Skip to main content

How to fix Chromebook battery problems: Power it off before you put it away

Your Chromebook does a good job of going to sleep and staying asleep when you shut the lid, which is the sort of thing you'd want any laptop to do well. But that doesn't reset and recycle your current session in Chrome OS. And those are both things you want to do when you're finished working (or playing) for the day. There are two big reasons why — keeping your software current and resetting what's stored in your memory (RAM).

Shutting down your Chromebook lets stuff happen in the background properly, like installing new updates.

Your Chromebook uses what's called Verified Boot along with automatic updates to keep the software current and secure. When an update is available for the operating system, it gets fetched from the Internet and installed alongside the version you are currently running. Before and during the installation process, the integrity of the software is checked by matching it against the official copy. If the tests performed all match, then your Chromebook knows that the software is official and hasn't been tampered with. (The same process is done each time you start things up, too.)

The next time you shut off your Chromebook then restart it, this new copy of the operating system is what gets loaded. The old copy can then be erased and replaced the next time there is an update. This process also came to to Android Nougat on our phones and tablets because it works really well.

Top on your Chromebook

Your Chromebook also manages memory a little differently than most other operating systems. We go into it a little more here, but the short version is that the things you're looking at and the things you recently were looking at are kept in the memory. Your RAM has a 10MB portion reserved for this, and the only way to free it up is to shut your laptop down. This doesn't make much of a difference if you were looking at cat pictures yesterday and are going to look at cat pictures again today, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to keep Google Docs and that boring company spreadsheet in the reserved portion if you're done with it.

You don't have to wipe this cached data away because it will overwrite itself as you do different things, but there could be a small performance hit if you do things that way. Chrome boots so fast it's easier on the system (and your battery) to shut down and start fresh for each session.

To be clear — your Chromebook will work just fine if you never shut it off. Chrome is Linux, and some Linux computers go for years without being power cycled.

But to take advantage of the update system as well as the way Google uses your RAM for great performance, the best thing you can do each night is power down. You can shut down by pressing and holding the power button, or by clicking in the status area (next to your account picture on the tray) and clicking the power icon.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

