So, what exactly is rooting, and is it for me?

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Aug 23, 2010 1:54:18 PM

Rooting: It is an often used term in the Android world. Jailbreaking (with an iPhone) and Rooting (with an Android) are somewhat similar, but there are significant differences. In this post, I will try to make a decent explanation of what rooting is, the benefits and dangers of rooting, and whether it is something that you should consider doing. Please finish the entire post before starting on your rooting journey. I don't want people coming back here angry that they ruined their phone.


What is "rooting?"

Rooting your Android phone is, in a nut shell, a process in which you gain access to abilities of your phone that were unavailable before root, also known as "root access." Rooting makes you a "super user" so to say, in that you can install custom Android OS ROMs, which can be helpful when your phone's manufacturer/provider decides that your phone will no longer receive firmware/software updates, but you still want to receive the latest versions of Android on your phone.

Don't know what ROMs are? Your Android phone is running a ROM right now. It is the Android OS version that was installed on your phone by the manufacturer and likely updated by your carrier. A custom ROM is a ROM that has been altered by a third-party developer/hacker/whatever you want to call them to work on specific phones.


Benefits and dangers of rooting:

There are many phones out there that have custom ROMs made by the Android community, which bring with them new and useful abilities that would not be available if the phone only ran the official version supplied to the phone. There is not a ROM for Android 2.1 or Android 2.2 for every phone out there, so if that is the main reason for rooting, take a look before hand and make sure there is a ROM out there for you.

In addition, ROMs are usually not as stable and complete as the version that originally come on your phone. There may be some important features that are missing from these custom ROMs which make it worthless for some users.

Rooting can also give you the ability to remove bloatware/unwanted applications that came pre-installed on your phone from your carrier or phone manufacturer, overclock your phone's processor for faster performance, and take screenshots of your phone, as well as many other valuable abilities.

Rooting can be dangerous for the phone, however. Increasingly, there are "one click" root methods that can be found on the Android Market or websites that specialize in Android and the ROM community. These are very easy methods for rooting your phone, which usually involve only installing the app, opening it, and clicking a button that would say something like "root me." I do not know the success rate from those rooting methods, so be sure to check the feedback from those methods beforehand to get a rough idea whether it will work or not.

It wasn't always like that, as those of you who have been around for a while can testify to that. There are still many phones (in fact, I would venture to say most phones) that have to be rooted the old fashioned way. The old fashioned way usually required a decent knowledge of programming, a willingness to follow the directions exactly, many steps, and could often result in a ruined phone. The desired end result is typically the same though, it just requires a significantly increased amount of work to achieve root.

When a phone is ruined during the rooting process, it is usually as useless as a brick or paperweight, thus the term "bricking your phone."

As far as I know, not every phone has been rooted, and even if a phone has been rooted, the rooting method may not have been released, or may be fairly complicated to accomplish.

Rooting can get in the way of an official update to your handset. I have read of instances where someone rooted their phone, and when an official update came around to unrooted phones, those people with rooted phones had to wait for someone to get a fix for them, or unroot their phones so that the official update can be installed.


To root or not to root?

So, should you consider rooting? It is a question that only you can answer. Ask yourself: Are these abilities mentioned above important enough for me, that I am willing to begin this journey, reaping the benefits of the higher level of control over my phone? Am I willing to accept that my phone may be ruined in the process if I make a mistake? Does knowing that rooting my phone may present some problems in the future take precedence over not having this control?

If you are new to the Android community (which you likely will be, since you are reading this) and just bought your phone only a couple weeks/months ago, I personally would recommend waiting a while to root. In addition, if you don't have extra money to spend on a new phone, (in case you do brick your phone) then I would advise against rooting, until you feel very confident that you really want it and can accomplish it safely.

If the answer is "yes, I still want to root my phone", then let me direct you here, where you can start your journey on the road to rooting.

I take no responsibility for any problems, issues, or any outcome resulting from anyone who has an undesirable outcome after reading this post. Know that you are the one initiating this process. This is merely an attempt to inform Android users of what rooting is and the possible outcomes from rooting.

— modified on Aug 24, 2010 11:23:42 AM

Aug 24, 2010 4:17:37 AM

Great job Douglas explaining the process as well as the possible outcomes of rooting an Android device. I have personal rooted my HTC Eris using a step by step method and must say it was a little nerve racking worrying about "bricking" my phone.

My advice is this: I'd you can't afford to pay full price to get a replacement Android phone.. don't attempt to root.

However if you have the money go for it.. it's a simple risk/reward gamble. I personally came out ahead but then again I have always been one to push my tech to its limits and have over the years encountered failures or as I like to call them, "learning experiences" on more then one occasion.

— modified on Aug 24, 2010 4:18:51 AM

Sep 24, 2010 5:17:00 AM

Ok, I rooted my droid, overclocked, and have wifi hotspot.... can anyone explain how to create a backup? I've searched all over and it seems everyone has different ideas on what to do.

Sep 24, 2010 6:22:05 PM

No problem...
first thing you will need to do is "Flash ClockworkMod Recovery" the first time you run the app.
(it's will prompt you to do so if you try to do any thing else first)

Note:
I find it easier to "name" my backups instead of using the auto-dates (if you are toggling between different ROMs)

however:
If you are only using one ROM and just want to back up before making tweaks etc auto-date make more sense

Sep 29, 2010 7:07:24 PM

I see alot of people asking how to un root. not that i want to do that but can somone explain how you would go about doing this, and if there are any dangers involved?

Sep 29, 2010 7:27:06 PM

I wouldn't think that you would want to give up the features of a rooted phone and return to a stock un-rooted phone unless you had to exchange it.

As far as how-to go about it.. a quick Google search on the subject would render all the necessary info on how to go about it if you ever need to.

As far as if there's risk.. yes; anytime you are rooting or un-rooting a phone there are risk.. that's why I make it a habit to read all the post after the instructions to determine the risk factor in installing any Rom on my Android phone or Tablet.

My advice would be NOT to un-root unless you NEEDED to exchange it.

Apr 12, 2011 5:15:54 AM

Yes, it will if you download the right app for it.

There is, however, an app called PDANet that allows you to tether with your computer via the USB cable. It's not exactly like creating a Wi-Fi hotspot, but I've been using it for a while and it's a great alternative to rooting your phone.

Apr 12, 2011 6:44:13 AM

Well, you can either root your phone and download an app that does it for free or you can purchase an app that does tethering, but they tend to be quite expensive ($20 and up).

Apr 12, 2011 10:54:32 PM

I can't take any responsability if this technique doesn't work out for you, but I rooted my phone using z4root. It used to be an app available on the Market, now you'll have to Google it to find it.

Just find the z4root 1.3 apk file and download it to your phone through your phone's browser. Make sure to have USB Debugging turned on in your Phone's settings.

After downloading and installing the z4root app, just open the app and follow the necessary steps. It should be pretty self-explanatory from there. There are also other options available called unrevoked, one click root etc.

I haven't used them personally, but they seemed to work for some people.

Here's a step by step guide on how to do it

Again, let me make it clear that rooting your phone, although generally safe and problem-free, isn't always predictable. Make sure to read the comments of users with your phone.

Let me know it it works for you.

Apr 12, 2011 11:38:18 PM

I used z4root and followed the instructions, the app gets to the "aquiring root shell" screen and simply closes, then I can no longer open the app (force close) I used a root checker app and I am still not rooted. I alsi had debugging on. Perhaps it my fobes OS? it runs in android 2.2.2