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How and Why to Root your Android: 15 Worthwhile Apps

How and Why to Root your Android: 15 Worthwhile Apps
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Rooting your Android smartphone might seem like a daunting task, but we'll show you how to make the process as easy and painless as possible.

Rooting your Android phone enables you to use the superuser, or root, permissions of the Linux-based operating system (OS). This gives you and apps that take advantage of the root permissions more control over the Android operating system and the device. Rooting can be entertaining for techies, but there are also plenty of practical benefits.

Keep in mind, there are numerous phone models out there that use the Android operating system. When I say Android phone in this article, I mean any phone manufacturer/model that uses the operating system; it doesn’t have to be labeled an “Android phone”.

Unlike jailbreaking (equivalent to rooting) an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you can search for and download apps that require rooting directly from the official Android Market. The official market is generally more secure and contains less malware than some other third-party markets and other websites. In contrast, Apple doesn’t allow apps that require jailbreaking to be listed in the App Store.

Before rooting, you should understand the two main risks. For starters, rooting can void your phone’s factory and/or service provider warranty in many cases. However, most rooting applications and methods can be easily reverted. Additionally, if the rooting process doesn’t complete correctly it could damage the software. This would require a factory recover, causing all data on the phone (contacts, apps, media) to be lost, or it may even render your device useless, to the point where it can’t be saved unless examined by a technician. However, if you follow the instructions for the rooting method you use carefully, you shouldn’t have a problem. Of course, before attempting any sort of root or jailbreak, make sure your phone’s data is backed up.

In this article, we’ll first discover how to root your Android with an application called SuperOneClick. Then we’ll discover 15 apps that take advantage of rooting.

[Teaser Image via Androinica]

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  • 2 Hide
    jimslaid2 , August 26, 2011 7:27 PM
    Toms. You need a separate article on the benefits of rooting and VooDoo and EXT4 on the Samsung Handsets
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2011 8:14 PM
    Ugh, I've rooted lots of phones and superoneclick is terrible imo. Never worked for me on the several confirmed phones i've tried it on. Always ended up doing the old way, using ADB instead since it has never failed me and still takes under 3 minutes. Most of those apps you guys suggest do not require root as there are nonroot versions floating in the market. Also some phones will have their contents wiped just for the root process since they need to be downgraded to an older version where the exploit worked so you shouldn't be leading people on by only telling them to backup just because it might go wrong.

    Filemanager:
    You suggest a free app that, as you said, does more than the paid one. I don't get it. All the other features can be done without root with other apps except changing permissions. Also, if you're going to be doing stuff like executing scripts then why aren't you using Terminal Emulator instead?

    ROM Manager:
    Convenient but it's better to teach the user to learn how to boot into recovery manually since there will be times where the install will bork and the phone will be in a boot loop, leaving the user thinking their phone is bricked

    Move2SD:
    Uh.. you can do this without root since I believe Android 2.1 and over for all non essential apps. Google has even depreciated locking apps into the internal memory some time ago. And if you're rooting a phone under 2.1, why wouldn't you install a custom rom at atleast 2.1? I know for a fact that you can install android 2.3 onto the HTC Dream/G1 (first android phone ever) and even less popular phones have unofficial ports of the CM7 (android 2.3) nightly ported over.

    CPU:
    You forgot to mention over clocking benifits

    Busybox:
    if you didn't use superoneclick, you would have had this already.

    Tethering:
    There are apps now that do not require root to do this. Also, since 2.2+, tethering is built in (unless removed by carrier) for wireless and wired tethering

    DroidSheep:
    Interesting... tried it on my network but didn't pick up anything.

