To root or not to root? That is the question (that we’ll help you answer in this article). You may have heard about “rooting” your Android phone but might not understand exactly what it is and why you’d even want to do it in the first place. Rooting has many, many advantages that we’ll go over but also can come with some serious disadvantages. Therefore, it is important to know whether you’d even want to root your device before you decide to go down this path.
What does root or rooting mean? The word “root” comes from Linux terminology which refers to a user having complete permissions over all system files. Okay, that may have confused you even more. The easiest way to think about it is it’s like being an administrator on a Windows computer instead of just a regular user (allowing you to install, uninstall, delete or otherwise modify any file on the computer). In other words, you have complete control over what is on your phone.
Why would I want to root my phone? I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked this question. The simple answer is because you can! Of course, that isn’t always enough to convince someone to do it (at least it shouldn’t be). But the following list of the top advantages of rooting just might be enough to convince you:
1. WiFi/USB Tethering: Wait a minute, can’t you already do this without rooting your phone? Yes, but when you have root permissions, you don’t have to pay for anything other than your regular data package. If you are currently paying for this feature (which the carriers love), you can save up to $20 a month or $240 a year.
2. Overclocking: Every Android phone has a processor underneath the hood that ultimately determines how fast things run on the phone. When you root your phone, you can tweak the processor to make it faster. For example, my Galaxy S came factory “clocked” at 1 GHz. I rooted my phone and overclocked it to 1.3 GHz. That’s a 30% gain in performance!
3. Custom ROMs: The word ROM is actually an acronym for read-only memory, which is the part of the phone where the Android operating system is stored. When you root your device, you have the ability to replace that version of the OS with a custom one (as long as it is compatible). This lets you choose from dozens of ROMs out there instead of being stuck with only the one that came with your phone.
4. Customization: Not only can you install custom ROMs from developers that tweaked the Android OS to their liking, but you can further customize those custom ROMs by doing things like replacing the boot animations, changing the icons in the notification bar, install different themes, and much, much more.
5. Updating The OS: One of the biggest drawbacks to having a non-Nexus device is the fact that you have to wait for what seems like an eternity before you get updated to the latest version of the OS. For example, it took my Galaxy S over 7 months to get updated officially by Samsung to version 2.2. By then, 2.3 was out. Luckily, I never had to wait that long as I just flashed a custom ROM that was based off of the latest version of Android.
6. Remove Bloatware: While some of the features that come along with manufacturer UI’s like HTC Sense or TouchWiz can be useful, I think it’s safe to say that are are some we can live without. The problem with a non rooted phone is that these preloaded apps (bloatware) aren’t uninstallable most of the time. With root permissions, you can delete just about any stock app you want.
7. Screenshots: While screenshots are now supported natively with Android 4.0, and some device manufacturer’s offer this ability with their UI’s, the rest of the Android community is left in the dark. Unless of course, you root your phone and download a screenshot app. That takes us to the next point:
8. Root Only Apps: There are hundreds of apps out there that are meant only for rooted phones. We already mentioned the ones that can take screenshots, but there are plenty of other ones that let you do things with your phone that you might not even though possible. There are apps that can crank up your phones speaker to be louder, remove all the annoying ads from other apps, modify your LED notifications, and more.
9. Better Backup: Sure, you can back up your contacts and pictures with a stock phone. You can even back up the apps you have with certain applications out there. But it’s not a real backup. Why? It just re-installs the app. For example, if you “backup” a game, usually your high scores and settings will be lost. That’s not the case when you are rooted and use an app like Titanium Backup.
There you have it. Those are 9 good reasons why you would want to root your phone. But we must caution you that doing this can have some potential downfalls. You can brick your phone (rendering it useless) if something goes wrong and can also void the manufacturer warranty. But with that said, if you follow the how-to guides most of the time you should be just fine. But make sure do your research and have a basic understanding of what you’re about to do before you proceed.