What is rooting?
Rooting is the process by which users can access a phone’s operating system and gain privileged control over subsystems on the device. It gives the user “administrator” or “superuser” access, meaning you can make changes to your OS, including those that phone manufacturers and carriers usually forbid.
Pros and cons of rooting Android phones
Rooting provides users with additional control over their device’s operating system. However, it also carries certain risks. Let’s explore the pros and cons of rooting Android phones:
What are the benefits of rooting an Android?
Rooting can empower users to control their Android devices, secure their data, and tailor the software to their specific requirements. While there are risks attached, the benefits can be very attractive.
- Customize and take control. Rooting an Android phone is an opportunity to regain control of your device. Most smartphones restrict customization to prevent users from accidentally damaging essential elements of software infrastructure. However, if you know what you’re doing, you can alter themes and graphics, tweaking everything to your needs.
- Free up space. Rooting Android devices can remove bloatware that the manufacturer preinstalled. Many software vendors and phone companies have agreements with certain app developers and will sell their devices with pre-installed apps. With a completely customizable operating system, you can remove anything you don’t need and free up memory for other files you want.
- Download any app you want. Most Android phones will not let you download an app from just anywhere on the internet. Instead, users have to go through one of the few approved platforms, like the Google Play store. While this is partly done to maintain security, it also allows giants like Google to censor and control application access. Rooting an Android device will enable you to scrap those restrictions and download apps from any source.
- Enjoy a new operating system. It’s easy to think of your Android phone and operating system as intrinsically linked, but that’s not the case. Rooting Android devices allows you to install custom ROMs and alternative software kernels, so you can run an entirely new system without getting a new handset. Your device can actually be updated to the latest version of Android OS even if you own an older Android phone and the manufacturer no longer allows you to do so. Moreover, many Android users root their phones to prolong battery life.
- Back up your data. Rooting your device may give you more control over where your backup data is stored. You can choose where to store your documents, files, and confidential information, instead of being restricted to the default Android backup location.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, rooting an Android phone does come at a price – your mobile security.
What are the disadvantages of rooting an Android?
The rooting process gives you more freedom, but it does so by breaking the manufacturer’s security settings. This means you’re not the only one who can easily manipulate your OS. Your Android phone essentially becomes more vulnerable to malware and hacking. Here are the risk factors:
- Rooting can go wrong and turn your Android phone into a useless brick. Rooting your Android phone requires thorough research. Each Android model can have a different rooting process, and some rooting methods get patched very quickly (so they no longer work).
- You will void your Android phone warranty. Even though rooting Android isn’t illegal, manufacturers try to fight it. Gaining root access will immediately void your phone warranty. If something happens to your software or hardware, you won’t get it fixed by the phone provider.
- Your Android phone is more vulnerable to malware and hacking. You might gain access to more apps and features, but that also means you’ll have to be very selective with what you download on your rooted phone. Some apps might contain malware and steal your sensitive data like login details, passwords, or even payment details. Others might even grant hackers complete access to your rooted Android system. If you decide to root your phone, the least you should do is use a good antivirus and a VPN for Android.
- Some rooting apps are malicious. You might think you are “unlocking” your Android phone, but in reality, you might download rooting software containing malware. Not all software and firmware have been tested, so you might give hackers full access to your Android phone and any stored data.
- You might lose access to high security apps. Some high-security apps check whether hackers have compromised your Android device before letting you use them. One example is Android Pay. If you don’t want to lose access to these apps, it’s probably best not to mess with rooting Android phones.
Is rooting Android devices safe?
So is the rooted Android phone safe? It depends on your device and technical know-how, but we generally advise against it. If you know what you’re doing and are willing to face the risk of losing your phone or your data, go for it. Otherwise, you can accidentally download malware, lose your warranty, and make your Android phone useless.
Should you root your Android device?
If you think rooting your Android phone is worth the risk, research before getting one. Root methods for some Android devices aren’t released that often and are usually patched very quickly. Nexus and Pixel devices, however, are relatively root-friendly.
Manufacturers provide little control of the OS on purpose – to keep your devices secure. Because of the risks involved, we cannot suggest rooting your phone. Users must decide whether or not to take that risk for themselves after doing their research.
Unrooting an Android device is technically possible but usually requires thorough technical research and knowledge.