I love Google, but sometimes their method of dealing with documentation and end-users can be obtuse.  And this is coming from a long-time supporter of their products and ChromeOS.

I recently obtained a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook on Craigslist. The seller didn’t know how to reset the device to factory default, but after some research I found a Google support article with directions to download a recovery tool and create a bootable SD card to restore the Series 5. Cool.

At least, until I got to the point during the recovery creation process where the tool needs to write to the SD card, and utterly fails with the following “Internal error” message:

Thanks, Google, this explains everything

If you look at the log file it points you to, you will see that the final two lines contain errors about dismounting the drive, similar to the following:

8:20:02 PM ERROR: Failed to open volume \\?\Volume{d1498052-5136-11e1-bc10-5404a68a5748} for dismounting (-2147024891)
8:20:02 PM ERROR: Failed to dismount USB volumes (-2147024891)

No matter what I did, despite using a couple of different card readers and futzing with running the app in compatibility mode / as administrator / making blood sacrifices, my Windows 7 64-bit system wasn’t having any part of this recovery disk creation process.

The annoying thing is this was documented back in March of this year but still occurs with the tool Google links to. This may not happen to everyone, but some searches showed others running into similar issues.  So when I figured out how to work around this, I figured that I’d share it.

What I wound up doing was:

  • Download WinImage and install it.
  • See that path that the above error message points you to? That directory also contains the recovery image file that the tool downloaded but never applied to the SD card. It will be several hundred MBs in size and have a .tmp file extension. Make a note of its location (or move it, your choice).
  • Launch WinImage (use the shortcut that has “Administrator” appended to it if running under Vista / 7).  On the menu, go to DiskRestore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive…
  • In the dialog box that comes up, select the removable drive that contains the SD card.
  • Then you’ll be presented with a File Open dialog box. In the drop-down in the lower-right corner, select “All Files”. Then browse to where the recovery image TMP file is located. Select it.
  • WinImage will ask you if you’re sure that you want to overwrite the disk. Confirm this and it will begin writing the ChromeOS recovery image to your SD card.

After performing this procedure, I was able to use my SD card to return the Chromebook to the default factory settings and set it up under my account.

I hope that this helps.

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