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Question What is Rooting, and What are the Benefits of Rooting my Android Phone? (Posted by: Anonymous )

Melody Answered by: Melody, an
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Many people hear smartphone geeks throwing around terminology that they seem to think everyone understands, and yet most people are left totally baffled. This is something of which I, myself, am guilty--on a daily basis, even! The biggest term that you may have heard being thrown around on cell phone blogs, or news sites, or forums, is "Rooting." What does that mean, and why would you ever want to do something to your phone that sounds like the horrible torture your mother used to inflict on unsuspecting weeds in the garden? That's what we're going to discuss.

At its most basic, "rooting" is the term widely used among computer and cell phone technicians alike to refer to the process by which one gains access to the administrative commands and functions of an operating system.

If you're thinking, "Hey that's no help, I'm still confused," that's normal. Even a simple definition of rooting seems complex at first. What it means when you root an Android phone, is that you give yourself, rather than Sprint/Verizon/T-Mobile/AT&T's software, the permission to act like the administrator of the phone. There are a ton of reasons why people want to do this--the biggest being either to install an updated version of the operating system, or to save battery life. The two more often than not go hand-in-hand.

There are other benefits of rooting, as well. When you gain access to administrative phone functions, it is simpler to freeze system processes that drain battery life. "V-Cast Music?" Verizon users probably have "Google Music" downloaded, or find the stock music player works just as well. "Sprint NFL Zone?" Thanks, Sprint, but I'm a 24-year-old female. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this app, but I don't need it sucking up my battery life. Among the smartphone geek crowd, applications like these are referred to as "bloatware:" they do nothing but bloat the software by existing as unnecessary applications.

Having a rooted Android phone is also beneficial because there are several Android applications which are extremely useful and also require root menu access. "Titanium Backup" is my personal favorite of these. It allows you to back up all your applications with their data on a regular basis, so that if you do install a new version of the operating system, or if you have to factory reset your phone, you don't have to go back and start Angry Birds all over again from Level 1. (And trust me, I've been there. I've felt that pain.) Other applications allow you to uninstall bloatware entirely, and so on, and so forth, from basic functions to extremely technical on a level that even I fail to entirely understand.

But like Uncle Ben Parker said in Spider-Man: "With great power, comes great responsibility." Benefits of rooting an android phone to gain access to the functions and menus normally inaccessible to the typical cell phone user are many, but rooting is not a process that should be taken on halfheartedly. These benefits come at a cost-- almost all manufacturers' warranties become void once you root your phone. So, either be prepared to accept that, or learn how to "un-root" in case of an emergency.

Do plenty of research--there are a ton of sites with how-to videos and device-specific instructions, because no two phones are rooted the same way. Ask plenty of questions--never assume you know what you're doing, because it's the best way to end up with a phone that's as useful as a paperweight.

Those are the benefits of rooting, from a Geek-Femme who understands what you're going through.

