P” key to restart your Chromebook. It’ll shut off. Power it back on. You’ll see that it’s very familiar as if nothing ever happened!

The final step is to get CloudReady. Remember that USB drive you created with the software on it? Grab it (and your favorite energy drink/coffee/tea/water). Plug it into your machine.

You’ll see it load up automatically. Hit the “ESC” key and you’ll see the BIOS page. Hit the Down arrow and hover over Device Manager.

Select it with the “Enter” key. Find and choose your USB drive. You should see a few flashes and a new page with the CloudReady setup.

This is very easy to navigate (no more command shells) and you should be able to follow the prompts until it’s set up. That’s pretty much it.

Set up WiFi. If you want to jump straight to the install, just click “Install CloudReady” on the settings page.

Note: If you plug in your USB stick with CloudReady loaded and nothing happens, try a different USB port. USB 2.0 seems to work more often than 3.0 or USB-C.

After it’s installed, you’re done. Congrats. You’re now running CloudReady on your Chromebook and you’ll get the (almost) latest security/patches for ChromeOS.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

How to shred all data on a Chromebook

How to shred all data on Chromebook meme.
Don’t worry- it’s super easy to do. (MemeGenerator.com)

This is easier than it sounds. Seriously.

No need to grab a hammer and smash that hard drive. No need for a raging fire. And definitely no need for that .44. All you need is to do a Powerwash.

Erasing your personal data and wiping your hard drive is simple.

This will completely shred all the data on your Chromebook and restore it back to factory settings like it was brand new.

It may even fix whatever problems you were having with it in the first place that made you want to get rid of it!

To do a Powerwash, follow these steps:

  • Make a backup of all the important files you want to keep. This will permanently destroy all your data saved on your device.
  • Open Chrome.
  • Go to “chrome://settings”
  • On the Settings page, there’s a search bar at the top. Search for “powerwash” to quickly jump to the option.
  • Click on the Powerwash button and agree to the confirmation dialog.
  • Your Chromebook will now do a Powerwash and wipe everything. It’ll be left with a clean slate as if you never used it.
  • All your personal data will be erased permanently. It’s the same as a factory reset.

Here’s a guide if you need additional instructions. But it should be pretty straightforward.

How to erase a broken damaged Chromebook

If your Chromebook is damaged and inaccessible so you can’t even Powerwash it, then you’ll have to get creative.

How to recycle a Chromebook

How to recycle Chromebook meme.
Squidward: If only it were that easy, SpongeBob. (QuickMeme.com)

Here are some steps to recycle your Chromebook properly.

As you know, you can’t just toss it into the dumpster (as that’d be illegal), and a huge e-waste problem.

Plus, even if you don’t care about the environment or proper recycling regulations/processes, you can get your cash back from the electronic recycling fee in some states (looking at you, California).

Dispose of batteries properly

The battery must be separated from the Chromebook because of regulations, so it can’t be tossed out with your laptop.

If you bring it to a recycling center for electronics, they’ll do this for you. But if you want to recycle it yourself, you need to properly dispose of the battery separately from the laptop.

Here are some different ways you can dispose laptop batteries properly:

  • Find a recycling center
  • Remove and turn in the battery

Recycling centers are everywhere. You can use this site to find your local recycling center. Sometimes libraries or community centers have drop off events for batteries. Some big box stores will also take in used electronics (Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, etc.).

There are also mail-in programs that let you send in your computer battery for proper processing. You may end up paying a small fee for delivery, but you get the convenience of staying at home.

If you choose to drop off or mail in your battery, be sure to practice these tips:

  • Drain your battery completely (until your Chromebook shuts down) before sending or dropping off
  • Remove it safely with proper equipment and know-how
  • Cover the ends with some clear tape to prevent any power transfer (or put it in a zipper bag)
  • Never store different types of batteries together
  • Never stack or allow batteries to contact each other
  • Never store batteries somewhere too hot, flammable, or wet

Follow the directions of the center that you’re sending your battery to. They may have different steps.

If you toss out batteries in the trash, they pose a hazard to workers and the environment.

