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Rooting: Do you really want to gain full access to your device at any cost?

When you buy a new smartphone, tablet, or computer, it’s likely to have come with a bunch of apps and programs pre-installed on it. On seeing them, you’ve probably wondered how you can stop them from running without completely removing them from your device.

The first hurdle you face is not having the required rights — known as admin rights — to root your device and gain superuser control over the operating system.

Read on to learn what rooting is, what it can do, and how it can impact device security.

What is rooting?

The term “rooting” comes from old Unix days when the user had access to the administrator account, originally called the “root account”, on Unix or Unix-like operating systems.

“Rooting” now mainly refers to users gaining superuser admin rights on Android smartphones and tablets. With Apple’s operating system iOS, this process is called “jailbreaking”.

On most smartphones and tablets with mobile operating systems, manufacturers have blocked access to the root account. This means you can’t do a variety of things, like deleting pre-installed apps.

Why do users root their devices?

There are some plus points as to why users root their smartphones and tablets. Among them, these include deleting pre-installed apps, as we mentioned at the start.

Users sometimes also try to tune up their devices by rooting them — although there are much easier ways to do that.

Security solutions as a possible alternative to rooting your Android devices

If you want to improve your Android smartphone’s performance and enjoy the convenience of further tools that include security features, we recommend installing proven security solutions for Android, like Avira Antivirus Security for Android.

In addition to a powerful virus scanner, this security suite includes an optimizer for tuning up your device’s storage and RAM. Oh, and Avira Antivirus Security also gives you a virtual private network (VPN) to boost your online privacy, especially when surfing using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Avira Antivirus Security for Android
Tune up your Android smartphone or tablet with Avira Antivirus Security.

Alternatives to jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad

Only ever use Apple devices? Then check out our blog on the topic of how to enjoy a zippy iPhone again for loads of handy tips on how to tune up your iPhone or iPad.

For Apple device’s too, we also recommend installing a proven security solution for iPhone and iPad like Avira Mobile Security for iOS.

Avira Mobile Security for iOS
Optimize your iPhone or iPad with Avira Mobile Security for iOS.

Is rooting legal?

Rooting or jailbreaking your smartphone or tablet is generally OK, unless it violates copyright law. However, you should keep in mind that manufacturers are under no obligation to honor your device’s warranty if you do go and root it.

This means that even if rooting removes those unwanted apps, all warranty claims are void — even when the defect isn’t related to you rooting the device. So if you’ve rooted your device and the camera packs up, you’ll have no other option than to suck it up and pay for the repair yourself — which won’t be cheap.

Benefits of root access

A few years ago, rooting Android devices was a must for many. However, you don’t really need to do that nowadays because the Android operating system has become very advanced and you can customize many app permissions with a high level of granularity to suit your needs. What’s more, as we’re exposed to more and more online threats, rooting only increases the chances of a cyberattack.

However, those with IT skills still see some advantages:

  • Pre-installed apps are real memory guzzlers, especially on cheaper smartphones and, as we’ve already mentioned, you often need root access to remove them completely.
  • Rooted devices can be upgraded with additional settings. For example, you can install an equalizer to optimize your device’s sound and maximum volume for your headphones. Or you can turn on tethering so you can use your smartphone as a wireless modem for your laptop.
  • You can use an app like UI Tuner on a rooted device to completely customize the user interface, controls, and fonts.
  • Battery performance can sometimes improve after rooting because you can restrict certain app background activities.

Disadvantages and security risks of root access

Let’s stress right away: You should only think about rooting your smartphone or tablet if you have sufficient IT skills. That’s because even apps that promise supposedly super-easy one-click rooting can potentially make your device fit only for recycling.

But there are other disadvantages you should consider prior to thinking about rooting your device as you may end up missing out more than you realize:

Some apps won’t work on rooted devices. This might include your online banking app, which won’t run on a rooted device for (legitimate) security reasons. And the streaming provider Netflix also denies access via rooted smartphones and tablets — you can’t even download the app.

  • Many manufacturers will reject your warranty claim if you’ve rooted your smartphone, even when the fact you’ve rooted it is unrelated to the defect.
  • Essential OS updates can cause major problems on a rooted device.
  • Camera image quality can become significantly worse as a result of rooting. This has to do with the fact that some manufacturers switch off their often patented image optimization features if you want to take photos or shoot videos with your rooted smartphone.
  • Rooting increases the opportunities for malware attacks. They can become deeply embedded in the system and significantly slow down your smartphone or tablet, reducing battery life and severely hampering your online privacy.

To conclude, we really recommend you install an advanced security solution like Avira Antivirus Security for Android or Avira Mobile Security for iOS. That’s because these solutions improve your devices’ protection against cyberthreats and optimize their performance in such a way that makes rooting unnecessary.

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Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.