In this article I’ll share my knowledge of rooting Android devices. I’ll discuss the technicalities associated with it, how to accomplish it and what are its pros and cons. Rooting, in itself, is pretty easy and can be easily practiced by any newbie. But, there are many who do not clearly understand the actual meaning of rooting the android device and thus deprived of its actual capabilities and its severe flaws.
So, in this post I’ll try my best to disclose most of its features.
What is Rooting?
Rooting your android device is associated with gaining complete control over your Android Smartphone, modifying the operating system that your phone was originally shipped with. Now, discussing all those features which the companies don’t want their users to mess up with, is immaterial as they vary from one manufacturer to other and they all can be overcome by rooting.
The word Root comes from the Linux operating system world which means becoming the most privileged user of the device, thus you are able to modify anything and everything according to your will and needs.
Rooting is not something manufacturers or carriers approve of, but they can’t really prevent it from happening because the rooting process usually exploits a vulnerability in the operating system code or device drivers and allows the “hacker” to upload a special program called su (contrary to the belief su stands for “switch user” not “super user”) to the phone. This program is the one that provides root access to programs that request it.
Another program called Superuser Permissions is usually bundled with all root methods. It gives you a chance to approve or deny requests from any application that wants to utilize root. Superuser Permissions essentially replaces the conventional root password with a simple Approve/Deny prompt, which isn’t as secure as having a password, but is far more convenient on a mobile device.
Rooting has fair amount of risk associated with it. If done wrongly it may brick your device and you may be left with no other option but to replace it. But, nowadays rooting has become safe courtesy many tried and tested software developed by experienced developers. So, the chances of bricking your device are very slim.
How to Root your device?
Rooting is rather manufacturer specific but there are certain software that make use of android’s open source nature and depend on android’s version. They can be easily searched over the internet.
General search statement can look like this:
“Your device name” “Android version of your device” rooting
Most of the android devices can be rooted by certain apps like z4root, Universal Androot, Gingerbreak etc. But they are manufacturer specific and may work on one but fail on the other.
So, it is on the user to decide the correct app for his device.
How Do I Know My Device Is Rooted?
Well, there is no special way of finding out whether your device is rooted or not but there are a number of workarounds like installing and running apps which require root permissions to work. And the other way is the presence of Superuser icon on the application list which looks like the following and such apps ask for Superuser request once in the beginning which is to be granted for its usability.
Is The Device Unrootable?
Yes. It is possible to unroot the device and revert back to the state it was previously in i.e. stock. All apps that let you root your device have an unroot option that is visible once you root your phone. Again, this option comes up only with certain apps namely Z4root, Gingerbreak, Universal Androot etc. and if other apps are used this might not be as easy. It is basically manufacturer specific depending on the method of rooting and involves a bit of risk if the rooting process is tedious. Now, the question arises that why would one go back to unrooted state given the huge list of benefits after rooting? It will become clearer once the drawbacks of rooting are uncovered later in this post.
Benefits Of Rooting!
Full Control Over Android:
You have access to alter any system files, use themes, change boot images and delete annoying stock apps and other various native applications that might drive you crazy. There is plenty of information on the web on how to accomplish this, but our favorite way is by using Titanium Backup and freezing/deleting the apps from there (root required, of course).
Backup and Restore the Entire System:
Rooting lets you backup the whole system settings at one go just like backing up windows in the hard drive. It lets us to save the system image in the SD card of your device. It is extremely useful in cases if something goes wrong while flashing a Rom. One can get back to the previous state just by restoring the image of the previous Rom via the Custom Recovery.
Save Space On Your Phone:
While Google did introduce Apps2SD (moving parts of applications to external storage) officially in the Froyo update, it remains up to developers to manually add support for it in their apps. Because of that, it’s still fairly easy to overflow your internal storage and run out of space. But it comes preinstalled in the gingerbread and the ICS and the later versions of Froyo as well.
The easiest way to alleviate this problem and enable most applications to be movable to SD would be to flash a custom ROM that enables just that.
Special After-Root Apps:
Now, here comes the best part; the great bunch of apps that are bestowed upon rooting the device. These apps are special in the sense that they provide you special services that were not possible previously and which required special permissions. Here’s a bunch of ‘em…
- Rom Manager
It is the King of all apps if we consider its scope and usability. It is most definitely a must have app for every root user.
It lets you download and flash Custom Roms compatible with your device OTA and from your SD card, manage and restore backups via the clockworkmod custom recovery, fix permissions associated with certain apps. It can be downloaded from the market.
AdFree is yet another app which lets its users get rid of those annoying ads with free apps and the browser. It does it by nullifying requests to known host names in the system host file.
- Titanium Backup
The thought of losing all the apps on your Android device likely evokes a slight sinking sensation in your gut.
Fortunately for root users, Titanium Backup provides a 2-click peace of mind solution, should such a tragedy befall you. Titanium Backup is a powerful (you guessed it) backup utility which stores your apps, app data, and system data on your SD card for safekeeping.
The application can be configured to run its tasks on a schedule, and the donate version allows you to set up multiple schedules for the various combinations of backups it is capable of performing.
- Juice Defender
Juice Defender is a battery conservation app. It uses various triggers, rules, and timers to control how often your device utilizes 3G/EDGE APN’s (data connections) as well as WiFi. These data connections are the number one drainers of battery life when your phone is idle, so Juice Defender allows you to decide when, where, and how often you want them to be active.
Ultimate Juice provides some extra goodies for root users, particularly the ability to disable all 3G/EDGE (APN) connections on your device during selected scenarios. This includes pesky background mobile data services like Twitter or Facebook, potentially saving a lot of battery life while your phone is idle. The ability to adjust CPU clock speeds on the fly to conserve battery is another feature of Juice which requires root permissions, and is as customizable as any of the app’s many functions.
- Root Explorer
Root Explorer is an application for exploring your phone’s directories, much like Astro File Manager, but with one advantage: it can delve into the deepest, darkest corners of Android through the use of root permissions. This includes the elusive “/data” directory, where treasures such as the dalvik cache and application settings reside.
One more unique feature of Root Explorer is the ability to modify permissions settings on files or folders. The usefulness of permissions modification is probably limited to developers for the purposes of debugging and testing; then again, Root Explorer probably wasn’t written with the average user in mind.
Drawbacks of Rooting!
Rooting has its dark side as well. Firstly, there is always a possibility of bricking your device at any point in a rooted device. Rooting also exposes your phone to virus and there is an urgent necessity of having reliable antivirus software immediately after you root your device.
Apart from this, it also voids the warranty of your device and the manufacturer might just deny you of all the benefits that you enjoy during the warranty period.
Hence, there is a fair amount of risk associated with rooting and it solely depends on user whether he/she wants to experiment with the device and discover new things or is just satisfied with what the manufacturer has to offer.
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Disclaimer: Blogtechnika cannot be held responsible if you brick your device at any point