- What is Rooting on Android? The Advantages and Disadvantages
- What is Rooting?
- Why is it called Rooting?
- What are the Advantages of Rooting?
- Custom Software (ROM’s)
- Custom Themes
- Kernel, speed, and battery
- Latest Versions of Android
- Backing up your device
- Unlocking Additional Features
- What are the Disadvantages of Rooting?
- Can I Unroot my device if I change my mind?
- Glossary of Rooting Terms
- Rooting Terms
- How do I learn how to root my device?
What is Rooting on Android? The Advantages and Disadvantages(top)
Before you start to read, a word of caution: rooting or modifying your phone in any way will void your manufacturer’s warranty and possibly “brick” it. What does “bricking” your device mean? It means screwing up your phone software so badly that your phone can no longer function properly and is pretty much as useless as a brick.
What is Rooting?(top)
“Rooting” your device means obtaining “superuser” rights and permissions to your Android’s software. With these elevated user privileges, you gain the ability to load custom software (ROM’s), install custom themes, increase performance, increase Battery Life, and the ability to install software that would otherwise cost extra money (ex: WiFi tethering). Rooting is essentially “hacking” your Android device. In the iPhone world, this would be the equivalent to “Jailbreaking” your phone.
Why is it called Rooting?(top)
The term “root” comes from the Unix/Linux world and is used to describe a user who has “superuser” rights or permissions to all the files and programs in the software OS (Operating System). The root user, because they have “superuser” privileges, can essentially change or modify any of the software code on the device. You see, your phone manufacturer/carrier only gives you “guest” privileges when you purchase your device. They do this for good reason… they don’t want you getting into certain parts of the software on your phone and screwing it up beyond repair. It makes it much easier for them to manage and update the devices if they lock it all down. This way, all the users are running the same unmodified version of the phone’s software. This makes it much easier for them to support the devices. But, for the tech-savvy crowd, only having “guest” privileges on your device is pretty lame and it locks down a lot of potentially useful features.
What are the Advantages of Rooting?(top)
Custom Software (ROM’s)(top)
A “ROM” is the software that runs your device. It is stored in the “Read Only Memory” of your device. There are many great custom ROM’s available that can make your Android device look and perform drastically different. For instance, you might be stuck with an older Android device that is stuck on an older version of the Android OS and it is not getting any of the newer updated versions of Android. With a custom ROM, you could load up the latest and greatest available Android versions and bring that antiquated device up to par with some of the newer ones. There are lots of great ROM’s available for many different phones and it is up to you to find the one that best meets your needs. And becouse u read this article here, we recommend Custom ROM from AllianceTeam.
Themes are basically the graphics that appear on your Android device. Rooting your device allows you the ability to fully customize just about every graphic on your device. You can load custom themes that totally change the look and feel of your device.
There are many custom ROM’s and apps available for rooted devices that will allow you to drastically improve the performance (speed) and also extend Battery Life on your device. A lot of developers tweak the kernels (layer of code that handles communication between the hardware and software) for added performance, Battery Life, and more.
Rooting your device grants you the ability to update the Basebands on your smartphone. The Baseband is what controls the radio on your device. By updating to the latest Basebands, you can potentially improve both the signal and quality of your phone calls.
Latest Versions of Android(top)
As mentioned earlier, custom ROM’s can allow you to update to the latest version of the Android OS before they are officially released. This is a great feature for those who are tech-savvy and want to stay on top of the latest and greatest software updates before it hits the mainstream crowd. This is also useful if you have an outdated device that is no longer being updated by the manufacturer.
Backing up your device(top)
The ability to easily backup all of your Apps and Data is one feature that is sorely missed on the stock build of Android devices. But if you root your device, backing up everything on your device (both apps and data) becomes a simple task. (About apps)
Unlocking Additional Features(top)
By rooting your Android device you also gain the ability to unlock some features that your carrier may charge for. One example is enabling free WiFi and USB tethering, which many carriers charge money for.
What are the Disadvantages of Rooting?(top)
The number one reason not to root your device is the potential risk of “bricking” it. As mentioned earlier, “bricking” your device means screwing up your phone software so badly that your phone can no longer function properly and is pretty much as useless as a brick. You would likely need to purchase a new Android device since the manufacturer of your device will void the warranty after any attempts at rooting.
There is an increased risk of unknowingly installing malicious software when you root an Android device. Root access circumvents the security restrictions that are put in place by the Android OS. There isn’t really an effective way to tell just what the application intends to do with that “superuser” power. You are putting a lot of trust into the developer’s hands. In most cases, these applications are open source and the community can take a look at the source code to assess the risk. But, nevertheless, the risk is there. (About apps)
Can I Unroot my device if I change my mind?(top)
As you learn more about the rooting process, you'll probably run into a bunch of terms that can be confusing. Here are some of the most important ones and what they mean.
- Root: Rooting means you have root access to your device—that is, it can run the sudo command, and has enhanced privileges allowing it to run apps like Wireless Tether or SetCPU. You can root either by installing the Superuser application—which many of the below root processes include—or by flashing a custom ROM that has root access included.
- ROM: A ROM is a modified version of Android. It may contain extra features, a different look, speed enhancements, or even a version of Android that hasn't been released yet.
- Flash: Flashing essentially means installing something on your device, whether it be a ROM, a Kernel, or something else that comes in the form of a ZIP file. Sometimes the rooting process requires flashing ZIP file, sometimes it doesn't.
- Bootloader: Your BootLoader is the lowest level of software on your phone, running all the code that's necessary to start up your operating system. Most bootloaders come locked, which keeps you from rooting your phone. Unlocking your BootLoader doesn't root your phone directly, but it does allow you to root, then flash custom ROMs if you so desire.
- Recovery: Your recovery is the software on your phone that lets you make backups, flash ROMs, and perform other system-level tasks. The default recoveries can't do much, but you can flash a custom recovery—like ClockworkMod—after you've unlocked your BootLoader that will give you much more control over your device. This is often an integral part of the rooting process.
- ADB: ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge, and it's a command line tool for your computer that can communicate with an Android device you've connected to it. It's part of the Android Software Developers Kit (SDK). Many of the root tools below use ADB, whether you're typing the commands yourself or not. Unless the instructions call for installing the SDK and running ADB commands, you won't need to mess with it—you'll just need to know that it's what most of the tools use to root your phone.
- S-OFF: HTC phones use a feature called Signature Verification in HBOOT, their BootLoader. By default, your phone has S-ON, which means it blocks you from flashing radio images—the code that manages your data, Wi-Fi, and GPS connections. Switching your phone to S-OFF lets you flash new radios. Rooting doesn't require S-OFF, but many rooting tools will give you S-OFF in addition to root access, which is nice.
- RUU and SBF: ROM Upgrade Utilities (for HTC phones) and System Boot Files (for Motorola phones) are files direct from the manufacturer that change the software on your phone. RUU and SBF files are how the manufacturers deliver your over-the-air upgrades, and modders often post leaked RUU and SBF files for flashing when the updates haven't been released yet. They're also handy when downgrading your phone, if a rooting method isn't available for the newest software version yet. You can flash RUUs right from your HTC phone, but Motorola users will need a Windows program called RSD Lite to flash SBF files.
How do I learn how to root my device?(top)
Each device has a unique method to rooting and some research most be done on your part. But, becouse we are sucha great community, we've done research for you: