Android root apps

Removing some of the mystery of the superuser

While reading around the Internet last week, I noticed several otherwise fine publications making a mistake that far too many people make — claiming that rooting your Android phone or tablet or watch (we can't forget the watches) will make things run better.

That's a trap that far too many people fall into, because having superuser access (root) on any Linux-based machine can allow you to do things that make your device better. It can also allow you to do things that make a device run worse, or even break everything and leave you with a pile of copper and silicon that won't ever do anything ever again. The old adage of "with great power comes great responsibility" really is true.

But by itself, having superuser access does nothing.

Everything is a file

Everything is a file. Everything. You are a file.

In any Unix based operating system, whether it's Ubuntu, or Android, or even OS X, you can safely say that everything is a file. When you plug a thumb drive into a USB port, one file gets read and another file gets created or populated. When you change the volume of sounds going out to your speakers, you change a file that gets read to tell the sound server how loud to be. This goes even deeper into the operating system. If you want to see how much battery you have left, you read a file that the kernel has written a value to. If you want to change the CPU governer, you guessed it, you write the new value to a file.

You can see this for yourself right on your Android. Connect to a computer, open an ADB session and look at the /proc or /sys directory. This is a set of "instructions" being read by and written to by the kernel with information about your battery, your CPU, and all manner of nerdery that's happening behind the scenes when your Android is up and running. And if we can manipulate those files and folders, we can change stuff.

Root is a user with permission to break things

Permission to screw this file up is granted

Because everything is a file, being able to make, delete or alter these files can have a dramatic effect on just about everything in your Android. Allowing a user to alter any files they don't own is never a good idea, so Android uses permissions to decide who can do what. No, not like the permissions you grant when you install an app. We're talking about permission to read, write or execute a file in the system.

You might have bought your phone, but you aren't the owner of system files and folders. Those belong to the system, and your "stuff" is in a different place where you're allowed to muck around with it. The system user is allowed to muck around, too, because it might need to make adjustments to stuff that's yours, because it's stored on space that's theirs. This is how Unix-based permissions work. Your space gives you permission to do most anything, and it may give other users permission to do it all. In the space that's not yours, you're only allowed to look while the system user can do it all, because it's their space.

That's where the root user comes in. It can do anything to any file or any folder on your Android. Or your Linux desktop. Or your iMac. There's nowhere that root doesn't have full read, write and execute permissions. Root is allowed to delete your files. Root is allowed to say that your half empty battery is really full by lying and entering any value it wants in that file. Root is allowed to tell the CPU to never sleep or to never wake up, or run at any speed and voltage that is supported by the kernel. Root can do mundane tasks that everyone understands, as well as really technical things that are just a bunch of hexadecimal numbers when we try to peek and see what it's doing.

In other words, root is allowed to do things to make your Android run better, and do things that make your Android run worse.

What root can't do is make any of these things happen by itself. Rooting your phone is simply saying that there is now a user who is allowed to do stuff that normal users can't do. You either need to enter commands while you're acting as root (through a terminal app or the ADB interface) or install applications or scripts that automate things and can run commands at intervals or through a GUI. When you use Root Explorer to monkey with system files, you're just sending file commands as root when you tap buttons. It seems like magic because you didn't have to do anything harder than install an app from Google Play.

The security factor

Sad bugdroid is sad

Nothing makes me cringe quite like seeing someone ask for an app to root their phone because they don't understand all this SDK and ADB stuff. Those are the users that the bad guys just freaking love, because they need people who will just click stuff so they can steal your bank password. And there are plenty of them out there.

Because everything is a file, and root is allowed to do anything to any file anywhere on your Android, it's simple to get sensitive information from a secure area and put it somewhere it can be sent back to some server on the other side of the world. All you have to do is tell it to happen, and hiding the commands to make it happen in a game you pirated from blackdroid is really easy.

When you buy a new Android, root isn't enabled for your own good. I've been doing this Unix-based thing for over 20 years, and I still screw up. You'll screw up if given the chance. We all will screw up because it's so easy to screw up. What's not easy is fixing it all. Because the people who build these Androids won't deliver software to reload things back to factory condition — the very best thing about Google's Nexus program — you can't just cry uncle and load everything fresh when you screw up and have a device that's not running, or runs fine but is insecure and you're sharing your life's details with some guy in Estonia or Oregon.

We don't have to like it, and we can do everything in our power to undo these precautions, but out-of-the-box your phone has no root because you can't be trusted with root. Remember, folks like HTC or Verizon have no idea if you're a careful user or one who gets click-happy. We all get treated as if we're the click-happy type. Thanks, Obama.

The middle ground (and in my opinion the best method) is when you can unlock the bootloader on your phone — after warnings that when you screw things up you're out of luck — and install any firmware you like. This is how Nexus devices and so-called developer-editions come from the factory. You can break it if you want to, and the manufacturer won't try to stop you — or care when you break it. I also think a bootloader unlock token should be provided when your device is paid-in-full, but that's another article for another time.

Knowing how this sort of thing works is important. Not just to keep from breaking your new $600 phone, but to stay safe and secure while you're using it. Most importantly, be aware that rooting your phone only gives you permission to do something stupid, and never does anything by itself.


Reader comments

There is no magic in root


Who was it that said something like "technically advanced feats will seem like MAGIC to non technically advanced individuals"?

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One of the most intelligent and lucid posts I've ever seen anywhere on the topic,. Thanks for posting this.Thanks, Jerry.

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Informative article. It also shows how insecure Google/android is. It is not JUST pirated apps that cause security leaks rooted or not. I have one word for everyone to prove the point....Yo

I agree for the most part. Just the one section about pirated apps I wanted to opine on. Phones of any type should not be allowed to be rooted, jail breaked. Etc. It can adversely effect the Eco system for all in my opinion. Insecure phones affecting other phones just because they are rootred

You're still not making any sense. Just a wild, but still very educated guess; people who root are more aware of the risks with installing pirated software. Then again, reading your comment history, I really don't know why I even bother replying to you...... :D

Well look who it is. The one that loves to demean people on blogs. It is an educated fear. I don't profess to know all the answers, however I KNOW you don't where it was evidenced from your past statements to myself and others. You are so negative without any good reason to do so. I wasn't disrespectful and wasn't addressing you.

with that attitude of yours you might love reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, you would probably prefer to live there too...

I have read it. These phones,google glass,imbedded chips,the internet has already put us where the book said we'd be or get to someday. We cannot survive in a civilization without the internet now. It is trivial at this point to be concerned if you are allowed to root a phone or not. That isn't the freedom(or the loss of) the book was talking about

I actually have a couple of issues with both the article and this comment.......
1) When I paid in full, up front for my device, I have also paid a fee (royalty) to Google for this OS. I am not unaware of the fact that free software isn't, necessarily, free. That a fee can be required. I also under stand that a derivative of Linux can have proprietary software that is not open source. That said, however, when I am asking for root access, I am asking for access to the part of the OS that is freely available and protected by open licence. I understand your point but I do not subscribe to the idea that knowledgeable people should be subject to restrictions because others refuse to learn about the technology that they use. The kernel is not proprietary if it is indeed a Linux kernel and if it is I should have root access.

2) There very valid reasons to root. I have a multitude of pre-installed apps that I never asked for and do not want. Practically everybody that sells devices have these agreements. I did not agree to these installed apps being on my equipment nor was I apprised of them being resident on the device that I paid for in full. Rooting can rectify this. It is the only way to rectify this issue since the uninstall button was rendered inactive on many of these apps.

