If you own a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, you’ve probably come across the term ‘root’ or ‘rooting’. Perhaps you went to use an app and it tells you that it ‘needs root’ to work. Maybe you’ve walked past a mobile phone repair shop and noted that they sold ‘rooting’ services. So what is it? How do you ‘root’ a device?

Smartphone Data Usage

First, let’s take a look at what the term means. Obviously, ‘rooting’ has nothing to do with plants or trees! The root we’re talking about here is the root directory of a device, specifically Android ones. ‘Rooting’ for Androids is what ‘jailbreaking’ is for Apple phones. When phones and tablets are created, developers lock away important system software within the root directory of the device. This is why you’ll sometimes buy a phone that will come with pre-installed apps that can’t be uninstalled; they’re installed in the root and can’t be removed by normal means.

Of course, this means that if you had access to this root directory, you’d have far more control over what you can access and what your device can do. This is the main appeal for people who root their devices; the ability to delve into these files and tweak them to their heart’s content. It usually involves bypassing the security that gives access to the root directory.

RootedPhones-phone

Is It The Same As ‘Unlocking’?

You may have also heard another term when it comes to phones — ‘unlocking’. Given that the act of rooting sounds an awful lot like ‘unlocking’ the phone, it’s easy to assume that the two actions are one and the same.

unlockphone

In fact, they’re two different actions; rooting is gaining root access of a device, but unlocking is changing the device so that it accepts SIM cards from other providers.

Now that we know what rooting is, we’ll look at why you might do it and why you might want to skip it in part 2 of this tip tomorrow.

~ Simon