So you finally took the plunge and rooted your Android phone/tablet. After 30 minutes of getting nervous as hell while using your root tool to do its magic, and biting your nails waiting for that insanely long first boot into your freshly rooted device, you finally have that magical Superuser app sitting in your app drawer. You've heard how awesome rooting is, and how it can make your phone so much better, and faster, and open up so many possibilities, and that's all true....but how do you actually make it happen? Once you have achieved root, how do you get started optimzing your phone and what tools/apps do you need to actually do it?
Getting Started After Rooting: Where to find ROMS and enhancements
Whew...where to get started? Well, in most cases it's probably pretty safe to say that you rooted your device via instructions that you found on XDA or Youtube. First thing you need to do is to go to your devices section on XDA, and bookmark it. Every device on XDA (http://forum.xda-developers.com/index.php) has its own forums, which all contain the following sections:
- General – General discussion about your device (news, tips and tricks, ect)
- Q&A – Common questions and answers about your device
- Accessories – Cases, screen protectors, batteries, ect for your device
- Development – This is the section to really keep your eye on. Here you will find the list of ROMS for your device, kernels, firmware, and flashable enhancements that really make your device perform better
- Themes and Apps – Interesting apps and themed applications for your phone for personalizing it
There are other great sites as well that I highly recommend (depending on which device you have). Some of those are:
Miuiandroid.com (if your a fan of MIUI ROMS. Shoutout to Mark and the great job he's done with the site!)
From these sites you will find a LOT of optimized ROMS for your device. Optimized ROMS are tweaked for performance and remove bloatware and unneeded crap from your phone. Some of them have skins (Sense, Blur, Touchwiz), and some are pure stock Android. Regardless of which you use, they are always tweaked and updated frequently. There are so many custom ROMS out there, and which one you choose to use is up to you, and the great things is that it will in many cases keep you from having to wait for Google/carriers/manufacturers to provide you with the newest version of Android. I have been running PURE Ice Cream Sandwich on my HTC Sensation (without Sense) for a while now (thanks Trip!), even though HTC hasn't done the update yet, and I couldn't be happier. Most of the sites I've mentioned have detailed changelogs about whats been improved in the ROM, which bugs might be present, and flashing instructions. Lots of them also have screenshots to give you a look at what you'll be flashing.
Apps Every Rooted User Needs
Here are a few apps from the Android Market that EVERY rooted user should have:
- Titanium Backup (free version is great, but that Pro paid version is worth the money)
- ROM Manager
- System Tuner Pro
- Spare Parts (not really needed for Ice Cream Sandwich ROMS)
- Terminal Emulator
- File Manager
- Cachemate for Root Users
Titanium Backup Pro is THE app for root users. Why? Because it will allow you to make a backup of ALL the apps you have installed and store it on your SD card. Why is this useful? Well, if you flash a billion ROMS like me, this requires a full wipe at the beginning of the process, meaning you have to manually download all your apps and install them again. With Titanium Backup Pro, you simply click on the restore button, and it installs all of them back for you. HIGHLY recommended.
ROM Manager is great, as it will allow you to directly boot into recovery and flash new ROMS via CWM recovery. The pro version will also allow you to update specific ROMS over the air directly to your phone. CWM recovery (like most recoveries) takes backups a step further than Titanium Pro, and allows you to backup your ENTIRE OS EXACTLY the way you had it. It stores the backup on your sd card as well, and, in the event you flash a ROM and don't like it, you can completely restore your previous ROM and all the apps it had installed. CWM will also allow you to run advanced options such as fix permissions, format your SD card, and even divide it into partitions.
System Tuner Pro is a useful app that will allow you to make lots of enhancements to your processor, SD card, control apps, look at error logs, control apps that start on boot, and so much more. If a kernel is available for your phone that allows it to be overclocked (one of the first things I check for is an overclock kernel when using a new ROM. The extra power is very noticeable, and can greatly help to increase performance and battery life), you can set and control the processor speed from this app. You simply move the slider up on the CPU meter, and viola..you're overclocked. It also allows you to adjust how the CPU will act when the screen is off, and when the extra processor power will be used. Use this app with caution though. Just because you CAN overclock your kernel from, for example, 1,2ghz to 1,9, doesn't mean you should always do so. Check the developer of the kernel on feedback for which speeds to use for safe overclocking. I'm personally overclocked from 1.2ghz to 1,7 on my Sensation, and it's rock stable. It really makes a huge difference.
Spare Parts is used for giving you additional options not found in the native Android default settings. These settings are already integrated into Ice Cream Sandwich, but for any ROMS before that (Froyo, Gingerbread, ect), it can give you lots of nice options for customizing the speed of swiping screens, the speed of animations, and lots of other small tweaks.
Terminal Emulator is an app that allows you to access the build in Linux command line shell. Great for executing commands to adjust heap sizes, expand memory (in some cases), and access information and settings that can't be done from Android's native settings. More for advanced users, but very useful once you learn how to use it.
File Manager is in my opinion one of the best file managers on the market, and it's free! Not only will it allow you to freely browse your SD card, you can even access and overwrite/remove/edit system files. I use it on a daily basis, and is my top pick for file managers.
Cachemate for root users allows you to clean every cache on your phone with the click of a button, which is great for freeing up space on your device. Lots of great options, and will even allow the phone to clean its cache automatically if you wish.
There are lots of great things you can do with a rooted device, but the things I mentioned are what I pretty much do first with any freshly rooted device. If you have questions on how to use the mentioned apps or on other things you can do, hit us up in the comments or on our forums.
And if you want to learn a bit more about what rooting is, check out our video here.
Happy ROM flashing! :-D