They can also leech dangerous compounds into the environment, explode, or catch on fire when going through various machinery at refuse sites. They can end up anywhere from farm soil to a landfill.

Never toss away batteries in the trash- especially large batteries from a laptop.

Recycle your Chromebook for cash

Recycling centers will take care of all the hassle for you.

Unless you’re in a rural area, there should be one nearby. Here’s a handy resource to find the closest one.

Some places will even PAY you in cash to recycle your Chromebook. This is an efficient, easy, and quick way to dispose of a Chromebook.

They’ll do all the dirty work for you by responsibly recycling all the parts as necessary.

After all, do you really have time to take apart the battery, screen, and electronic waste yourself?

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

How to repurpose or reuse an older Chromebook

DIY computer in a pizza box -Reuse an older Chromebook meme.
Use your imagination. (Reddit.com)

If you’re not sure what to do with an older working Chromebook, here are some suggestions. It’s not completely destroyed (yet) and you can still get some use out of it.

So you think it’s a waste to just let it sit there or throw it away. You can do everything from using it as a secondary display to transforming it into an entertainment center to making money with it.

Can we use it? Yes, we can.

As a secondary monitor

You can use it as an external display or secondary computer. This works well for those who have a desktop and need a secondary monitor.

You can link it to your desktop by screen mirroring, or even use it as a dedicated machine for processing script, rendering, or audio recording. You can even use it as an entertainment center.

A lot of productivity savvy people use a desktop AND a laptop as their secondary device so they can do more in less time.

This is just something people can do with an old Chromebook. You don’t need to just let it sit around and collect dust.

Put it to good use and get stuff done.

Use it to look up data, reference data, or even stream some shows in the background. Music player? Minecraft server? Or what about a dedicated Linux machine?

Sell it used

Selling your Chromebook used is always a good idea if you don’t want to recycle it.

You can get some of your initial cash back and repurpose it for someone in need. I wrote an entire guide on all the different ways you can sell your used Chromebook, so check that out if you’re lacking ideas.

But to sum it up, you can use local classifieds like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or an online resource like eBay or Amazon to sell it.

Use that money and upgrade to a more powerful Chromebook, or a bigger screen, or productivity, or built for video calls and meetings since that’s the world we live in nowadays.

That’s the cool thing about these machines- they’re extremely versatile and affordable.

Donate it

Don’t want it anymore and have no use for it? But still in working condition?

Consider donating it to someone in need! You can use a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, or even put up an ad on Craigslist for a student or family that could benefit from a laptop.

You can find plenty of school districts that would also be glad to take the Chromebook and make good use of it! If you’re feeling generous, this is a solution that benefits everyone.

Salvage it for parts

Even if your Chromebook is unusable, there may be parts in it that can be still sold for some small cash. If the keyboard is shot, then the screen, SSD, and the battery can be salvaged.

Depending on the condition of it and what can be removed (not soldered to the motherboard) then you can sell it as salvage.

You can list it online (such as eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace) as “for parts only” or “salvage.” This is a way to get back some cash for your Chromebook that people overlook since most casual users just toss out the entire laptop if one thing’s broken.

If you don’t know what else to do with your broken Chromebook, selling it for parts “as is” can be a last resort. You don’t want to fix it.

You don’t want to spend any more money on it.

And you’re thinking of getting a new laptop soon anyway. Then sell it for salvage and get some money to use for your new purchase.

Set it up as a Linux machine

You can install a copy of Linux through Linux Beta or Crouton.

As mentioned prior in this guide, you can do this if you’re getting the “no longer supported” messages.

Newer models will have the ability to enable Linux Ubuntu just from toggling on an option in Chrome Settings. Older ones will need to go through the traditional Crouton method or Live USB.

With Linux, you can do anything from word processing, gaming, playing media, video calling, installing a CD/DVD drive, or pretty much anything you normally would on a Windows PC. Linux has everything.

This allows you to break the restrictions of Chrome OS and get more out of your Chromebook.

Use it as a dedicated gaming laptop

Even though Chromebooks aren’t necessarily made for gaming, you can still play some of your favorite games on it that aren’t resource intensive.

