Cloud

How to clear corrupt Google Chrome sync data

If you have a corrupted bit of Chrome sync data, follow these steps to resolve that frustrating issue.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Recently I ran into a Google cloud sync issue that had me beating my head against a proverbial brick wall. All in all the issue should have been quite simple to resolve, but alas...it wasn't. Let me set the stage.

I use the dev version of Chrome on my elementary OS desktop. I have one Pixel chromebook that uses the dev build (for testing) and one Pixel that uses the stable build (used mostly for writing books).

I upgraded Chrome on my desktop. That night, I opened my stable Pixel to work on my current book, logged in, and watched the Pixel immediately and automatically log me back out. I tried logging in again—same results. Instinctively, I powerwashed the chromebook, assuming that would solve the issue. The problem continued.

I realized I was most likely facing an issue with the bookmarks being synced by the desktop dev build of Chrome and the stable build not wanting to play along. Unfortunately, the stable Pixel wouldn't remain logged in long enough for me to go to Settings | Advanced Sync Settings and disable what I assumed was causing the problem. I was lucky to get about five seconds on the Chrome OS desktop before getting kicked out.

Three powerwashes later...no dice.

I was surprised that my Pixel running the dev version of Chrome OS wasn't having the same issue. How was I to resolve this problem that rendered my precious Pixel unusable? I found the answer on a Google account page you should bookmark.

SEE: 50 must-have Google Chrome extensions (and they're all free) (ZDNet)

Chrome Sync

Google offers a site that displays every item category you have in sync with Chrome. The page is called, aptly, Chrome Sync. If you go to that page while logged into your Google account, you will see everything you currently have synced to your Google account from any/all associated Chrome browsers. The page will list:

  • Apps
  • Extensions
  • Settings
  • Autofill
  • History
  • Themes
  • Bookmarks
  • Passwords
  • Open Tabs

At the bottom of that page is a Reset Sync button. If you click that button, it will clear everything in your Chrome Sync history. This does not remove the items from your desktop or mobile browsers—it only clears the various caches stored on the server. In other words, if you click Reset Sync, all of your bookmarks, extensions, settings, etc. won't vanish from Chrome...only the server.

A caveat

Say the problem is in your Bookmarks (which I believe was causing the issue for my stable Pixel). If you do not disable Bookmarks from syncing (in Setting | Advanced Sync Settings), the second you click Reset Sync, those bookmarks will begin resyncing to all of your associated devices and that problem (such as the one I had) will continue.

To that end, here's what I had to do.

  1. Go to all devices running the dev build of Chrome (or Chrome OS).
  2. Select Choose What To Sync from Advanced Sync Settings.
  3. Uncheck Bookmarks and anything else that might be causing issues (Figure A).
  4. Click OK.
  5. Powerwash the affected Pixel but do not log in yet.
  6. Go to the Chrome Sync page.
  7. Click Reset Sync.
  8. Wait about five minutes for the cache to clear.
  9. Log in to the affected Pixel.

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen
Disabling the bookmarks sync from the dev build of Chrome.

After walking through the above steps, my stable Pixel remained logged in, and I was able to work just fine. Problem solved.

Bookmark Chrome Sync

The ability to reset your Google cloud sync data will come in handy; in fact, it may be the fastest route to clearing user data from a Google account. If you need to completely refresh your account, powerwash everything, and reset your sync data—it will be like starting over with a clean slate.

Keep that Chrome Sync page handy. You never know when you might need it.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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