July 17, 2012, 8:45 PM — To root or not to root? This is a question that obsesses many Android phone owners. Un-rooted Android phone owners may feel excluded from some of life's greater technical, gaming or social pleasures. But before jumping from a stock Android phone to one that has been customized, here are a few considerations.
The term "root" traces to Linux and Unix. It means to have the privilege to access all commands and all files in the Android operating system, or in other words, to have super-user capability.
BACKGROUND: Tips and tricks for upgrading your Android phone
Android phones ship with a limited set of user privileges, including the ability to install apps and change settings, but restricts the ability to replace or change system files. Mobile phone companies and Android phone manufacturers do this in self-defense to avoid intensive and expensive support and warranty requests. But whenever a line is drawn there are those who, for rational or debatable reasons, want to cross it.
A commonly stated reason for rooting is "to be in control of my own phone." Implied in this reason is the phone owner's intention to enhance the Android phone as an application, gaming or Web access computing device. Here some of the most frequently observed uses of rooted phones:
* A user of a rooted phone is able to make a complete backup of his phone and restore it to a prior customized state. Recovery tools supplied by the phone manufacturer restore the phones to a pre-customized stock state. A rooted phone with apps such as Titanium can be completely restored to an earlier state, including apps, data, configuration tweaks and the score and status of games like Angry Birds and Smurf Village that are otherwise lost with a stock recovery.