Rooting promises to allow you full control of your Android phone. But it has some risks as well.
Let’s know what rooting is, how to perform root an android phones manually, and why the on-click rooting tools aren’t helpful.
What is Rooting?
Rooting is similar to jailbreaking an iPhone. It unlocks your Android phone and gives you administrator-level access to the operating system, usually called root access or superuser access.
With it, you can make any changes to the phone, bypassing the restrictions set by the operating system, manufacturers, and carriers.
Reasons to Root Your Smartphone
- Customize Anything on the Phone
- Remove Bloatware or Unnecessary System Apps
- Install Apps from Any Source
- Change the Entire Look of Your Phone
- Change Technical Settings
- Backup Your Data
1. Customize Anything on the Phone
Many customizations are restricted on Android phones (similar to iOS devices) to avoid accidental changes or deletion of critical settings.
But users who know Android phones would like to have control over all the settings. They prefer rooting to change themes and graphics and many other things.
2. Remove Bloatware or Unnecessary System Apps
Every Android phone comes with some preinstalled apps by manufacturers that can’t be uninstalled. You can only disable them.
And even after that, they are re-enabled if you ever reboot your phone. These apps are called bloatware because they are on your phone due to an agreement between the phone manufacturer and the app developers.
These apps take a lot of storage space as well. So, due to bloatware, you will have some apps on your phone that you don’t need, and they are still using up your storage space because your phone doesn’t allow you to uninstall them.
With a rooted phone, uninstalling these malicious apps is super easy. Remove bloatware to free up your storage and eliminate unnecessary notifications from these apps.
3. Install Apps from Any Source
Your Android phone only allows you to download and install apps from Google Play Store.
It has millions of apps that Google checks before ensuring your device’s security, but the store may lack apps that many advanced users prefer. This is why apps outside of the official store are desired.
You can enable unknown sources from your phone’s settings to allow app installations from any source by you might have problems installing some apps.
You need root access to have complete freedom to install specialized tools and any app from any source.
4. Change the Entire Look of Your Phone
The Stock Android on phones allows limited changes in the device’s interface. You can use many themes and launchers, but the Android version remains the same and isn’t updated if not allowed by the manufacturer.
Many Android devices don’t get updated versions, and the manufacturer doesn’t plan an Android update for those phones.
You are stuck on the Android version the device came with or the last update the device got, which could be years ago.
With rooting, you can replace the pre-installed Android on your phone with custom ROMs (custom versions of Android operating systems) that allow you to use a new interface and an updated version.
5. Change Technical Settings
Rooting is preferred by advanced users who want to change their phone’s technical settings, such as tweak or replace the kernel on the phone and overclock the phone’s processor.
6. Backup Your Data
You can find many backup apps and methods to back up your data on Android, but they have restrictions.
On rooted devices, you can set your phone to automatically back up the entire data of your settings and apps to the cloud at regular intervals. Moreover, you can back up any app and copy it to another phone.
Disadvantages of Rooting Android Phones
- It Can Brick Your Device
- Rooting Voids Warranty
- A Rooted Phone is More Vulnerable to Malware and Hacking Attacks Than an Unrooted Phone
- Some Rooting Apps Contain Malware
- Many High-Security Apps Don’t Work on Rooted Phones
1. It Can Brick Your Device
Rooting is a complicated process and requires technical knowledge if you’re doing it manually. If the steps aren’t followed correctly, your phone will be bricked.
This means your phone will be dead. Rooting steps differ depending on the brand and model; this is why bricking a phone is a huge risk.
There are one-click rooting apps, but they usually don’t work. So, carry out the rooting process with the probability that the phone can turn into a beautiful paperweight.
2. Rooting Voids Warranty
Manufacturers don’t like rooting, so rooting a phone will immediately void your phone warranty. So, even rooting a new phone, you can’t claim a warranty after rooting.
Though rooting isn’t illegal, it unlocks the phone and makes the phone prone to security risks. This is why manufacturers discourage it.
3. A Rooted Phone is More Vulnerable to Malware and Hacking Attacks Than an Unrooted Phone
As explained above, rooting unlocks your phone, and you can change any settings on your phone, including security settings.
This enables you to tweak your Android phone to your liking. Still, it also enables malware and hackers to access your phone’s security settings easily and extract or infect your data.
This means your banking details and passwords might get stolen.
4. Some Rooting Apps Contain Malware
You can find many apps that claim to root your phone. Most of them would be malware and infect your phone. These can give hackers access to your phone who can use it for ill purposes like stealing your data and identity theft.