3) Locking a system to prevent access to the core of the OS makes it a chore for more advanced users to WIPE the android OS and install a more desired distribution of Linux on a device. I am not an Android fan but I do need the hardware. Since I do not purchase devices under contract, I should be able to do that unfettered by security schemes that keep me out of the loop.

4) If you really believe that we can not live without the internet, you need to come to Lancaster County. The heart of PA Dutch country. It is a beautiful way to live. I almost wish I was born into an Amish family. I would happily trade all of technology for that lifestyle. Great food in Dutch country. You really should visit!

I do understand what you are saying about the average "Joe" who wants twitter on demand. I am not in favor of contract devices being rooted until the full contract has been satisfied but in a "free society" one has the right to be foolish as long as it does not disrupt the rights of another. I am not trying to be argumentative, I just think that when the device is paid in full that the use is at the purchaser's discretion. I mean, if I don't "own" the Android system on my device, I might as well buy a windows system that does let me wipe the system and install something else or gives me administrative privileges to access system/system32 directories. Perhaps I am just an individual rights kind of guy.

So by that logic, I guess you also believe that you should only be able to install Microsoft sanctioned software on your Window PC?
"Phones of any type should not be allowed to be rooted, jail breaked. Etc. It can adversely effect the Eco system for all in my opinion"
What? You tried to use the rooting angle to prove that Android is not secure--yet almost any phone's software can be hacked to install pirated apps, including iOS..
There are thieves on every platform, and all you can do is try to make the process difficult enough to deter the majority. The rest will do it no matter what. Most of the people actually doing this stuff (I mean actually *doing* it--not rooting with automated toolkits, etc..) are ambitious and fairly good with tech; so if one of them really, really wants to install a cracked game--whatever platform they happen to be using--most of them will find a way to do it. It's sad that some people take without giving back, but that is just the way it is.
Good job missing the entire point of the article though. ;-)
That said, I can agree with certain aspects of his point. People not meant to be rooting their phone--many of them screw things up and don't realize it, so when their apps stop working properly, they leave nasty 1-star reviews for hard-working developers. They also request excess tech support, device-replacements/RMA's, etc..when they do something that they don't know how to fix. All of this does have an *extremely* negative impact on the ecosystem. So, I can agree with many aspects of that sentiment. It wears Google out, and it wears software developers out. The more headaches they waste on this stuff, the more quality gets lost in the products they put out to us. Some people should just not have a rooted phone if they can't maintain it. If you're not comfortable doing all this stuff manually--as in using a CLI--then that is how you know that "rooting" is probably not for you..
As far as "no phone should be able to have root permissions": that is just completely misguided.

I think the REAL solution for Google and their ilk is that if they don't want us rooting our devices, then stop declaring war on power users and give us the functionality we desire that prompts us to root in the first place. You know, basically all of the stuff that the really tweakable custom roms have. They can hide it just like they do the developer options if they wish; those of us who go looking for it will find it.
Personally, I don't like rooting, but there are things I still can't do on my phone without it, that I want to do.

Google has never declared war on power users, there's a reason they sell phones with easily unlockable bootloaders, and they've been doing it since the second year Android was out in the market (long before any other OEM offered the option to do so). Trivial things like battery percentage or messing with permissions (app permissions, not user permissions) have less to do with this argument than with their overall vision for an easy to use OS, though I do think a lot of then should be appropriately hard for the average user to mess with.

Google started its war on power users when they removed SD card support in v4.1, and have been waging it ever since. You notice how many of their apps get prettier with each new release, while removing a feature or three in the process? In the Android G+ app, it used to be possible to long press on a post and mute it without having to open it. This is no longer possible, despite many of us bitching to Google about it. So, ask yourself... why do you suppose that is? I could site many other examples ...

Except that they didn't remove SD card support at all, only changed the way apps are allowed to use it. Please don't spread FUD.

Whether or not they add or remove features is their prerogative, if you don't like what they do, use some other software to do what you want, or write your own. They make choices, you make choices. They will never make everyone happy.

No one expects Google to make everyone happy. But they decided to mess with how can use your SD card. Not EXPECTING people to say these legitimate issues is quite inane. They made the experience LESS enjoyable to many. Their prerogative for these types of responses to occur...yes, however Google can make themselves happy at the above reaction.

Right, they decided to make SD card usage much safer for end users, we should definitely fault them for that. /sarcasm

Again, the only 'issue' at all with SD card usage is lazy developers not updating their apps to use it properly, that is not Google's fault.

To beat the dead horse, any app can use the SD card in Android at any time, provided the developer of any apps that use it update their app to use the SD card properly. Its very simple. The blame lies with devs, not Google.

Sorry but the current state of the usage sd cards has really hurt the usefulness of sd cards and that pretty much means I need to root in order to usage my storage as I require. I use dropsync to sync my university documents but now it's been rendered unless without root. Why not allow people to go back to the original way we used to use sd cards if you want.
If there is another way to use dropsync without root please let me know

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Because the 'original' way of letting any app have access to any file on the SD card is certainly not a good way to do things.

Contact the apps developer and encourage them to developer their app to follow the current guidelines for SD card usage.

At the end of the day, if one has a decent Antivirus utility like Lookout and runs it against every new app installed, they should be okay right? I only like Gove root access to apps installed from the Playstore anyway.

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Unfortunately for you, the decision to root/jailbreak is left to the individual, as it should be. Those who decide to root their phone take all responsibility that it comes with since it was their decision.

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My phone being less secure won't usually affect yours in the least, and it's better for them to offer an officially sanctioned path to root access (unlockable bootloader) than to fight the process tooth ands nail... Apple doesn't offer any aid whosoever in jailbreaking iOS, they actually fight it aggressively with each update, yet users still find a way which DOES create more vulnerabilities in the long run than the option of an unlockable bootloader (behind the appropriate warnings etc). If you don't understand this distinction then your whole argument crumbles, and if you do then you're just making a gross generalization.

With that attitude just go buy an iPhone.

I want to do whatever the hell I want with things I pay for. And there is no reason why anyone should hinder me so long as it doesn't harm anyone. The worst I'll do is break my phone. If a rooted phone can compromise the security of unrooted phones, then that is a security problem with the unrooted phones which needs to be fixed, preventing people from rooting won't fix it.

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I think the Votaire (and Spidey's Uncle Ben) said it best. "With great power comes great responsibility". If you root your phone you are saying I know what I am doing, I am purposely enabling the capability for applications to access anywhere in the files system. I take full responsibility for f&^^-ing my phone, or letting bad guys into my accounts.

You need to make a consensus and well throughout decision to root. If you are feel the benefits outweigh the risks, and won't come whining if something goes wrong and you brick your phone, go for it. But please remember the "won't come whining" part.

AI?!.. If anything this proves how secure Android is. I think you might have missed the point of the article. The irony is you call it an "informative article" (and no offence to Jerry because it really is) and misunderstanding its content..

I don't think you understood the article.
Getting root access is far from trivial, he didn't tell you how do that.
But one you have it you have ultimate control.

It's like getting the master key to a hotel.. every door can be unlocked and the room's contents inspected and changed.

Excellent article!
From an intermediate experienced user this explains a lot of advanced questions that I've been to embarrassed to ask!
Love Android Central!

Rooting was only good for one thing, CM and Titanium Backup. Now having a G3, I don't want to muck it up. But I'm sure that'll change.

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Rooting is for now the only way to almost completely block annoying ads, be it in the browser or in apps, as well as to have complete control over the permissions on apps

I agree, you do need to be rooted to block ads in apps, better yet, get the paid/donate versions and for the most part ads will be gone. Almost all of my apps do not have ads with one of the few exceptions being GasBuddy which either a hosts file or Xposed module will fix. As far as ads in the browser, Dolphin has an adblock addon available in the Labs section that works very well, no root required.

