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Thread: What is Rooting on Android? The Advantages and Disadvantages

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    What is Rooting on Android? The Advantages and Disadvantages

    Found at What is Rooting on Android? The Advantages and Disadvantages | Droid Lessons

    Posted by John A. on February 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm (modified)

    “What is rooting? Why should I root my Android device?” These are common questions that I get asked quite often. Today’s lesson is to talk to you about both the advantages and disadvantages of rooting your Android devices. But before we get started, a word of caution: rooting or modifying your phone in any way will void your manufacturer’s warranty and possibly “brick” it. What does “bricking” your device mean you ask? Exactly what you think… It means screwing up your phone software so badly that your phone can no longer function properly and is pretty much as useless as a brick. I do not in any way recommend anyone to root their Android device. This article is simply to introduce you to the subject of rooting and present you with both the pro’s and con’s so that you can make an educated decision on your own.

    What is Rooting?

    “Rooting” your device means obtaining “superuser” rights and permissions to your Android’s software. With these elevated user privileges, you gain the ability to load custom software (ROM’s), install custom themes, increase performance, increase battery life, and the ability to install software that would otherwise cost extra money (ex: WiFi tethering). Rooting is essentially “hacking” your Android device. In the iPhone world, this would be the equivalent to “Jailbreaking” your phone.


    Why is it called Rooting?

    The term “root” comes from the Unix/Linux world and is used to describe a user who has “superuser” rights or permissions to all the files and programs in the software OS (Operating System). The root user, because they have “superuser” privileges, can essentially change or modify any of the software code on the device. You see, your phone manufacturer/carrier only gives you “guest” privileges when you purchase your device. They do this for good reason… they don’t want you getting into certain parts of the software on your phone and screwing it up beyond repair. It makes it much easier for them to manage and update the devices if they lock it all down. This way, all the users are running the same unmodified version of the phone’s software. This makes it much easier for them to support the devices. But, for the tech-savvy crowd, only having “guest” privileges on your device is pretty lame and it locks down a lot of potentially useful features.

    What are the Advantages of Rooting?



    Custom Software (ROM’s)


    You may have heard of people loading custom “ROM’s” on their devices. A “ROM” is the software that runs your device. It is stored in the “Read Only Memory” of your device. There are many great custom ROM’s available that can make your Android device look and perform drastically different. For instance, you might be stuck with an older Android device that is stuck on an older version of the Android OS and it is not getting any of the newer updated versions of Android. With a custom ROM, you could load up the latest and greatest available Android versions and bring that antiquated device up to par with some of the newer ones. There are lots of great ROM’s available for many different phones and it is up to you to find the one that best meets your needs.

    Custom Themes

    Themes are basically the graphics that appear on your Android device. Rooting your device allows you the ability to fully customize just about every graphic on your device. You can load custom themes that totally change the look and feel of your device.


    Kernel, speed, and battery

    There are many custom ROM’s and apps available for rooted devices that will allow you to drastically improve the performance (speed) and also extend battery life on your device. A lot of developers tweak the kernels (layer of code that handles communication between the hardware and software) for added performance, battery life, and more.




    Baseband


    Rooting your device grants you the ability to update the Basebands on your smartphone. The Baseband is what controls the radio on your device. By updating to the latest Basebands, you can potentially improve both the signal and quality of your phone calls.





    Latest Versions of Android

    As mentioned earlier, custom ROM’s can allow you to update to the latest version of the Android OS before they are officially released. This is a great feature for those who are tech-savvy and want to stay on top of the latest and greatest software updates before it hits the mainstream crowd. This is also useful if you have an outdated device that is no longer being updated by the manufacturer.


    Backing up your device

    The ability to easily backup all of your Apps and Data is one feature that is sorely missed on the stock build of Android devices. But if you root your device, backing up everything on your device (both apps and data) becomes a simple task. Having Titanium Backup or My Backup Pro is a must have app for anyone who has rooted their devices and wants to backup and restore their phones. Both are available from the Android Market.




    Unlocking Additional Features

    By rooting your Android device you also gain the ability to unlock some features that your carrier may charge for. One example is enabling free WiFi and USB tethering, which many carriers charge money for. Now, I’m not suggesting you do this. But I did want to make you aware of the fact that it is possible to do this. However, your carrier may catch on to the fact that you are using your device as a free WiFi hotspot and figure out a way to charge you for it. So use this feature at your own risk!




    What are the Disadvantages of Rooting?

    OTAs and System Updates

    You may find that after rooting, updates provided by Google or through Toshiba's Service Station may not work if applied. Some updates may revert you to non-rooted status, cause a boot-loop or brick your device. To apply these updates, you may need to "unroot" / "return to stock" (out-of-the-box state) to apply the update(s). This is where (after rooting again, of course) having a backup to restore can be very helpful.

    Bricking

    The number one reason not to root your device is the potential risk of “bricking” it. As mentioned earlier, “bricking” your device means screwing up your phone software so badly that your phone can no longer function properly and is pretty much as useless as a brick. You would likely need to purchase a new Android device since the manufacturer of your device will void the warranty after any attempts at rooting.

    Boot looping

    This is when the device shows the boot animation, etc then reboots to do it all again to infinity. If this happens, it's typically because of something the end-user has done. Examples include: Applying an incompatible update, incorrectly rooting, etc. This is NOT a normal byproduct of a successfully rooted device.