    ShootMe:
    Again, other apps that dont require root does this
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2011 10:38 PM
    Im a geezer with my first smart phone,Thunderbolt, and this article, though probably helpful to some, didn't help me at all. I didn't understand the vocabulary, nothing seems simple and no step by step instructions,(for the complete idiot), to help me root my phone. All I want to do is remove the bloatware that Verizon loaded on to this thing, free up some memory and install the apps that I would actually use. I remeber when Tom's was the place to go to over clock 386's and AMD chips and chip sets...rememeber when you guys got into the weeds on how to solder this or move a jumper here kinda stuff? I remember burning a couple of AMD CPU's trying to run a bead of solder across to connect to other solder points to unlock cashe ans peed up my CPU. Now that was instructions, and great fun. This stuff you're putting out now, it's mainly for the already uber experienced. It ain't any good for us noobs. Oh and bring back the ROAD RUNNER, those super rigs were great fun to read and dream about.
  • 0 Hide
    jimslaid2 , August 26, 2011 11:19 PM
    n2vibeIm a geezer with my first smart phone,Thunderbolt, and this article, though probably helpful to some, didn't help me at all. I didn't understand the vocabulary, nothing seems simple and no step by step instructions,(for the complete idiot), to help me root my phone. All I want to do is remove the bloatware that Verizon loaded on to this thing, free up some memory and install the apps that I would actually use. I remeber when Tom's was the place to go to over clock 386's and AMD chips and chip sets...rememeber when you guys got into the weeds on how to solder this or move a jumper here kinda stuff? I remember burning a couple of AMD CPU's trying to run a bead of solder across to connect to other solder points to unlock cashe ans peed up my CPU. Now that was instructions, and great fun. This stuff you're putting out now, it's mainly for the already uber experienced. It ain't any good for us noobs. Oh and bring back the ROAD RUNNER, those super rigs were great fun to read and dream about.


    n2vibe you should head on over to the XDA forums go on the HTC Thunderbolt sub-forum all you need to know about customizing you smartphone is there.

    Each Android based phone is unique, no one method is best for all of them.

    I have the Samsung Droid Charge and it is nothing at all like a HTC Phone, Motorola, LG... I have Humble 1.51 on voodoo EXT4 and it blows away my stock rom in speed and battery usage.
  • 0 Hide
    aaron88_7 , August 28, 2011 12:13 PM
    n2vibeIm a geezer with my first smart phone,Thunderbolt, and this article, though probably helpful to some, didn't help me at all. I didn't understand the vocabulary, nothing seems simple and no step by step instructions,(for the complete idiot), to help me root my phone. All I want to do is remove the bloatware that Verizon loaded on to this thing, free up some memory and install the apps that I would actually use.

    Try this link:
    The Total Newbie's Dictionary

    And I find these forums to have lots of helpful individuals:
    AndroidCentral.com - Thunderbolt

    Make sure to read other people's horror stories so you can avoid what they did ;) 

    In a nutshell what you are probably going to want to do is:
    1. Root your phone
    2. Backup your phone with something like Titanium Backup (requires root)
    3. Replace your phone's ROM to remove the bloatware.

    That really is oversimplifying the process, but hopefully that at least gives you a general idea of what needs to be done to get where you want to be. Make sure to read up everything you can in advance, this is key to avoiding problems! And again, read what others did wrong so you know what NOT to do.

    Good luck!
  • -1 Hide
    Dangerous Beans , August 29, 2011 2:58 AM
    You know, Why to Root your Android sounds like a Star Trek: The Next Generation slash fic.
  • 0 Hide
    bmouring , August 29, 2011 4:40 AM
    It's always handy to have another article that describes some of the benefits of rooting to my lay-friends in a more friendly manner (I tend to be unable to de-nerd my rationale sufficiently)
  • 0 Hide
    damian86 , August 29, 2011 3:54 PM
    In my opinion, regarding Tethering, I quite don't understand it, you are connecting to a wifi trough a mobile phone,which will eat all it's battery out, why not connect to the router directly? Can someone explain the benefits of tethering?

    It is great to have root on your phone, the best thing is that you are able to remove all the bloatware crap the phone comes with and free more memory which will help the system to work smoothly. I own an X10 and since the Gingerbread update no root apps will work,but you will have to do the following to get it rooted: Install the old kernel,root it, then apply again the new kernel and when you reboot the phone will stay rooted. This is explained on Xda forum too. They also have an amazing app, 'Flashtool' (for windows) that will do everything on your X10.I always use it.

