One of the great things about Google’s Android operating system is its customisability. Unlike some other phone systems, you can personalise wallpapers, visual appearances and many other aspects of the interface much like a desktop computer.
But this customisation only goes so far. Most phone manufacturers that release Android phones will include their own Android interface which will have a distinct appearance and can often differ quite substantially from the standard, “vanilla” operating system.
On top of this, some of these Android interfaces will include “bloatware”; apps or other unwanted features installed by the manufacturer that cannot be removed. These unwanted apps can consume storage space as well as system resources which can be particularly annoying if you have no desire to use them.
If you find yourself stuck in this position, with an Android interface that isn’t to your liking or a phone filled with bloatware that you wish could be removed, then you may wish to consider rooting your phone. What is rooting?
Rooting is simply the process of providing you with “root access” to the Android kernel, so that you can perform many tasks on the operating system that you are normally forbidden from touching. This can include things like removing protected apps or tinkering around with the operating system’s core functionality and appearance.
Android Custom ROMs
As well as providing you with extra control over the Android operating system, rooting your phone allows you to install completely new versions of Android that have been modified by third parties, also known as ‘custom ROMs’.
There are many of these available online, and they can dramatically alter the look and feel of Android, or allow you to make use of a software update before it is officially released by your phone’s manufacturer.
For example, Google released Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but aside from its own “Nexus” range of phones many handsets will not be updated to this version of Android. Even phones that will be updated will first need to wait for the manufacturer to reconfigure Android for those specific handsets, and even then end users will still need to wait even longer for their phone carrier to perform more tinkering. Sometimes it can take several months after Google has released a new version of Android before most can upgrade to it, by which time a newer version of Android may already have been published.
Some of the other benefits of rooting include being able to improve the performance of your phone by tweaking your handset’s memory and processor, change the theme and boot image for Android, installing certain apps that are only available for rooted handsets, and many other things that you cannot do with an unrooted phone. Many custom ROMs can be found at XDA Developers.
How To Root Your Android Phone
Part of the difficultly in rooting an Android phone is that the procedure is not the same for every handset. If you plan to root your Android phone it is important that you find a guide that relates specifically to that model, as following a procedure intended for another phone may not work correctly.
A good place to find instructions for rooting handsets, as well as many custom ROMs that you can use once your phone is rooted, is XDA Developers.
Some handsets will require you to download special software to your PC which can then be used to gain access to the Android kernel. These programs include Universal AndRoot, SuperOneClick, and Z4Root. Using these programs is fairly straightforward, and they will guide you through the rooting process step by step.
Other phones may require you to use Android Debug Bridge or Fastboot, command line interfaces that are contained within the Android operating system. These may be harder to use than the specialist rooting programs, but can be fairly straight forward if you follow a step by step guide online.
While rooting can be fairly straightforward and usually goes without a hitch, there is potential for things to go wrong. There is the possibility that you could lose data stored on your phone and, in very rare instances, completely ‘brick’ your device. While this is unlikely it is something to bear in mind before you decide to root your handset, and you should obviously make a backup of anything important stored on your phone.
In most cases, rooting your phone will simply involve connecting it to your computer via USB and running the necessary rooting programs. There are a number of guides online which will inform you which rooting program you will need to use, where to get these programs, and what to do with them once you have them installed on your computer.
Although some handsets may not have rooting guides available, some of the more helpful and reliable guides for rooting Android devices can be found below:
This guest post was written by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, a UK phone comparison website.Get the new System Mechanic 12 for only $29.95 [normally $49.95]. Save $20! Coupon code: ELEVEN