Rooting your Android – Everything you need to know!

by: Rob TriggsOctober 16, 2013
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Best Root Apps for Android

If you’ve been around Android for a while, you’ve probably heard “rooting” or “root permission” crop up more than once. If you’re new to the whole topic, or just looking for some handy resources, then this article is for you.

What is rooting?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, rooting simply refers to the act of obtaining access to commands, system files and folder locations that are usually locked off from the user. Rooting could be thought of moving from a user to administrator, with the additional freedom and risks that come from more control over the deeper workings of your device.

Once rooted, users can install and run applications that require special privileges, bypass carrier installed software, and even remove bloatware 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, apps can modify system files and users can install custom recoveries and different versions of Android (ROMs).

There are various root methods out there, some of which may or may not apply to your handset. The method available to you will depend on which exploits have been patched by your manufacturer and whether the boot-loader (the first piece of code executed when you turn on your phone) is locked or unlocked. Most are locked. Regardless of the method, the aim is to find a way to run code at a privileged level, which can be used to install a copy of su, a linux privilege escalation program, permanently on the system, so we can give any app root permission at will.

Things every rooter should know

We’ll starting with the big question – is rooting legal?

This is tough to answer as it depends on your own country’s laws. Many countries allow for the bypassing of digital rights management and locks, providing that this is not used for other illegal purposes, such as circumventing copyright. In Europe, the Copyright Directive includes exceptions which work as above, as do India’s copyright laws. The US has a more complicated history, with laws implemented and then exceptions made. Currently, an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows for unlocking and rooting of mobile phone products, but this may expire after 2015. If in doubt, check your own country’s laws on digital rights.

Related: Best Apps for Rooted Android phones.

For what it’s worth, rooting and these laws have not been testing in court and no-one has been prosecuted for rooting their Android phone or tablet.

While we’re looking at the more questionable aspects of rooting, I should include the obligatory statement about the potential risks. The risk of rendering your device unusable by rooting is very low, but it in rare cases something may prevent it from booting properly. Many “one-click” methods will perform a compatibility check before processing, but always read instructions carefully and do your own background checks on the method you intend to you.

Nexus 9 HP Chromebook USB ADB logcat

There are many ways to root an Android device, from simple one-click apps to pushing commands over a USB connection.

Furthermore, rooting can cause some issues with official handset updates, but it is usually fine to update if you really want to. However, updating will cause root permissions to be lost, in which case the procedure will need to be performed again. Occasionally an update will block old root methods and sometimes rooted devices will fail to install updates.

This leads us nicely onto warranties, another grey area in the world of rooting. While carriers don’t much like you tampering with their hardware and software, some manufacturers have become kinder to rooters and even those who install third party software. However, few have a clear stance on what software tweaks will void your warranty and you certainly can’t count on having your rooted handset fixed if something goes wrong. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to remove root and/or set your phone back to stock, should you need to send your phone in for repairs. Modern root methods should not trip Samsung’s Knox security, although installing a custom recovery can, so there’s often no-way of a company knowing if root permissions have been obtained and then removed.

SuperSU options

As well as setting app permissions, SuperSU contains a log and extra features to help monitor root apps.

Finally, more control and access to the system level on your phone exposes it to additional security risks. You don’t want a malicious application burrowing deep down in your system, but this is the trade-off. This is where governor applications come in, which monitor and control which processes are given root permissions. You may be familiar with SuperSU or the now abandoned SuperUser apps. These are very straightforward to use and simply display a pop-up whenever an app or process wants root access, which you can either deny or allow and save your preference if you trust the app.

If you avoid suspicious APKs, apps and stores, there’s little additional security risk posed to a rooted handset.

5 reasons to root

If you’re still with me and all of the above hasn’t put you off, here are some awesome things that the world of rooting opens up to you.

  1. Removing carrier bloatware. Although Google has made it easier to disable and hide pesky apps, the only way to permanently delete this garbage is to root your phone and delete the files by hand. This isn’t without its risks of course, as you might delete something important, but apps like Titanium Backup can help you weed out the squatters.
  2. Root only apps. Believe it or not, there are still a selection of apps that require additional permissions to run properly, usually because their functionality exceeds the basic permissions granted by Android. Examples include, various backup apps, Greenify and Tasker.
  3. A huge range of customization choices. If you’re looking to add a little style or simply want to change your default emoji set, rooting gives you the key. Don’t forget the hugely popular Xposed Framework, which opens up a world of tweaks a new features without the need to install a custom ROM.
  4. Superior recovery options. All smartphones comes with a built in recovery option of some sort, but usually you’ll have to connect up to a PC to make full system backups. Not only does root allow you to use better backup apps, but you can also replace your phone’s default recovery with a third party option like TeamWin Recovery Project (TWRP) or ClockworkMod Recovery (CWM). These sport improved UIs and features over stock recovery and open the door to installing tweaked Android operating systems.
  5. The big wide world of custom ROMs. Rooting already opens up a range of new possibilities, but if you’re looking to break away from OEM Android, fancy a more stock-like experience, or want to see what custom projects like CyanogenMod or Paranoid Android are all about, then rooting is your first step into an even bigger world of custom ROMS.

 

Android Xposed framework - overview-3

Xposed Framework opens up a huge range of new features and customization options to your Android device, without the need to install a custom ROM.

Unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all solution for rooting your handset, most devices require slightly different methods and tools than one another, and different brands can vary widely. Even within handset variants you may find that some techniques work and others don’t.

Your best bet for finding working root methods for a particular handset is to consult the relevant XDA Forum, a hub for active developers. Another source worth checking out is Framaroot, which supports a huge range of older and more obscure handsets.

Rooting Guides

Samsung

HTC

Sony

Motorola

LG

Nexus

OnePlus

  • 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.

  • Nishanth Venk

    Iam having Samsung galaxy star pro…I was trying to access by kitkat but my phone is running on jelly bean 4.1.2…….so I decided to root my phone……..I heard information about rooting in website articles…But it is tough…Can u plz tell me the right way I need to choose to not get my phone as brick……..Tell me the full step starting from rooting ending to access kitkat by custom rom…Plz

  • cris

    Pls email me guys cris.andam8@gmail.com: Helo guys i am a beginner in rooting any help of what should i do first? My phone is alcatel one touch 5020e android 4.1.1 version. I am finished rooting now. What should i do if i want to upgrade the android version?

  • http://thementalclub.com/ Biswajit Das

    You can see this post: http://goo.gl/o5tSls

  • abdul mutakabbir

    I have an Android phone I’d like to root

  • Delina flowers

    I have a Motorola Cricket phone, does the Motochopper work on it too?

  • Delina flowers

    The one to help me root my phone

  • alaa

    Hello