How to acquire an image of a Chromebook hard disk

Requirements:

  • USB flash drive (for booting Linux)
  • External hard disk (for storing the Chromebook image)

To acquire an image of a Chromebook hard disk, you will need to perform the following steps

  1. Switch to Developer Mode (WARNING: MAY WIPE HARD DISK)
  2. Create a bootable Linux USB flash drive
  3. Image the hard disk (using the bootable USB drive)

Because of the complexity of the Chromebook boot process, one or more of these steps may be tricky depending on which particular Chromebook you are running on. Once you are able to get a Linux distribution running on your Chromebook, you can simply run the 'dd' command to perform the imaging of the hard disk.

Entering Developer Mode

Warning: Switching to developer mode may wipe your hard disk, which defeats the whole purpose of imaging your Chromebook.

Before we are able to boot from a USB drive, we need to enable developer mode on Chromebook. Please follow the procedure described in one of the following pages depend on which Chromebook you are using:

For an updated list of Chromebook devices, see here

Creating a bootable USB drive

Next, we need to create a bootable USB drive. The procedure will depend on which Chromebook you are using. Please note that not all procedures have been tested on the corresponding Chromebook devices.

If you have an Acer C720 Chromebook, HP Chromebook 14, Chromebook Pixel, or any other Chromebook with SeaBIOS legacy boot, you should be able to install OSFClone or your favourite Linux distribution on a USB drive as you would for a PC. When you start up your Chromebook, you need to press Ctrl-L at the white boot splash screen to start SeaBIOS. Press Esc to get a boot menu and select the number corresponding to your USB drive.

For Samsung Series 3 Chromebox, Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook and Acer C7 Chromebook, please follow the instructions here to create a bootable USB disk

Once you have created the bootable USB image, ensure that you are able to boot it on your Chromebook.

Imaging the hard disk

Before you boot from the USB drive, plug in an external hard disk that has enough space to store the Chromebook hard disk image. Proceed to boot from the USB flash drive (by pressing Ctrl-U at the white boot splash screen).

If you are booting OSFClone, follow the prompts to acquire your image.

If you are booting from another Linux distribution, you need to run the following commands

  1. Mount the external drive
            mkdir /mnt/sdb1
            mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1
    
    Replace '/dev/sdb1' with the device name of your external drive's partition

  2. Use 'dd' to create a bit-by-bit image of the Chromebook hard disk
            dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/sdb1/chromebookhd.img conv=sync,noerror bs=64K
    
    If your external disk is low in disk space, you can try to create a compressed image using the following command:
            dd if=/dev/sda conv=sync,noerror bs=64K | gzip -c  > /mnt/sdb1/chromebookhd.img.gz
    
    Replace '/dev/sda' with the device name of the Chromebook hard disk, '/mnt/sdb1/chromebookhd.img' with the output filepath of the resulting image file
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