5. Many High-Security Apps Don’t Work on Rooted Phones
High-security apps like Android Pay and banking apps check the root status of a phone on every launch.
If they find that it’s a rooted phone, the app won’t open. Some will clearly show the message that they won’t run on a rooted phone, while others would show a random error.
The latest rooting tricks have solved this issue by introducing systemless rooting. If you perform a systemless root of your phone, high-security apps can’t detect it, and you can keep using them on your rooted phone.
But this isn’t foolproof. This method works now, but we don’t know how long it will keep working. We have reports that Google Pay has also stopped working on systemless rooted devices.
What is System Root and Systemless Root?
- System Root
- Systemless Root
- Benefits of a Systemless Root
1. System Root
Many years back, before Android 4.3, the typical rooting method unlocked the phone’s system partition by installing a su file.
This enabled a user to switch from a regular user to a superuser (administrator). When you switch to superuser, you can access any part of the Android system and make any changes you want.
After Android 4.3, the developers made the process that handles the user permissions to run at the startup of Android.
These processes are called daemons. It also needs special permission to keep working as it should.
Those times, rooting was required to change the phone’s system files, which is why the older rooting methods were called system rooting or simply rooting.
2. Systemless Root
When Android 5 was released, a boot image handled the permission processes. So, rooting developers found a method to change the boot image of Android to run the su daemon (or su process) that can grant you superuser access or root privileges to the Android system.
As this process doesn’t require altering the phone’s system partition, it is referred to as a systemless root.
It is considered the modern and most popular rooting method for Android devices. If you’re rooting your Android phone today, you’ll use the systemless rooting method.
3. Benefits of a Systemless Root
3.1 Receive OTA Updates
If you have performed a systemless root of your phone, you can still receive over-the-air (OTA) updates on your Android.
Whereas with the older method of system rooting, you can’t update your phone. The only method of updating with a system-rooted phone is to install (flash) a newer version of the custom ROM you’re using.
3.2 Run High-Security Apps
High-security apps easily detect system-rooted phones, and they stop functioning when they spot that they’re installed on a rooted device.
As the systemless root doesn’t make any changes to the system partition of Android, rooting detection also becomes difficult.
This means that high-security apps like banking apps and even some games that don’t work on rooted phones may work normally.
It is possible because systemless roots can go undetected from Google SafetyNet check. This is an API that apps use to check the security and integrity of a phone. A rooted phone is considered dangerous and vulnerable to online threats.
This is why apps use SafetyNet to check whether the phone is rooted. If it’s rooted, the app stops working.
But we’re getting reports that Google has also patched this issue, and some apps like Google Pay are not running on systemless rooted devices.
3.3 Easily Unroot Your Phone
Again, as the system partition files are untouched, you can return to an unrooted phone if you change your mind.
System-rooted devices can be detected even when you unroot your phone but detecting a root when you unroot a systemless root is difficult.
Android Rooting Terms To Know Before Rooting Your Device
- Custom ROM
Android is a Linux-based operating system. Root access in Linux means gaining administrator or superuser access to the operating system to make any changes to the system.
This loads the boot process of the phone. It is responsible to run system recovery and the operating system.
The bootloader starts the recovery process. So, when you start your phone, the bootloader begins its process and runs recovery. A custom recovery is used to back up your phone and install new modified Android systems.
4. Custom ROM
Modified Android operating systems are called custom ROMs. On a basic level, they are identical to Android but have extra features, permissions, and apps that many users prefer.
With custom ROMs on rooted devices, you can get a newer Android version on an older phone that doesn’t have any Android update planned by the manufacturer.
SuperUser is the administrator user of Android devices. During the rooting process, a su file is installed on your phone. Due to this, you can use SuperSU or similar apps to get superuser access.
It is Android Debug Bridge. It’s used from a computer to run commands on an Android device.
The kernel is the communication medium used between hardware and software to work together.
When rooting, you have the choice to replace your system kernel with a custom kernel.
Due to any misstep or other reasons, it’s referred to as a bricked phone when your phone becomes unresponsive and doesn’t turn on.
There is a chance to have it up and running again by using a Nandroid Backup. This is a backup that you can perform on a rooted phone.
How To Root Android Phone Manually?
The method for manually rooting an Android device depends on your model. One method for a model might not work for another model.
This is why search on the XDA Developers Forum ‘Root [your phone manufacturer and model] to find the specific steps for your exact phone’s model. For example, ‘Root Samsung S[number].’