    Regarding ROM manager, I find it useless because of the lack of device compatibility.But I think it will work on a pure Android OS from Google
    Titanium Backup, the best app!
  • 0 Hide
    lacronix , August 29, 2011 5:49 PM
    Two killer apps not mentioned:

    DroidWall and LBE Privacy Guard
  • 0 Hide
    igot1forya , August 29, 2011 6:54 PM
    damian86In my opinion, regarding Tethering, I quite don't understand it, you are connecting to a wifi trough a mobile phone,which will eat all it's battery out, why not connect to the router directly? Can someone explain the benefits of tethering?


    For some (like myself) who travel and don't have easy access to a WiFi hotspot or hard-line, this is absolutely needed when you're in a pinch. I know they sell Cell cards for your laptop, but why would you do that when you already pay for data on your phone? That's my reason why. 2.2 comes with WiFi tethering, previously on 2.1 I used PdaNet (which required a USB tethering). Battery life is not a big deal when a car-charge is always near by.
  • 0 Hide
    egeier , August 30, 2011 1:49 PM
    Thanks for the comments and feedback!

    Please let me know of any more root apps you think are worth mentioning and maybe I'll cover them on another article.

    Thanks for reading!
    Eric Geier (the author)
  • 0 Hide
    mikemp3 , August 31, 2011 8:49 PM
    I have a Huawei U8150 IDEOS. The out of the box battery life is terrible with only only 30 hours of life. I rooted the phone and added "Juicedefender Ultimate" to dial down the CPU idle speed, the phone now has a battery life of over 120 hours. Great phone that has a feeble battery but with rooting the problem is solved.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 1, 2011 6:41 PM
    I read the first page several times looking for the 'Reasons to Root' my phone. The only answer I saw was to be able to load some programs that require root. Wow, what a reason. No explanation as to why I would want to run those programs. No explanation as to if you do this and remove some bloat wear it will improve my battery life. Personally, if you removed the 'and Why' from your title it would make a more accurate title for your article. There maybe other possibly better ways to root a phone, but no one can argue that your article does not show you how to root a phone at least one way.
  • 0 Hide
    roberto hapsad , September 20, 2011 10:44 PM
    As a Linux user I am growing unfamiliar with Windows. I am trying to, as you say, Install my Huawei U8180 ROM on my Windows PC. Do you not rather mean, paste my 196 MB "updata.app" file into its own "Huawei" directory within the Superoneclick directory? SUperoneclick hangs each time looking for drivers. Tried on two XP machines and one W7/64.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 29, 2011 10:08 AM
    not work on Alcatel 890D model
  • 0 Hide
    lucius18 , October 9, 2011 1:24 AM
    Hi can somone plz tell me if you can root the Huawel U8180 on superoneclick. when i click root on superoneclick it does some stuff and then it sed not responding. Can somone tell me what i might need or if it will root the phone at all.
  • 0 Hide
    roberto hapsad , October 9, 2011 2:31 AM
    lucius18Hi can somone plz tell me if you can root the Huawel U8180 on superoneclick. when i click root on superoneclick it does some stuff and then it sed not responding. Can somone tell me what i might need or if it will root the phone at all.


    Well I had a good look then gave up. The reason was no .exe driver install available (some driver files tho) on the phone itself.
    Other users say they've done it but skip the "where's the driver" step. Huawei no help.
  • 0 Hide
    caronotcairo , November 20, 2011 8:13 AM
    I not accustomed with the whole rooting method I just got my android phone not to long ago...I have jailbroken my ipod before mainly to just get other fancy apps. I just want to get rid of the stock apps(Sprint apps like nascar, maps, etc) and I want to know if rooting is the way to go with my objective?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2012 8:09 PM
    It isnt working for me.. I have a Coby Kyros MID7125. When i click "root" it starts to do 2 steps (2 things show up) and then it doesnt respond and i have to close it. Why is this happening? Any help please?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 30, 2012 11:08 PM
    As a newbie, I got through the rooting process fine, thanks! But what about immediate after-steps? Like, once SuperOneClick says Phone now Rooted, then instructions to Remount the SD card, Turn off USB Debugging Mode, etc? I know it sounds simple, but there's that hesitation of whether you're properly through the rooting process and possible dangers of just unhooking cables, etc. Then the instructions that go into downloading different apps from the Market and the benefits of having them.
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