34 Comments
  • First thing I do when I open the lid on my Chromebook nowadays. Click on my picture > Settings > About ChromeOS > Check for updates... no update? Check in Settings to see if there's a section for Google Play, nope, nothing there? Go into Apps and see if it's there. Nope? OK.... go about my day then.... I know it's a ways off for my Hisense Chromebook, but darnitall, I want it...
  • Cool to see this old article pop-up and my habit hasn't changed. Open lid, look for update, check for update manually and apply if update is there, close lid. Still rolling all this time without play store natively even though it's on the supported list. Been using Play Store for quite a few months now (through dev mode shell commands). If I power off my Chromebook / update, I have to type them in again (nice that it's a fairly quick process) so I just close the lid.
  • People I know that use a Chromebook rarely shut it down. I always have to show them the little arrow that means update. Not too mention you have to hold the power button to shut down, not just press is. I wish it would at least notify users on an update and prompt them to restart. The aggressive power management and sleep mode make it so one never even thinks about physically shutting down. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It kinda pops up when you need an update. You just have to be attentive. Kaiser
  • Same thing here.. Always telling them the arrow means updates. They're stuck in this old mentality of being afraid to update because it will break everything. I have no idea what that even means
  • One of the best things about Chromebooks is how they reliably handle sleeping and can wake up in just a couple of seconds. Because of this I rarely shut either of my two CB's (Flip and Toshiba CB2) down. I do occasionally check for updates, and generally do reboot them about every week. I have noticed that the Flip, now running on the dev channel with Android apps, does require more restarts, but that is to be expected.
  • I really appreciate these tips and tricks. I've only had Acer Chromebook 14 about a month. I've just been having it sleep when close the lid. I've checking for updates a couple times a week. Though I wondered how/if apps/extensions get updated in Chrome OS. I've tested this briefly and shutdown/restart is extremely fast. I think I will will do this every night.
  • If you hard power down with the power button there's a very small chance you can corrupt the OS and require a system restore or even recovery. It's not as likely as if you hard power down a Windows PC but the possibility is there. Train yourself to use the soft power button in your tray. And if you're going to have the Chromebook down for a day or more you'll find that a power down holds battery charge better than closing the lid. Power down also makes sure that no one will be able to open the lid and access your account. And Chromebooks only take about seven seconds to boot, so why not always power down?
  • I don't power down my Pixel because it's in Developer Mode and does that annoying beep during startup. It gets rebooted every two weeks because of the updates anyway, so I don't really see a need to power it off before I close the lid.
  • I know it's a ways off for my Hisense Chromebook
  • Does Google encourage this? I know with Android they feel you should never restart which is why there isn't even a restart option. Why don't updates prompt you to restart if needed?
  • I also feel bad for anyone with a 16GB device come Android N. That's a rather large chunk of space that will suddenly be reserved.
  • Existing devices cannot use this new feature. Even my 128G 6P is not capable.. It can only be implemented with specially formatted/particioned memory implemented at the time of manufacture. The memory holds an entire OS recovery image. With memory so inexpensive, 32G might be the minimum featuring the new standard.
  • They do, kind of. When an update is available, there's an update icon in the system tray, just like with Windows. Unlike Windows, you don't get a popup notification to go along with it. I do wish they'd change that icon, though. It looks very similar to the icon that pops up when caps lock is on, so it's not exactly an attention-grabber out of the corner of your eye. Oh, and Google did finally include a restart option in Android as of 7.1 (on the Pixel, at least). Edit: And I just replied to a six-month-old comment again.
  • Yeah don't you hate that? we'll at least you know one other person saw your comment. LOL!
  • This is the kind of complaint that would not have even crossed my mind before I started dating someone who does UI/UX for a living.
  • I've been shutting my Chromebook down when I'm done with it for over a year now, if only to improve battery life.
    My Toshiba Chromebook 2 goes well over a week on a single charge with regular daily usage.
  • I've had three Chromebooks now and the only niggle I have had with all of them is the speed of connecting to the wi-fi after switch on. Often the machine has powered up and I've typed in my password before the wi-fi has had time to connect. Usually a 3-4 second lag. I think the issue is that Chromebooks boot up far too fast for wi-fi detection and authenticating. I know...how terrible lol. Oh and I always switch off my Chromebooks.
  • I f I have Posted via the Android Central App
  • I always power off, why not when they power back up so quickly anyway? I was not aware that the keyboard power button could possibly cause problems I will now use the screen button just in case. Lastly, on the rare occasions that I have powered down and left my Chromebook for some time the battery seems to last forever. I love my C720 and only intend to change it to get the Android apps later this year.
  • Wow! Not knowing ANYTHING about Chromebooks, I was pleasantly surprised by reading this article. I like the concept of what I just read here, and will now go & read the related (linked) articles. Thanks so much for teaching me something today ... I may end up with a new Chromebook sooner than I thought =)
  • If you're running your Chromebook in developer mode does all of this still hold true?
  • Edit - Bah, recycled article.
  • Chromebooks are the best thing to come out of Google. Right from the start they were good and only keep getting better. Android had its growing pains, but is a great product now.
  • Jerry, as someone who just bought a chromebook for Christmas I am enjoying these articles. I'm hoping that when you're done all of these chromebook how-to articles will be put in one place for us to refer to? Thanks :-)
  • Why does a six month old article show up in my rss feed? We DO understand if news is a bit slow this week, so we wouldn't mind if you recycle an older article, but please have the decency to tell us.
  • Why? Oh, that's easy. And has nothing to do with a slow news week. It's four days after Christmas. Lotta gifts change hands on that day. Lotta folks get new devices they're unfamiliar with. Articles like these help these new gadget owners learn their new toys. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's generally helpful.
  • Agreed. It makes perfect sense to repost articles like this after major gift-giving occasions, and I'm sure they've been helpful to some new folks. I do wish that they'd indicate that the article is reposted/updated/whatever in the headline, though. I just made a useless reply to someone's six-month-old comment and didn't realize that it was old until after I'd posted it.
  • Well, because for someone like me who just got a chromebook for Christmas this was useful, for someone like you all you have to do is say 'meh, read that already", and move on. If youre worried about wasting time it took you more time to write up this complaint than to just ignore the article and moving on.
  • OMG OMG the horror of having an old article show up on your RSS. I smell a lawsuit
  • I have three Chromebooks, two of which are on the supported list but I also check every day but still no sign of the PLay Store update...
  • I am wondering if this is trying to troll politically with the wifi name being OBAMA2016.
  • This article looks familiar... Wasn't this (or something just like it) posted a while back?... If so, it should really say "updated" somewhere...saves us daily readers that deja vu feeling (i.e. i realized after i was already halfway through reading it, that it felt very familiar).
  • ...or even "Re-posted from xx/xx/xx" (if it wasn't updated).