The below manual rooting guide is based on the common steps used for rooting Android devices. We are performing the systemless rooting process using Magisk.
- Backup Your Data
- Prepare Your Phone
- Install Android SDK Platform Tools
- Install USB Drivers on Your Computer
- Unlock Your Phone’s Bootloader
- Get the Firmware of Your Phone and Install Magisk
1. Backup Your Data
Rooting usually wipes your entire storage, so back up your data and anything you want to keep. Use cloud storage or copy everything to external storage.
2. Prepare Your Phone
You must enable USB debugging and OEM unlocking from the Developer options on your phone. But this is only possible if you can see the Developer Settings options. To make it appear, follow these steps:
- Open Settings on your Android phone.
- Select My phone at the top of the list.
- Swipe down and find ‘Build Number.’
- Tap ‘Build Number’ seven times to unlock Developer options.
- Now, go to Settings > System > Developer options.
- Enable ‘USB debugging’ and OEM unlocking.
For older Androids, follow the below steps:
- Open Settings.
- Go to ‘About’ or ‘About Phone’.
- Tap ‘Build Number’ seven times to unlock ‘Developer options.’
- Go to Settings > About > Developer options.
- Enable ‘USB debugging’ and ‘OEM unlocking.’
3. Install Android SDK Platform Tools
You need to install Android SDK platform tools to control your PC. These tools will enable you to unlock your phone’s bootloader so you can flash it with a custom ROM.
- For Windows, get the Windows version of tools from the mentioned page.
- Extract the zip files to a folder.
4. Install USB Drivers on Your Computer
To make your phone and PC communicate with each other through a USB cord, you should install your phone manufacturer’s USB drivers on your computer. Find the steps below:
- Open your web browser.
- Search on Google ‘Samsung USB drivers for PC’. Change the name of ‘Samsung’ to your phone’s manufacturer.
- Your priority should be your manufacturer’s website for downloading drivers. If it’s not present, download it from any other site.
- Install the drivers.
- Connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable.
- Check if your computer detects the phone.
5. Unlock Your Phone’s Bootloader
The bootloader is the first process that runs when your phone turns on. You need to unlock it for rooting. Some phones allow unlocking of the bootloader while others don’t. If your phone allows it, the process is below, but if your phone doesn’t let it, you should head to the XDA Developers forum to find the correct method for doing so:
How to find out whether your phone allows unlocking the bootloader or not? Follow these steps:
- Connect your phone to your computer with a USB cable.
- Go to the SDK tools folder. Click on the address bar, type cmd, and press enter.
- The command prompt window will open with the location of the SDK tools folder.
- Copy-paste ADB devices on the command prompt and press enter.
- If it shows a serial number, your phone’s bootloader is unlockable.
- On your web browser, search on Google ‘unlock bootloader [manufacturer name].’
- Find the official website of your manufacturer in the results.
- Go to your manufacturer’s website and create a developer account.
- Follow the instructions given on the website.
- When done, you’ll receive an unlock code on your email. But if you don’t, the phone’s bootloader can’t be unlocked by the official method. Try the XDA forum.
In case you received a code, follow these steps to unlock the bootloader of your phone:
- Make sure your phone is in the fast boot mode. If not, turn off the phone. Now, press the power and volume down buttons together for 10-15 seconds. (Some phones may need you to select fast boot with the volume keys).
- Connect your phone to the computer using a USB cable.
- Open the SDK tools folder you downloaded and unzipped in the earlier steps.
- Click the address bar on the window, type cmd, and press enter to open the command prompt.
- You’ll have to enter a simple command line and press enters to unlock the bootloader. This command differs for every manufacturer. For Samsung, it’s fast boot flashing unlock.
6. Get the Firmware of Your Phone and Install Magisk
We need the boot.img file that is in the firmware package of your phone. For this, you should download the official firmware of your phone.
- Open your web browser.
- Search on Google ‘official firmware [phone model].’
- Download the firmware.
- Extract it to a folder.
- Find the boot.img. If it’s not there, another zip file may be inside that folder. Extract it as well.
- Now, open it and copy the boot.img file and paste it to your phone’s Download folder.
- Get Magisk from GitHub.
- Install the apk file. Go to your phone’s Settings > Security > enable Unknown Sources if it doesn’t install.
- Open Magisk and tap the install button at the top right.
- Tap ‘Next’.
- On ‘Method,’ tap ‘Select and patch a file.’
- Select the boot.img file we copied to the Download folder.
- Now, Magisk will create a magisk*****.img file in your Download folder.