Rooting is also good for Wifi-USB Tethering when certain carriers block the built in option and put you behind a pay wall.

Verizon has tethering enabled because they don't offer unlimited plans. Tethering helps Verizon customers burn through their data allotments so Verizon can charge them more money for data.
Sprint has tethering blocked because they offer unlimited data and they want you to pay more money to use that data on devices that you didn't buy from them.

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I got my G3 two days ago but couldn't stand how much bloatware came on it. Or any carrier phone for that matter.

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That's your opinion. Others may disagree, some may root for other reasons like tethering/hotspot, whether that's stealing from the carrier or not is another story but the fact that most newer plans include it free of charge speaks volumes IMO. I've got a Nexus device right now so I don't need root for hotspot functionality, and I've lost interest in custom ROMs, yet I still find root access invaluable as a power user. I also don't recommend it the least bit to any of my non techie friends.

I use to root every phone I bought on the first day of ownership, until I bought the Galaxy Nexus (GSM) and, my current phone, the Nexus 4. I would root them but I can't find a reason to. They run well out of the box.

For this reason, I only buy Nexus phones now.

Still have to unlock the bootloader and root. Doesn't come pre rooted, just comes stock vanilia android.

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No. Nexus devices allow you to unlock the bootloader without exploiting a security hole, and it's very easy to root them once that has been done, but they don't allow root access out if the box, and root access isn't officially supported at all. In fact, root access methods (like Koush's Super User or Chain fire's SuperSU) usually broken after even minor OS upgrades. Even on Nexus devices.

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It's shocking how many people misunderstand this, specially after reading the article, though the subtlety of what an unlocked or unlockable bootloader implies is easy to gloss over when you haven't studied this stuff. The article made perfect sense to me but I already have experience with Linux and rooting Android and unlocking devices, the overall message was very well stated but it could've gone into a bit more detail about the bootloaders and the role it plays etc.

There are so many people on this board that say when you've just bought your brand new flagship and have some issues with it. The answer from most people is root your phone and install "XXXX" ROM and everything will be great. I have been messing around with personal electronics for over 30 years and certainly have the credentials to root and rom my phone and HAVE NO INTEREST in doing so. I Just want my personal electronics (phone, tablet, notebook, ultrabook, PC) to work. I can, when necessary, fix things if they go bad. I prefer to stick to solutions (like Apex launcher and Classic Shell) that don't root my phone or require registry editing on my PC or laptop. Jerry, Thanks for another great article to inform everyone about the risks of root and superuser.

Trivor - great comments. I am in a very similar situation, I too have many years experience, I started with an Altar 1 back in 1975 and have been hooked ever since. I work in in one of the largest non government data centers in North America and have access to virtually every type of computing resource ever made.

I have a Note 3 and a Note 10.1 that are my daily drivers, both are stock and I am not interested in rooting. Both have custom launchers to allow me to make them look like I wish. All apps on them that have a paid version available have the paid version installed (I firmly believe we need to pay for software, I want to be paid for the code I write).

That said, I do have a Nexus 7 that is rooted. The only purpose I have this device is to learn and play, if I brick it, so be it. That allows me to nerd around and learn, while my daily drivers work with no issues.

To other posters (no trivor) who claim that my rooting is hurting them or others, I don't see how, but then I also don't see how I am hurting anyone.

It's nice that you have no interest in rooting.

I do. I have to remove carrier bloat. I also want to use my phone as a hotspot. I have unlimited Internet so I need to root. I also like to backup and restore my apps. Also I like to mess with people with wifi kill.

So just because you don't have an interest in it doesn't mean other people don't. And just because they do doesn't make them any less.

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He didn't seem to have anything against people that want root access, you're taking his comment out of context. His beef is with people that blindly recommend rooting and flashing ROMs to fix whatever's wrong with a device. Outside of few exceptions like hotspot access (and even that's debatable), a device should just work out of the box without REQUIRING fixes gained thru root access and custom OS builds.

The same thing makes me cringe as well. You'll even see articles on tech blogs touting the values of rooting and providing poor instructions on how load XXXXX ROM on to their phones.

I actually do root my phones, but I agree with you 100%.

When I think about the amount of research I put into evaluation of ROMs, and the amount of experience with Android and Linux it takes for me to be comfortable making the modifications they suggest (often without any disclaimer about you could completely ruin your device or even void the warranty), it almost makes my angry.

Some custom ROMs are fantastic, but many if not most are works in progress. If you're a hobbyist and enjoy the troubleshooting process as much as anything else, installing ROMs can provide you with a great experience, but for the average Joe, it's often only going to lead them down a road of further frustration.

I've been using WugFresh for my Nexus 4 and now Nexus 5. Can I root from the command line? No...but I can get WugFresh to do it all for me. Install adaway, install xposed...and I'm done. Nothing else I need. :)

Not necessarily, if you unlocked the bootloader to gain root access (easiest way to do so, but not the only one, there have been other exploits), and an app changed a bunch of permissions around, relocking the bootloader isn't gonna do anything about that. This was Jerry's point, if you're using tools to automate a process you don't fully understated, you're putting yourself at risk.

If I built an unlocking/root tool I'd probably put a big honking warning not to use it unless you've done everything manually at least once (even if it was on a different device, just so you have an idea what's going on). Then again, I wouldn't build such a tool, people just can't help themselves. The community is better served by guides that show you how to manually do everything step by step, if you can't be bothered with reading something like that you really SHOULDN'T be messing with this stuff.

No it doesn't. Don't post false garbage when he has put so much time and effort into developing such a great tool. Crawl back under your bridge.

I think he was being tongue in cheek, the point is it COULD tho, the vast majority of people that build tools like that on Xda are well meaning folks that just wanna help (shoot I'd say 99% are)... But when people use them blindly without knowing what they're doing they're taking risks they shouldn't, cause they don't know what's going on.

It doesn't even have to be something as evil as stealing your data, plenty of those tools have gone thru betas where everything didn't work right... Hopefully Joe six pack just posts about it in order for others to help him figure out what went wrong, but Joe six pack is just as likely to RMA a device even that happens or call technical support or pass the buck forward in some other way.

Go on Jerry! Slap these bitches down!...It sounded good when I said it out loud. :-)

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Great article Jerry. Phil, give him a raise. I have found that I don't need to root any longer. It used to be the first thing I would do when I got a new phone. But now, Android has become so good that I just haven't needed to change anything.

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All I care about is adblock. If I could install a host file without root i'd never root again. I used to root to install new Roms or kernels but with how good android is now I'm happy on stock. I will never deal with ads though.

I find running adblock sort of ripping off the developer.. After all they spent countless number of hours building the app and let you install it for free, all in the hope of getting some revenue from ads. Now you have turned off their revenue stream.

That's why when at all possible I use their paid app. Otherwise my personal security (via the MVPS blocking hosts file that blocks known malicious websites as well as ad networks) takes precedence.

Finally! A clear statement of the risks of rooting. Malware is out there and rooting your phone for trivial reasons isn't worth increasing your exposure. A different ROM? Is it really THAT much better than EVERY phone out there? Or is it just an ego thing? Maybe it's just that I write software for a living so messing around like this feels like work in the first place, but the risks never felt worth the rewards.

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Not really responding to just you, but to numerous other comments above all at once...

