Google to release a fix for the major Chrome OS login bug that locked users out of Chromebooks

Acer Chromebook 514
Acer Chromebook 514 (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Update, July 20 (5:15 p.m. ET): Version pulled, new update rolling out on Wednesday, July 21

What you need to know

  • Reports of issues started flooding as Google pushed out Chrome OS update 91.0.4472.165 today.
  • Impacted users cannot log back into their Chromebooks, so do not update your Chromebook.
  • If your Chromebook asks to Restart to update, do not click Reboot and do not shut down your machine.
  • Google is aware of the problem, and a fix should be deployed soon.
  • If you're already locked out, you'll have to Powerwash your Chromebook to get back in. If your device is bootlooping before you can get to the lock screen, recover using a USB drive and the Chromebook Recovery Utility.
  • This is the second critical bug on the stable Chrome OS channel in less than a month.

Somehow, a major bug has slipped through three experimental channels and made its way into a Chrome OS stable channel — AKA the channel that the vast, vast majority of Chromebook owners are using. This bug is in Chrome OS 91.0.4472.165, and it is not allowing users to log back into their Chromebooks after the update, and in some cases, their laptop is bootlooping so they cannot access the lock screen. In these cases, you'll need to create a Chromebook Recovery USB stick using the Chromebook Recovery Utility and use that to re-image your Chromebook.

If the update has downloaded but installation has not finished, do not shut down your Chromebook. The update will install on your next reboot or system shutdown.

Google seems to be aware of the situation and should be working on a fix soon, but the update hasn't been pulled yet, it seems, so don't go to the About Chrome OS screen, do not check for updates, and do not shut down your Chromebook if you can help it.

Users who unfortunately got the update first are currently locked out of their machines, at least until they Powerwash them. Once impacted users factory reset their Chromebook, they can set it back up and get back in, but keep in mind this is a factory reset and will erase all local data and the Linux program data. If you can wait for a fix, you might be able to wait and then update your Chromebook from Guest Mode, but we have no timetable for a patch.

We're reaching out to Google to ask when they might have a timeline for the fix and how this has happened twice in such a short amount of time. We'll update this story as things progress.

Update, July 20 (5:15 p.m. ET) ― A fix is coming on Wednesday

Google has posted a status update on the issue, saying that the company has identified the cause. While Google doesn't go into specifics, the company says that "a new version which will fix the issue will be available on July 21st."

For users already affected by the bug, Google lays out two options to update to the new version:

  • Leave the Chromebook device on the login screen to download the update via auto-update.
  • Update the device manually after logging into Guest Mode.

The updated Chrome OS version should arrive by EOD Wednesday, so affected users can either hold tight, Powerwash their device, or roll back to the previous version via USB.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • Hopefully next update will be downloadable via Guest Mode or automatically at login screen.
  • If the bug corrupted the encryption of account data, it is likely that installing a fixed update will still not let you back into your account. The security on chrome os is very tight, fully encrypted to ensure protection of your data, but the downside to it is if the encryption is corrupted, which I believe is the case here, there will be no way to get your lost files back.
  • Unfortunately I didn't see this article before updating. I was able to recover by switching to developer mode and then back again. Of course you lose anything on your machine but since I have everything in the cloud it wasn't the end of the world. But really horrible bug and of course no assistance from support (take it to the Geek Squad was their super helpful suggestion).
  • I wonder how many John and Jane Does would know what to do if locked out. Lot of work for the local tech company.
  • Does Google's Chromebook QA team get June and July off?
  • Typical of Google. Their "fix" consists of pawning your hardware off to someone else to fix their screw up. They've fallen flat in terms of service lately.
  • Sooo... Any updates? Are we able to use our Chromebooks now?
  • I seen this warning just a little to late. Darn thing. Fortunately I was able to reset in about 10 minutes. Most of my stuff is in the cloud and whatever was on my Chromebook is also somewhere else. Still.... How does Google mess this up so badly? I changed my Google password and oddly enough the Chromebook still wanted the old one. That'll probably come back to haunt me but for now, I'm good with a PIN and biometrics