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Why root Android phones? The pros and cons explained

Jul 02, 2019 · 4 min read

Why root Android phones? The pros and cons explained

Rooting your phone might unlock the opportunity to customize your phone’s operating system, but at what cost? Find out what rooting is, why people choose to root their phones, and why it’s such a security risk.

What is rooting?

Rooting (or jailbreaking for iPhone lovers) is the process of ‘unlocking’ your phone’s operating system. It gives you ‘administrator’ or ‘superuser’ access, meaning that you can make any changes to your OS, including those that phone manufacturers and carriers usually forbid.

What does that mean in practice?

  • Full customization of themes and graphics;
  • Users can download any app regardless of whether it’s on the app store and use extra features such as adblocking;
  • The potential for extended battery life and better overall device performance;
  • Your device can 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. (However, some newer OS updates no longer work on rooted phones. Updates now patch the whole system directory. Any extra files (in this case, those used to root your device) will compromise the verification process and the update will fail);
  • Users can delete and hide bloatware that was preinstalled by the manufacturer and otherwise couldn’t be deleted;
  • Users can back up the data of any app and upload it on to another device. They can also back up all data, which is great if the system crashes and you need to reinstall the OS.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, rooting does come at a price – your mobile security.

Is rooting safe?

Why not to root android

The rooting process gives you more freedom, but it does so by breaking manufacturer’s security settings. This means that you’re not the only one who can easily manipulate your OS. Your phone essentially becomes more vulnerable to malware and hacking. Here are the risk factors:

  • Rooting can go wrong and turn your phone into a useless brick.

    Thoroughly research how to root your phone. Each Android model can have a different rooting process and some rooting methods get patched very quickly (so they no longer work). If you’re not sure how to root your device or use Android root software, it’s better to leave it to someone with a bit more tech know-how.

  • You will void your warranty.

    Even though rooting isn’t illegal, manufacturers try to fight it. Gaining root access will immediately void your warranty. If something happens to your software or hardware, you won’t get it fixed by the phone provider.

  • Your phone is more vulnerable to malware and hacking.

    You might gain access to more apps and features, but that also means that you’ll have to be very selective with what you download on your 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 phone. If you do root your phone, the least you should do is use a good antivirus and a VPN service.

  • Some rooting apps are malicious.

    You might think that you are ‘unlocking’ your phone but in reality you might download a rooting software that contains malware. Not all softwares and firmwares have been tested, so you might give hackers full access to your phone and any data stored on it.

  • You might lose access to high security apps.

    Some high-security apps check whether your device has been compromised by hackers 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.

  • Others can manipulate your device too.

    Rooting makes it easier for others to access your device not just through malicious apps, but also through other means like your USB port. Your phone may no longer have certain security measures and will require you to confirm that you “trust” the device it’s connecting to.

Should you root your Android phone?

If you think rooting your phone is worth the risk, do your research before getting one. Root methods for some Android devices don’t get released that often and they 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.

If you change your mind, and if you haven’t bricked your phone, you can always unroot your Android. You can do this by restoring your phone’s factory settings or reinstalling the OS.

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Emily Green
Emily Green successVerified author

Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.

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