The risk you speak of, isn't really the risk of rooting by itself. It's the risk of rooting and then installing malware, and then granting that malware permission to utilize that root access (which needs to be done when that malware tries to use root permissions). A rooted phone with no installed malware (or malware that hasn't been granted root access) poses no more risk than one that is not rooted.

I've been a Linux user for a long time too (and pedantically... Linux is similar, but it is not a Unix system, OSX is a Unix system though). I run apps with root access, and grant myself superuser permissions to run commands probably a hundred time a day (not kidding). Yep, rooting is kinda like work I guess. And my phone helps me do that work.

Yep. you can totally mess things up with root access. But then you can ruin your phone by dropping it too. I guess I just don't understand the fear. And you are always at risk of getting your data stolen from the servers on the other end of internet too, the threat is not just on your end (heartbleed for example, or the millions of credit card numbers stolen from Target stores). Those servers are where most smart hackers are trying to hit, as they can get a whole lot more data that way. Not having root will provide no protection from that.

You are at risk every time you make a purchase with a credit card. I used to own a business. I had thousands and thousands of credit card numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers... just like every other business out there. Any of my employees could have easily committed fraud (me too) against my customers. And as typical, my business had numerous purchases that came back as fraud claims over the years, where it turned out to be a "friend" or roommate "borrowing" a card after someone had gone to sleep. Yep, people totally blow this technology threat out of proportion, and pay no attention to how easily it's done in a low-tech fashion.

And the world is full of people like my mother (and mother-in-law, and step-mother, and dad). Somehow they can manage to perpetually acquire viruses, despite all the money they've pissed away over the years on security software, repairs and paying someone to reinstall the operating system on their PCs. I'd help them install an operating system that won't have those kinds of problems, but I won't waste my time re-installing Windows for them (but they are afraid of change too).

I do install custom ROMs on my phone, just because I can get some useful and convenient features that otherwise would not be available. I don't do it because the stock ROM is bad, but because it can be made better.

But the real reason I root is for a number of incredibly useful and powerful apps (nerdy stuff that most people would look puzzled if you tried to explain what they do), that just cannot be used without root. My phone does handle phone calls, but really it is my pocket-sized computer.

After about 4 years and 3 phones that have all been rooted on day one, the only time I damaged a phone was when I forgot my Nexus 4 in my pocket and sent it through the washing machine. The results would be the same if I had not rooted. And somehow I have run computers and severs year after year after year, without picking up malware or viruses either.

It's not just great responsibility that's needed, but little bit of comprehension and common sense, because in truth it is not magic at all. And not rooting your phone doesn't increase your security in any tangible way (from damaging your phone or from fraud), for those without any common sense and comprehension or responsibility. Those are the things are what will protect you, root or not.


I have always rooted my phones on the first day of purchase. I won't even buy a phone with a bootloader that can't be unlocked.

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Agree 100% with everything you said... One comment tho:

" A rooted phone with no installed malware (or malware that hasn't been granted root access) poses no more risk than one that is not rooted. "

This is true, but it's also much easier for a rooted phone to end up with said malware... It's unfathomable for an experienced user, you or I don't open random APKs that landed on our phone after clicking random Google search results (we'd usually not even be in that position), but plenty of other users do.

It's not as uncommon as you might think either, my mother was searching for a crochet magazine one day ands a Google search result link (that looked totally legit) literally just started a shady APK download from a .ru site.

People lack the common sense not to open that kinda thing, it's something they absolutely should learn (just like locking your house and not leaving stuff in your car), but until they do they should absolutely be warned about the risks of rooting, of installing non market apps, etc.

Not everyone out there WANTS to learn a new OS or a new way of doing things, and there's nothing wrong with that (up to a point). These are consumer devices and thus they're built to protect people from themselves, which is ultimately largest security risk.

I would go so far as to say that rooting is a security measure. It's possible to root via apk on some devices and if someone were to take that exploit and use it for malware any non rooted phone may be susceptible. A phone already rooted with su installed would catch it.

Great article! I remember saving all of the root articles and planning to root as soon as my phone arrived too... but then I found an alternative way to do everything I wanted without rooting.

App permissions: found an app for that
Bloatware: Bought unlocked then disabled the Bloatware +added 32gb storage for extra space
Faster ui: use nova launcher and set everything to "faster than light"

So I'm good for now without rooting.

I just want to point out that none of those OS's are Unix based. They are Unix like. Big difference believe it or not.

Posted from my Motorola Moto G

You're right. I just try to simplify things instead of causing more confusion. Same thing with calling /proc part of the file system. Don't want to get the main message lost in semantics.

Jerry, can we agree that an app can root a device and most likely these apps are not found in the Play Store. There are risks if your installing outside the Play Store. Rooted or not.

So true that even experienced users screw up when using root. I've been using Linux for years, but two years ago when I was trying to flash a disk image to a 2GB flash drive I made a typo, put in the wrong letter, and wiped my 750GB external hard drive. That's right. One letter wiped 750GB of data.

So in the future be careful and never be cocky when talking about Root. As a certain Uncle once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

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Root is falling to the wayside now a days. I have had probably about 20 different android phones and use to root to do ad blocking, tether, make it faster, and to run different Roms. But now the way the phones are made, there is almost no need to root. I have had my Note 3 for almost a year and haven't wanted to root it yet, I really don't find a need to. It runs awesome stock. Nova launcher fixes most speed issues people have, and changing the animation settings in developer mode helps as well.

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Recently tried without root for a few days on two devices and had more than 20 percent less battery life without modifications with root. Always I buy for full price devices without contract. It is mine and I demand the choice to root. Others don't want root, then don't. Without root Android is as limited as WP and iOS (of wich I have devices too) and not interesting to me anymore. Android is the greatest mobile OS for me with root to get rid of in my experience flaws (also on stock Nexus), to add extra's and much more. Without root I dont want Android anymore. When I cannot get rid of all the bloody hell eyeblinding white backgrounds and menu's in next Android L I will never upgrade for instance.

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"Without root Android is as limited as WP and iOS" with that statement you completely destroyed your argument because even the newbiest user can see that that's flat out untrue.

Posted via Android Central App on my daily driver, the Droid MAX

Concerning the issue and personal choice of abilty to modify or or not yor reply is far from smart.

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Yes. I dont buy anything on hire-purchase or else. Here a lot of people have the most expensive flagships on down payment for crazy expensive monthly fees which they really can't afford. I then would rather buy something less expensive.

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Also saying most people root in order to get pirated things is a stretch. I have not rooted a phone in over a year and still get pirated movies, music, books downloaded straight to my devices.. I found myself today wishing I had root. As I needed an app that would tell me what my cousin's wifi password is that is stored already in my phone. So that I wouldn't have to hunt the crazy long password down from her in order to share it with my daughter while we are visiting..

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His whole argument is kinda circular... The concept of using an exploit to hunt down a password that the user outsold l itself put in place to keep a connection secure is just ridiculous. I'm not saying you're dumb for doing so, I've probably been guilty of something similar in the past... But your time would be better spent just asking for the password and/or teaching her you don't need a crazy long Wi-Fi password for it to be secure (or setting up a guest account, etc).