With 100% of models having a minimum of 16GB storage and 2GB of RAM, you’re able to play some of the most popular games (surprisingly).

You can use it as a dedicated gaming machine when you’re on the go with offline games, or play games online (but probably not competitively).

Here are a few you may like:

Gaming is just one of the things you can do when you’re bored on a Chromebook.

How about a media center (Plex)

If you watch a lot of streaming content, you can turn it into a dedicated media center for watching all your favorite shows.

Chromebooks can be used to host Plex servers, or Kodi as a dedicated machine. You can check out the guides linked above to find out how to do this.

Since the majority of Chromebooks have around 32GB+ of SSD storage, they’re perfect for hosting and streaming all your favorite content.

No need to invest in a separate desktop when you have a Chromebook unless you plan to go hardcore.

The extra display’s real estate can even be used to project to your Chromecast, so you can watch your favorite movies and shows on your TV.

Make money with it

Chromebooks, as limited as they seem, can be used to make some easy side money.

There are plenty of legit ways to make money online through freelance work, gig work, surveys, and more. And all you need is a Chromebook and a few free apps from the Play Store/Chrome Web Store.

Why toss out that old, working laptop when you can use it to get some side hustle money?

Put it beside your bed and do some surveys before sleep. Or use it as a secondary monitor for productivity on your main gig.

Store for an extended period until you need it again

When you really don’t know what to do with your old laptop but you don’t want to dispose of it, you can put it into long term storage so it doesn’t mess up the battery.

Ideally, you’d want to remove the battery and store it somewhere cold so it doesn’t wear out since you’re not using it.

Yes, if you don’t use your Chromebook periodically, it WILL wear the battery.

Batteries are best stored with a partial charge and cycled every now and then for calibration.

If you want to store it away, then follow this guide on how to store your Chromebook properly.

There’s a special button combination you can use that puts it into “storage mode” which uses very little power and is made just for extended periods of inactivity.

Don’t just let the battery drain out and don’t keep it charged all the time. These both damage the battery.

You may also be interested in learning how to get the most out of your Chromebook from a single battery charge.

Upgrade to a new one

You can always sell it or recycle it and use that money to buy a newer model.

Chromebooks, like any other laptop or phone, move fast.

The tech is constantly developing and they’ve come a long way.

They went from bulky devices with physical switches to thinner, blazing-fast laptops that even rival a MacBook for their price tag.

You can find everything from high-resolution screens to entertainment centers to gaming Chromebooks.

The power of Chrome OS goes far- they can handle nearly all the day-to-day tasks you might be, well, tasked with:

There’s something for everything. And with the ability to download Play Store apps and customize it however you want, you can really make it YOURS.

Use it as a paperweight

Yes. It can make for a very expensive paperweight. But the sheer size and dimensions of your Chromebook make it perfect for sitting on papers.

Repairing your Chromebook

How to repair broken Chromebook meme.
Those were the good days.

If your device isn’t completely destroyed, you can repair or replace the damaged parts rather than scrapping the entire thing.

Some parts are easily replaced and there are DIY kits online that come with all the tools and parts you need to fix it.

Other parts can be replaced at a local or international repair shop. These are all excellent alternatives, but of course, you need to weigh if the time and cost it takes to fix it is worth it.

Or if it’s cheaper to just get rid of it and buy a new or used unit.

Here are some of the most common parts that need to be replaced on a Chromebook. They wear and tear over time and are usually the first to fail.

But you can extend their usage by taking proper care of them, which we’ll also cover in each section.

Battery replacement

Ah, the battery. Every electronic tech-head’s biggest worry.

As you probably already know, every time you use your Chromebook, the battery is being worn down over time.

Discharging it, charging it, and repeating. This consumes what’s called “charge cycles” and each battery has a finite number of them.

When the battery corrodes and ages over time, your laptop will show the classic telltale signs that it’s’ time to change the battery.

You’ll notice that your Chromebook loses battery quickly, poorly holds a charge, takes a long time to charge, or drops (or even skips) battery percentage.

These could be signs that it’s time to swap out the battery for a new one.

