When you change your Chromebook password, it asks for your old password when you sign back in. If you forgot your old password, it erases all local data. Local data is supposedly the files and downloads you've made as well as your Chromebook history. I have had TWO YEARS worth of downloads, and I had forgotten my password. I accidentally signed myself out after changing it, and I was stuck locked out until I entered my old password. Well I had forgotten my old password, and had to click 'proceed' anyways. It erased everything I had downloaded, and I'm PISSED with Google right now. Does anyone know how I could find a way to restore the data I lost?
You can feel free to look through data recovery software options here and try your luck at getting some of your files back, but I would not get your hopes up. If the operating system wiped everything, then it's very unlikely that any of it will be recoverable.
Believe it or not, there is a reason that these systems are in place. If someone were to get ahold of your Chromebook, would you want them to be able to access your potentially sensitive files, even if they didn't have your password? If you lost your device, then I'm sure you would expect that your data would be safe, and that is not possible if your files can be recovered without your password. So, for the sake of the security of your Chromebook, it would be rather concerning if you were able to recover any substantial amount of data after wiping it.
Your files are gone, and cannot be restored. The Downloads folder is for temporary use only.
Please see this Help file to learn how to properly save files into permanent locations such as a Drive folder or external storage. https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/7587554?hl=en&ref_topic=3415535
This forum contains hundreds of previous warnings about using the Downloads folder for storing important files. It's a hard lesson to learn for many users.