The fact that this editorial is even necessary is a sign of how stupid consumers are. Anyone that honestly believes simply rooting your phone will magically make it run faster and better is a moron. What makes rooting "necessary" in most cases is wanting the ability to make changes to files that users otherwise don't have modify rights to. If you want to remove unwanted bloatware, back up and restore apps and data or modify the hosts file to block unwanted ads that cost valuable data, you need root access to do that. Rooting is not for the everyday user because, yes, they will eventually screw something up. Android was originally a largely developer-centric platform, therefore rooting was common because everyone knew the risks and knew what they were doing. Android is a powerful platform when the keys are given to the right person. Unfortunately, too many people have easy access to those keys - it's like giving nuclear launch codes to a civilian. Not a good idea! While I agree that the misconception about rooting needs to be addressed, I also believe we should always have a way to safely tweak and modify our phones however we want, whether that be through root-like permissions or something else. For the majority of consumers, having the ability to remove unwanted bloatware and intrusive ads will suffice, so let's find a safe way to do that without requiring root permissions.

Good post, but the President is a civilian and he has the nuclear football.

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There are already ways to block ads within browsers and hide bloatware built into the OS. If carriers go out of their way to make their bloat impossible to hide from the app menu I don't see why Google should be blamed for that, it's the carrier breaking things.

What gives you the right to hide apps on someone's app anyway? If a developer built something he deserves to be compensated for his time and work, I agree that having a paid version is almost always preferable but there's a reason there will never be an easy way to hide ads in general.

Hell, half of Google's business model is built on ads! You really aren't thinking clearly here... You still have a choice tho, you always have the choice not to use said app/site.

Android was conceived as a consumer product pretty early on btw, and the whole nuclear keys analogy is deeply flawed. OEMs still make it pretty hard to unlock a bootloader, let alone gain root access. If anyone's making things a bit too easy for the layman it's actually well intentioned enthusiasts.

They just wanna share their passion, but in building automated tools they make things too easy for the uneducated. That has nothing to do with how the OS is built tho, there are automated jailbreak tools for iOS and Apple has never sold a phone with a bootloader you could unlock (let alone root access).

Point is, Google isn't giving anything away with regards to Android security.

root can't kill init. That's about the only limitation of the superuser. Maybe unable to remove /proc files too.

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Have not rooted in ages, personally dont see the point anymore unless you want to customise your phone from top to bottom but I feel the play store with launchers, lookscreens, keyboards and icon packs covers for most consumers any of there customisable fetish lol.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

I just rooted to remove the bloatware not to make things run better my s5 wasn't slow with the bloat, but back when I rooted my Evo 4G I ran miui on it, for me it was worth it. it was so clean, functional, and increased battery life by at least an extra hour. Rooting is choice. Choice is good I have taken the things I didn't like about the s5 and added things I do like.

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Great article! The only reason I rooted my phone was to install Greenify. I only have 512MB of RAM. I bought the donation version which automatically hibernates apps, preventing them from running in the background, therefore making my phone faster and battery life better.

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You don't need root to side load pirated apps. In my opinion rooting my phone actually made me take a deeper look to what I'm installing and from where. Root just give me the option to do what I want but I must say I have done a fair amount of research over the last 4 years. Now the first thing I do is root my phone and if needed unlock the bootloader. I change roms like my girlfriend changes wallpapers. I enjoy trying new thing I enjoy have full control over the software but I must say it's not for everyone. My girlfriends phone gets rooted bloats ware removed adds blocked and then superuser gets removed.

Yeah, the problem is you're often the exception rather than the rule. Too many people wanna root without doing any research, a lot of the people that blindly use automated tools are just as likely to blindly install apps acquired from God knows where. That's why those tools almost do more harm than good. Step by step guides ultimately do a lot more good, if you can't be bothered to follow one of those then you have no business rooting... IMO anyway.

While there are the downsides to rooting..... I have to say that the benefits far outweighs the negatives..... And that is the simple reason why ppl root, the gains are great and the loses almost non existent if done correctly. Right now I have a LG g pro and i couldn't even txt on it, it just logged and the screen almost felt non responsive sometime. After rooting the phone and putting a custom rom on it, the phone starts to operate how it should but guess what else? With root am open to more customization, I can make the phone more to what I want.

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I got into rooting when I got my first smartphone in 2010 because my VZW Droid X had bloatware I wanted to remove and Motoblur used to consume more system resources and could make the phone lag. This was well before Moto began using a more stock interface.

I rooted, deleted bloatware, installed a custom rom, and could really notice the phone running snappier, with improved battery life.

My next phone was a Galaxy Nexus and it ran well out of the box, but I installed a custom rom only to remove what little bloat there was and mainly to enable the built in tethering features, without the need for a 3rd party app.

Since then, I've upgraded to a Nexus 7 LTE and actually prefer stock over any custom rom. It runs well out of the box. My only reason to root now is because certain apps need it that make life easier.

Titanium Backup--great when you have an app already setup with your password, settings, and userdata and can seamlessly install it to a new device, without having to reconfigure everything

TWRP/CWM--extremely useful to be able to make a full system backup when unexpected things happen.

Root Explorer--useful to easily manipulate and modify files when certain apps fail to install or misbehave.

Flashify--makes it easy to update a custom recovery without having to launch ADB commands through an emulator or connecting to a PC.

Xposed--too many mods to mention, but my favorites are Advanced Power Menu and App Settings

Auto Reboot--I never got proficient with using Tasker and like to tv show or movie before going to bed. This app simply reboots the phone automatically at a predetermined time, so media isn't running into the wee hours of the morning.

I wouldn't really want to give any of these apps up, and will continue to root, but I am still careful about which apps get root access.

Getting back to Jerry's article, it made me think of Moto's policy change regarding Developer Editions. In the past, they allowed you to unlock your phone but the warranty was voided. There also wasn't an easy way to unlock the bootloader without requesting their help and giving them your IMEI for their records.

Then Moto decided to allow users to unlock their bootloaders keep their warranties in tact. Does anyone care to speculate on why they changed course?

Do you think they may trust their customers more, or do they think that the new policy will increase sales to counteract the few people that may take things too far and then expect Moto save them?

They changed policy to curry favor with enthusiasts, who inevitably are one of the few ways they can fight the Samsung marketing machine. I don't think it matters much ultimately, they can still tell when you've unlocked it (and possibly deny a warranty claim if they wanted to). I kind of agree the mere act of unlocking it shouldn't void the warranty, specially for Dev Editions; but I fully sort l support them using discretion in evaluating warranty claims. That still runs up their operational costs tho...

I'm with you. I have never owened an unroofed phone or tablet and used to run custom roms. At this point, however, the only things my Nexus 5, 7 and 10s need is Titanium Backup. If Googles backup would just actually save settings so I could uninstall and then reinstall an app without having to set it up again and/or lose game progress I could see dropping root. Until then, I'm gonna root and grant SU to exactly one app.

I used to root, unlock and flash custom roms because so many things on my devices needed 'fixed' IMO. My current devices, Nexus 5 & 7 are not rooted and run stock software because they do what I need them to do.

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Ugh, I can't believe I read that whole article. This is what's wrong with people today. Too many people are eager to conform to an environment setup and dictated by another. This article could very well have been written by Verizon or AT&T themselves.... and maybe it was. Root allows unparalleled and continuous customization, the ability to block ads that pop in notifications, root allows automation through apps like Tasker or the ability for everyone to enjoy the newest Android OS. Root adds years to the $600 devices usability. All of this possible with a little thing called research. Yes, rooting the phone and having the ability to modify files can be dangerous, but who cares?! If you see a rooter mess up something on their phone, go ahead and say "well ya ain't going to do that again." And that's not even arguing the fact that there's a fix for darn near every screw up. The point is that he/she pushed their limits, tried something they have never done, learned from experience and refused to be limited by corporate greed and conformity. It's MY device, I do what I want with it. Manufacturers and Service Providers DONT lock your phone for your own good, they do it to keep control. I understand that some people are good with eating whatever is given to them. It's OK. I'M NOT.