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how to root micromax a45? Please help me with this. By Anonymous on 03-11-12 at 03:58pm
The answer to my question help me make a decision about rooting my cell phone. Thanks, very helpful. By Anonymous on 24-12-12 at 10:34am
Good - and in Europe in many countries your warranty is not void. By Jes on 26-12-12 at 03:31pm
Excellent explanation of rooting. Now I'm certain to never try to do that. By Joe in Chamblee on 09-01-13 at 11:51am
Finally someone who actually explained it in simple terms. There are a lot of so called geeks and technicians out there and when they talk it is like they think everyone should understand what they are talking about and if you don't then you feel like they are saying you don't belong here. Also when they explain instructs its do this do that go here down load this upload that but you have no idea if you are suppose to do it on your computer or cell. Thanks again for actually explaining it. By Anonymous on 13-01-13 at 05:17pm
thank you for the words of wisdom..i was well, enlightened to know how rooting can help me.. but still, i was stunned also by the "responsibility" after.. i am not coward, i m just not so sure about this thing yet. but thank you geek-femme anyway..had to do much research for this :) By Anonymous on 18-01-13 at 12:37am
Yes, great,easy to understand info for a non-geek, non-techie like me, a 60 yr. old woman! Thank You. By Anonymous on 23-01-13 at 12:26pm
Great, finally someone that explains it in plain English:-) By Anonymous on 06-02-13 at 01:19pm
thank you very much for your explanation. I came to know that my cell 's warranty will void if i root, hence postponed the thought of rooting at least for a year. I wanted to root to hide some of apps which needed the rooting. thanking you once again. By sunil on 11-02-13 at 06:37am
Thank u very much for this explaination. I was going to root my samsung galaxy s3 without knowing that my warranty would be void. Thank u By sakshum on 17-03-13 at 03:00am
a very helpful explanation By himanshu on 28-03-13 at 03:28pm
how does rooting your phone make you able to increase its internal memory using a partitioned sd card.phone is factory 51
mb galaxy ace ???? By Anonymous on 02-04-13 at 02:39pm
thank you very much for you exclamation I was going to root my phone without fully understanding and now that I do I think I'm going to wait even though I do want some of those bloatware apps off my phone thank you so much it's appreciated By alisa on 03-04-13 at 10:12am
Excellent! As stated "do your research" As a data/comm tech admin. it's not that scary to root your device, just stay away from things like the registry and such. By Anonymous on 19-04-13 at 01:30am
well said in easy terms.. By Anonymous on 15-06-13 at 11:41pm
Thanks for 'splainin so clearly! Thought it was more technical than that ... By Anonymous on 28-06-13 at 05:44pm
Well explained and also with common terms. Thanks a lot By Temi on 01-08-13 at 10:08am
Wonderful to read an answer to a technical/software question from a female "geek". Geeks all to often hide ignorance behind techno-speak; if you can't answer a question from a non-technical type in words he/she can understand, you are the one who is ignorant of the answer. Liked your "root" analogy- a root directory is to a directory as a root is to a plant. By Diana on 06-08-13 at 11:19pm
As a 66-year old lady with her first smartphone, it was very helpful. I will probably now find instructions to root my Huawei so I can get rid of Vodafone bloatware. By Ann on 08-08-13 at 03:23pm
How can i root my samsung galaxy s advance Gt i9070 By Hassy on 09-08-13 at 11:43pm
Thank you for extremely easy to understand explanation! By Cindy Lou on 06-09-13 at 07:34am
Im 51 years old , and am technology challenged , this is the best explaination for rooting ive found ,thanks great job By Anonymous on 01-11-13 at 08:17pm
excellent answer...kudos and salute...i'm using an android phone for the first time...a lenovo p780...very helpful.. By shovan on 10-11-13 at 03:53am
Thank you very much for your explanation By Anonymous on 23-11-13 at 12:03pm
Very nice explanation !! Thanks m8 for sharing this :) By Raj Kumar on 10-12-13 at 02:46am
nice one there... totally nailed it By Akan on 13-12-13 at 05:45am
I now feel like I am smarter person with a smartphone and not just a female with a cellphone, being knowledgeable helps it's funny how I already downloaded titanium backup and root but never used it till now, I also want to reiterate please be careful the power of rooting, I appreciate the explanation and understanding what rooting is and this hands down is one of the best Terminology I've come across Thanks By Taneek on 15-12-13 at 07:11am
Just install the app "Am I Rooted" for android devices and it tells you immediatly if your phone is rooted or not https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dtothek.amirooted By Anonymous on 31-12-13 at 02:04pm
very nice answer.....:-) By Anonymous on 13-01-14 at 03:42am
very useful tips about functioning and its application. good for decision making for switch over.. By Anonymous on 15-01-14 at 09:51am
Very good explanation of rooting and the responsibility that goes along with it. Thanks By Anonymous on 16-01-14 at 02:07am
Good explanation. How about adding some links with your comment, "...--there are a ton of sites..." Thanks! By Dave on 20-01-14 at 09:34pm
that's the best explanation i've ever read so far! "superuser/admin access" seems legit name than "root", it will really confuse some people like i was in gingerbread days. i did extensive research when i brick mine back then. it really is helpful! thank you.. my friends wont bug me every now and then for assurance!! By Anonymous on 24-01-14 at 03:03pm
Really good answer of rooting. Accept my thanks for the answer you gave. By Anonymous on 24-01-14 at 10:40pm
Hello Melody, if I may askā€¦ what sites are available to check for step-by-step instructions on rooting? And if I may ask, do you have any other sites unrelated to this subject, dealing with free mobile calling via free mobile internet? As an older gentleman, I am working at finding various avenues of saving any and all the greenbacks I can. Thank You for your services and advice By Gil on 23-02-14 at 09:02am
Thank you for your explanations. I truly enjoy your writing. My Verizon Mobile is asking for root access in their latest update. I did not know what that was, and now I know I don't want them to have it. By Anonymous on 28-04-14 at 07:41pm

Follow-Up Question I'm embarrassed to say I haven't the slightest clue about rooting!!! I started doing some research and I found you...so awesome! Ok..my question is..does the cellphone have to be active?? Example- I have a galaxy s sprint 4G phone and don't think I'm never going to use Sprint's services again. I now have another company and was told that I could indeed flash the phone over but was not guaranteed full service and when was time to be upgraded the phone possibly don't function correctly so I have not done that as of yet. So now I do have this nice phone that I love so much which hasn't been connected for over a year and so was wondering if rooting would be of any use??? (Posted by: Anonymous )

Melody-15906 Answered by: Melody-15906, an
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Hi there!

