Anyone who has done any research on the Android operating system has probably at least heard of the idea of 'rooting' such a device. When Android phones first became commercially available, many of them fell short of their true potential. In those cases, rooting the device was the solution. Subpar software and useless apps cluttered up the system infrastructure, and that caused users to waste data and battery utility. In the earlier days, the consumer experience with the Android wasn't very good.
Rooting these devices was an effort by users who wanted to fix the subpar experience of the Android system. Each Android device runs a Linux kernel along with a Linux-style distribution that operates almost identically to a Linux operating system in a standard desktop computer. The process of rooting a device allows the user to have complete control over anything and everything in the OS. It does so by giving the user permission to change any feature of the OS that can be changed. Rooting an Android is no longer considered the necessity it once was since the technology has modernized quite a bit in the recent years. The cheapest current Android will totally outperform Android devices from even just a couple of years ago. However, many users are still drawn to the idea of rooting their device, and they need to know where to start.
What is Root?
In relation to an Android operating system, the root is another name for the superuser. In order to maintain some semblance of control over the system, each Android device uses standard Linux permissions to allow users to perform certain actions. When you sign in to your device, you become a user within the system. When you install an app, it is given permissions of its own that allow it to do specific things. If you're using an older Android build, you can see the permissions when you install an app. Those who use Marshmallow or newer systems will be prompted to allow certain permissions when an app is installed or certain files or folders are altered.
Root is the most basic user within any Linux system. This is why it's called the superuser. Root has every permission in the device, meaning it can alter any file in the system in any way. That means if you're able to access the root user, you can uninstall apps that are impossible to delete otherwise. Many of these apps are 'permanent' in a standard Android OS, but the root user can easily remove them. The root user can also prevent the device from doing anything undesirable that might damage its utility. The superuser has permission to do anything.
Rooting an Android device is nothing more than adding a Linux function that comes standard with many desktop versions of the OS but has been removed from the Android OS. This works by adding a simple file to the system call 'su', which stands for Switch User. That file is given permissions that allow another user to operate it. Running the file will switch your permissions from that of a standard user to those of the root user. At this point, you have complete control of the device. You can add and remove any items you want, and you'll even unlock functionality that was unreachable before. The ability to access the full utility of your device is vital, and it's one of the most important reasons anyone would want to root their device.
Is Rooting Right For My Android?
There is no single right answer to this question that would be sufficient for everyone. You might not have any real reason to root your device. Many users go through the process simply because they can. Others feel the hardware belongs to them so they should be able to alter it as they please. Some want to add software or functions that the device doesn't already have, and some merely want to tweak the existing functions to better suit their personal needs. Just because a user enjoys the hardware of the phone doesn't mean they will like the software. The vast majority of those who end up rooting their Android devices do so simply to remove extraneous software. Any of these reasons would be sufficient to warrant rooting your device.
If you're thinking about rooting your Android device, make sure that you take all the factors into account. The process not only opens up the full utility of the device, but it also changes how the built-in security features supplied by Google function. When the Android OS was first released, many people were upset to learn that it was impossible to give admin permissions to an account, but this was done on purpose. Adding this ability will force you to become responsible for the integrity and security of the device as well as all the software on it. Many users don't want that sort of responsibility, so rooting isn't the solution for them. Make sure that you learn as much as you can about the process before you get started. If you don't know something and you want to learn, that will prevent you from making any serious mistakes that could turn your phone into a glorified paperweight. It's important to mention that rooting your device will often void the warranty, and it can make the device susceptible to loss of service or expulsion from the carrier network. Apps may no longer work if they require a network connection. The reason behind this potential outcome is that the security risk could be too great to allow your rooted device to access the internet without some form of protection. If you're going to root your Android device, don't ignore the security risks.
Many users have no reason to root their device. These users are completely satisfied with the operating system as it is, and they enjoy the benefits of staying protected by the inherent security features. Even if the root user is completely restricted, any Android device will offer all the most pertinent functionality of a personal computer and communications device. There are more than a million apps that can be downloaded through the Google Play store, and those apps expand the basic functionality of the device exponentially. Those who are happy with their device shouldn't worry about fixing what isn't actually broken.
Preparing to Root
Depending on the method you decide to use to root your phone, you'll have to prepare in several ways. The Android SDK is required for most methods, so it will need to be installed. Alternatively, you may need to unlock the bootloader on your device. These preparations might sound intimidating, but they aren't that difficult to learn. Being able to use these tools will also make it easier to find a solution if something doesn't go as planned.
Unlocking the bootloader is a bit different than downloading the SDK. Most phones can unlock the bootloader using the standard unlock command that was built in by the developers. Some brands require a token that will have to be used in the process. Each developer has a slightly different system for unlocking the bootloader, so be sure to check their vendor pages for specific instructions. Keep in mind that merely unlocking the bootloader can potentially void your warranty.
Commercial Rooting Apps
Many users will probably find the use of a rooting app to be the easiest way to root their device. Kingo Root and towelroot are two of the most effective and widely-used apps in this genre, and they can be used with or without the aid of a desktop computer. These apps don't work with every phone on the market, but the developers are constantly working to improve the apps and keep them current.