I totally agree, the article was very informative but I didn't agree with the whole point.

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I just don't understand where anyone got more than what was written.

Root does nothing. You do it yourself. Root lets you. The folks making your phone don't want you to root it because they don't want to redistribute their software. Anything else came from thin air, because I never wrote it. I don't care if you root your phone. I just want you to know that rooting your phone doesn't do anything to it unless you tell it to.

But please, carry on. There are plenty of self-imagined windmills out there.

Your reading comprehension must be deeply flawed if you think this was an article speaking up against root access in general... Who cares if it's dangerous? People that don't know better SHOULD care, this article was for them and possibly not you.

There's still plenty of ways to brick devices, and even when they haven't bricked it, plenty people that don't know any better or panic will end up issuing warranty claims or hassling the carrier or worse. Never mind the security risks, which is far more important on a personal level.

It's got nothing to do with corporate greet and conformity, how old are you anyway? (I'm 32 btw, getting up there, and yes I'm calling you immature) Would you give a 16 year old a hot rod with a hacked ECU and a canister of boost? Not a direct analogy, point is not EVERYONE should root.

The article was really more about what root does (or doesn't), and if you understand that then article wasn't for you. However you seem to think root access represents some rebel fueled expression of individuality, which is a little silly.

"With great power comes great responsibility"... sums it all.

Good article.
Now a days the majority of people that want to root or jailbreak their devices, don't even understand what Root is.
Unfortunately is a known trend, just like the #tag or smoking was the 80'S trend to be considered cool.

But "Root access" is a must for the majority of us with a minimum knowledge of software. And in my opinion,
Should be incorporated in the software in the same way that the developer settings is. "But with serious Warnings"

Also, why are the manufacturers and the network carrier's polluting the firmwares with so much bloatware?
I accept that they are entitled to do that, but in the same way that I have also the right to remove bloatware that I paid for but don't use or need, and that same bloatware is slowing the performance of the device.

Prohibition is never a clever deterrent, just like the forbidden fruit is always the most sought.

Why should it be even easier to gain root access than it is already? That would just invite more misuse regardless of the warnings. If anything, I think well meaning devs already make it too easy to gain root access on many devices.

If it's really that vital you can spare an hour of your life after buying a phone in order to unlock a bootloader and gain root. If you know what you're doing it won't take even half that long. I do think all OEM should offer a legit path to unlocking the bootloader, which is unfortunately not always the case, so vote with your dollar and support those that do.

Why starting your reply disagreeing with my comment? Only to finishing with the same view that I posted???
Did you read my comment at all ???

"Why should it be even easier to gain root access than it is already?"
Please: Read the article first and you might find the answers to why!!!
Can you read???
- You are commenting on the article that you didn't bother to read first, and you are selling your opinionated opinion for the sake of feeding your ego.
Trolling is not nice!!!

"so vote with your dollar and support those that do"
What do you mean by that ???

Are you suffering from multiple personality disorder?
Stop contradicting your own opinion, because your comments just don't make any sense!

I can read, and I did read your post despite all the superflous punctuation and semi hysterical tone. I didn't agree with you at all towards the end of my own post, maybe you misunderstood what I meant. I DON'T think it should be easier to gain root access or unlock a bootloader, I DO think that the manufacturers that don't already provide a bootloader unlock method should get on board (like HTC etc), but this SHOULDN'T be as simple as clicking a dev option, ever, far too dangerous.

I fully read the article btw, and if anyone is trolling it's you with all personal attacks. Having a difference of opinion is not trolling, I'm sorry you feel that way.

And once again you proofed my point!

I rest my case.

And don't bother replying again to my comments, as I'm not interested in your poor opinions (multiple opinions are a bummer!)
Word of advice:
Don't forget to take your med's!
Be happy and stop being so sad.

I 'proofed' your point? I might need meds, but you should definitely proof read your posts and learn how to spell before you PROVE how blind ignorance can be.

Little lady, Grow up!
Check your own spelling first, go to school and attempt to learn some "English" first before you attempt to criticize others.
Your mental retardation is worrying!
What part of:
"don't bother replying again to my comments, as I'm not interested in your poor opinions"
You don't understand ???
And no, I don't want you to reply because
I am not interested in your comments!
Get a life!

Sorry, I don't believe you have a say on where/when I can comment, calling me a lady or implying I suffer from a mental illness is pretty juvenile by any measure tho. It's just a shame this comments section doesn't have a report button...

I've been rooting and flashing rooms for a long time, and have had plenty of people ask me about doing it, and the advantages of having it. When I explain what all goes into it, and how evolved they want to be, most all decide it's not something that they want to undertake... and out of the 25 or so that don't want to, everyone says that the automatic Ota updates they don't want to miss out on...or void their warranty... . Lol

While some of this article makes sense, the negative Nancy approach is a bit unneeded IMHO.. Why...? Simply that there isn't a easy way to do this now, and it entails more than a 1 click root method to get past the locked bootloader, Knox, and knowing how to use the command line... That is why... Also if a average person decided to get root... without researching it, either here... XDA.. or else where.. then this advisory summary certainly is not going to deter them..

There is a old saying... You can't fix stupid... And a little bit newer version... Stupid is as stupid does... and the average person who uses a Android phone certainly isn't stupid... Leastways IMHO... So...
I say.. let the stupid ones keep bricking their phones, heck it only helps the manufacturers market share.... Lol... Lol... Lol and that's the truth... I have 0 % sympathy for those who don't understand what they are doing when it comes to this.. Especially with the thousands of tutorials and videos on the subject out on the Web...

There are a couple of rules to go by and what I give to those interested in doing this...

1...Reaserch Research Research and keep reading until you think you got a understanding, then join a respectable trusted group, forum and ask questions about it.

2...Never do this on your daily driver phone or your only phone until you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing.. and can deal with ruining your phone or be able to fix it. You have no one to blame but yourself if you brick it.....

Personally I won't have a Android device that I can't root... because I am a adult who believes that choice is mine to decide just as the phone is mine to do with I please for my own personal use.. And this is the reason I am coming back to Android as soon as my M8 gets here... If there is something I want on it that the stock phone doesn't have, then I know if I want it bad enough that choice and responsibilities are mine alone... and that is what should be taught... taking responsibility for our own actions...

Sorry for the rant.. or if any one takes offense

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Your constant usage of ellipses, and using "a" instead of "an" where appropriate, really made your post difficult to read.

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Agree. with MdMcatee A lot of people asked me to root their devices when they see what extra's and posibiltirs I have with root. I always refuse, even to family. They must be able to do it themselves or not root. And when a device of mine gets bricked I just buy a new one rather than Android witout root. Also 99.9 percent of bricked devices is very easy self repairable if one understands the matter.
In forums by far most devices seem to get bricked by toollkits. When one doesn't understand adb and fastboot, one should not root. And certailnly is not able to self repair. Stay away from toollkits is my advice.
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This is why I won't be rooting my phone until I've upgraded and I can safely use this one to play without cutting myself off.
Great article it explains the whole thing pretty well.

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Smart. Never be afraid to test yourself, but caution is key. Educate yourself, have fun with it and never let anyone scare you off from trying something that they themselves are too scared to try. It's not a difficult process. Just beware, you may be going back to your newly rooted phone and ditching your new phone when you finish. ;-)

Very good article and very true, except the dig on Obama. Immature and uncalled for.

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I'm guessing he meant it as humor (no clue which way Jerry leans politically), but I agree it just serves to distract from his point. I'm actually shocked no one commented on it earlier and the whole comment thread didn't devolve into a political rant... Maybe I'm underestimating the AC readers!

