Android Rooting and Risks Involved

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Devices such as Smartphone and tablets can do almost everything that a computer does. Their potential is unlimited and as technology has continued to advance, they are becoming the ‘goto’ device for almost anything.  This has led to the need for many people to customize their tablets and smart phones further than the manufacturers allow.

android-rooting

This is where android rooting comes into play. Android rooting is the process that allows user of devices running the Android Mobile operating system to gain root access within Android’s subsystem. In layman’s language, gaining the root access is getting administrator privileges that allow you to customize the device to your liking.

This privileged control allows the users to perform operations that are inaccessible to normal Android user. Rooting a device is similar to accessing administrative permissions on Unix-like operating systems such as Linux. This process can be compared to ‘jail breaking’ of devices running the Apple iOS operating system.

When you get a new android device it has stock configurations set by the manufacturers.  These default configurations are set with some features disabled for future use or to prevent casual users from causing damage to the device operating system. However, these stock configurations by manufacturers downgrade the performance of the device sometimes and may make it limited in its functionality.

Most users are okay with the performance of their devices when they change the permitted settings by the manufacturer and mobile carriers. However, many users with technical know-how need to change the default settings to do more with their devices. They want to extend the functionality of their phones and tablets and gain more control over settings, features and performance.

To achieve this they have to bypass some restrictions and get access to the device firmware. Bypassing these restrictions is only possible by performing rooting.

There are plenty of reasons which make android Smartphone and tablet users want to root their devices. One major reason why many users root their phones and tablets is to install applications that are only compatible with rooted devices. With hundreds of application markets beyond Google Play and applications being shared by mail, most users want to advantage of these resources. This makes it necessary to root their devices.

Another reason why other users would want to root their devices is to upgrade to the latest operating system version. With a rooted phone or tablet you do not have to wait for your carrier to push out the latest version. You can simply upgrade to a better performing OS such as the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Many users especially technology enthusiasts also root their devices to be able to remove the apparently irremovable applications installed by manufacturers that are marginally used and to make software tweaks that may improve device performance.

Rooting Process

Android rooting implies modifying the operating system which a device was originally shipped with. The process is done by taking advantage of the weaknesses of the operating system or device drivers. The weakness is exploited to copy a program called switch user to a location in the current process’s path.

The switch user program then provides root access to other programs. With root access to other programs, you can perform advanced operations such as enable any application to run privileged commands, modify system files, and remove manufacturer- installed applications among others. Most of these advanced operations are potentially dangerous needless to say that that is why manufacturer do not approve rooting.

Risks involved in Rooting

Though android rooting may seem to be a new technology perspective that will change your device for better, there are a number of risks involved. The following are some of the risks that you should consider before you decide to root you phone or tablet:

1. “Bricking”

This is the greatest danger of rooting your phone or tablet.  As it sounds, bricking your device means making it just like a brick. This can happen if something goes wrong when trying to root your device and it becomes a dead weight as a brick. This happens if an execution error occurs in the process when you try to load the base version of Android. In that case the device is broken and remains useless unless sent off to manufacturer for repair.

2. Rooting nullifies your device warranty

You should be aware that rooting your device voids its warranty. This means that in future, in case something goes wrong with the device you will not be covered.

3. Security issues

When rooting your device you also run the risk of exposing it to security issues such as malware and viruses. You should be careful when installing application from dubious markets to your rooted device.

4. Performance degradation

Though rooting is performed in attempts to improve performance, some people have ended up with their devices losing some features and performance downgraded. When rooting you make changes to the original OS of your device, if the changes are not made properly you may ended up with the device performance being degraded.

5. Stability Issues

The original operating system that comes with you device is the most stable. It is the most tested and does not allow accidental changes to any settings which can result to errors, reboots and unexpected shutdowns. Most of the customized operating systems available have been developed without extensive testing. When you install such customized OS you risk your device having stability issues such as reboots, freezes among others.

On the other hand, if you regard yourself to have good technical know-how and would like to be a super user, you may root your device and most likely find it rewarding.  Rooting your device or not really depends on your technical proficiency and personal interest. It is advisable that when thinking of rooting your device you carefully consider the risks involved.

You should also do a wide research on the best custom OS to install to avoid stability and security issues that may result from use of custom operating systems. Finally, when rooting you should carefully follow instructions to avoid bricking.

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Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

I am Vishal Gaikar, Software Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharashtra, India. If you like This post, you can follow Tricks Machine on Twitter, also you can add me on Google+.

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