What is Android Rooting ? Should you Root Your Android Device ?

Root

What is phone rooting ?

Root Android is a process that allows you to attain root access to the Android operating system code (the equivalent term for Apple devices id jail breaking). It gives you privileges to modify the software code on the device or install other software that the manufacturer wouldn’t normally allow you to.

Advantages of Phone Rooting:

Gaining root access on Android is akin to running Windows as an administrator. You have full access to the system directory and can make changes to the way the OS operates. As part of rooting, you install usage manager (SuperSU is the main one right now). These tools are basically the gatekeeper of root access on your phone. When an app requests root, you have to approve it using the root manager.

So what can you do with root specifically? Let’s say there’s a system app that you really don’t like seeing, but it can’t be disabled through the standard method. With root you can run an app like Titanium Backup to delete or permanently hide the app. Titanium can also be used to manually back up all the data for an app or game so you can restore it to another phone. Want to change the way your device’s CPU behaves or alter the system UI? Those also require root. Ad-blocking software on Android needs root access as well (it modifies the Android hosts file to block known ad servers).

Risks of Phone Rooting:

Rooting your phone or tablet gives you complete control over the system, and that power can be misused if you’re not careful. Android is designed in such a way that it’s hard to break things with a limited user profile. A superuser, however, can really trash things by installing the wrong app or making changes to system files. The security model of Android is also compromised to a certain degree as root apps have much more access to your system. Malware on a rooted phone can access a lot of data. Again, you need to be careful what you install.

For this reason, Google does not officially support rooted devices. There’s even an API called SafetyNet. That apps can call on to make sure a device has not been tampered with or compromised by hackers. A number of apps that handle sensitive data will do this check and refuse to run on rooted devices. One of the most prominent examples of this is Android Pay it cannot even be opened on devices that fail the SafetyNet check. If losing access to high-security apps is a big deal, you might not want to mess around with rooting.

Its Dangerous ?

Root methods are sometimes messy and dangerous in their own right. You might brick your device simply trying to root it. and you’ve probably (technically) voided your warranty doing so. Depending on the company, you might still be able to get a device repaired if you damage it attempting a root, but that’s not a guarantee.

Starting in Android 5.0 Lollipop, system updates for some phones (like Nexus and Pixel devices) will only work on stock unrooted devices. This is because of a change to the way Android processes the OTA file. Updates now patch the entire system directory as a single blob, so any changes or extra files (i.e. root) will throw off the verification and the update will abort.

On other phones and tablets, virtually every OTA update you get will wipe out root and block the method from working again. If having root access is really important to you. You might be left waiting on older buggy software while you beg for a new root method or a modded OS update.

So should you do it?

If you’re primarily interested in Android because you want to tinker, you should figure that in when you choose a phone. Don’t get something hoping that root method will be released, because you might be waiting a long time for a messy exploit that gets patched right away. There are some devices that are relatively friendly to rooting, like Nexus and Pixel devices. They have unlockable bootloaders and can be rooted without much trouble. They also have system images that can be used to restore the device in case something goes wrong.

If you’re not familiar with Android’s tools and how to fix issues with a command line, you might want to give this some thought. Root can be a lot of fun to play around with, but it can also lead to plenty of frustration as you try to fix errors caused by overzealous modding. The added issues with security lockouts via SafetyNet should also give you pause.

How to Root Your Android Device ?

1) You need to unlock the device boot-loader.

2) Install custom recovery (ex. TWRP Recovery).

3) Install SuperSu / Magisc for Root Access of device.

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Manthan Vasani

Tech Enthusiast | Computer Engineer | Blogger | Photographer

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