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Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is rooting and Why should I do It? (Update to the outdated one in the side bar.

*[This guide was originally written for my [website]( but I decided to go ahead and post it to reddit as well seeing as we were definitely in need of new, good beginners guide. If I missed anything or you see something that should be added please let me know I will add it in with credits to whomever submitted the comment.] *

The times are coming that Android is now the best-selling mobile OS (operating system) and the phones are getting more and more powerful everyday. As such, people want to get the most out of their phone as possible WITHOUT paying more for services from their phone carrier.

How do I turn my phone into a free wireless hotspot?How do I get cool, custom themes that won't slow my phone down?How do I get my phone to go faster?

All these questions and much much more can be answered by one simple answer: By Rooting your phone.

Of course, getting into rooting your phone and browsing the internet for answer can often be a confusing experience especially if its your first time. So what this article will do is explain to you the following:

What rooting is (In easy to understand terms)Why should you root your phone? (The Pros and Cons)and a break down the common language you'll while rooting your phone.

Lets go ahead and get started.

What is exactly is rooting?

When you go buy your phone from whatever carrier you choose, it will come with restrictions on it. These restrictions are to make sure you don't accidentally mess up your phone or, the most common of the explanations are done by carriers (Verizon, Sprint, ATT, etc) to limit the capabilities of what you're able to do with your phone so they can "Add those features" and pay money for them.

The Android operating system is a Linux operating system, while I could make a whole article on that operating system; we'll stick to what you need to know. Rooting gives you system permissions for your entire phone. This gives you the ability to change and customize your phone that what is normally allowed.

That is what is referred to as "Root access" hence the term rooting. Basically, you're just getting full administration priveleges on your phone.

This leads us to our next section which you will need to read or at least intently skim over, which is the vocabulary you will encounter and you will need to know for the future.

Common terms, phrasing and words you will encounter now that you entered the wild world of rooting.

ROMs - The term ROM literally stands for "Read Only Memory". In this particular case of phones, it refers to reading your phones internal memory where your firmware and applications are stored. When people say they are putting (Commonly referred to as flashing) a new firmware on their phone, it means they are installing a new ROM. The two terms (Firmware and ROMs) can be used interchangeably.

A custom ROM (example: CyanogenMods) give you tweaks, enhanced performance or added features onto your phone. It just depends which ROM you pick and what it has to offer.

Flashing - Flashing just refers in the rooting world just refers to updating (Or changing) firmware.

There are programs that "Flash" new firmware onto your system should you decide to install custom ROMs or even just manually flash a stock ROM. (Example: the ODIN program but there are many more out there.

Bootloaders - This term and process seem to cause the most confusion for people and scare them away from rooting. The term bootloading refers to a code that is launched before any operating system is launched (Like Android, iOS, Windows, etc) without going too much into detail bootloading is packagingthe instructions to boot operating system kernel and most of them also have their own debugging or modification environment.

On the Android OS a bootloader is usually locked on an Android device because although it's an open source OS, still the manufacturers want you to stick to their Android OS version specifically designed for the device. In order to apply this concept, manufacturers lock the bootloader. With a locked bootloader on Android devices, it is virtually impossible to flash a Custom ROM.

Bricking - This means messing up your phone to where it won't work anymore. Essentially turning it into a brick.

Okay so now moving onto why the reasons you should or should not root your phone, carefully analyzing the pros and cons. So lets start off with...

Why should I root my phone?

As explained in the previous sections, rooting grants you system administration permissions over your entire phone. This gives you the pros of the following

Installing new Custom Roms gives your phones new themes AND new features to mess around with, not limiting you to the stock versions found on your phone.

Turn your phone into a free WiFi hotspot. This is a big reason for most people to root their phone (It was for me) since most carriers charge a monthly fee of $30 USD to even unlock this feature. Make your phone function faster or let the battery last longer with select apps. Use applications that need root access (Such as Titanium Back-up Pro. A great back-up utility that is a must have for all rooted users. But more on that later.

This are generally the most reasons why people go into rooting. But you want to hear about the cons right? Its only fair.

What are the cons to rooting my phone?

There are some downsides to rooting your phone and the most immediate reasons are the following...

Rooting your phone DOES void your warranty. However, your carrier will only know that you rooted your phone if you go to them with phone rooted. If you un-root your phone (Easily done) then nobody would be the wiser.

There is a possibility of bricking your phone. However not all bricks are perma-bricks and some are reversible but is pain in the ass and hassle should you brick your phone. There is a low possibility of this with the quality and quantity of guides out there but there is always a possibility.

And...thats it

That is virtually all the cons to rooting your phone. Alot of people have this dreaded feeling that rooting is actually a lot more dangerous than it really is and it scares them off. With this beginning acquaintance guide it should help dispell some beliefs.

If by the end of the article you are still unsure if you are ready to root or not, just ask yourself if you need the features listed above in the "Pro" section. If there are features you would really love to have; then go for it. If you feel that you could get along just fine, then there is nothing wrong with not rooting your phone.

Happy Rooting.


Published on Android

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