I’ve started to see some articles on Rooting your Android Smartphone. What are the benefits? What are the downfalls? Why would you want to Root your phone to begin with. And what is Root anyways? Not only will I explain what rooting or jailbreaking is. I’ll go through the benefits and downfalls – then show you how you can go about rooting or jailbreaking your phone. This is the answer to should you root your Android or iPhone smartphones.
What is Root?
Root is the “super user” account for any linux/unix operating system. It is like the “Administrator” account on Windows systems. It allows you to take complete control over your phone and allows you into areas that are previously blocked by your cellphone provider and Android OS.
Although this sounds great at first – it can be very dangerous for those who don’t know what they are doing. Because unlike Windows where if you delete something or change a setting you can usually go back. With Root – once its done… and its done for good and there is no going back. It is highly suggested that you do your research and become comfortable with the notion of having total control of your phone before attempting this.
Why Root My Phone Then?
Well, in most instances you wouldn’t need to. If you are happy with the way your phone functions then this isn’t for you. Rooting a device is mainly for those who don’t like the way phone runs or operates. These people (me) want to either add or remove features, make system changes to improve performance, or change the ROM (the Android’s Operating System) to something entirely different!
Benefits and Downfalls of Rooting Your Smartphone
As with all things in life – there are Benefits and Downfalls to Rooting your Smartphone. I’ve touched on some of them above but I wanted to list specifically what I think the Benefits and Downfalls are below.
Benefits of Rooting
- You get complete control over your device!
- You can remove the default applications that come with your phone. Usually this is software (bloatware) that your cellphone provider installed onto your phone.
- You can install software from outside sources that have to be installed into a special directory on your phone.
- You can run software that does a better job of backing up your entire phone instead of just your pictures, music, and contacts. (Say like Titanium Backup?)
- You can change the appearance of your phone either using custom themes, icons.. etc that require for you to access system files you would not normally have access to.
- You can create a custom .hosts file to block ads and malicious websites from your phone.
- You can “harden” your device by creating customized scripts to prevent access to certain files which will protect your data and keep hackers out!
- You can install custom ROMs. These can be anything form optimized versions of your Androids current ROM, or a leaked update to a newer version of Androids OS, to completely different ROMs such as Cyanogen or MIUI. (Not for the feint of heart or those worried about voiding your warranties!)
Apple iPhone and Cydia
With iPhone users they gain the benefit of getting Cydia. This is an “unofficial” app store/repository which you gain access to after you “jailbreak” your phone (which gives you root access as well). This software repository gives you access to third party applications, scripts, and customization options that you would never get access to otherwise with your phone through iTunes.
Downfalls of Rooting
- You will immediately void any warranties or insurance you have on your phone.
- You could completely “brick” (make your device not functional) your device.
- You could make it more vulnerable to hackers, malware, adware, and virus.
- You run the risk of getting said malware, adware, or virus from running unknown third party software on your phone.
- You run the risk of making your phone unstable causing Force Closes and having to reboot your device often.
- You Smartphones overall performance might be degraded causing it to run slow.
OK, So How Do I Root My Phone?
So, if your still sold on “rooting” your Android or Apple iPhone? Fantastic! Way to live on the edge lol. Just be forewarned any information provided is at your own risk:
I NOR AVGJOEGEEK.NET IS IN NO WAY LIABLE OR RESPONSIBLE IF YOU RUIN YOUR SMARTPHONE!
OK, now that we got that out of the way…
Rooting Your Android Device
Unfortunately this is not as simple as it sounds. First you need to find out if the Smartphone you have is even capable of being Rooted. Then you have to figure out the method on how it was done!
For example – I just received my new HTC One X – so of course I rooted it. How did I do it? It was easy!
I went to XDA-Developers and did my research.
Someone (kennethpenn from XDA) was kind enough on how to figure out how to root the phone and provided the instructions and files needed to Root my phone.
I followed the instructions and Rooted the device:
- Make sure to get the updated USB drivers for my phone.
- Make sure that I had USB Debugging turned on and my phone was plugged into my computer.
- Download the zip file from the supplied link.
- Run the *.bat (simple DOS Command File) that had the series of instructions and installed the necessary scripts, files, and software into the device.
- Reboot and Enjoy!
Rooting “Jailbreaking” Your iPhone
- Did my Research on the Web
- Found the jailbreak solution I wished to use.
- Download the latest default *ipsw file that could be used for a jailbreak for the iPhone
- Create a customized *.ipsw (This is the iOS image or OS file for the iPhone) using the jailbreak software.
- Put the phone into download/restore mode and install the software into the phone using iTunes.
- Reboot and pray…. Is Cydia Install? Yay! It worked!
Um, So How Do I Go Back?
Restore Your Android
- Perform a “Factory Reset” which will wipe all your data off the phone returning it back to default. For me I can do this by clicking on Settings -> Storage -> Factory data reset.
- Or you will have to restore using a Recovery ROM. For my old AT&T captivate there was a “One Click” software that would put the Original ROM back on the phone making it back to factory.
Restore Your iPhone
This is where the beauty of iPhone comes into play. If you kept the default *.ipsw file you had to download earlier and you wish to restore your iPhone? Its as simple as:
- Put your iPhone back into download mode and start up iTunes
- Go to the Restore/Update option inside of iTunes and hold down the SHIFT button when you click on the Restore button. You can then manually browse to the *.ipsw file and click OK
- iTunes will go through the process of installing the *.ipsw file back onto your phone.
- Reboot and enjoy the mediocrity of Apple again!
So Should I Root My Phone?
Although it has become quite popular to Root your phone (or jailbreak it) – the answer is um.. no. Most of the time your phone is going to work just fine. And if you don’t use the applications that come with the phone you just ignore them and they won’t affect your overall phone’s performance. (OK – that is a half truth… it depends again on the device and carrier.)
Rooting is mainly for geeks or people trying to gain access to features they would normally have to pay for through their wireless carrier. For the average smartphone user it is an un-needed procedure.
For me personally? I like removing the bloatware that comes with the phone. I paid for the device – not to have the Cellphone Carrier (AT&T) put a bunch of garbage on it. And I like being able to install alternative ROMs on a phone. So Root makes sense. But go figure… I’m a geek like that.
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