What is rooting? Why should you Root your device? Do the benefits of Rooting outweigh the shortcomings? These are some of the most common questions Android owners face. Well to start with rooting is the process of obtaining complete rights and permissions (also called super-user) to one’s Android’s software. Although the flip side is that rooting or modifying the mobile will completely void the manufacturer’s warranty and possibly “Brick” it (Bricking your device means damaging the mobile phone’s software in such a way that the device becomes completely useless, pretty much as useless as a brick.).
Before starting, We would like to clarify that this article is for information purpose only and would like to state that DroidEdition does not recommend anyone to root their Android devices.
What is Rooting on Android?
Rooting is the process under which the Android device owner gets the “super-user” rights and permissions to Android’s software. The extended user privileges, allows the user to load custom software (ROM’s), delete pre-installed apps and increase the efficiency of the device. Rooting of Android devices is similar to the “jailbreaking” of the iPhone mobile. The term rooting comes from the Unix/Linux world and is used to describe a user who has “super-user” rights or permissions to all the files and programs in the operating system. The root user has privileges which allow the user to essentially change or modify any of the software code on the device.
Typically, device manufacturers/carriers such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and others only give guest privileges when you buy the device. Why do they (manufacturers/carriers) do this? There are many reasons for doing this. They don’t want device owners to explore certain parts of the software which can accidentally damage the device beyond repair. It also allows the companies to easily manage and update all the sold devices if they lock it all down. Moreover, this makes all the users to run the same unmodified version of the phone’s software, which makes it much easier for companies to support the devices. On the flip side, guest privileges locks a lot of potentially useful features.
Advantages of Rooting Android Devices
Having super-user rights allows the user to do a number of tweaks, which is not possible in a closed system. Super-user rights enable the user to over-clock and under-clock the device, boosting the performance and battery life. Over-clocking means speeding up the phone’s processor and under-clocking means slowing it down. Over-clocking could be enabled to derive greatest power from the processor for heavy applications, while under-clocking could be enabled to rest the processor for when the screen is off.
Install Custom Software (ROM’s)
Custom software or ROM (read only memory) is the software that runs the device. Rooting allows the user to install custom ROM, which can drastically change the look and performance of the Android device. For example, if a user has bought the device running an older version of Android OS and it is also not getting any new updated versions of Android. With a custom ROM, one can load the latest version of the available Android versions (provided the hardware is compatible) and bring that old device on par with some of the newer ones. There are a variety of ROM’s available in the market, but one of the best place to find custom ROM’s for Android devices is the XDA Developers Forums. The XDA developer community is filled with Smart phone enthusiasts and developers who routinely update latest versions of these apps for the Android platform.
Install Custom Themes
Themes are basically the graphics that appear on any Android device. Rooting allows the user to fully customize his device’s themes based on his interest and choice. There a lot of themes available in the XDA community website.
Tweak Kernel for Improved Speed, and Long Battery Life
Rooting allows the user to modify the kernel (the layer of software code which handles the communication between the hardware and software) to drastically improve the battery life of the device and the performance (response time) of the device. A majority of developers tweak the kernels to boost the battery life, performance and other features.
Update the Baseband for Better Signal and Quality
The rooting of the device allows the user to update the Basebands (Baseband is the device which controls the radio on the device) on the Android device. Updating the device’s Basebands with the latest one, can potentially improve both the signal strength and the quality of phone calls. It becomes useful, when the manufacturer is no longer updating your, outdated device.
Backup of Data and Apps
Rooting allow the user to install custom applications, such as the Titanium Backup, which allow complete backup of the device, including both data and apps.
Other Additional Features
There are a lot of other features, which could be enabled by rooting your device. For example enabling free WiFi and USB
tethering, these services are being charged by certain network carriers.
What are the Major Disadvantages of Rooting Android Devices?
Although there are innumerable advantages of rooting your devices, there are a number of disadvantages, which should be considered before jumping to rooting. Some of the major problems one could face due to rooting include bricking and security vulnerabilities.
The most important reason not to root your device is the potential risk of “bricking” it. Bricking your device means damaging the mobile phone’s software in such a way that the device becomes completely useless, pretty much as useless as a brick. Bricking will also void the manufacturers’ warranty and one would need to shell out money to buy a new device.
Rooting the device exposes it to an increased risk of security vulnerabilities. Rooting affects the security restrictions of Android OS and there is no affective way to find out what the application intends to do with the “super-user” access. So far, there are no reported problems of malicious software on rooted devices. Still installing Anti-Virus and Security App is recommended to keep your device safe.
Is it Possible to Unroot Android Device?
One of the most common questions arising in any reader’s mind is whether one can un-root his device? Yes, un-rooting could be done and apps are available on Google Play to un-root rooted devices.