A beginner’s guide to Rooting for Android

October 16, 2013

Best Root Apps for Android

You may or may not have heard of rooting, and even if you have, the process and purpose can sound a bit daunting to the uninitiated. But you don’t have to be a programmer to root your device, trust me, and there are some benefits that are really worth considering.

Let’s begin with the basics. Rooting is the process of allowing Android smartphone and tablet owners to attain privileged control (root access) over the operating system. This opens up file and folder locations that are typically hidden from regular users, such as system files and core application folders, and allows applications to perform more privileged commands.

Once rooted, users can install and run applications that require special privileges, bypass carrier installed software, and even remove bloat ware applications added in by manufacturers and carriers from their device. Root access is even needed you want to install trivial things like custom fonts on some devices. And perhaps most importantly of all, users can modify system files to install custom built versions of Android (ROMs).

Security

A word of caution though, granting apps root access will allow them to delve into the more advanced and secure settings of your Android device. Whilst this isn’t a problem when it comes to the vast majority of wholesome software, malicious apps can do some serious damage if allowed into your system files.

Fortunately, governor applications, such as Superuser, can control the access granted to individual pieces of software, meaning that you can deny permissions to the vast majority of apps and only allow the necessary ones that you can trust.

Root security exploits aren’t rampant in rooted devices, but never the less, it’s important to be aware of the risks. Just make sure to download your software from trusted sources, as usual.

SuperUser control

Superuser gives you total control over which apps have root access, and will even alert you whenever an app that requires such features is running.

There are a few other risks to be aware of before attempting to root your handset. Firstly, it is possible to brick (permanently ruin) your smartphone. The chances are very slim so long as you follow the instructions properly, as these are tried and tested methods. You will also void your warranty, so don’t expect a replacement handset if something does go wrong.

But don’t let that put you off, gaining root access is akin to setting up an administrator account in any other operating system, and opens up Android to a host of new uses.

Getting started

Unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all solution for rooting your handset, most devices require slightly different methods and tools. But you will almost certainly require your USB cable, a Windows PC with your phone’s drivers installed, a full charge on your handset, and USB debugging mode enabled.

To enable USB debugging, go to system settings, about phone, and then repeatedly click on the build number until a message appears. Then go back to system settings and go into developer options and check the box.

After that, the best place to start is with SuperOneClick, a simple piece of software that can root a number of devices with the simple click of a button. There’s a list of compatible devices, downloads, and instructions over on the XDA Thread.

Your Device

But not all devices are supported by SuperOneClick and I won’t be able to list every other method here, but here’s a list of some of the most commonly used rooting techniques for popular handsets.

Nexus 4

We recently covered the Android 4.3 update to the Nexus Root Toolkit, which makes rooting any of your Nexus devices super easy. All you need to do is download the software and install, connect up your phone to your PC and then hit the root button. It couldn’t be any simpler. The Toolkit also has functions for flashing, unrooting, backing up your device, and restoring default settings.

Nexus Root Toolkit

The Nexus Root Toolkit is one of the easiest methods used to root your handset. Other handset have similar software available for simple rooting.

For a full list of supported devices, download links, and more detailed instructions, then head on over to the Wugfresh website.

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505 (Snapdragon 600)

Before you read any further, this rooting method only applies to the I9505 version of the Galaxy S4. Samsung has its own software for modifying the software on its handset, named Odin. You can also root previous Galaxy and Note handsets using Odin as well, but you’ll need specific zip files for your device.

This rooting method is a little more complicated to setup than the Nexus, but again it will only take a few simple clicks once you’ve downloaded everything. You’ll need to grab Odin and Chainfire’s Auto-root zip file, and know how to put your handset into download mode (press the Volume Down + Home + Power button simultaneously when turning your handset on).

There’s a little step by step guide put together by knowtechbetter which will guide you through the process.

Moto X

The Moto X is another handset which is very easy to root, and is done by downloading a file onto your handset rather than by connecting up to some PC software. You’ll just need to one click the app once it’s installed then the application will do all the work. Just download the correct file for your network and follow the simple instructions from this XDA thread and/or check out this video.

As you can see there’s a wide variety of ways to root different handsets, so I’ll have to shorten the descriptions a bit for the last few major devices. Fortunately these methods are quite simple, but just make sure to read the instructions carefully.

HTC One – All-in-one-Toolkit for rooting, flashing ROMs, performing backups, and much more.

Sony Xperia devices – DooMLoRD’s easy rooting toolkit works with a wide variety of Xperia devices, including the new Xperia Z and ZL.

Motorola Razr HD, Razr Maxx HD, Atrix HD, Photon Q, and Razr M – If you’re looking for a way to root your Motorola handset then there’s a good chance that Motochopper has you covered. Again it’s another simple file that will root your device once you connected it up in USB Debugging mode. In fact, this works with the Samsung Galaxy S4 as well, weirdly.

Other useful resources

If your device isn’t listed above, there are a few other popular online resources available. One of the best places to start is the XDA Forum, which contains plenty of rooting and ROM information for every device with a development community. Simply check out your handset’s corresponding sub-forum and look in the development section.

