Rooting Your Android Device

People who want to tinker with their Android device and thus get the most of if it must first go through a process called rooting. In this post will attempt to guide you through this process and explain the reasons you might want to do it, as well as the risks involved.

To understand all of that, you must first know that the Android operating system is based on Linux. On this, as well as other operating systems based on UNIX, the root user is basically what the Administrator is on Windows, meaning he or she can access the entire operating system and do virtually anything they want.

Rooting Android Device

Mostly for security reasons, you don’t have default root access to your own device. This means that certain apps, which need root access to operate, won’t work on your smartphone – until you do something about that is, which is what we are about to show you.

Although it’s always there within your device, there’s no built-in, clear-cut way of accessing your root user account. Once you gain it, however, you can remove bloatware that came pre-installed on your phone, enable tethering (even if your carrier is blocking it), use an app permissions manager, run a firewall, install all sorts of apps that wouldn’t previously have worked, manually back up your installed app settings, and generally perform all kinds of adjustments which require low-level system access.

If you’re interested in any one of the above actions, great! If not, we don’t recommend going through the process. There are some risks involved (see below), and besides, you’ll lose root access as soon as you perform a system update.

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Risks with rooting your Android device

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are reasons you don’t have access to the root user by default. Google, as well as the device manufacturers, do all they can to discourage you from rooting your device.

The process works by either taking advantage of certain “exploits” in a device, or by unlocking its bootloader and modifying your system partition. None of this is officially supported, quite the contrary! Here are some of the things that could happen when you attempt to root your device:

Security risks: Since rooting breaks apps out of Android’s security sandbox, they could take advantage of root privileges and spy on or otherwise interfere with other apps. In fact, Google has recommended against the use Google Wallet on a rooted device for that very reason.

Warranty issues: Rooting usually voids your devices warranty. It doesn’t, however, damage the hardware in any way, and there’s no way to know you rooted your device if you subsequently unroot it.

Bricking: Though the process is normally safe, moving forward down an unsupported path is not without its risks. If you do something wrong and en up rendering your device unusable (something often referred to as “bricking”), there’s no official support available and no warranty, either.

How to root your device

Now that you know what rooting is and what are the risks involved in the process, you can decide for yourself if you want to go through with it. If the answer is yes, there are a few paths you can choose, most of which involve using some sort of third-party app.

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One of these apps is called Kingo Root. It is a Windows desktop app, so you’ll need to install it on your Windows PC first and run it from there. You will, of course, have to connect your device to the PC via USB cable to do that, just remember to enable USB debugging for it to work!

The app works by using certain “exploits” to root the device, so it shouldn’t require an unlocked bootloader. Simply install it on your computer, enable USB debugging, and connect the two devices. Kingo Root will install the drivers automatically and guide you through the entire process.

Another great option is Towelroot. Developed by GeoHot, an established name in the iPhone jailbreaking community, this tool requires you to first enable apps from “Unknown sources” (for that, go to Settings, then Security).

Next download the app and install it; Android will tell you that by doing this you are attempting to bypass the operating system’s security settings, which is alright, because that’s exactly what you wanted to do in the first place.

Towelroot uses an exploit in Android to root the device.

How to manage root permissions with the SuperSU app

Whichever rooting tool you choose, chances are it will install SuperSU, Superuser, or another app of this kind to you device.

This app works as an interface which you can use to control what other apps on your phone or tablet get root permission. This means that every time an app wants root permission, it has to go through the SuperSU app, which will immediate prompt you.

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Once you’ve installed SuperSU (or another similar app), you can open it any time to manage permissions on your device. Apps which want root access use the “su” or “superuser” command to gain this privilege.

If the rooting tool doesn’t install SuperSU by default, you can always get the app from Google Play. Keep in mind that if you’re device isn’t rooted, the app doesn’t do anything, so don’t install otherwise.

CyanogenMod and other custom ROMs come with an easy root toggle

The entire process could get even easier for you if you happen to be already using a custom ROM, in which case an easy root toggle might be included by default. CyanogenMod, for example, one of the most widely used Android ROMs, has this tool built in.

To enable root access, all you have to do is go to the device’s Settings, find the Superuser settings page, and then toggle “Superuser Access”. For security reasons, it is still disabled by default, but as you can see it’s really easy to change that. Also, if you’re using a custom ROM, you won’t lose root access when you update your operating system.

How to unroot your device

The easiest way to unroot your device involves the SuperSU app you should already have installed. Open the app, then go to Settings, and tap the “Full unroot” button.

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