Okay, then I missed the joke. Still was distracting in a very informative article.

I pretty much tell everyone that asks me about root exactly what you said. A lot of people are very misinformed, they always ask if rooting their device can brick it. I always tell them, it is not the rooting that will brick your device, it is what you will do with root that will brick you device.

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Jerry I am so glad to have seen a decent article explaining this. I could live without the Obama rant. Please keep the tech articles about tech and refrain from mixing religion, politics or sexual biases. An article this good could transcend time for a few years but the political comments date it squarely. It is just noise in an otherwise clean recording.

I agree with the sentiments of this article somewhat. I only root when necessary. For example, I never rooted my GNex while it was my primary device because it did everything I wanted it to do without root (and also root wipes the device, which I didn't have time to deal with). OTOH, I rooted my GS5 as soon as I could to get around KitKat's SD card restrictions and remove bloatware.

That said, I don't believe in shipping without root access by default, for philosophical reasons. The fact that Androids can't do the equivalent of System Restore or Refresh Your PC is Google/the Linux developer community's failure, NOT a reason for not granting root permissions. Also, the argument that root should be off by default because users might break their phones is like saying cars should ship without steering wheels because drivers might have accidents otherwise. Nonsense.

Bad analogy. I don't recall having to take hours of Android root user's ed, then practicing to use my Android phone with a learner's permit, then passing a written exam and finally a copiloted instructor's Android rooted phone usage exam before I was granted a license permitting me to root. Conversely, it seems nobody ever gave me a car with a working steering wheel and told me to go drive on public streets for the first time with no instruction, no training, no experience whatsoever.

What a great article. Really good read and points out a lot of things for those people new to android and thinking about going down the root path. But having phones that were rooted since the droid 1 I don't see much need for root now android has become so good their is little need.

Lately I just need root to get Airaudio App to work with my AppleTV, and for the rest I dont care anymore.

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It's a bit like religion or politics - if you really get something out of it, then knock yourself out, but I agree 100% that it's "oversold" in forums by over-enthusiastic users. There's this underlying attitude that you're somehow sticking it to the man, whether that man is google or the phone company, taking back control of something you bought. I've been using android since the htc magic, and I can tell you in the early days there were indeed some horrible bugs, exploits and usability issues that needed squashing. I used to to root and run custom roms all the time, but now I just buy and use the device. I couldn't care less about what I'm "missing", because with that came constant updates I needed to manage, some apps breaking, and essentially free time going down the drain.
This in no way is meant to criticize those that are hacking roms or those that enjoy fiddling with their phone as a hobby. That's totally cool, I used to enjoy that, but for noobs :don't get conned into thinking you're not getting value by not rooting.

I'm a hardware guy, not a software guy, I bricked my old Galaxy nexus, I knew the risks, it was near time I upgraded, and the carrier was slowing updates. There are other ways of doing things, get a Nexus if you don't like bloatware, power down reboot to clear RAM. Select allow non whatever it is apps in system, but that was highly implicated in the virus attack I got. Go to become a developer, use RAM booster, use move to SD card, looking forward to 64 bit, but tempted by shield tablet, K1, 192 GPUs. Good article Jerry, nearly always get a laugh out of the podcast.

A very interesting read on the subject of rooting. :) Actually some stuff that I didn't know of myself, eventhough I've rooted nearly all of the android phones I've had.

Great Article, Jerry. I root every phone I get. I can foresee a time when I will not want to root. That would be a phone that runs a stock Rom that is as good or better than those on XDA. The biggest part of this would be the ability to remove carrier bloat or not have it in the first place. Also, at this point, I do require a recovery that allows backup and restore. I see no reason why this cannot be implemented on stock recoveries. I realize that there are security issues, but I actually keep a nandroid of Unrooted Stock anyway. Lastly, unfettered WiFi Hotspot would be nice, but I realize that ain't gonna happen.

Until that day, I won't buy a phone unless it can be rooted. Rooting extends the life of a phone after planned obsolescence kicks in. Once the hardware is truly obsolete because of new bands, etc. It is time for a new one, not just because they decide not to push out an update.

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I used to root, but when the N5 came out, I just didn't bother. I thought about it, but decided to just give bone stock a go, and soon realized I didn't really need to root it. I am fully on board with your last paragraph though. I still want the option to root and ROM if and when the urge arises.

Since we're all here, I've got a question. I've been under the impression that installing an app like SuperSU would make my phone MORE secure by tracking all apps/processes that request root access. I'm not as familiar with *nix, so I don't know if there's some way to get around this (I guess I don't know if exploits "request" root access, and if root tracking apps track other ways of achieving root). Can someone enlighten me? TIA

You're right in theory, but it puts the onus of security on the user. If you have the common sense to decide what should have root access, then it's all peachy.

SuperSU is a safegaurd, yes! But it's only making a ROOTED phone more secure. It's designed to ask for user permission any time root access is requested, which serves 2 purposes:

1. Helps to prevent you from doing something stupid (it won't stop you altogether, but at least gives that "Hey, are you *sure* you want to do this?" notification).

2. It prevents apps from accessing files that require root, unless you allow it. This is critical because otherwise apps could be written to do very bad things without you knowing it.

Still though, the SuperUser app can't do anything to prevent YOU from making bad decisions, it's just an extra layer of security.

Unless you root your phone in the bedroom. That's where the magic happens. MTV Cribs taught me that.

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Can't live without apps like tasker and xposed mod etc. Assuming you're sensible it's a great way to customise and automate your device, annoying things like the space between widgets on your homescreen can be fixed, or double tap to wake, using the power button to switch on the torch when the screens off. etc etc

As long as these features aren't included in stock I'll keep rooting my phones

There are 2 types of Geeks..
1) The Water Cooler Geek.. That brags about his 1080P vs your ( Perfectly Fine ) 720P
2) The Real Geek.. That is NOT afraid of using the command line or changing values in prop editors.
DON"T store critical information on your cellular device.. It's really as simple as that.
There is not a damn thing wrong with popping the bootloader and issuing a Root Command..

No one said there is, all Jerry is saying is the water cooler geek shouldn't go around blindly telling people they NEED root. This article doesn't really apply to the CLI geek, they already know everything Jerry's saying and they're often the ones writing the automated (and well intentioned) tools the water cooler geek end up using (and misusing) to gain root etc.

I know exactly what J said.. Why are you trying to defend him?
What you commented means nothing to me.. I can not state it any more precise than I already have..
Time to move on.

So after reading through this entire thread this is what I come away with.
Rooting is not magical. Rooting only gives you access to areas of the phone that most users have no need/shouldn't have to access. Rooting is not for everyone. All ya'll tech nerd knowledgeable people who know what your doing think it's great. But rooting is not for the other 90-95% of people who are ignorant to the technical pot holes that come from rooting.
Basically, it's exactly what Jerry said in his article. Thank you Jerry for taking the time for writing this informative article.
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Rooting is basically way overblown. It is not the be-all end-all a lot of people seem to think it is. The ONLY reason I rooted my nexus was so I could install a tether app that masked my tethering activity from my carrier...thats it. If it was not for that one thing, I'd have been perfectly happy staying stock.

If I had a phone polluted with a vendor skin like Touchwiz or Sense, I might feel different. It would be worth the hassle to free myself from those. My HTC Rezound taught me to despise vendor skins. I have a vanilla ROM on it now and it has never run better.