    Security


    There is an increased risk of unknowingly installing malicious software when you root an Android device. Root access circumvents the security restrictions that are put in place by the Android OS. There isn’t really an effective way to tell just what the application intends to do with that “superuser” power. You are putting a lot of trust into the developer’s hands. In most cases, these applications are open source and the community can take a look at the source code to assess the risk. But, nevertheless, the risk is there.

    Fortunately, malicious software on rooted devices hasn’t really been a problem as of yet. But I thought it was worth mentioning since this could be a potential risk in the future. I’d recommend installing an Anti-Virus and Security App just to be safe. Lookout Mobile Security seems to be one of the best ones available at the moment. Having the "SuperUser" app installed from the Market helps restore some control back to you the user. While Lookout isn't currently compatible with any Tablets just yet, it serves as example of a security software. However, if you'd like to "side-load" it on your Thrive then this link may be of some assistance: https://support.mylookout.com/entrie...laxy-tab-10-1v

    LBE Privacy Guard - https://market.android.com/details?id=com.lbe.security

    LBE_PG.jpg
    This app works differently from Lookout and appears to be compatible with Tablets according to the Market. I use it on my phone daily to grant / deny permissions to apps on my own terms. This is a good app to have installed for when Lookout says an app is safe but it turns out otherwise. There's no foolproof app out there to detect everything but between the two, I like this one the most.

    Benefits:
    - Protect your privacy by controlling the permission of each application to access your sensitive data.
    - Block malicious operation from Mal-wares and virus like apps.
    - Block unwanted network traffic if you don’t have a unlimited data plan.
    - Decide whether you want an app to know your location when an option to turn that off isn't provided.
    - Find out which application is trying to steal your privacy by checking the security log.
    Last edited by epakrat75; 08-04-2011 at 10:27 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Reserved for future use.

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    I'll delete my post so u you have the first 2.
    epakrat75 likes this.

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    Developer

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    Good common sence explanation. Root will also allow the user to clean up (remove) those pesky apps that came pre loaded and you do not use (bloat ware). One other point you may want to let the noobs know, if you root and change the configuration of the device (custom rom, remove bloat ware, etc.), you may not be able to install the next official over the air (OTA) update. To correct this, you will have to reinstall any removed apps (if you kept the copies) and undo custom changes (adding AdHoc support). If you flash a different ROM, then you will have to flash back to the stock ROM. Just a heads up for all of you.
    My Development
    Easy Flash Tool (DOS) | Root/Unroot Tool (Linux)
    DaleNet ROMs Section - Fully Stock Roms and Rooted Stock ROMs for many different regions.


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    Quote Originally Posted by dalepl View Post
    ...you may not be able to install the next official over the air (OTA) update.
    Good point. Additional explanation added to OP.

  7. #6
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    I clicked the lookout link, a message came up, "this app is incompatible w/ your TOSHIBA AT100 (32GB Stock). I have a 7/19 & 8/2 sys image upd. in serv stat. that I haven't gotten too, could that be why? BTW, does 1 supercede the other or do I need both?
    Device: Toshiba THRiVE 32GB Stock 4.0 + Transcend 32GB SDHC Class 10
    Phone: Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4 5" (stock + 32GB microSD)
    Beastly LapTops: TOSHIBA Qosmio X505-Q887 18.4" 7200 8GB BD combo i7 w/ 1394 & 2 12-cell batts
    ASUS ROG 17.3" G74SX 2nd gen SB i7-2630-2.0GHz GTX560/3GB BD combo USB3 full HD 1TB 7200 RPM 8GB 2 batts (down 4 repairs)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Techlord View Post
    I clicked the lookout link, a message came up, "this app is incompatible w/ your TOSHIBA AT100 (32GB Stock). I have a 7/19 & 8/2 sys image upd. in serv stat. that I haven't gotten too, could that be why? BTW, does 1 supercede the other or do I need both?
    It doesn't have to do with the update, Lookout just isn't compatible with Honeycomb yet.

    Sent from my AT100
    HTC One (M8) - Stock 4.4.2 ROOTED

    Previous Phones:
    OG Droid/Droid X2/Galaxy Nexus/iPhone 5/iPhone 5s/Galaxy S4
    Previous Tablets:
    Toshiba Thrive/Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9/Nexus 7 (2012)

    My Themes: No longer being built. :c
    New to the forums? Please read the Guidelines of Conduct.

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    Security section in OP has now been updated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by epakrat75 View Post
    Security section in OP has now been updated.
    Typo. Lookout ISN'T currently compatible. :P

    Sent from my DROID X2
    HTC One (M8) - Stock 4.4.2 ROOTED

    Previous Phones:
    OG Droid/Droid X2/Galaxy Nexus/iPhone 5/iPhone 5s/Galaxy S4
    Previous Tablets:
    Toshiba Thrive/Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9/Nexus 7 (2012)

    My Themes: No longer being built. :c
    New to the forums? Please read the Guidelines of Conduct.

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    Not going to root my Thrive....

    Sent from my AT100 using Tapatalk
    gadget fanatic, and a thriveforums super mod.

    Have a problem THRiVE Related? Check out the ThriveForums Official THRiVE FAQ's

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    my_devices: Android: Toshiba Thrive (not rooted, stock 3.2), Kindle Fire (not rooted, stock), Sony S1 (not rooted, stock), SE Xperia PLAY (not rooted, Android 2.3 w/ QQLauncher Pro) iOS/Other: 2goPad Windows OS Tablet, Apple iPad 2, Apple iPad 1, iPod touch 1G/4G


 
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