“Rooting”… some people make it a core need for all their android devices, while many don’t know what it really means. However, it is important for every android user to at least know what rooting is, and whether is it beneficial for them or not. To keep it simple, rooting is the process of gaining access to (all) administrative functions of the operating system. The term comes from the word “root”, which is the name of the most powerful administrative user in the Linux Operating System.
Although, this simple definition is not enough to actually decided whether you want to root your Android device or not. To make a sound decision, it is important to dig deep and understand rooting and what are the benefits and risks involved in it.
Android devices have the biggest share of the market and “rooting” is a common word among Android enthusiasts. If you search for it online you will find many people saying “Simple steps to root your Android device and gain freedom” but it’s not that simple as one might think. The process itself is quite complex and benefits and risks associated with it are worth knowing.
So what would rooting phones give us?
If you will root your phone you will gain all the administrative privileges, you will be in complete control. There will be no one to stop you or tell you what to do, all (software) limits set by the phone makers or the carrier can be lifted. Sounds amazing right? Yes, but gaining administrative rights also means there will be no one to protect your phone as you have full control over it now and you will be responsible for its security.
Apart from all the risks and benefits, the process itself is quite complex. The process is different for every device and if you make one wrong move you may end up “bricking” your phone (this means making it totally unusable – dead as a brick). Rooting typically voids your warranty, and your carrier or phone maker won’t be able to help you.
Why is not not rooted by default?
By default (pre-rooting), the protectors and controllers of your phone are the carriers from where you bought the phone such as Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, etc… They decide which functions you can access and which you can not, and they even add applications to your phone that you can’t remove (they can be disabled, however), commonly referred as “bloatware”. It’s not unlike the PC world where computer makers pre-installed many apps.
Most users don’t have the knowledge to benefit from Rooting (or care to) or manage the device in an efficient way once given all access. There are security issues that no carrier or phone maker is prepared to deal with on a mass-scale: virus with unfeathered access, or accidental critical service deletion are possible with root access.
Now this is the main reason why carriers are not in support of rooting, some of you may be thinking “No one tells me what to do, I will do things my way!”. Yes, doing things your way is fun, but ask yourself are your grown up enough and have enough knowledge to actually do things by yourself?
No one will be there to help you fix things, no one will be responsible for your acts and no one will be there to grab your finger and guide you in the right path (a sad truth about being a grown up). In the end, rooting is all about making your device yours from every aspect and being completely responsible for it.
Rooting is an amazing thing with potentially huge benefits, you can use apps that can completely change the way your phone works. You can delete anything you don’t like and same way install anything you want.
If you are going to try it, make sure you know what you are doing and how you are going to do it, the instructions you are following must be from a reliable source and specifically for your device.
Benefits of Rooting
There are tons of benefits of rooting your phone, if you know how to utilize them properly. These benefits are also the main reason why you would root your phone. If you just want to root your phone to make some minor tweaks then it is better to stay away, it is not worth all the risks. However, if you would like to reap all of its benefits, then it is definitely worth all the risk you are taking. Here are some core benefits of rooting your phone.
Access to more powerful apps
If you go to Google Play Store you can access apps that are worth drooling over, but what if you could get access to even better apps? Well, this is where rooting helps. There are so many apps right on the Google Play Store that requires you to root your phone and the functions they provide are astounding.
Like you can use Undelete to recover files which you didn’t actually want to delete. There are also some apps that work with Factory-shipped device, but when you root your phone they can offer amazing new functions. For example, Tasker is an amazing application but when you root it the possibilities of its use become endless.
The best part is you can get all these apps right from the Google Play Store so at least you will have some satisfaction that the source is reliable. For now, Google is taking rooting quite easy, so you can get some good apps from this trusted source. Just stay away from other shady sources as the “bad programs” including malware and viruses can do some great damage to your phone and they can gain deeper access to a rooted phone.
Get Rid of Bloatware
When carriers issue a phone they add some unwanted or little-used apps (bloatware) that keep you in their circle. They just want to you to have an enriched experience, but of course they can’t fulfill everyone’s need. Like “Sprint NFL Zone”, do you really think everyone needs this app?
With a regular device you can’t delete them, and they will consume storage space and possibly computer memory. Instead, when you have root access to your phone, you are the administrator of the phone which means you decide what to keep and what to delete.
You can just delete all the carrier apps which you don’t want and free some space and stop them from using your phone’s memory. However, make sure you only delete the one which your system doesn’t require or you will be in big trouble. Root access will let you delete a critical app or service!
Boost Speed and Battery Life
There are some apps which require rooting and that can help underclock or overclock your device. This means they can change the processor frequency to speed up pr slow down your device. The results can be drastic, you will be able to easily get your phone through the day or remove performance-pressure situations.