Some users have expressed doubts in the safety of these types of apps. Some have provided theories that these apps actually collect data and send it to foreign nations, while others have said they could contain viruses or other malware. Don't ignore these theories since they could potentially lead to trouble. Before you download any of these apps, you should perform a factory reset on your Android device. This will prevent any of your data from being stolen once the apps are downloaded. Once the phone is rooted, a factory reset will remove the app but leave the root intact. This is the safest way to ensure you don't experience any data thievery.
You can visit the Kingo Root webpage to find the necessary downloads. They have downloads for directly installing the software on your phone, or you can download it to a desktop and install it from there. In order to install the software from a Windows computer to your Android device, you'll need the proper USB drivers to allow for the transfer. Kingo Root automatically searches for these drivers if they aren't already installed. To start the process, connect your computer to your phone through the USB port and run the app. The software will automatically set everything up, then you simply have to press the 'root' button in the software. Supported phones require no firsthand configuration. Once the process is complete, you'll be shown other root applications, but those will be unnecessary now that the root user is available.
While using Kingo Root via a computer is possible, the easiest method is merely downloading the app directly to your phone. If your phone has at least half of its battery power, you can run the app and wait for it to automatically finish the rooting process. In some cases the direct download to the phone does not work, but the version through the computer still might.
One of the most notable iPhone hackers in the world created towelroot, and it's exceptionally easy to use. First, you must download the application from its official website. Allow sideloading on your device, then install the app. Run the app by pressing the Lambda symbol within the app.
When the app runs, towelroot attempts to take advantage of the currently running kernel. This gives the app temporary control of the system files. The app then pushes all the files that need to run as root into the file system it now controls. Once the device is rebooted, it will be rooted.
Be sure to only download towelroot from its official web page. You'll probably see other sites that offer the software, but those could be traps containing malware. Always stick to the original source if possible.
Rooting Your Phone
The phone you have will determine how you are able to go about rooting it. With more than 12,000 Android phones available on the market from many, many different developers, there are dozens of ways to root your device, but only one might work with yours. Most of these Android models can be rooted one way or another, and some of them are actually fairly easy to root. Others are more difficult, and there are probably even a handful of devices that simply can not be rooted. This could be due to the way they are developed or some sort of prevention inserted by the manufacturer. The greatest feature of the Android system is that it's all about choice. Those who want devices that can't be rooted can certainly find them, and those who want easy-to-root phones can find them as well. If you have strong feelings about the issue, try to find a manufacturer that shares your views on rooting.
It would be quite difficult to outline the rooting method for all 12,000+ Android models, but this article provides several methods for the most standard Android phone models and brands.
Rooting a Samsung Phone
At one point, Samsung offered what they called 'developer editions' of many of their most sought-after phone models. These phones had to be purchased in full without financing, but they included access to the root user from the start. Unfortunately, Samsung no longer produces those devices due to weak sales. While that might be frustrating to those who want access to the root user, it makes perfect financial sense from the point of view of the company. There's little value in producing a product that no one will buy.
Since most major cell phone carriers want their customers to use non-rooted devices, Samsung tends to opt on the side of the carrier. The brand makes numerous deals with different carriers so they will offer their phones within their stores, and those deals usually come with a stipulation that rooting be made exceptionally difficult or even impossible. Verizon and AT&T offer Samsung phones, but they are famously difficult to root. Every Galaxy S7 in the United States is encrypted and essentially impossible to root. Some models sold outside of North America are already unlocked, but they are difficult to find in the states.
If you want to root your Samsung phone, you'll most likely have to use an app called Odin. The app essentially pushes image files into the storage unit of the device and overwrites images that are already there. Proper USB drivers are also required if using a Windows computer to install the app. For Linux and Mac users, the software is called Heimdall. Both pieces of software have the same essential function, and they pose similar risks. You might accidentally flash an incorrect image into your phone, which could brick the device. In some cases, an incorrect image can be corrected, but the warranty will be voided. There's also a chance you could completely ruin your Android device, so be wary.
You won't be able to hide your activity from Samsung either thanks to the addition of Knox security software on most Samsung smartphones. On the surface, the tool is meant to help Samsung devices operate both a work and personal environment on the same device without them interacting. Unfortunately, Knox also includes a software counter that can detect any activity within the firmware of the device. It won't actually stop you from rooting the device, but Samsung will instantly be aware of the activity, which makes it easy for them to void your warranty.
Rooting an LG Phone
If you have an LG phone, there are numerous ways you can install rooting files on the device. Some of the devices can have their bootloader unlocked with ease, which makes it simple to push files into place. Other devices are more secure and require some finesse. As with Samsung phones, mobile carriers influence the ability to root a device. LG devices on the AT&T network are notoriously difficult to root.
Commercial rooting apps can be used to root the LG G5, which is one of the simplest devices in the LG family to root. It can be done without a desktop computer, and there are even some third-party apps out there that claim to do the same thing. If you decide to use one of these apps, be sure to do your research to make sure it's legitimate. The last thing you want to do is give a stranger access to your personal data. AndroidRootPro and OneClickRoot are two legitimate apps that can help with rooting an LG phone. If you have a bit of advanced computer knowledge, you could unlock the bootloader and then install a custom recovery tool with open-source freedom. This will allow you to flash files directly onto the device. In some cases, you can even flash firmware that has been pre-rooted, thus making your job even easier.
