Android – The rooting story

But what exactly does it mean to root an Android device? Before you venture any further, you should be cautious and have some thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of rooting an Android device.

What does it mean to root an Android device?

If you root your Android device, you will basically give elevated permissions to your user account. It is similar to an administrator account in Windows. With a rooted device you have full control, allowing you to do all the actions you want with your device. It gives you privileges to modify the software code on the device or install other software that the manufacturer would not normally allow you to install.

What are the advantages?

When you look at the different manufacturers building Android devices you will see a plethora of pre-installed applications and custom user interfaces. These user interfaces are developed by the manufacturers and overlaid over the original Android one. These user interfaces and pre-installed applications can be more hindering than helpful if you do not need them because they use up space on the device as well as might slow down the system. Because it enables you to access the system partition, rooting your device gives you the possibility to delete these pre-installed applications which are also called bloatware. Another big advantage is that you can install custom ROMs to get a completely different user interface which fits to your personal requirements more than the pre-installed user interface. These might also be more streamlined and faster than the ones provided by the device manufacturer.

Another general advantage of a rooted device is that there is the possibility to do further system adjustments, for example overclocking and underclocking. Overclocking the central processing unit is helpful to get more performance, especially for older devices or when performance is of importance e.g. when playing games. It might also be useful to underclock a device, to improve battery performance when the performance is not needed. Further advantages are configuration options like adjust the maximum sound volume; install an ad-blocker to block advertisements (also in applications) and many other features.


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What are the disadvantages?

First of all you have to know that rooting an Android device is something for advanced and experienced users. If you do something wrong during the rooting process, there is the risk that you render your device useless, essentially turning your device into a brick. If this happens to you the solution to the problem depends on if it is a “software brick” or a “hardware brick”. If it is a software brick there is still the possibility to repair your device with some luck but most of the time you will lose some data during its repair. If you get a hardware brick there is no possibility for you to repair your device by yourself and your device will be as useless as a brick.

Install a #mobile antivirus application if you #root your device and use safe App stores like the Avira App store.

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Of course another big disadvantage is that if you give your user account root access to the Android operating system and your phone gets infected with malware, the malware will also have root access to your phone. You can get such malware via drive-by downloads, malicious links or from infected apps you download from non-reputable app stores. Sometimes, these applications masquerade themselves as a rooting application or any other well-known application. After you give the application the authorization to install itself on your device you will be stripped of your control over the application or even over your whole device. The application could send private data or record network traffic and send it to attackers behind your back, send messages to premium numbers and you will not notice anything of all this. Therefore it is absolutely advisable to install a mobile antivirus application if you root your device and use safe App stores like the Avira App store.

Another disadvantage is that in most cases you will lose the warranty for your device and the manufacturer will not cover damages anymore.

Should I root my Android device?

In general, if you do not have any special requirements that make it necessary to root your Android device you should not do it. Rooting your device does not give you a better performance by default; it just makes your device more flexible at the cost of being more vulnerable. If you want to install a custom ROM or adjust some system configurations to get a better performance or because you need some special applications or adjustments on your device, it is imperative that you create a backup before you start rooting your device. You should also research the exact rooting process for your device very well to avoid softbricks or hardbricks. If you still want to root your device then please consider that there are not just advantages for this process and if something goes wrong you will possibly have a big problem.

This post is also available in: Italian