Android aficionados may argue that rooting an Android device isn't that challenging these days. But for the average user, it can still be a complicated and potentially risky process. Make a mistake, and you can turn your $500 smartphone into a paperweight. To help you avoid bricking your handset, I'm going share a few best practices for rooting your Android device—all in under two minutes.
Before I describe to you what it takes to root a phone, I thought you might want to know why you should and shouldn't undertake this process.
There are four main reasons why people root their devices:
- Remove the bloatware installed by providers
- Install unique ROMs (a variation on the device operating system)
- Gives you access to the root (or administrative) user of the device
- Allows you to install specialized software not available to non-rooted devices
- It is possible to render the phone useless
- Breaking your warranty
- Not all devices offer custom ROMs
- Google Wallet may not be supported on your rooted device
Rooting a Galaxy S4 with saferoot
And now, for the process. I'm not going to get into the actual steps, because the process is different for each device. In fact, not all devices can be rooted.
The first step to rooting your device the right way is to know exactly which make and model you have. That doesn't just mean "I have the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S4". You actually have to locate the device Model Number and build number. For instance, to get the device name for the Samsung Galaxy S4, you go to Settings | More | About Phone and look at the Model Number and the Build number. My Galaxy S4 is SCH-1545 with Build VRUEMK2. The model number is specific to your carrier. For example:
- SGH-I337 for AT&T
- SGH-M919 for T-Mobile USA
- SCH-I545 for Verizon
- SPH-L720 for Sprint
- SCH-R970 for U.S. Cellular
Knowing this information will make it easier for you to locate the best tool for the rooting process. There are a number of “one click” rooting tools out there. Probably the best for my particular Galaxy S4 is called saferoot. This tool will only work with very specific devices — so don't just jump on-line, download, and go at it!
With saferoot you download and extract the files to your PC, enable USB debugging on your device, connect your device to the PC, and run either the install.bat or install.sh (depending upon your platform). You'll have to approve an ADB connection on the machine and then the process will continue and complete.
Once the process is complete, you now have root access. You can start installing ROOT ONLY applications from the Google Play Store, remove bloatware, and much more.
Use caution when rooting your device, otherwise you'll wind up with a brick on your hands.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.