- Connect your phone to the PC again.
- Copy the new .img file to the PC with ADB by running this command:
- ADB pull /sdcard/Download/magisk*****.img
- Now, shut down your phone. Boot in flash boot mode by pressing the power and volume down buttons for 10-15 seconds.
- Enter this command on the command prompt and press enter:
- fastboot flash boot /path/to/magisk*****.img
- Your phone has been rooted.
How To Root Your Android Device with One-Click Root Tools?
If you search for rooting on the internet, you’ll find many automatic root tools or one-click root tools that claim to root your phone without you running any command. Press one button and the app will perform everything.
These apps usually don’t work. Some of the apps may, but on older Android smartphones.
As they normally root older phones, their rooting method is system root. This means you can’t use high-security apps on the phone; if you change your mind and unroot it, it won’t be removed completely. So, it will be easy to detect if your phone was rooted in the past.
Moreover, some apps contain malware that may damage your phone or steal/infect your data.
If you want to try one-click root tools, these are some popular apps. You can search them on Google by typing their name and including ‘apk’ alongside it.
- CF Auto Root
Resources You Should Use After Rooting Your Device
Once you root your device, you need some apps to confirm the root and manage your rooted phone. These are must-haves:
- Root Checker
- Magisk Manager
- Backup Apps
1. Root Checker
After rooting, you would like to check with an app if your phone is rooted correctly. Install the Root Checker app to rest assured that you have root access to your phone.
- Open Google Play Store.
- Search ‘root checker.’
- Install the app.
2. Magisk Manager
If you rooted your phone with Magisk, you must have the Magisk Manager to use your phone properly.
It works similarly to SuperSu and gives you the ability to enable superuser access for any app you want.
- Open your web browser.
- Search ‘Magisk manager apk’.
- Go to a trusted website and download the apk.
- Enable Unknown Sources on your phone from Settings > Security.
- Open the apk to install Magisk Manager.
This app blocks ads on your phone. If you never liked seeing ads on websites and videos, use AdAway to block them. It also has a non-root version. To get it, search on Google ‘AdAway apk.’
4. Backup Apps
Many root backup apps let you back up your rooted phone more easily. Search on Google ‘Rooted phone backup apps’ to find them.
How To Unroot Your Android Device?
- Perform a Factory Reset of Your Phone
- Unroot with Magisk Manager
- Update Your Phone
- Flash the Official Firmware on Your Phone
1. Perform a Factory Reset of Your Phone
Most systemless rooted devices can be unrooted by performing a factory reset. This will delete all of your data, so perform a backup first. After a backup, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings.
- Select ‘System.’
- Choose ‘Reset options’.
- Pick ‘Erase all data.’
- Tap the button ‘Reset phone’ or ‘Reset tablet.’
- Enter your password if it prompts.
- Your device will reset.
- When it turns on, set up your phone.
- Install Root Checker to see if your phone is unrooted.
2. Unroot with Magisk Manager
The Magisk Manager allows you to uninstall Magisk and remove root from your phone. It’s an easy and reliable method to unroot your phone.
- Launch the Magisk Manager app.
- Tap the ‘Uninstall’ button.
- It’ll notify you that all the modules will be deleted, and the root will be removed from your device.
- Select ‘Complete Uninstall.’
- Magisk Manager will ask for internal storage access permission. Choose ‘Allow.’
- It’ll download the Magisk uninstaller file, uninstall Magisk, and restart your device.
- After the boot, install Root Checker to confirm the unroot.
If you used SuperSU instead of Magisk for rooting, the unrooting steps for it are also similar. Open the SuperSU app, go to settings, and uninstall it to remove the app. It will also remove root access.
3. Update Your Phone
Updates usually carry a part of or a complete firmware of your phone. If your rooted phone can still receive OTA updates, unroot it by updating it to the latest version.
This is only applicable if your phone has an update available for you to install. If it doesn’t, use other methods on this list.
4. Flash the Official Firmware on Your Phone
The most comprehensive method of unrooting your phone is to install the phone’s official firmware.
This will remove all the traces of the root and wipe out your data. So, back up your data before going ahead.
- Head to the XDA Developers forum for finding the correct method of flashing the stock firmware on your phone.
- Search on the website ‘flash stock firmware [phone manufacturer and model name]’.
- Go through different guides present on the forum and try the methods.
Rooting an Android phone gives you more control over the devices, but there are also risks. Some banking apps might not work on your phone.
Use the above methods to root your phone manually and enjoy unrestricted access to your Android phone.