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Guide: Fix ‘Chrome is Asking for Sync Passphrase’ Issue
Chrome sync might be the best feature in Google Chrome. It never gets old to see your browsing activity sync across platforms and devices in just a split second. However, personal information is something that must be handled with great care. And that’s exactly why Chrome lets you set it up up a passphrase for sync.
Applying a passphrase is great for security as it acts as an extra layer of encryption. However, it has a major drawback. It is irreparable. If you forget it, you can’t reset it like any other password. Only you know what your passphrase is, and you’ll be in trouble if you don’t remember it.
Fortunately, the way a sync passphrase works suggests that you still have hope even if you forget your passphrase. If you’ve just signed into Chrome and keep getting prompted for a passphrase to start Chrome sync, you can still have it removed while keeping your browsing data intact. But how?back to menu ↑
Passphrases in a nutshell
The sync passphrase only encrypts the data stored on the Google servers and mainly works as a security measure to prevent your Google account information from being accessed if a third-party app goes rogue.
If you’ve forgotten your passphrase, you can only use Chrome sync on devices that already have one set up. Hence, the only option is to delete it. And to do that, you have to reset Chrome sync.
However, a Chrome sync reset also has consequences. It will automatically delete all data stored on the Google servers and you will be forcibly signed out of Chrome running on all your devices using the same Google account.
Fortunately, Chrome reset will not affect offline copies of your browsing data. Log back into your devices after resetting Chrome sync, and you can probably go about your business as if nothing happened.
All of this, of course, means that you have at least one device with one up-to-date copy of your browsing data on it. The following scenarios are not an exhaustive list, but should give you an idea of whether your browsing data can be recovered:
- You are trying to sign in on a new device, but you cannot remember your passphrase. However, you have other devices that you are signed in to and Chrome sync works with your sync passphrase. Or you have at least one other device that recently synced with your browsing data.
- You are trying to sign in to a device again, but you chose to clear your browsing data the last time you signed out. However, you have other devices that have the sync passphrase installed or at least one device that was recently synced.
- You are trying to log in again on a device to which you previously logged in. Your browsing data is still stored locally because you did not delete it the last time you logged out of the browser. You may or may not have other devices with your browsing data – it doesn’t matter.
If you don’t have a device with a local copy of your browsing data, you can still delete the passphrase, but you won’t get any data stored online. For example, if you sign into Chrome on a brand new device and don’t have other devices running Chrome, you’re out of luck.back to menu ↑
Reset Chrome sync – the procedure
Resetting Chrome sync will sign you out of all your devices, delete your encrypted data from Google servers, and delete your passphrase. Since your offline browsing data remains unaffected, it doesn’t matter which device you use to reset Chrome sync. It could be a device that already has a sync passphrase set, or a device that keeps asking for it.
Tip If you have a device with a sync passphrase, it’s a good idea to launch Chrome on it before resetting the passphrase so that you sync the latest browsing data locally.
The following steps will outline the Chrome sync reset procedure for desktop and mobile versions of Chrome. Let’s start.back to menu ↑
Desktop (Windows and macOS)
Step 1: Open the Chrome menu and click Settings.
Step 2: Under the People section, click Sync.
Step 3: Under Advanced sync settings, click Reset sync.
Note: If the device has a successful passphrase, the Reset sync option appears at the bottom of the page.
Step 4: Scroll all the way to the bottom and click Reset sync.
Step 5: On the Reset Sync pop-up Click OK to confirm that you want to clear all browsing data from Google servers.
Step 6: Once Chrome is done resetting Chrome sync, go back to the Settings panel and click Enable sync.
Chrome sync is now fully active. All offline browsing data must be re-uploaded to the Google servers.back to menu ↑
Mobile (Android and iOS)
Step 1: Open the Chrome menu and tap Settings.
Note: On the iOS (iPhone) version of Chrome, the menu is accessible from the bottom of the screen.
Step 2: In the Chrome settings panel, tap your profile and then tap Sync.
Step 3: Scroll all the way to the bottom, tap Manage synced data, then tap Reset sync.
Step 4: Tap OK to confirm that you want to reset Chrome sync.
After resetting Chrome sync, open a new tab or go to the Settings panel and choose to sign in with your Google account to upload your browsing data again.back to menu ↑
Log in to all your devices again
Now all you have to do is sign in to Chrome on all devices. Since the sync passphrase has been removed, all your browsing data should be re-uploaded to the Google servers, automatically merged, and readily available on your devices. If you want to reapply a sync passphrase, you need to set one up up manually.back to menu ↑
Close Call, right?
Losing access to all your saved passwords, autofill information and bookmarks would be a horrible event. Yes – it’s easy enough to delete the passphrase, and since most of us have multiple devices with local copies of browsing data, you’ll probably be fine. But it is always best not to leave things to chance.
If you choose to reapply a sync passphrase, you should take certain precautions, such as making a note of it and saving it somewhere offline so you don’t have to go through such an ordeal again.
The next up: Concerned about the security of your Google account? Here are five protections tips that you shouldn’t ignore.back to menu ↑
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