Rooting in it self is neutral. If all you do is root the device you have gained nothing. For those who have the correct knowledge (which seems like most people that have posted) than you gain a benefit only when you take the next step of tweaking and change.
But since the majority of phone users are ignorant (which in this case means Lack of knowledge), these same people who tend to struggle with the basic use of their devices, are protected by locked bootloaders.
IMO. If you want to root your phone and know what your doing and (this is important) don't go back to your carrier or manufacturer after you have done something you shouldn't have and can't fix and want a replacement, go for it. But the article that spawned this discussion wasn't directed to you. It was to enlighten the uninformed of the dangers they can cause to their own device by not being careful. Just my thoughts.

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Most people that I know that have a high end android like an m7/m8 or s4/s5 don't even know how to or knew of the existence of most of the phones major features, much less rooting, but my s5 is rooted. I don't have a custom rom because I didn't feel the stock rom was slow. I just wanted to debloat it, and add a few tweaks like disabling the home button from waking the phone in my pocket, and cleaning up the notification bar. I also run any apps I want it the multi-view, not just select ones.

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Unless you have a specific reason you need to root (something you can only accomplish via rooting), you should not be rooting. I have been doing it for years and it has never NOT been a hassle. It's only been degrees of hassle (even the Nexus 5). Some phones were less of a hassle than others.

So unless root is giving you something you really don't want to live with out, just stay stock. It will save you a lot of headaches.

With Android having become so mature these days, I feel that rooting is something left for niche users now. Back in the days of Gingerbread and prior, rooting had far more advantages because OEM skins were horrible horrible things and updates were worse than they are now.

Jerry, thanks for the article. Would love slightly higher frequency of articles from you on technical topics, if at all possible!

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Wow. While I was familiar with what the original article had to say, I am certainly getting an education here in the comments section! Some folks are simply misinformed, but others have evidenced severe symptoms of craniorectal insertion psychosis...

Used TowelRoot on my Nexus 5 to root, no need for a computer for rooting nor even to reboot your phone. Installed SU and a few apps that require root and I enjoy the added functions that they add to my Nexus 5 experience. Did not remove any "stock" apps and keep the factory ROM so the N5 should be able to do any further OTA updates just fine.

I don't see the need for root anyhow nowadays. You can disable the apps that you don't want so what's the point of root? To delete these apps? Seems to me that most would rather disable cause its far less time consuming. Plus, no worries of bricking. I stopped rooting after the Droid 4. Phones are powerful enough without the need to root.

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Your right, for the majority of folks, since the majority of folks don't
even know what their own devices are capable of. But this is just ignorance which can be corrected if they want to correct this issue.

Rooting is the tool to change your phone to how you want it to be if you want to change it. Does everyone need to root, no, but depending on the individuals needs they may.

Why be able to delete certain apps instead of disabling them? Some prefer to do this or need the space for other things.

The bottom line is education, not only for us consumers, but for the manufacturers. Teaching consumers just the pitfalls of rooting without teaching the benefits is 1 sided and not being entirety truthful since the benefits will not be shown. Rooting is needed to do certain things that might be the correct answer to a issue being asked about, and in all my years of experience rooting phones have never seen any reputable tech site blindly recommend doing this for everyone cart blanch. Not without giving clear warnings of the dangers.

Lastly education for the manufactures that they must stop denying people a way to remove apps or utilize their storage features of their respective phones as they choose. While many want people to utilize certain cloud features until data plans are totally free and all developers doing their apps the same way, having apps programs music movies maps games on SD card will be needed for those that have a great deal of them.

The op is right root isn't magical but is vital to those who need it.

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Wow! That was really a good way to explain root. I'm pretty sure my 10 year old grandson could understand that. As for me, even though I started using computers back in the days of DOS, I learned something too. This is why I have not rooted my Note 3 yet. I could only #@&# it up if I did.

I'm sure that I would get trigger happy and delete something important. Hell, I've done it before. I actually managed to delete a file and murder Windoze . At least I could re-install it.

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great article it basically told me how dangerous rooting can be. But what I'm wanting to know is what added capabilities does it give you if you root? I'm a basic user not necessarily going to root my phone i just want to be informed and understand rooting a little better.

Some are like a 16-year-old with their first car, trying to impress their friends. They like to try different ROMs and are not concerned about lousy battery life or having an unstable phone. Experimenting with their phone to see what they can get out of it is a hobby. Others do it because it is the only way they can get the required functionality from their phones. Even being extremely technical, I tend to fall in the later category. If you decide it's not worth the effort and risk, you will be among the majority, even among people who can. There are plenty who used to root, who no longer do.

I did a list of pros and cons for rooting. I could only come up with 3 pros
1. It is the only way that you can record your calls while using a Bluetooth headset. Oddly, recording calls only works if you are not using Bluetooth. This can be a deal killer for businesses who want a record of their calls that the can refer to later.
2. Block OTA operating updates that I don't want. if they are going to flat graphics that Windows 7 started and Windows 8 has, they can keep it. If I wanted a CGA environment, I would buy 1980 equipment. Without the 3D, it takes longer to interpret the screen, and is big step backwards for appearances.
3. Add apps to pen window, which I don't use that much, and be able to have more windows on screen, which I also don't use that much. You can tell I'm really scratching for reasons.

1. No OTA updates. Some new versions of the operating system have advantages such as better battery life, improved programs, and more secure.
2. It requires effort and risk. If you root, you need to unroot and reload the original factory to get warranty service
3. If you had your phone replaced, you might not be able to restore from a NANDroid backup because the phone's hardware may be different, or it may come with newer version that doesn't let you root without breaking your warranty, or doesn't let you root at all. You can restore the apps and their settings from backups made by Helium, which does not requre root. You can backup your contacts with normal Outlook ActiveSync or store them in your GMail account. If you use Novalauncher, you can backup your home screen layouts so you won't have to redo that. The Playstore remembers everything you installed. You can make a few setup notes of what you did in settings. If you do these things, it might not take long to reconstruct your phone after a factory reset, and you will be able to restore to dissimilar hardware.
4. While root enables you to remap the home button to get rid of My Magazine popping up, simply making Novalauncher your default launcher will do that too, without root..
5. While you can freeze or uninstall programs you currently have no control over, it often causes problems with your phone.
6. The chances of putting a new operating system in a Safestrap slot are getting less all the time. A lot of what allows these things to happen today are based on security vulnerabilities. You may not even be able to root Verizon Lollipop. If they don't sew up the vulnerabilities, Apple is going to run them out of the business market. I'm surprised you can install from unknown sources. They cannot afford a reputation like Windows for viruses, and they are much bigger target than Apple.
7. To root to save storage space and improving performance is laughable on new phones like the new Galaxy phones. The next update brings back 3rd party app write storage to 3rd party apps without root.

I find it difficult to justify rooting at all. If I do root, it will be to fix the broken Bluetooth call recording, I won't even monkey with Safestrap or busybox. I'll simply Towelroot and SuperSU. If I need warranty work, I'll simply unroot with SuperSU and remove Towelroot and SuperSU, and do a factory reset. If custom doesn't go away, I can reflash factory with ODIN. If they ever get Bluetooth call recording working, I doubt I could justify rooting.

Rooting shouldn't be taken lightly, I'v been trying to figure it out for a while now on an outdated device, and it is a pain. I agree with the article though.There are a ton of people out there that would jump at the opportunity to ram their grubby hands into your device and take everything they can. Plus not everyone should root just because they can. Just because there is a one click program , doesn't mean you should dive in. (Just my thoughts, I'm not looking for an argument.)

How do i root sony E3 dual D2212 Correctly.. please help me. I want to i want to put some font files into the system>font folder.. my system is read only permission. I want to change it to write permission.. plz help me