Android Rooting 101

If you own an Android device and spend any time surfing the internet, you have probably heard the term root or rooting.

So what is it exactly and why do you want it?… Let’s find out!

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What is Android Root?

Root is the term used to describe the administrative or super user access gained after rooting your smartphone/tablet. The rooting process completely unlocks your device allowing the user to customize and tweak just about anything.

Wait, isn’t the Android OS open source?

Yes it is, but even with it being open source, you still do not have full administrative access.

With root access the customizing possibilities are ever expanding.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options:

Performance

This is a big one for me and many others. With root and a custom kernel, you can overclock your CPU, GPU and tweak the memory management. Most smartphones and tablets ship with under clocked CPU’s, take the Acer Iconia A500 for example. The Acer Tab ships at 1Ghz, but can actually be overclocked to 1.7Ghz (not recommended). I safely run mine at 1.5Ghz and have never had any crashes or freezes.

There are also android apps on the market which allow you to increase the read/write speed of your SD card, Install Apps on your SD card and edit the build prop.

Appearance

If you really want to make your device your own, you need root access. With applications like Rom Toolbox, you can modify the theme, font, icons and even add a custom boot animation.

ROM’s

Another feature which is a lot of fun is the ability to install custom ROM’s. There are many different ROM’s available on the web such as Thor’s ICS, FLEXREAPER and CM9 to name a few. These are all built from the most recent version of ICS (Android 4.xxx) and actually have a lot of the features listed above built right into the core settings of the OS.

Applications

With root access you can download and utilize apps that were previously unavailable to you. These Apps can dramatically increase sound quality, allow tethering, back up applications and much more.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Tethering

This has never been a concern for me as my Nexus S is fully unlocked. However, there are many carriers who disable this feature. After rooting your phone, you can download applications that enable the tethering capabilities.

Are there any risks to rooting my device?

Yes, there are some risks involved with rooting. I have rooted many tablets and phones over the years and never “bricked” my device but it is possible. Also, once you have rooted your device, you have effectively voided your manufactures warranty. In my experience as long as you read the instructions carefully, you shouldn’t have a problem. Always make sure you have fully backed up your device and read the comments section for feedback from other users.

How do I Root my device?

Unfortunately this procedure varies and would be impossible to cover in one article.  Check back often for future step by step guides.

So as you can see, there are many great reasons why you should consider rooting your Android device.  Whether it is performance, appearance or the ability to tether and save a few bucks on your data plan, it’s well worth the time and minimal risk involved.

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