In the world of technology, there are two types of users. One user is satisfied with the way their device came to them from the manufacturer and has no intention of changing a thing. The second user, however, is the technology geek who wants to either disassemble the hardware or assess the software programming of the device in order to see what makes it tick. For these users, the Android devices can pose an obstacle since one must first gain “root” access before any changes to the software that came with the device can be made. Therefore, it’s often said that people from the latter camp “root” their device. Such a “rooted” device can then be further manipulated per that user’s will.
Why do companies attempt to lock users out of their devices’ software? Money, of course, is the major reason. So how does the consumer get around the obstacles designed by these companies in their attempt to force the consumer to use their technicians and applications? To answer this, let me provide you with a brief history. The first company that attempted to limit the amount of control afforded to the user was Apple with the introduction of its original iPhone. However, this only proved to be challenge to the geeks and hackers who quickly discovered a way around Apple’s safety measures. It was here that these enterprising folks invented a technique known as ‘jailbreaking’ to gain access to the iPhone’s hidden files. With this method, the geeks were able to gain access to what otherwise would have been prohibited by Apple. Of course, this led to the same method being used by other geeks to access the files on their own Android phones and tablets so that they could orchestrate them to their own wants and needs. This in turn led to the term “root,” used by Linux users, which basically means to get to the bottom of things or, in this case, to decode the programming used that prevented them from gaining access to the software that ran the entire system.
Those who have rooted their Android phones and tablets claim the following benefits:
- Increase of performance: Most OEMs add their own touches by including useless applications that bring little value to the system. My personal Android phone from T-Mobile came with a boatload of junk and gunk that cannot be removed.
- Applications install in phone memory only: Since installing a 16 GB SD card on my phone, I use an application called APPS2SD, which tries to install applications onto the card. Unfortunately, I found that only a few of my applications had been successfully transferred to the SD card. The others automatically downloaded to my phone’s memory, taking up valuable space. You can avoid this problem by rooting your phone, which will then allow you to move all of your application over to the SD card, thus freeing up your system.
- Overclock that CPU: All of us want the maximum performance that our installed central processing units can pump out. However, in an attempt to improve system performance and speed things up, Android programming attempts to prevent the overclocking of the CPU. If barriers are a challenge and not a major hurdle to you, however, here is another place where rooting your Android phone or tablet will allow you do what you want. In other words, once rooted, you can eliminate this preventative programming and thus speed up your processor.
- Easier tethering: After rooting, proponents of rooted devices claim that it is easier to tether an Android phone or Android tablet to a cell phone. I would imagine that each carrier and each Android device is different, but I have personally (and without issue) used FoxFi and PdaNet 3.50 to tether everything from my PC, Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPad, Asus Transformer, Nexus 7, and other Android-powered devices to my phone. It should be noted that tethering is no longer an option on the newest Android OS.
Of course, these are just a few of the advantages you can experience when rooting your Android phone or tablet. However, every day brings more challenges and reasons to root your device. For example, in the case of the new Nexus 7, Google does not allow access to USB storage devices; however, once you have rooted your device, you will be able to access this additional storage.
On the flip side of rooting, however, you may also wish to consider:
- There is the possibility, however slight, that you could potentially “brick” (which is essentially what your device will become) your Android phone or tablet.
- You must follow directions exactly.
- Deviating from procedures can have unwanted results.
- While unlikely, especially if a piece of hardware fails, you could void your warranty.
So is rooting worth it?
I don’t know. I do know that the procedure didn’t work for me when I went to root my Nexus 7 Android-powered tablet using the Nexus Root Toolkit. It sounded easy enough, but I was stopped short when I discovered that the build number (JR003D) for my Nexus 7 was not listed. Since my only reason for even thinking about doing a root was so that I could access a USB stick for added storage and a movie or two, I didn’t find it worth the time to pursue it any further.
So, I guess this means that I personally believe the decision over whether to root your personal Android phone or tablet or not is yours and yours alone. If you have chosen to root an Android device, please let us know why you chose to do so and what the results were.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
Source: Redmond Pie
Source: Nexus Root Toolkit
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by LJRMIKE