Comments

  • Balraj

    Nice article
    Can you write an article on arm cortex a57/53 chips
    Just asking :-)

  • real amateur

    so whats the next step after rooting is successful? do u back up or anything? before flashing roms and stuff?

  • Leonard Bryan

    Any Root for Samsung Galaxy Note 3? I love the Framaroot app which does not require any PC to root devices.. and it allows you to unroot the device from the same app again… Very Convenient especially when I want to use my Banking App which wouldn’t open if it detects that the phone is rooted. Unfortunately, Framaroot doesn’t support Note 3 yet.. :(

    • Balraj

      Cyanogenmod guys have teased a root n custom Rom I think
      Not sure

  • Abbas Mustafa Bhaiji

    What the launcher in the middle pic

  • Dominique Ovalle

    Could you please also post a boot loader unlocking guide???

  • zorrow

    I think you guys should report this. He is copying your article directly and only mentioning you guys as a “source”.http://smittenbytech.blogspot.in/2013/10/a-beginners-guide-to-rooting-for-android.html?m=1

    • http://www.hseved.blogspot.com/ Devesh Prabhu

      I think this is a gray/grey area as he has credited his source and the author, but should have only put in a snippet of the article and linked this article with a “read more from here…” link back to the article. He should have also provided a link to the author.

      • Marcel Viljoen

        UNFORTUNATELY MY CARRIERS FOR SOUTH AFRICA AREN’T COVERED BY SOME OF THESE TUTORIALS? DOES IT MATTER?

        • http://www.hseved.blogspot.com/ Devesh Prabhu

          I think that yours might be the international version as well, am not sure. You should look around and check before you start to root your phone…

  • Marcel Viljoen

    HI GUYS, CAN YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW THAT AFTER ROOTING YOUR DEVICE, ARE YOU ABLE TO DOWNLOAD AN OFFICIAL ANDROID UPDATE, SUCH AS 4.4 KITKAT, AFTER INSTALLING A CUSTOM ROM, AFTER ROOTING?

    • http://www.hseved.blogspot.com/ Devesh Prabhu

      No and Yes would be the answer.

      a) If you install a Custom ROM then you would only be able to update that ROM to the latest one of that ROM, e.g., if you install PA then when the developer(s) release v4.4 or any other update you will be able to upgrade to the v4.4 PA version or any other update that they release.

      b) If you only root your phone you would be able to update to the official version of your manufacturers ROM version, e.g., like Samsung when Samsung releases the latest version of its ROM, but you would have to go through the whole rooting option again.

      Hope this helps. If i’m wrong, hope others with more knowledge will correct me. Thanks.

      • Marcel Viljoen

        GREAT HELP THANKS. ANY HELP WITH ROOTING MY S3? AND ALL THE ROOTING SOFTWARE NEEDED TO DO SO?

        • http://www.hseved.blogspot.com/ Devesh Prabhu

          I have an international S3, won here on Android Authority itself in their giveaway. I exactly don’t remember the way I rooted my phone, but I do believe it was through one of their tutorials itself.

          Check which phone version (T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or others) you have and then only proceed with rooting it.

          You should be able to do a YouTube search and get a video for rooting your specific carrier version of S3 and the tools would be mentioned in the video itself.

        • that guy
      • that guy

        You could also just flash the official stock ROM(look around on XDA for it) and then update to the current official.

    • Sakshat

      With a custom rom i don’t think it is possibles but custom roms also have updates like cynogen mod, etc

  • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

    Xperia Z and ZL still consider as new……. =_= nice

  • neha

    Hey guys want to root your android device. Try this one and it worked with most of the devices.
    http://howhut.com/how-to-root-android-phone-or-tablet-easy-and-fast-methods/

  • sramirez913

    Hi, I am totally new to Rooting. Interested in Rooting my LG Optimus G (ls970) Sprint phone. I am a total newbie and confused by lingo used on most forums. Is there a specific forum you recommend? The more hand holding the better for me.

  • thesunnycupid

    Good article … You can try this in rooting any android with out any risk

    http://www.myblogstory.com/2014/03/how-to-root-android-phone-and-tablet.html

  • andreas

    Hi all masters…
    I’d like to know the method to root xperia ray… Mine still gingerbread… I want to root and want to update my camera setting to ICS version.. Can anyone help me about the link how to completely root my phone

  • Jennifer James

    Help! I rooted my att Galaxy S4 after the Knox up date and then lost the nerve to modify it. So when they sent the most recent att update, in my sleep deprived state I clicked on the update and of course it didn’t work and jacked up my phone. A friend got it to work by doing a simple soft rest and my world was right again… till I plugged it in to charge and the update automatically started again! If I do a master rest, to get it started again, is there a way to stop it from updating in the future?

  • The Mask

    Can I un-root if I suddenly change my mind?

    • Yisus

      Yep, theres apps such framaroot that not only provides one-click rooting butalso unrooting.

      • The Mask

        Thanks!

  • http://www.ultimaterootingguide.in/ eliteextremez

    http://www.ultimaterootingguide.in has step by step Android Rooting guides and Android ROM guides with Live Chat Support. We even help you to solve your tech related queries.