Rooting Definition for Android Users

Rooting Is an At-your-own-risk Method of Modifying Your Phone

Samsung Galaxy S5
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Rooting an Android mobile device provides users with unrestricted access to the entire file system. It is the Android equivalent of jailbreaking an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Why Root Your Android Device

Although iOS users tend to jailbreak their phones so they can get around Apple restrictions on third-party app installation, the Android mobile OS is a more open system. As with jailbreaking, though, rooting is useful for Android users if their wireless carrier imposes restrictions on using the devices, such as preventing ​tethering.

There are also some Android-specific reasons to root. Many Android phones, like the Motorola Cliq and the HTC Sense, have custom interfaces that owners may want to get rid of in favor of using the stock Android OS or using a custom ROM instead. Rooting your Android phone can also improve speed and reliability.

Potential Issues With Rooting

Rooting does not always go smoothly, and if there are problems during the process, your device can be seriously damaged or "bricked." This is the worst case scenario, particularly since you void your warranty when you root the device. If the rooting method is successful, it gives you complete control over your Android phone, but you may be more vulnerable to malicious apps and stability issues.

In July of 2010, the Library of Congress's Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking or rooting your phone is legal, stating that jailbreaking is "innocuous at worst and beneficial at best." Even though the process is legal, you may want to wait until your device is out of warranty before rooting it.

Jailbreaking Apps and Tools

Rooting apps have been pulled by Google from Google Play, but they can still be found on developer sites. Easy Root, for example, is a one-touch rooting app for Droid users. KingoRoot app for Android provides a one-click Android root solution that doesn't require a computer.

Many of the older rooting apps are no longer maintained and don't work with modern equipment. If you decide to root your Android device, make sure the method is compatible with your particular device. As always, unsupported apps are of the "use at your own risk" variety.