Rooting an HTC Phone
Using the HTC Developer app, most HTC phones can have their bootloader unlocked in the same fashion as the LG phones. Be sure to check out all the warranty information and a complete set of instructions specific to your device before you get started.
One of the easiest HTC phones to root is the HTC 10. The HTC Developer kit can be used to unlock the bootloader, which in turn allows the user to push images into the device. Some services offer apps that can root HTC devices as well as the option to send your device in and have it rooted by a professional. This would take the phone out of your hands for a significant amount of time, so make sure you trust the provider before you make any choices. If you decide you want to take care of it yourself, there are certainly methods available that use the Android SDK. Using either method, you can root your device and start doing what you want.
Rooting a Motorola Phone
If you check out the developer site for Motorola, you'll find they have a fairly open policy when it comes to unlocking the bootloader in their devices. Motorola phones can use the basic Android SDK to free the bootloader and push new images to the device. This images can be custom recovery systems, pre-rooted firmware, or just about any other image you can imagine.
Some carriers work to prevent that open policy from Motorola, which means Motorola devices from those carriers, such as Verizon, might not be able to have their bootloader unlocked with the simple Android SDK tools. In this case, you would need to use commercial rooting apps like OneClickRoot or MOFOROOT. Don't forget that these tools were built by a private individual, so you could be handing over access to administrative functions by using these tools.
Motorola has produced many devices in the past that are perfect for developers, but it's too early to tell if the next generation of devices from the brand will be as versatile.
Rooting a Nexus Phone
Nexus phones work well with the Android SDK tools, so if you want to root one of these devices, the best option is to familiarize yourself with the kit. It contains all the tools you'll need to unlock the bootloader so you can flash a new image to the device. You can even create a custom recovery image that the tool will automatically push to the device. Using the Nexus Factory Images, you can repair almost anything within the firmware of the device.
It might seem strange, but Google, the tech giant behind Nexus phones, not only allows the bootloader in their devices to be unlocked, but they go so far as to offer instructions for the process. This is one of the few brands that won't void your warranty if you unlock the bootloader or add new software to your device. It's as if Google understands that new and open software is the key to progress, so don't ignore these dependable tools from Google.
After you've flashed a recovery image to the Nexus device, you can then push all the necessary files to the device. Once the rooting process is complete, you'll be presented with multiple options for the next step. Those who want to tweak and experiment with the Android OS should seriously consider a Nexus phone.
Other Rooting Methods
With more than 12,000 Android phones on the market, it's not possible to include instructions for all of them in a single article.
In some cases, these phones have an established method for unlocking the bootloader. Some of them are approved by the developer, and some were created by third-party entities. A decent percentage of the phones could be rooted with apps that have been previously mentioned, like Kingo Root and towelroot. You can find a list of phones that are compatible with these sorts of apps online, but most of them will be compatible. Even obscure brands like Phicomm or Hauwei are compatible.
While most Android phones can be rooted using commercial root apps, it's best to make a list of pros and cons before using any of them. Some of these apps only work because they take advantage of an exploit in the software, which means any security measures might consider those apps to be viruses. In some cases, software updates to the phones can prevent the apps from remaining supported if the exploits are closed. These apps are constantly being reworked to remain as compatible as possible, and the fact that such services can produce a profit means they will continue progressing and advancing. Developers must keep the apps up to date if they want them to remain profitable, so you should be able to rely on many of them.
When considering a company like Kingo Root or OneClickRoot, it's a good idea to keep their ethics in mind. Any company that makes it their mission to access sensitive information for their customers should be scrutinized, so don't worry about feeling skeptical when it comes to one of these apps or services. Many people argue that these sorts of services are unsafe, and that could be true. Of course, the apps have produced many satisfied customers, so who's to say whether or not the companies are ethical? You must make the choice for yourself, especially when it's your device that may suffer the consequences.
The first step in making the decision to root your device is learning what the process involves and determining if it would be worth it for what you need from your device. Now that you've gotten that information, you can start to find what will work for you.
Be sure to absorb as much information about the rooting process as you can for your particular phone. Find out if there are any specific issues with rooting your device, and take a look at the detail within the Android SDK. Make sure you are completely prepared for all eventualities before you start installing software or even connecting cables. Without some general knowledge about computers and software, you might have trouble rooting even the easiest pieces of hardware. Learn how to work with a file manager or zip files, and don't be afraid to ask for assistance. Any questions you have should be thoroughly answered before you start the process.
If you have questions or concerns about rooting your phone, try looking in online forums for the answer or a step in the right direction. Many people who tinker with Android devices provide assistance in these forums, so it can be an excellent place to start looking for information. Don't ignore information that you could easily access when it might help you protect and optimize your smartphone. Those devices are far too expensive to attempt to alter without the proper level of preparedness. Stay informed, be cautious, and above all, enjoy yourself!
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.