To Root, or Not to Root? (Updated)

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Root
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One of the questions I get asked most often is “Should I root my phone” followed by “What can I do differently with it after I root?”  This post aims to answer the first question for all of you by focusing on simply rooting. (The second, and more sought after question will be answered in its own post shortly after this one)  What I mean by that is this post won’t be talking about custom roms, or editing config files or any of those things.  We’re here to clear up what rooting really is and does on your phone so you can be more informed in choosing whether or not it’s something you want to try with your device.

If you’re already lost, fear not, this is a very simple concept to grasp.

When someone says they have a rooted Android phone or they are going to root their phone, they’re simply saying they’re going to allow complete and unrestricted access to all the files on the phone.  Even the ones Google and the devices carrier don’t want you to touch.  When I say they’re going to allow this access, I don’t mean that anyone that writes a program or touches your phone will have complete access to everything on it (or more importantly know what to do with that access) but it places something on your phone that in turn does have complete and total access to every last file and folder on your phone.  That’s called the Superuser app (pictured above.)

For anyone on a PC that has used Windows Vista, or Windows 7, you should be familiar with a dialog that pops up on your screen at times asking “Are you sure you want to allow this program to run?”  When you click yes at that point, you’re essentially allowing that program on your PC to open, look at, edit, and modify any files it sees fit to properly run.  Of course you don’t have to do anything more than simply click the “Yes” button and it grants access behind the scenes.

Rooting a phone has a similar effect.  And I emphasize similar.  Unlike Windows Vista you won’t be prompted to allow access to something every single time you tap any button on your screen, but you will see the screen pictured above the first time you try to use a program that requires root access.  As you can see from the picture you have the option to click “Remember” so you won’t have to keep allowing it access again in the future, which makes this a very simple and easy feature to work with.

The plus side to this, is since it does pop up initially and ask you if you want to allow access, you can still control what has full system access to your phone even after rooted.  So basically if the screen above popped up randomly without you initiating anything, then you more than likely would want to deny it access.

So ultimately again, to recap so far, rooting simple opens the gates to all the possibilities on your phone, however I must stress that simply rooting your phone in itself does not make your phone magically start to do something, or automatically have the latest version of Android, or that cool custom rom or theme you saw someone post on a forum.  What it does do is give you the option of now being able to do any of those things.  They would all each then require their own set of instructions, files or whatever the case may be, but they would all be possible now.

So again, one last time, rooting gives you full system access to your phone, which in turn gives you the option to use apps that require root, load custom roms and themes, or edit configuration files that would normally be locked out, but it does not change or do any of those things on its own simply by rooting the phone.

So we’ll end this post here, and keep it focused just on rooting as promised.  I’ll be getting ready to put up a post digging deeper into all the things you can do if and when you would decide to root your phone, as well as getting revamped guides up for all the phones we’re currently tracking, as a lot of them either have once click apps or are a few simple steps at this point and you can be rooted.

UPDATE: I forget to mention one of the most important parts dealing with rooting that is one of the biggest deciding factors in going through with it or not.  Rooting your phone WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY, so make sure you’re comfortable with that before doing this.  With that said, if something did happen on you phone, you do have ways to restore it to how it was when you first took it out of the box, however this is not a fun process to go through.  So please make sure you’re very comfortable with all the steps and procedures involved in rooting and recovering your phone if you decide to root your device!

Stay tuned for more!

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