What Does Rooting Mean?

Rooting is the term used to describe the process of gaining root access or privileged control over devices, most commonly Android smartphones and tablets. Rooting can also be done on devices based on Linux environments. Although similar to terms like unlocking and jailbreaking, conceptually rooting is quite different from these terms. Rooting enables a normal user to have administrator-level permissions to the operating system environment. In the case of Android devices, it helps in circumventing the security architecture, but if not done correctly, could potentially cause problems.


Techopedia Explains Rooting

Rooting is normally done to overcome the limitations on devices usually put in place by the service providers or hardware manufacturers. In most cases, once rooting is performed, an application named “Super User” is available in the application manager. A user with root access can install new applications, revoke existing permissions to system applications, uninstall system applications, and perform a number of otherwise-restricted actions. Anything possible with administrative permissions can be accomplished by the user including removal or replacement of the operating system, as the bloatware is removed.

There are certain advantages by rooting a device. Once rooting is accomplished, the user gains root access and can install custom ROMs and special applications which were not possible earlier. Certain default applications which could not be uninstalled from the device could now be uninstalled. New themes can be introduced. One of the primary advantages of rooting is in boosting battery life. Rooted devices can stop any unwanted application from running. Another advantage is in transferring applications from internal storage of the device to a memory card. This helps in freeing memory space in the device. Custom firmware can also be introduced with help of rooting.

There are many potential drawbacks for rooting. Rooting is a challenging activity and requires thorough knowledge of the operating system and the concerned hardware. If the rooting is done incorrectly, there is a high risk of bricking. Most manufacturers void the warranty of the device if rooting is performed. Furthermore, rooting can potentially introduce security vulnerabilities.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.