For example, you can just use (at your own overheating risk) an app called SetCPU which will set some specific rules to either boost your phone’s speed or slow down the CPU (main processor) speed to increase battery life.
When you delete apps from the carrier it may also boost speed and battery life. Most of the apps provided by the carriers keep working in the background that can lower battery life and performance.
Access to recent (unofficial) OS Updates
Getting the latest OS update to your device involves many processes and permissions. So it takes quite some time before the update is released for your device (if it is even going to be released for your device).
However, you don’t have to wait as the Android Developer Community is quite fast about it and can get updates ready for your specific device quite soon. The best part is, there will also be some added features along with the original update that are worth having. You can just search for the update specifically for your device and simply install it.
Access to Features Beyond your thinking
There are many features which you can’t access with your unrooted phone and these features are not to be missed. Do you want to decide who can call you and who can’t? Try Call Master.
You can have an amazing gaming experience by attaching your PlayStation controller to your phone with the help of Sixaxis Controller.
Is there any app which you can’t access due to your location or your carrier doesn’t allow it? Try Market Enabler apps that can easily let you access those apps. The possibilities are endless, you can do almost anything you can think of.
Take Customization to Next Level
Customization is what Android is known for and by rooting your Android phone you will be able to customize your phone in a way that you won’t even be able to identify your phone’s OS.
There are custom ROMs (firmware, or base phone Operating System) that you can use to completely change your phone’s look, it will look nothing like the regular Android OS that came with your phone.
You can control your phone using only gestures by installing GMD Gesture Control. In the notification bar you can add widgets or make it behave differently. There are Keyboard apps that could completely change the way keyboard works, like you can use Keyboard Manager to switch between keyboard types automatically.
Access to Amazing Backup Capabilities
There are many backup apps which you can use on your unrooted Android device to backup your music, contacts and pictures, etc. However, when you root your device you can even backup your apps.
Additionally, the data inside the apps are also backed up which means if you worked really hard on clearing those difficult Angry Bird levels and suddenly need to factory reset your phone, you will not have to start over again. The most famous app for this purpose is Titanium Backup.
Risks Associated with Rooting
Everything comes with a price and so does rooting. You can’t just have all these amazing benefits without risking anything. In actual, the risks are quite big that should be the deciding factor in your rooting decision.
May Keep you from (official) automatic OS updates
Rooting can lead to stopping all updates from your OEM or carrier, but it is not compulsory. There can be many critical security updates which you might never get and not to mention all the enhancements and added features.
Although, some people actually like not being bothered by all those updates and features which they don’t even want. Rooting will not stop these updates, but flashing a custom ROM will surely stop these updates.
Say Goodbye to the manufacturer’s Warranty
When you root your phone you void all warranties associated with your device. This means if any issue arises in the future, you will have to deal with it yourself, your carrier will not take any responsibility.
There is also an Unrooting process which can unroot your device like it was never rooted. However, as tempting it might sound, but your carrier will already know this and there is a chance they might find out.
So if someone says just root your phone and unroot it when required then ask yourself, do you really want to risk your warranty just to make some tiny tweaks?
“Bricking” Your Phone
While rooting your phone if you make any mistake or change something in firmware there is a good chance you might end up bricking your phone. So, like I said before a bricked phone is as good as a brick. If you do end up with a bricked phone try to be creative and think of its uses as a “brick”. However, completely “bricking” your phone is quite rare, there is a chance you will be able to repair some “soft” bricking but that will require some great software and hardware expertise and your carrier will not be there to help you in that matter.
Vulnerability to “Bad” Programs
With an unrooted Android, the bad programs have quite limited access and also it is quite hard for them to get in. However, when you root your Android device bad programs can gain access to deeper areas of your phone, all you have to do is make a single mistake of tapping on “Allow” when a bad program requires access to deeper areas.
The programs have greater access to the device which means the damage may be more too.
Yes, you do receive a notification that an app is asking for access to elevated area, but there are many users who don’t actually see it. This problem is less common with unrooted devices and you can just allow access without much worry.
Is Rooting really worth it?
It all depends on why YOU want to root your Android device. The benefits you are about to access from your rooted device must outweigh the risk involved in it.
If you just want to make some visual changes, or to access a single app, then it is better to avoid rooting as all this is not worth all the risk you are taking, at least in my opinion.
However, if you want to root your phone because you want more control, and are tired of all the restrictions which are stopping you from all the fun you could have, then rooting is definitely for you.
Just make sure you do it right and understand and try manage the risks the best you can. If you are careful and informed, the risks involved in rooting can be kept to a minimum. Yes, warranty is typically an issue, but it is definitely worth it if you properly take advantage of your rooted Android phone. Final note: Rooting is a slightly different process for each device. Make sure you find the proper set of instructions for yours.