Do you want to get unlimited control over your phone? Android rooting opens up a world of possibility, but it can also void your warranty, leave you with a broken smartphone, or worse. Its can make your phone bricked.

Manufacturers and carriers have a vested interest in dissuading you from rooting — if done incorrectly, it can irreparably damage your phone. Even so, the potential benefits are well worth it. With a rooted phone, you can remove bloatware, overclocking your processor, and customize every element of your phone software’s appearance.

This guide on how to root Android devices will walk you through the necessary steps to root your phone. Some devices can be rooted in minutes. Others take a little research. But one thing is clear: Rooting your phone is one of the best ways to tap into your Android device’s true potential.

WHAT IS ROOTING?

Android is based on Linux. On Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems, the root user is equivalent to the Administrator user on Windows. The root user has access to the entire operating system, and can do anything. By default, you don’t have root access to your own Android device, and certain apps won’t function without root access. Like other modern mobile operating systems, Android confines apps to restrictive security sandboxes for security purposes.

Rooting an Android phone or tablet is akin to jailbreaking an iPhone — basically, it allows you to dive deeper into a phone’s sub-system. It will allow you to access the entirety of the operating system to customize just about anything on your Android device. With root access, you can also get around any restrictions that your manufacturer or carrier may have applied.

Rooting is best undertaken with caution. You will want to back up your phone’s software before you install — or “flash,” in rooting terms — a custom ROM (modified version of Android).

 

WHY WOULDN’T YOU ROOT?

There are not an overabundance of must-have root apps, but there are enough to make it worthwhile. Some apps, for example, let you to automatically back up all of your apps and data to the cloud, block web and in-app advertisements, create secure tunnels to the internet, overclock your processor, and make your device a wireless hot spot. Here is a list of some of the best apps for rooted devices.

Voiding your warranty: Some manufacturers or carriers will void your warranty if you root your device, so it is worth keeping in mind that you can always unroot. If you need to send the device back for repair, simply flash the software backup you made and it’ll be good as new.
Bricking your phone: If something goes wrong during the rooting process, you run the risk of bricking — i.e., corrupting — your device. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is to follow the instructions carefully. Make sure the guide you are following is up to date and that the custom ROM you flash is specifically for it. If you do your research, you won’t have to worry about bricking your smartphone.
Security risks: Rooting introduces some security risks. Depending on what services or apps you use on your device, it could create a security vulnerability. And certain malware takes advantage of rooted status to steal data, install additional malware, or target other devices with harmful web traffic.
Disabled apps: Some security-conscious apps and services do not work on rooted devices — financial platforms like Google’s Android Pay and Barclays Mobile Banking do not support them. Apps that serve copyrighted TV shows and movies, like Sky Go and Virgin TV Anywhere, will not start on rooted devices, either.

Warnings

Android devices don’t come rooted for a reason. In fact, some device manufacturers go out of their way to prevent you from rooting. Here’s why:

Security: Rooting breaks apps out of Android’s normal security sandbox. Apps could abuse root privileges you’ve granted and snoop on other apps, something which isn’t normally possible. In fact, Google prevents you from using Android Pay on rooted devices for this reason.
Warranty: Some manufacturers assert that rooting voids your device’s warranty. However, rooting will not actually damage your hardware. In many cases, you can “unroot” your device and manufacturers won’t be able to tell if it’s been rooted.
Bricking: As usual, you do this at your own risk. Rooting should generally be a very safe process, but you’re on your own here. If you mess something up, you can’t just expect free warranty service to fix it. If you’re worried, do a bit of research first and see if other people report success rooting your device with the tool you’re planning on using.
You only need to root your phone if you want to run a specific app that requires root access. If you don’t plan on actually doing anything with that root access, don’t bother. You can always root it later if you need to.

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