You can find third-party generic batteries or buy an official OEM one. You’ll need to do your research and find the right one that fits and is the right voltage.

There are resources online that can guide you, or you can punch in your “Chromebook model + battery” on Google and see what comes up.

Don’t know your Chromebook’s model numbers? Find them.

When you get the replacement, you can swap it yourself or send it in to a repair shop. The choice is yours and depends on your level of experience.

Note that if it’s still within warranty, you should get the manufacturer to replace it due to a faulty battery.

Otherwise, replacing it yourself will void whatever leftover warranty period you have remaining on the unit.

Your Chromebook’s battery can be preserved by following best practices to get the most out of the battery life.

Keyboard repair

The keyboard can sometimes do some weird things.

You may get repeated letters or numbers typing forever. Or keys not registering. Or maybe even the wrong characters showing up on the screen.

“Why is ‘S’ showing up when I’m hitting ‘A’”?

This could be as simple as cleaning your keyboard, because there could be some debris, food, or gunk stuck under the keys.

But if it’s damage from spilled liquids, impact, or some other trauma that broke the membrane under the keycap, you’ll need to get it professionally repaired.

Touchpad repair

The touchpad can act funky just like the keyboard if it’s dirty.

If you spill liquid between the gap where the touchpad’s edge has a gap between the frame, it can really start to get weird.

You may notice that some parts of the touchpad don’t register your “clicks” or that the mouse cursor flies off the screen.

This could be fixed by making your cursor bigger, adjusting the sensitivity, or switching to a plug-in USB mouse.

These are signs of a dirty touchpad and you’ll have to clean it.

Sometimes you can just spray some compressed air around the edges to dislodge the debris that’s caught (or it can make it worse by further pushing it into the computer).

But if it’s a sticky substance or residue, you’ll have to tear down the Chromebook and do a deep clean. If you don’t know what you’re doing, get a pro to do it for you.

Broken screen

Did you break your screen? No worries.

This is also very common and quite easy to replace. The display can be swapped out for a new one for less than you think.

If it’s a small smudge or tear, you may be able to clean your screen. But if not, then you can replace it.

There are kits online you can buy to fully replace the display on your Chromebook.

It may seem daunting because you don’t know what you’re doing (and what’s a digitizer?), but watch a few videos and follow the instructions with the kit to a T and you’ll be all set.

If you’re really not comfortable with doing it yourself, you can send it to a local repair shop to fix it for you.

If the display is damaged, find a kit that suits your specific diagonal size.

Look online for a reputable kit compatible with your unit that comes with all the tools you need to replace the screen.

Or you can take it to a local repair shop to get it professionally restored. There’s no need to toss out a perfectly good laptop just because the screen has damage.

Most issues can be fixed, including:

  • Pixel damage (dead pixels, stuck pixels, etc.)
  • White or black blotches on the screen
  • Water damage
  • Scratches, blemishes, etc.
  • Horizontal or vertical rows of lines going across the screen
  • Cracked screens

After you get it fixed, consider using a screen protector or laptop case/sleeve to guard it against damage in the future.

Burnt

Burned your Chromebook? That’s not good.

Whether it’s usable (safely) or not is a matter best left to a professional computer repair expert, or something like that.

You don’t want to use it if you don’t know the extent of the damage because it can pose a fire, shock, or electrical hazard. If you don’t know how destroyed or burned the internal components are, then you shouldn’t use it until you get it examined by a professional to deem it safe to use.

Personally, the scent of the soot should be enough to deter me from using it.

Did you safely (and properly) get rid of your Chromebook?

You now have everything you need to know about the proper means to recycle your Chromebook.

Hopefully, if it’s not completely bricked, you can still find some new use out of it (minus being a moderately expensive paperweight).

Repurposing or finding other creative ways to use it will always be more efficient than tossing it into a recycling center and having to buy a new one- at least in my opinion.

Or at least sell it or salvage it so you can get some of your cash back.

I hope this guide has helped you gain some insight into the various things you can do with your old Chromebook, no matter what condition it’s in!

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Or if you found this page helpful, please let me know as well!

Thanks for reading!

About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (check the "Contact Us" page).
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