Rooting a device is simply the process of gaining full, privileged, or admin control of a device thus allowing ‘root access’ or ‘superuser’ permissions. The process itself basically exploits a security weakness on a device, and in simple terms, grants the user executable permissions that are not otherwise there with a non-rooted device. Once a device is rooted, the user has complete control of the device from files on the device to being able to perform additional tasks that will truly make your device your own. These days, most devices are very easy to root. Also, keep in mind that the method(s) you run across to root your device has been done numerous times by countless others.
What are the benefits of rooting?
As mentioned above, rooting gives the user ultimate control over a device. Imagine for a second that you couldn’t access, alter, or delete a file or program on the PC/laptop that you own. That really doesn’t make much sense does it? Granted you could mess some things up if you’re not careful, but you do have the right and are given that ability as the superuser or admin of your PC that you paid money for. You are the ‘root’ user of your PC or laptop. Now think, do you have complete control of the device that you’ve no doubt paid a lot of money for? If the manufacturer doesn’t limit what you can do on your laptop, why do phone manufacturers do it?
Additionally, if you don’t have a Google device, chances are that you get updates later than when Google officially releases them – way later, since they then have to go through the carrier to be ‘massaged.’ When you’re rooted, you can get those updates within a few days from developers that own your same device via a custom ROM. Speaking of custom ROMs, most ROMs include an option to tether. This is in fact a major reason why most go ahead and make the leap to root.
What are the risks of rooting?
Okay, honestly this is what most of you want to know, right? I mean, if it were easy and there were no risks then everyone would be rooted. Aside from completely voiding your factory warranty, to be blunt, you can seriously mess up your phone – like to the point where you’ve made it into a glorified paperweight. That’s the big risk. I know, it’s a massive risk, but it’s kind of along those lines of a risk that has to be pointed out like all the risks that go along with taking medicine.
I mean, it’s a risk for me to drive to work each morning. It’s a risk to fly. I could go on and on. However, it’s more of a disclaimer than anything, and a heads up to BE CAREFUL. Additionally, once rooted with full control of your device, it opens your device up to the slim possibility of someone taking control over it like a hacker at a mall, bar, etc. However, there are measures to prevent this once a little research is done after you’re rooted.
Things to consider and/or to do before rooting
So you know what rooting is, the benefits of it, and are aware of the risks. Now what? I’m not going to lie, there’s going to be some work involved if you’re new to this.
I can’t stress it enough: Google is going to be your friend. Search rooting your device. Do you have an older device? Maybe start with that one first. Then read, read, and read some more. Reading and doing your homework on your device prevents the risks we discussed earlier. The more you read, the more you’ll know going in and what to expect.
Stick to reputable websites that come up on your searches – ones you’ve probably already come in contact with before and visit frequently. When you run across terminology that you don’t understand, read up on that also. You’re essentially teaching yourself here.
XDA is an excellent source and usually has everything you need in one place that’s dedicated just for your phone. All of your questions have been asked and answered in there before, trust me. All you need to do is search. Granted it can be a little intimidating at first, but most forums for devices have a General section with a “Newb” thread, or two.
Did I mention reading? I’ve found that if you read enough, most sites you visit about rooting your device will become repetitive. It’s at that point that you should feel comfortable with what to expect in rooting your device.
Have a ‘backup’ plan. What happens if you’re not successful rooting your device? What if it ‘hangs’ in the process? If you don’t know what to do, you didn’t read enough in the beginning. At the very least you should already have a backup saved of your stock ROM/OS. Additionally, you should know exactly how to recover that backup and/or your factory settings should something go wrong. Most phones have a fail-safe that you can enter to go back to stock, access a backup, etc. At the very least, you should have a backup created before you begin and you should know how to access your recovery mode as well as the steps to get you back up and running. Whenever I create a backup, I test that backup to see if it’ll load properly. After all, what good is a backup if it can’t load? Yes, it’s time consuming but you can’t be too careful, and honestly, if you’re not prepared to invest a little time, then rooting is probably not for you.
Make sure you’re looking at the most recent process to root your device. When you search, filter by date and at least pull a set of instructions from the past few months, or the most recent you can find. Methods change over time, and often times those newer methods make it easier on the user to root. Make it easy on yourself and pull those latest instructions.
Read all instructions carefully – very carefully. Do not assume anything if you’re halfway knowledgeable in rooting. Read each step, and make sure it makes sense to you before you begin. Read the instructions multiple times and do each step one-at-a-time – slowly.
Speaking of slowly – don’t be in a hurry! It’s not a race. I know the adrenaline can get going, but take your time and be thorough. Again, do each step slowly and read each step carefully. Also, finding a guide that includes pictures will help tremendously.
Do your homework and read user comments. Most of the time, the steps you find to root your device will come in the form of a blog or forum. Read the posts under it. You’ll be surprised at how much additional you’ll learn from other users that are in the same situation as you – and reading those that are successful will give you confidence.
Ask questions. The good thing about the Android Community is that most of us are willing to help each other out since we were once newbies. In those forums and blogs, ask questions. Most of the time you’ll get a quick answer.