It is totally possible to root a phone that is not active, as long as you have a wireless connection to use for accessing the internet. The phone won't be able to make calls or access the internet without a wifi connection, but otherwise you'll be able to use all your favorite apps just fine.

Now, theoretically, if you're looking to use the phone on another provider, you wouldn't necessarily need to root it. If you deactivated it and closed your account with Sprint, you should be able to reactivate that phone on another provider, as long as they are a CDMA provider. CDMA providers, like Sprint and Verizon, operate using one kind of towers and cellular frequency, whereas GSM providers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, operate using a different type of towers and different frequencies. If you're confused, you can always ask the company if your phone will work on their services.

If there's any issue, you can always contact Sprint and ask them to make sure they released your phone's MEID or IMEI (which are the long numbers found under the battery on your phone) to be used on another provider. As long as your account was closed and has been paid off, they should have no real issue doing this. This allows your phone to be reactivated on another cellular provider's service.

Now as far as rooting your phone to use it on another provider goes, that shouldn't be a necessity at all. Rooting is mostly something that people do when they want to customize their phone further than just the cosmetics that are allowed by downloading apps like ADX Launcher. It's helpful if you want to install a version of Android that wasn't released for your device yet, or if you want to be able to use apps like Titanium Backup to save your progress in Angry Birds before factory resetting your phone. Once your phone is unlocked on the provider's side, which should be a simply process, you shouldn't have to worry about messing around with root at all. As much fun as rooting can be, it can also be very dangerous, and could potentially make your phone permanently unusable.

Fortunately, it seems like your situation doesn't require you to play around with rooting at all, because your best bet is to have a talk with Sprint to make sure they unlock your phone to be used on another provider. I hope that information helps!

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Follow-Up Question Very interesting and simple explanation. But now, my phone is rooted.... what can I do that I could not before and how do I do it? (Posted by: JP )

Melody-15906 Answered by: Melody-15906, an
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You can do so many things with your phone now that it's rooted! SO MANY THINGS.

First and foremost, oh my god I cannot stress this enough, you want to download an app called "Titanium Backup," which is available from the Google Play store and will become your favorite thing in the entire world, I am not even kidding. Titanium Backup allows you to backup all your apps AND THEIR DATA, and then restore those files to the phone's memory. This is super important because a lot of custom ROMs will require you to totally wipe your phone before installing them, and it can be super frustrating to re-install all your apps and re-program all your wifi passwords back in. The restore options are super customizable, so the only precaution I'd offer is, if you do restore app data after an install, make sure that for any of the system files (contacts, settings, etc.), you only want to restore DATA and not the APP itself, because you don't want to override the system app that you just updated with your new ROM. Everything else is super easy. Honestly, I use Titanium Backup 99% of the time when I'm installing a new ROM to make sure I don't lose my progress in Angry Birds.

You can also look on forums like xda-developers for custom ROMs and such to install to your phone. The forums are divided up by specific devices so you can find the best information on what's available for your exact phone, because obviously options vary with every piece of hardware that's out there. Always, always, always familiarize yourself with anything that says "READ THIS FIRST", because there is usually a lot of valuable information for people like yourself who are new to having a rooted device and it can be super helpful.

ROMs range from very basic stock to very customized; some of them just strip out manufacturer and provider bloatware, and others change everything from sound effects to the look and feel of your phone's operating system. The installation process on these is fairly simple, but before you try to install a new ROM, make sure that you're comfortable doing stuff like booting your phone into recovery mode and navigating the menus there, because it'll be very difficult to install a new ROM if you can't do that.

Usually ROMs are provided with very detailed installation instructions, and it is very important that you follow them TO THE LETTER. If you don't, you could end up making your phone permanently unusable. The term for this is "bricking" because if it happens, your phone is basically as useful to you as an actual brick. It's sad when this happens. Follow ROM instructions so you don't have to ever know this pain. And make a backup with Titanium Backup in case your install goes bad and you have to factory reset. TRUST ME. I've had some very close calls in the past.

There are a host of other apps that require root to be used, some of which allow you to increase your phone's performance, use it for wireless tethering (be careful with this; some providers WILL notice the massive increase in data usage and you could end up getting charged a lot of money), emulate other operating systems, and more. Look around at some of them and see if they suit your fancy.

You've got a whole world of option available to you now. Explore a little, but always do your research before jumping in with both feet, and make sure you know how to unroot in case anything goes wrong and you have to take the phone back to the provider for assistance. Hopefully this helps!

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